Whether you’re just starting out as a small business or you’re a few years in, maintaining a high, first page rank on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) is challenging. It’s sometimes an uphill battle to learn and then remember all the different SEO strategies to rank well. And most often, once you do, search engines’ algorithms change! So, if you’re frazzled and frustrated looking for a dependable method on how to boost your SERP ranking, look no further than building links!
Link building is one the of the easiest (and most dependable) SEO SERP ranking factors that never changes! Algorithms come and go, almost on a daily basis, but the ranking power of linking is here to stay!
The Basics of Building Links
There are two main types of links: backlinks (also called inbound links) and outbound links. They’re basically the same thing, it just depends what side of the equation you’re on. Backlinks are those hyperlinks on a webpage that link back to your site. Outbound links are hyperlinks on your own page to another webpage.
Moz states, “Link building is the process of acquiring hyperlinks from other websites to your own.” When reputable sources cite your website or your specific webpage as a source for their information, search engines see that and index your page as a valid information source. The more of those links you get directing searchers back to your site, the more credibility you build with search engines. And you can do the same for other website and pages as well. Building links from reputable websites is the key. Acquiring links from websites that are trustworthy companies that are also in your vertical market is what Google is watching.
Google uses links to help Google index as many webpages as possible. Google “spiders” or crawls a web page to index it and then does the same with any other web pages it links to. (Google has a great video explaining this process here.)
Bad vs Good Linking Practices
You can’t just link to any ‘ol page and expect your ranking to increase. Link building is here to help you! But, don’t go crazy, because not all links are created equal. There are good and bad linking methods that both come with corresponding consequences.
In the early days of SEO, a site or page with tons of outbound and inbound links was considered “good”, regardless of where the links were going or coming from. Today, the standards have changed! Search engines (and searchers) care about your credibility and who you associate your information with. Search engines, like Google, are now smart enough to recognize if the sites linking back to yours are phony or irrelevant. And, they’re not afraid to dish out punishment (in the form of low SERP ranking) if they find your website guilty of this internet crime.
As a general reminder, don’t include outbound links to websites that have nothing to do with your industry, market, service, or product. You’ll want to link to websites that already have a positive, established reputation with search engines.
How to Get Started With Link Building
Now that you understand what link building is, let’s get started with it! Link building has been an SEO ranking factor with Google since the early ‘90s and is still going strong today. Receiving inbound links is like a vote of confidence in the content on your webpage, so you want to gain as many inbound links from other sites as possible.
There are a ton of ways to gain inbound links to your site, but here are just a few ideas to get you started:
- Network with other non-competitive professionals in your industry
- Amp-up your content marketing and start posting it regularly on your website
- Start posting about your new content on social media accounts (linking back to your site)
- Guest write for a blog
- Ask others to guest write on your blog
- Include “tweet this” buttons in your content to make it easier to share
- Start building up customer reviews
But, the most important way to increase your chances of gaining backlinks to your site would be to create thorough, quality content. Always. No one will link to you if you’re only publishing 300 word articles or pages filled with out of date information. You don’t need a Master’s in writing, but you do need to be dedicated in everything you curate and publish.
Your Brand Matters
Apart from your great content, you need to establish and build up your small business brand if you want to gain backlinks and increase your SERP rank. Get your name out there and create content, videos, social media accounts, infographics etc. associated with your brand name. The more often you create and publish content representing your brand, the more people will see and start to recognize your small business name, logo, and brand.
Once you build up your followers on social media and your business customers, you’ll have more people who may be willing to provide backlinks or mentions to your site. It’s worth it to build your brand, because it’s not likely you’ll gain any backlinks if your business isn’t well known or active in your industry. Searchers and other businesses won’t use you as a source for their content if they don’t trust your brand and have never heard of you before.
Link building is one of the best ways to increase your SERP rank. Links have continued to remain an important ranking factor across search engines despite the hundreds of updates that happen every year. It doesn’t matter where you are in your small business journey, link building will always be relevant and an important SEO SERP ranking technique to study and implement.