Before I Begin…
Hopefully, everyone knows what I’m talking about when I say the word “link;” and no, I’m not talking about a popular video game character. I’m talking about web links, hyperlinks, etc.
These links are a piece of text that someone browsing a website or other piece of online content can click on to be taken to a different piece of online content. In most cases, links on your site will go to:
- Another one of your web pages;
- A download page/file for an offer; or
- A different web site with content you’re citing/quoting.
Links are useful for guiding website visitors to the content you want them to see. But, they can also be a powerful tool for improving website SEO.
What I can Do:
Step 1: Create a Page for Your Website on Some Top-Ranked Directories
Two of the biggest things you need in any link-building campaign are back links to your website and citations of content on your site. Back links are when another website has a link to your website, citations are when another website mentions your business name, address, or piece of content you’ve written without linking to your site.
One of the easiest ways to build up some back links and citations for your business’ website is to set up a page for your business on the top local and national directories. For the intents and purposes of this post, a directory is a website like Yelp, Google+ Local, Pages.com, local chambers of commerce, etc. that lists different businesses for a given region or industry.
Many of these directories offer businesses the ability to create an account or page that lists their business name, address, phone number, and website link, along with a spot for customers to leave a review of that business.
This gives you a great chance to get not only a backlink to your website, but to also garner some citations for your business—passively helping your website’s SEO by building authority.
Of course, this can also be a pretty good way to direct some traffic to your website independently of your SERP ranking—especially if you’re on a popular directory site such as Yelp! and get plenty of positive reviews from locals.
*Note: Many sites, such as Yelp!, strictly prohibit businesses from asking for reviews from customers. Some, like Angie’s list, take very strict measures to prevent anonymous reviews for or against a business.
Taking a few minutes or an hour to get your company on as many of these directories as possible is a great way to improve your link-building SEO strategy. Of course, you might want to make sure that there aren’t any duplicate pages for your company on any of these directories.
Step 2: Local-Specific Directories
While getting on the big directories, if you have a location-specific business, you’ll want to make sure that you’re on a few local-specific directories, such as:
- Google+ Local listingpages
- Your local Chamber of Commerce website
Just to name a few directories that can sort visits/traffic and businesses by location.
As a corollary to getting on “local” directories, make sure that your business’ name & address are registered with the major map data aggregators.
Being listed accurately with these map data aggregators helps put your business’ address on commonly-used map/GPS apps such as Apple Maps and Google Maps—allowing people to easily find your business in real life.
Step 3: Schmooze People (i.e. Build Relationships) On Social Media
Never underestimate the power of having a strong presence on social media.
Being active on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. can help you actively engage with your customers and turn them into fans who help you share and promote your content.
For example, say you share a link to one of your blogs on your Facebook page, and someone takes that Facebook post and shares it with their friends. Now, you have a back link to your site on Facebook AND a post getting shared with people on that fan’s friends list that might never have heard of your company otherwise.
Add to this the ability to interact with online groups to help you expand your reach, and you’ve got a powerful tool for improving your link-building strategy.
Of course, you’ll want to make sure that the social media sites that you engage with have a decent user base of people who need your particular products/services. Targeting social media networks where none of your ideal customers hang out can be a waste of time and effort.
I will Building up relationships with people online via social media and turning them into fans/promoters/evangelists is a great way to boost your business’ reach online.
Step 4: Create Content Worth Sharing
Okay, real talk here for a second: we all need to stop writing crap. Blogging consistently and frequently is one of the keys to building your website’s SEO, but what we write really needs to be something worth sharing.
Let me put it this way: I Can write for you one really great, well thought-out post that gives readers something worth reading, you’ll usually get a lot more back links and citations than you’d get with two or three cruddy, bare-minimum effort posts.
I Build a Relationship with Thought Leaders. Get to know the thought leaders in your industry and build a relationship with them. I’ll contact them if they can do an interview and if they’re okay with your category publishing it as a blog. Or, I’ll ask them if they’d like to guest blog on your website.
- Be Timely When Covering Big News.There’s a little practice I would like to call “news jacking;” wherein I’ll write a post about some big event in the industry (data breaches for SaaS companies, major changes to financial regulations for financial services companies, etc.). However, with these posts, time is of the essence—the faster you can get something out there, the more likely you are to secure a few back links and citations when others start to talk about the same event. So, when doing the news, you want to be as close to being the first person to cover the event as possible.
- I can Use Images and Formatting to Create Something That Looks Nice.I’ve been guilty of creating the dreaded wall of text more than once. By breaking up post content so it’s easy to skim and visually interesting, you’re more likely to keep readers engaged with your content. I’ve even experimented with making video posts and audio narration for some posts so people can listen to a post rather than having to read it.
Step 5: I can Promote the Content You Have
To get a back link or citation for any piece of content you have, someone has to, of course, see that content in the first place. Promoting your content is a basic way to build up your link strategy by making sure people see your content and start sharing/linking it.
There are numerous ways to promote your content online, such as sharing it on social media, or creating Pay-Per-Click (PPC) campaigns that link to big content pieces.
People will subscribe to your blog and generate emails or RSS feed notifications whenever you publish a new post. When your existing contacts take a look, there’s a chance they’ll share the new post with others, creating links to your site.
Step 6: I can Write a Guest Blog Post On Someone Else’s Site
In time, you might find that you’ve become regarded as an industry thought leader yourself, and have other people asking you to do a guest blog.
Embrace this opportunity when you can, but be sure to vet any sites asking for a guest post.
Cultivate relationships with these other websites and write a great guest blog, complete with links back to your own site as appropriate. You might even find that it’s advantageous to let the owner of the other site write a guest blog for your website—letting you both benefit.
Long Story Short,
Okay, I know I’ve written a horrendously long post, so here’s a quick checklist for improving My SEO strategy:
- Register with National and Local Business Directories
- Make sure directory listings are consistent
- Register Your Business Name and Address with Map Aggregates
- Build a Presence on Social Media
- Be responsive to followers
- Publish links to content from time to time on social media channels
- Research Authoritative Sources in Your Industry
- Make a list
- Check it twice
- Cultivate relationships with thought leaders when you can
- Make content with help/input from the top thought leaders
- Write Content Worth Sharing
- Use good research
- Be timely with big news posts
- Have someone else check your spelling and grammar
- Promote Your Content
- Use social media to share posts
- Weigh pros and cons of using PPC ad campaigns
- Get people to opt-in to new post notifications and send out email and RSS feed updates (create a “subscribe to our blog” button)
- Guest Blog On Reputable Sites for Others When Offered
Well, I know this was a long read for an online post, but I hope you find it to be useful.