10 Small Business SEO Link Building Hacks

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An obstacle faced by many small businesses is deciding whether or not to pursue traditional SEO tactics despite radical shifts in online policy and practices; in particular, marketers are wondering: Is link building, as an SEO tactic, still worth the effort in 2016?

We’re here to tell you that SEO link building is totally worth the effort, especially for small businesses. Link building offers great potential for improving your site’s ranking on search engines like Google, which is how most online consumers begin their searches for products and services.

If you want to improve your company’s online visibility, which ultimately impacts your bottom line, then SEO link building should still be part of your digital content marketing strategy in 2016.

SEO link building is most effective when the page you wish to add links to already ranks well, and the page has measurable impact on sales, lead generation, or conversions. If you have a page on your site that meets these conditions, then you’re in a good position to improve that page ranking using SEO link building tactics.

Unfortunately, deciding if you have a page that meets these qualifications is much easier than building out the links for the page. Fortunately, the mesh.live.build blog has reviewed several articles, studies, and reports to determine the best and most time-efficient practices for small businesses.

Here are 10 small business SEO link building hacks to help increase your ranking with proven white hat SEO tactics:

1. Build (and document) a process that’s repeatable.

You know that documenting a marketing strategy results in greater success, so why not do the same thing for your link building? This means developing an acquisition spreadsheet, so you can keep track of links you want to focus on and communication between you and desirable linking sites, as well as what’s working and what’s slowing things down.

Once you get started, keep good track of your outreach efforts; when you discover a process that works best for you and your business, try to duplicate this process every time you attempt to acquire a new link. Over time, this method has proven to increase the speed and efficiency of your outreach efforts; plus, you’ll have an organized list of what you’ve accomplished to report back to the higher ups.

2. Start by fixing broken links.

Perhaps the easiest way to improve your backlink strategy today is to audit existing links and ensure they’re all working and landing on the correct pages. This includes internal links, as well as inbound links from other sources.

To do this, you might have to recreate content on a deleted or outdated page; you might also need to reach out to people who control broken links on their pages or sites.

Whatever the case, this is a great place to start. It allows you to take a look at what you already have going on, improve it, and then use what you learn from fixing broken links to move forward with an improved link building strategy.

3. Stop buying links.

Unlike the other hacks on the list, this tip involves no action at all; just stop buying links, if you have done so in the past.

Google first prioritized links in its ranking algorithm with Penguin back in 2012. Prior to this, search engines relied on on-page optimization tactics to determine how a page should rank on a SERP.

Once marketers figured out that links were highly prized by search engines, they started buying links to inorganically increase the ranking of pages that often contained unrelated information.

Today, algorithms used by top search engines are sophisticated enough to know the difference between buying and earning links. For example, Google knows that when you post something, like a blog or video, it’s more likely for your site to receive a fresh batch of new links. However, if an old post suddenly acquires new links, it’s going to assume you bought them.

In fact, buying links today could actually hurt your site or page ranking.

4. Audit current inbound links for low hanging fruit.

Once you fix all your broken links, it’s time to get some new ones. The best way to add new links to priority pages is to take a look at who’s already linking to your site and give them a reason to link to you again.

Take a look at who’s already linking to your site with tools like Google Webmaster, which allows you to look at all inbound links or links to a particular page.

Once you determine who’s linking back to you, you can create new content, or add new pages, that will incite these sites to give you another link. This may take a bit of personalization, but the low-hanging fruit is often the ripest for the picking, so take advantage of this easy hack for small businesses.

5. Audit links to the competition.

While links make search ranking more democratic, not all links are as valuable as others.For instance, a link from a high-ranking, authoritative site will be more valuable than a link from a newly published blog. 

That being said, a good way to approach acquiring new links is to see from where your competition is getting their links. The reason you should audit the links pointing to your competition is that, whoever is giving your competitors links might also be interested in the content or information you have.

