Building Links for Small Business
Yes, this is still important.  And with Google’s recent Penguin 4.0 announcement, even more important to get right. So how do you get it right?
Links are the subject of many questions I receive from business owners looking for DiY SEO. There are all kinds of thoughts about how to get links quickly, most of which has been tried and punished.  And now that links are assessed in real time instead of during algorithm updates (that’s the Penguin 4.0 update), shortcuts are even more ill-advised. Link exchanges, purchasing links, shady SEO, anchor text in blog comments, spamming social media with sitelinks, websites with names like bestseolinks – all bad ideas.

So what can you do? How do you unlock the links?

Create compelling, high quality content.  Then get the word out.


  1. Competitor Research – Who is linking to your competitors and why? Maybe the owner spoke at a conference or attended a trade show that you also spoke at or attended.  Or maybe a manufacturer you and your competitor sells gave them a link and not you. You’re in business with a lot of people.  Sometimes all you have to do is ask them.
  2. Broken Links – There is nothing webmasters hate more than mistakes on their sites.  And links get broken all the time.  If you have a resource that would be good for their readers, suggest they replace the broken link with one from you.
  3. Community Outreach – This is especially wonderful for local businesses.  Maybe you coach or sponsor a team, maybe you volunteer on the board of a non-profit, or maybe you have been mentioned in the local paper. It is not out of line to ask for a link from these relationships as well.
  4. Content and Outreach – There is nothing more powerful than creating something that people want and then telling them about it.  Maybe you’re a real estate agent and want your current, past, and potential clients to share something of yours.  Think about what a new homeowner might need (seasonal maintenance guide? local attraction/events list?). Then give it to them. For free.  If people find it helpful, they will share it.
  5. Guest Posts – This one gets a lot of flack, but it can still be a great resource.  The trick is not to stray outside your industry or expertise.  If you’re a plumber, find a DiY homeowner’s site with a plumbing section and pitch them some ideas. Don’t try for HGTV.
  6. Directories – This one gets an even worse rap. Again, this is about relevance and helpfulness. Your local publications will have business guides.  And if you belong to professional organizations, they will have member lists.  These all fall into the directory category.
  7. Press and PR – You may not have a new product launching or a new business starting, but there are all kinds of ways to build a rapport with reporters. And one is being a go-to for information on a bigger news item.  When big news happens in your industry, contact local media to see if they’re planning on covering it.  A few conversations on a topic and you’ll be on their source call list for the future.
  8. Prospecting – Search.  This is basic, but a few targeted searches on specific topics can yield great link sources. A search like [keyword] +minnesota +resources will yield interesting results, most of which could be targeted for link opportunities.
“You’re in business with a lot of people.  Sometimes all you have to do is ask them.”
Links are Google’s way of measuring your real-life position in your industry or community.  Using your business contacts and network are the best way to achieve this.  And when your site’s backlink profile accurately reflects this, your ranks will likely follow.
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