Link Building Tips For Any Size Business: Q&A With Joe Youngblood

Link building is a constantly evolving SEO strategy. What used to be white hat techniques has now for the most part become black hat, leaving very few white hat options still around. This means SEO’s need to get creative when it comes to link building and expand outside the realm of just asking for guest posts.


Data that Neil Patel compiled estimated that the amount of links to a specific page composes 22.33% of Google’s ranking algorithm. Google has told us in the past that link building is the #1 ranking factor, so clearly SEO’s need to devote a majority of their strategy development to creative link building.


Joe Youngblood, Founder of the award-winning marketing creativity laboratory Winner Winner Chicken Dinner, knows his way around links. A multi-hat wearer, his work focuses on SEO research, link building, technical SEO, reputation management, and social media marketing. He is also a frequent speaker on SEO at conferences, universities, and workshops. You can certainly classify him with the “experts” of SEO. With his extensive research and experience in link building it only seemed fitting to ask him what some of the best techniques and tips are for link building.

I asked Joe nine questions about how businesses can create and perfect their link building to help improve rankings. His responses were juicy, to say the least.


A: Link building / earning is definitely not for just large companies, every company that wishes to gain organic search engine traffic should have a plan to gain new links. In some industries it might even be one of the most important things for a small or medium-sized business to do. Remember every day that you’re not out there trying to get new, good, links, that your competitors are.


A: Great question! The reality is that it’s probably different for each local business. To figure out how best to gain links for our clients I look at numerous factors including; competitor links, current content on the client’s website, related content on local media websites, the client’s resources, the client’s mission statement, and use that information to help develop tactics to gain links.


I would say the best ways I’ve seen smaller businesses compete in gaining links is creating custom photos and images and by writing locally focused evergreen content that bigger websites may not be able to produce because they lack the local knowledge. Especially for clients who have never built links before, or have solely only purchased links, my focus is finding ways to align link attainment with their core business values and their internal strengths.


A: Like most of SEO this will be different for every business. For really small businesses that do maybe one or two services or sell one or two products with only one or a few locations, I typically recommend that we focus on their on-page content, technical SEO, and citation data first.


Once we have most of that looking good we’ll spend 75% of our time from that point on focusing on gaining new links. For medium-sized businesses and up, without any other data to rely on, I  would recommend about a 50/50 split keeping in mind of course good link building should also entail creating new content on your site.


A: Oh, most definitely. Most of our clients do about 10 to 15 different types of link building throughout the year. I’m not against guest posts, though it’s gotten far harder these days in many verticals and I feel like the value is diminished from the 2011-2013 time frame. If you’re doing only guest blogging I would recommend branching out and trying a few other tactics to gain links to build a more robust link portfolio.


A: Yes, it does and I think social media’s role in building / earning links will continue to increase and evolve. I’ve had success spreading content via Reddit, Imgur, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, and even Facebook which gained valuable links using both paid and organic strategies.


Unfortunately a small business most often can’t focus on more than one social media channel. Pick one or more and find ways to get your content in front of those who might link to you such as local bloggers, local media, or other journalists and bloggers.



A: I think the biggest DON’T is to stay away from anyone making promises in terms of number of links or precise rankings. Link building is incredibly difficult to do, and it keeps getting harder, which means anyone promising a specific number of links or instantaneous increases in rankings or organic traffic is likely going to do something to violate Google’s Webmaster Guidelines or even worse which means an algorithmic demotion or a penalty are highly possible.


Some other DONT’s I would say that are important for small business owners to know are:
  • Don’t spam comments to gain a link
  • Don’t join any link referral schemes
  • Don’t use just your target keyword anchor text.
A: One tactic I like is Facebook Ad targeting to local media / journalists / bloggers. To do this first start by ‘boosting’ one of your content posts on Facebook to your current audience. After you get some reactions, comments, and shares then make a custom audience focused on your local city and make sure that you only target people where the job title includes bloggers, journalist, producer, etc… Then re-boost your post to this custom audience.


For a few dollars you can often times get the attention of busy journalists without emailing them and get stories about your content, events, or PR work with nice links in them.



A: Start off slow, learn from your early failures, and measure as much as you can with as many tools as you can. Over time you’ll get better at link building, outreach, and content creation and you’ll reap those benefits as your traffic increases.

About Ashley Ward

Ashley Ward is a Corporate Speaker for SEMrush, an EPIC all-in-one tool designed to make life simpler for digital marketers. Ashley is passionate about helping businesses and individuals gain longterm ROI through teaching content marketing and social media tactics. With over 6 years in the digital marketing industry, Ashley brings first hand experience and case studies to inspire marketers around the world to better their strategies using the SEMrush platform and unique marketing tactics. She regularly speaks at workshops and conferences like Pubcon, RetailGlobal, SMS, and more. Ashley is also a contributing writer to industry blogs such as Search Engine Journal and AuthorityLabs.

Filed under: Tips

One Comment

Nick Stamoulis

I’m a fan of Moz’s Open Site Explorer for link research. It’s always helpful to see where competitors are getting links from. From there, you can decide if you should be pursuing those link opportunities too.

Comments are closed.