To do this, all you need is a tool to track inbound link. There are lots of free and paid tools that will do this job. Once you get an idea of who is linking to your competitors, you can begin your outreach.

6. Focus on one-to-one outreach.

Once you know where your inbound links are coming from, as well as who is linking to your competition, it’s time to start the outreach.

Outreach is usually handled in three ways: 1) one-on-one communications, 2) personal broadcast, like on social media, and 3) paid broadcast, like pay-per-clickThere’s a time and place for all three, but the best way for a small business to maximize its resources is to focus on one-on-one outreach. 

One-on-one outreach is great because it’s all about building a relationship with the person(s) who might be interested in what you, or your business, have to say. Focus on building a relationship with editors, publishers, webmasters, and bloggers that fit your audience niche, or that already link to your competition.

Be creative with how you approach your introductions; personalize emails and curate content as best you can so each contact sees value in what you’re proposing. You might not get the content right the first time, but over time, you’ll build a working relationship with these people, and they’ll likely give you the links you need.

7. Create relevant content for a personalized audience.

Your outreach efforts have to be personalized in order to get the right person’s attention, as should the content you put out there for them to use, and for their audiences to enjoy.

Guest posting on a news site, or on a blog, is a great way to build backlinks from reputable sites around the web. In order to do this, you’ve got to have some pretty stellar content. This might mean bringing in a third party to write an interesting article, or to design a compelling infographic.

If you go through the trouble of acquiring a new source to post and link back to your content, why not create content that has the potential to go viral? A single guest post will generate one inbound link from the site you reached out to. Why not aim to capture a reader’s imagination as well? The more people that link back to your content, the better.

8. Track brand mentions that are not already live links.

Another way for your small business to easily generate more links is to audit any company or brand mentions on the web that are not live links to your site.

Every time someone writes, posts, comments, or reviews your brand online, there’s an opportunity to add a link. To capitalize on this, all you need to do is perform a quick Google search or use a tool like Fresh Web Explorer. You can also set up Google Alerts, which will notify you of any new mentions you have on the web.

Once you get a feel for who’s saying what and where, you can start determining which sites or people are worth reaching out to. Use your acquisition spreadsheet to track this process.

Personalize a pitch to each site or person mentioning your brand. Reach out with a positive angle, and approach the conversation with a solution, rather than a request. For example, you might suggest that a link to your site would help the readers on another site get more valuable information. That’s a win for everyone!

9. Don’t overdo it with anchor text optimization.

Keywords in anchor text are often the first way in which a search engine algorithm determines what the page, and the link, are actually about. However, these algorithms are getting more sophisticated at sniffing out manipulations, especially from excessive, repeated keywords in anchor text. Consider these two rules: 1) Anchor text within content to be shared on another site, shouldn’t be the same every time. It’s a good idea to mix up the anchor text, 2) Don’t add keywords to anchor text unless you think it’s absolutely necessary. 

Be aware that search algorithms are capable of recognizing manipulative practices for anchor text optimization. Build content with internal links that make sense for the user, and build links with a variety of words and phrases, not just keywords, to ensure best results.

10. Avoid content that’s too promotional.

Links are like votes; when someone observes value in your content, a link is a vote that means, “Yes, this content was helpful.” Promotional, or sales-sounding content, almost never fits the mold when it comes to obtaining natural links from authoritative sources.

So, what kind of content works best for building natural links? A linkable asset is typically longer, more in-depth and often broken up by skimable subheads or imagery. According to Search Engine Journal, studies, surveys, and research data fare particularly well at attracting organic links. If you don’t have content like this handy, brainstorm how you might go about obtaining unique data, or set up your own study and broadcast the results.

Link building is still very much a viable tactic for small businesses that want to increase their page ranking and gain better online visibility. We’re sure that if you start off with these 10 small business SEO link building hacks, you’ll be ready to take on more advanced tactics in the near future.

If you would like to learn how you can use link building for your small business, contact us today!