As Google begins to penalize every known link-building technique, it is going to extremely tough going forward for small businesses with an online channel to build a high-quality linking strategy. So the success of your business’ SEO is going to depend on how creative you can get.
I asked a few successful SEO agencies and small businesses on the strategies they used to get links for their websites. Here are some of their tips:
1. Build helpful tools for your industry
Every industry has a need for unique tools that will make life easier. While a lot of these tools can be packaged and sold as a product, there are several other smaller tools that are useful but may not actually be turned into a business.
According to Dave Davis, the managing director of RedFlyMarketing, free tools for SEO purposes has been so successful for his company that they now have a dedicated budget to build such tools that their peers and competition can use.
2. Target your journalists on Facebook
Press releases are bland, and they don’t really work in getting the word out to the journalists any more.
According to photographer and writer Annalise Kaylor, spending hundreds of dollars in getting these releases syndicated across PR distribution companies is a futile exercise. Instead, she recommends using Facebook ads to specifically target the journalists you want to reach out to. She recommends aggregating a list of journalists you want to reach out to. Once done, search for their names on Facebook and dig out their profile IDs. Finally, create Facebook ads promoting your blog post and target them at these specific Facebook profiles. Here is a short tutorial of the process. This technique is not only effective but costs you pennies to reach out.
3. Local sponsorships
If you are a small business catering to a specific geography, then backlinks from organizations in your town or neighborhood offer a great deal of SEO impact.
According to Jared Carrizales, the founder at Heroic Search, one way to do this would be to sponsor events. He typically does this by first performing a backlink analysis of competition and identifying links got through sponsorships –digital and local. Once the right events are identified, it is simply a matter of allocating the appropriate budget. Jared says this is a great way to build links from colleges, local events and industry conferences.
4. Create something fun for linking
You don’t always have to create ultra-useful tools and resources to earn links. Sometimes doing something fun will bring links too.
This is exactly what Blue Fountain Media did to earn nearly 50 additional links. Austin Paley, the company’s corporate communications manager, explains that the team decided to implement a playable version of Pac-Man on the website’s 404 page. This took the visitors who landed there by surprise — so much so that a lot of people ended up hyperlinking to the site.
5. Identifying dead businesses
While new businesses are created every day, a lot of existing businesses die.
Brian Dean, the founder of SEO training company, Backlinko says he regularly identifies websites in his industry that have shut shop. Analyzing their backlink profiles will help you identify a number of links from high authority websites that are linking to the now-dead website. Brian says he has been able to get a lot of these websites to replace their outdated links with new resources on his website by just emailing them.
6. Turning copyright violations to linking opportunities
Businesses that own their content (like photographers, event organizers, etc.) are vulnerable to copyright violations where photos and videos they own are shared on other websites, often without permission.
Mark Healy, the director of search at Zog Digital says that instead of threatening these websites with lawsuits, you could turn them into a link-building opportunity. Healy says you could identify such opportunities by simply dragging the images you own from the desktop to Google search bar. This action will list out all the websites using your image with or without permission.
7. Barter services
Depending on your industry, there are services in your area of expertise that you can offer to other website and business owners in exchange for a link.
Chris Dyson from TripleSEO once tried to get a client’s website listed on a Christmas Gift Guide. He was charged $175 by the website owner. Instead of paying for the link, Chris decided to barter a service. He noticed that the website’s header was awful and offered to redesign that in exchange for a link. Not only did Chris manage to get a new header design made over Fiverr for cheap but also managed to get his client’s link included in the website’s Christmas guide.