Success online ain’t easy. Especially if you’re trying to win favor from popular search engines and their algorithms, which can affect a business's search ranking. But one thing I know is this: Link building is one of the oldest methods for improving search engine optimization (SEO) and visibility online—and it’s still an important one. In their 2015 survey of more than 150 experts, SEO consulting company Moz ranked links to your website as the most important factor in search engine rankings. The number of links and their quality tell Google how much they should trust your website. The more they trust you, the more likely it is that your site will rank higher.
A link on a website may also represent a referral that can help generate more referrals. (Unlike a popular Facebook post or most other social media that have a limited shelf life.) Think of a link as a little individual marketer, politely sending people to your business.
It’s for these reasons that link building is a cornerstone of many online marketing strategies. I’ll share with you a couple of tactics that can help you build links.
A Major Link Building Don't
Maybe you’ve gotten an email (or 14) from companies that claim they can help you get to the top of the search engine rankings. That may involve using spammy tactics and link farms to earn a lot of links that for a short while might rank you highly in Google. But that may only last until Google finds out and promptly removes your site from their index.
When creating a link building strategy, one may consider grabbing the most number of links possible, no matter the source or where they came from. I don’t recommend aiming for these low-quality links. A hundred of these aren't worth a legitimate link from a trusted source. That’s not to say you shouldn’t get easy links when they’re offered. (And I’ll get to that in a minute.) I’m just saying that your goal in link building is to create interest from legitimate brands and websites that will want to point to your website.
If you’re a business, there are plenty of opportunities for easy links. These would be social profiles, business review sites like Yelp and other directories that make sense for your niche.
Once you’ve gotten those, you may want to start looking at a more sophisticated approach to getting links. I’ll share two of my favorites.
Step #1: Create a loosely related network.
Having a loosely related network of friends can be incredibly powerful. (I call this a “loosely related” network because you’re probably not going to want to have your competitors in this group.) A tiny network of people within your industry can be amazing for your bottom line, whether it's an email mailing list or a private Facebook group.
A little lost as to how this all relates to link building? Let me show you how powerful these networks can be and what you can do with them.
- Share links. When you create something interesting, consider emailing your group and asking them to share and link to it.
- Get competitive insights. When something works for somebody in your network, they can share with the rest of the group what they did and how it worked.
- Get recommendations. Chances are somebody in your network has had to research how to do whatever it is you’re thinking about doing. You can get advice with taxes, promotion, software…literally just about anything.
- Get motivated. Friends can help motivate each other. Encouraging words go a long way, especially with other business owners.
- Bounce ideas. If you’re thinking about trying something different, ask the group first and gauge reaction.
These are really only a few benefits of creating a network of peers. I created a network like this about nine years ago, and it has turned into countless business opportunities, lots of help and information and many close friendships. Oh yeah, and a ton of powerful links. Reaching out to people in your industry and creating a tiny network of people who want to help each other, may help you generate more links than you would have on your own. Plus you may create friendships along the way!
Step #2: Fill a void.
What’s really needed in your industry? What tool or resource could be helpful to consumers that hasn’t been built yet?
Now that you’ve got a network of people behind you, you can create a resource and have others help you promote it. Or you can partner with one or more of them to create an even better resource. For example, let’s say you’re a travel agency, and you want to build something that would be really useful to travelers picking a vacation destination. You could build an interactive map that shows peak and non-peak travel costs throughout a calendar year for popular destinations.
If you can find a way to better synthesize and display helpful data, it may help bring you many links and lots of traffic. When you bring something to the market that hasn’t been done before and it is really useful, you’re more likely to get noticed.
For more insights on how to help effectively tell your business story, access this DIY Guide to Content Marketing.
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