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.
Q: How should a local business build their links?
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.
Q: How much of an SEO strategy should be focused on building links and why?
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.
Q: Is there more to link building than just asking for guest posts?
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.
Q: There are a lot of do’s and don’ts when it comes to link building. What are some of the big DON’Ts?
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.
Q: Say I already do “basic” link building, what are some “advanced” tactics to link building that won’t get me flagged?
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.
Q: What’s one final tip to give a brand who’s trying to increase their rankings using link building?
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.