Every business wants to achieve that number one spot on a search engine. Being at the top translates into potentially serious revenue as, Americans conduct more than 20 billion searches every month and the first spot receives 33 percent of the total clicks.
Additionally, more than 60 percent of people will check the top three spots. An effective link building strategy can help you achieve the top ranking, as search engines base rankings heavily on the number of back links to a given page. To a search engine, the more back links a page has, the more of an authority the site must be on its topic. Link building can be a daunting task, and its execution can be time consuming. However, the proper strategy can be the difference between being on the first page of a search engine and the tenth page.
What is Link Building?
Link building is a tactic in Search Engine Optimization (SEO), during which you get other sites to create links on their pages that direct people to your site. This can be done through the content you create, getting added into directories or even through social media. It generally takes a solid combination of tactics, and that again can depend on your type of business. If you’re a small, local business, your strategy will be very different than if you’re a multinational corporation.
Search engines rank sites based on popularity and relevance. One of the biggest influences in determining this is through links. A site with many links from other sites will rank higher than one with fewer links. However, where those links come from also plays heavily into the search engine’s ranking. For example, if you own a pet store, links from businesses such as pet food brands, and animal kennels could benefit you, as they are relevant to your business. However, if you are receiving links from a sporting goods store, then that link could count negatively toward your site, as the link is not viewed as relevant to your business. Also be wary of link farms. These are sites that contain many links, but have no relevant content. Search engines do not deem these sites to be credible and will count it severely against your ranking.
Content, Content, Content
Every marketing expert has heard the phrase “content is king” a thousand times, and nothing changes when it comes to link building. If you are going to try to persuade people to link to your site, then you have to create some unique and outstanding content for them to link to.
These are the best types of links you can obtain. When someone else, either a business or a blogger, creates a link within their own content that points to your site, the search engines believe that you are a sought-after authority in your industry and reward you powerfully for it. If this link comes from a largely trusted website like a .gov or .edu site, then that is even more in your favor.
Getting these links can be a chore. People aren’t always going to find your content and want to link to it, even if it is the most remarkable piece of human thought that ever was. You will probably have to reach out to several people and begin building relationships. Here is a list of potential people you may want to try to contact:
•People who have linked to you before. Let them know when you have new content.
• People who blog about your industry. A Google search could produce an extensive list of people here, so be sure to investigate and confirm that they are blogging for authorities in your industry.
• People who have businesses that are relevant to yours, like the pet store and boarding kennels scenario.
• People who link to your competitors’ pages. With an analytics program like Moz, you can see who is linking to your competitors’ pages and reach out to them to see if they would be willing to link to yours.
If you think this sounds like a lot of work, you’re right. However, if executed properly, the rewards are worth it.
Link building is also a continuous effort, as search engines are constantly updating and looking for new and fresh content. The links you work for today will eventually grow out of style with the search engines. You will need to constantly build new links, and the best way to go about that is with new, regular content. Creating a simple blog and regularly posting to it is an easy way to keep the content crisp, then all you have to do is reach out to your list of linkers and let them know about it.
When people link to your site, be sure they are using proper anchor text to direct people to your site. Anchor text is the highlighted text attached to the hyperlink. You want people to anchor to your business name or a strong keyword that is relevant to your business. Try to stay away from the generic “Click here” seen on many articles. By using an analytics program, you can see what people are using for anchor texts. If you find one that is weak, reach out to the person and ask them to change it to something more relevant. Chances are if they found your work to be worth linking to in the first place, they’ll change it.
Directories and Listings
Getting your company added to local and national directories and listings is an easy way to build links. These links don’t weigh as much in the eyes of the search engine, but they do count for something and are a great way to start a link building strategy especially for a small, local business. Just be careful not to add too many too fast or Google may think you’re link farming and dock you points for it. Also, be sure to only add yourself to credible directories and watch out for the sites that may demand you add their link for them to add yours. Also be sure to go through all the local ratings sites like Yelp and Yahoo local and claim your business. These review sites are frequented by millions of people every day, and it’s probable that somebody has posted something about your business. This is a free service that you can use to advertise your business, and best of all, it creates a link!
Link building is all about building relationships, making social media a great tool to utilize. Social media is everywhere, and even if you don’t use it or don’t want to use it, most likely a large percentage of your clients or customers do and you should be on there for them.
As a general SEO rule, social media is about the quality of your posts and how well you and your followers interact. Be human! People are on social media to be entertained. Post some crazy stories or cute pics. Don’t just burden them with informational or marketing pieces all of the time. Again, it counts more in your favor to have greater interaction with people, so get them to interact with you. As you maintain these followers, when you do add a link with some new content, more people will share and repost that link, giving you search engine credit. Your followers may also be bloggers or professionals who may read your content and link to it in a future posting of their own.
Whether you are just getting a website started or have been around for a long time, if you don’t already rank on the first page of the search engines, then you have some work to do. For an extremely thorough list of tactics and strategies to help focus your attention, check out Jon Coopers’ Link Building Tactics – The Complete List. You can also contact the SEO marketing experts at esd & associates to help you put together a plan that best fits your business needs. Start link building today!
Written by Jerrime Castle
Recently working as a free-lance journalist covering video game news and reviews, Jerrime Castle is currently interning on esd’s Content Development team. With degrees from the University of Washington in Creative Writing and ITT Technical Institute in Visual Communications, Jerrime possess a wide range of both creative and technical knowledge.