How Small Businesses Can Gain More Links in 3 Easy Steps
Not only is having an abundance of links pointing people to your site one of the best ways to boost your SEO, it’s also one of the most difficult. While many aspects of site optimization lie within your control—keywords, tagging, social media, advertising, etc.—links are mostly out of your hands. Sure, you can create fantastic content, but the sharing habits of your audience are beyond your control.
So, what should small businesses with limited resources be doing to get those valuable links? This post will guide you through a number of strategies that will help give you exposure, and constantly fuel your SEO through inbound links.
1. Local Opportunities
Small businesses need to think about how they can boost their SEO offline as well as online. Your community will respond well to any support that you give, and you promote your business’ name in the process—you could even get local press involved for extra exposure! Here are some ways of promoting your business within your local community.
Setting up and hosting an event is a great way to serve your community. A small town fair at a park or school, a garage sale, a summer barbecue—these are all events that could easily be set up and draw crowds. If your business is named as the host, the locals will positively associate that name with the community and may mention it online.
Think about what kind of event you’d like to host and begin getting in touch with the necessary people—including proprietors of potential venues, entertainment, catering, etc. Ask that the venue promotes your website with a link on the event page, advertise the event on your website too, and share it around within your network.
If you don’t have the budget to set up an event from scratch, look around for some that are already organized and find out how you can get involved. This could involve sponsorship in return for promotion and links in the marketing material, or you might be able to set up a stall to promote your services. Search through listings on your town’s website or forum to see what is coming up.
You could also sponsor local clubs and organizations such as The Salvation Army, the Boy Scouts, or rotary clubs. Try doing a search for your town or city name followed by ‘inurl:sponsors’ or ‘intitle:sponsors’. This should give you some idea of clubs and organizations that accept sponsorships in your local area. Sponsorship will not only get your business name and link in a prominent position on the organization’s website, it’s also a great thing to do for your community.
If sponsorship and events aren’t within your budget, taking the time to give a talk at an event, university or school is a good alternative to getting people talking about your business online. Think about what aspects of your business you could speak to a local audience about—your roots in the area, your work in the community, business experiences and entrepreneurship even—and keep an ear to the ground for opportunities to do so.
If you do find your soapbox, make sure that you ask the organizers to include a link to your website!
Directories and Listings
Your town or wider area probably has directories and listings of businesses. Make sure that you are listed in these, with all of the correct details.
Such directory sites may include:
- Local chamber of commerce listings.
- City directories.
- Yelp, CitySearch, Merchant Circle, etc.
Listing sites may also have spaces for customer reviews, so encourage your customers to leave feedback on their experiences with your business. It’s also a good idea to reply to any reviews, whether positive or negative!
Offer small discounts to people from local institutions, such as colleges, universities or government offices. Doing so not only helps get the word around, but you can also ask that the discounts be promoted on their website with a link.
2. Collaborative Opportunities
Another good tactic involves proactively offering links and opportunities to others online. These small acts of kindness may return to you in the long run. Here are some collaborative opportunities you could explore:
All businesses like yours are looking to gain links, so why not reach out to some? When you post content on your site, link out to relevant sites that your customers may find interesting. For example, if your business sells bespoke furniture and you see a site with interesting information about tools, add a link. Doing so will not only be informative for your customers and establish your site as a good place for related resources, but the other business may see your link in their analytics and repay the gesture.
You could also do this by asking people to guest blog on your site. Doing so is a direct favor that would benefit another small business, and they are likely to show their gratitude by linking to you.
However, don’t link to direct competitors or other sites that could harm your business. The other site may still link back to you somewhere along the line, but your customers may have jumped ship in the process.
Leaving valuable reviews for other businesses, products and services will not only give you an opportunity to leave a link to your site, it will also establish your business as a reliable and trusted voice. As a result, people may refer to you as a good source of reviews and feedback.
Make sure that your reviews are reasonable though. Don’t deliberately leave bad reviews for your competitors, or you could drag your own name through the mud in the process.
Hosting a small giveaway or competition on your site is a superb way to draw traffic and get links from all over the web. People love freebies and will generally be happy to share your link if that is a condition of entry. Competitions often draw in people who aren’t interested in the business hosting it; they just love free stuff—this doesn’t matter, as long as they share your link!
Cities and towns almost always have awards for local businesses. While they may sometimes require a small entry fee, it’s still worth entering. It is great publicity to be listed as the best in your town, and the awards website will often feature details (and links!) to the winners and nominees. Win or lose, it’s a fantastic opportunity to get links to your site and recognition in the process.
Search for potential local awards with some of the following example search terms:
- “Chicago”+”nominate”+”best restaurant”.
- “Nominate a business”+”portland”.
- “Best of San Francisco”+”nominate”.
To increase links, you could also:
- Attend networking events with other small business owners and establish working relationships.
- Ask suppliers or sellers of your product to include links on their websites.
- Promote aspects of your business that aren’t directly related to what you’re selling—for example, if your business is particularly eco-friendly or currently hiring. People are interested in these more human aspects and may include a link when creating relevant content.
Gaining inbound links can often feel like something beyond your control; something that requires a lot of time and effort. In fact, this is not true, and the tactics outlined in this post may prove to be your most valuable methods of gaining inbound links.
To recap, here are the three areas you should be focusing on to get those all important links:
- Local opportunities.
- Collaborative opportunities.
Time spent engaging with your local audience, giving back to the community, and enlisting help from similar businesses are all ways in which your website can begin to gain valuable organic links.
What tactics have you used for getting your website out there? Let us know in the comments below!
Solomon Thimothy is the Co-founder of Clickx, a Chicago-based white label digital marketing platform. He has been in the agency space for over a decade and has helped 100s of entrepreneurs build 7 and 8 figure agencies. He helps agency owners on a 1:1 basis to scale sales and fulfillment. Follow him on twitter @sthimothy