Any small business site owner who has done as little as ‘dabble’ with web marketing will have come across ‘link building’ at some stage. But how does building links benefit your business, and how should you go about getting links in the first place?
Why build up links to your site?
In essence, most search engines, including the only one which really matters – Google, rank websites according to a number of different factors. One of the most important factors is a measurement of the number, and quality of inbound links any given website receives. The more ‘relevant’ links you have pointing back to your site, the better for your visibility in search engine results.
In addition to the number, and quality of links you have pointing back at you, the actual wording or ‘anchor text’ which appears in the link itself is also important, as many instances of the same phrase would most likely indicate that the page being pointed to is indeed about that phrases.
For example, if you own a virtual office service business called ‘Virtual Solutions Limited’, you will receive more benefit from inbound links with anchor text such as ‘virtual offices’, or ‘virtual office service’ than the name of your company.
One of the best ways to build up links to your website is by offering advice or writing articles on other websites. If you provide good answers to questions on business bulletin boards, your ‘signature’ may drive forum users to visit your site, and should have some search engine benefits too.
Offer to write opinion pieces, or provide FAQs to other sites in your industry, and you will build up a reputation as an ‘expert’, providing numerous benefits to your business.
Hiring a web marketing firm
If you don’t have the time or inclination to undertake web marketing work yourself, there is no shortage of SEO firms out there who will be more than happy to work on your behalf. Try to find recommendations from people you know, or from industry forums, before signing up with a provider.
Companies who promise to provide you with ‘1000 directory links in 10 days’ or suchlike, are probably best to be avoided. It is highly unlikely that you will ever receive the number of links you were promised, and the quality of the links you do receive are likely to be ‘dubious’ at best.
With all link building measures, make sure you don’t overdo it. Link building should be as natural as possible. Try to avoid paying firms for mass link-building programmes, and vary the anchor text you request in links back to you.
Patience is the key
Above all, you need to be patient. The most popular and respected sites have been built up over a number of years, and there are no short cuts.
The best links always come from other website in a similar industry to yours. It may seem counter-intuitive to contact rival site owners, but a well-placed link from a competitors’ site may be worth hundreds of links from unrelated low quality sites.
If you take some time out of your diary each month to dedicate to setting up links with other sites in your industry, and be prepared to spend some time researching potential target sites, and following up requests, you should slowly but surely see your visibility in Google improve, and the number of your site visitors should rise accordingly.