3 Ways for Small Business Marketers to Build Inbound Links

Think of inbound links like a handshake or vote of confidence. They’re a sign of faith and trust. They’re the internet’s version of word-of-mouth advertising, so they’re worth their weight in gold. The search engines look at these inbound links to determine popularity and relevancy, so it’s important for inbound links to contain keywords that match the destination content.

You may have heard the terms “Penguin” and “Panda” being throw around in various marketing circles. These black and white animals are more than just cute, lovable creatures. They’re the names of recent Google algorithm changes that prevent black-hat (unethical) SEO techniques and tactics from being effective.

One of the main things these changes focused on is penalizing websites that have inbound links coming from “link farms” and other spammy, irrelevant websites. This is great news for small business marketers performing white-hat (ethical, think “good guy”) SEO techniques like those I’m about to share with you today.

Follow these white-hat link building techniques to boost your rankings.

1. Publish Content as Often as Possible

Think about it. If you don’t have valuable content people can link to, then you will not have any content that anyone can link to. You need to publish content to your website in the form of helpful blog posts, interesting articles, news and events, customer survey results, fascinating industry trends, case studies, or funny stories your audience can relate to. These content pieces tend to be shareable, and with social shares comes inbound links.

Be sure to publish these pieces of content on the same day of the week, every week. If you can, publish them at the same time of day too. You will start to build a readership who will be expecting to hear from you on that day and time every week.  If you let them down, you may lose a reader and a potential link buddy.

The more content you can publish every week, the more opportunities you have for building inbound links. Be sure to make it relevant. If you’re a pizzeria in New York City, you wouldn’t want to write a blog article about your favorite sporting goods shop in Raleigh/Durham. Instead, write about your six favorite pizzerias in Chicago and why they made your list. Let the six Chicago pizzerias know about the article and they’ll probably link to it…six new relevant inbound links.

2. Be a Social Butterfly

Don’t be afraid to take part in some social media: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Pinterest!

Follow and engage others in your industry. Ask for reviews of your products and services. Create a Google Places page for your business. Post photo caption contests. Create visuals like infographics, memes, and videos. Use a social media aggregate like HootSuite to post links to all of these things in your social media accounts. Ask your family and friends to follow you, then share, like, and retweet your articles (more on that next). These social interactions result in more inbound links and can influence things like Facebook’s EdgeRank.

Make sure you’ve added a sharing tool on your website that allows your readers to easily share your content so they don’t have to copy and paste the URL of the post. We use AddThis on the BoostSuite Blog posts to accomplish this. Encourage sharing by making it as easy as possible. More shares = more inbound links.

3. Leverage Your Personal and Professional Networks

Don’t be afraid to reach out to people in your network of friends, family, colleagues, partners, even your own employees. You already have relationships with these folks and they’re are the easiest place to start building quality inbound links. I said “leverage,” not “take advantage of” because they’re doing you a favor and you should return it any way you can.

Reach out to your colleagues and ask it you could provide them with a guest post on their blog and vice versa. Make sure you provide a link back to your site in the content and make sure they do the same. Agree that you’ll both share each other’s posts via social media (back to #2) and your email newsletter.

Go to some industry events: networking, conferences, trade shows. Put yourself out there. Meet new people, exchange business cards (containing your website URL, of course), and talk about your businesses. LISTEN. Follow up with the folks who you think your audience would love and benefit the most hearing from. You can also do things the manual way: Just ask for a link exchange. “I’ll add a link to your website if you add a link to mine.” The worst thing they could say is “no” or nothing at all.

Get Started Building High-Quality Inbound Links Now

You aren’t going to magically get thousands of high-quality inbound links overnight (unless you’re the next Psy or Carly Rae Jepson). Link building is a process. It takes time and effort. The good news is once you have an inbound link, it’s there forever unless the page is deleted. You have to start somewhere, so make like that old Nike ad and Just Do It.

Begin by setting a content schedule, then publishing valuable and interesting content to your website on a weekly basis. Setup your free social media accounts and USE them to your advantage. Finally, don’t be afraid to actually ask your personal and professional networks for links and shares.

I’ll leave you with an interesting factoid you can try yourself. Do you want to know how many inbound links you have coming to your website right now? Head to Google.com and search ‘links:www.yourdomain.com’. All of the results that come up will be from pages that contain links to your homepage. Cool right?

Good luck! I hope you’ve found my article helpful. Do you have any other link-building tips that you’d like to share? Leave them in the comments!

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Ryan Kettler
Ryan Kettler is Director of Communications for BoostSuite, a web marketing optimization product for small business marketers. Ryan is a sports fanatic, beer connoisseur, Internet marketing zealot and live music enthusiast. When he’s not helping BoostSuite customers he can be found on the golf course, running 5k's, or sampling IPA.

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