Link building is a crucial aspect of Google’s organic ranking algorithm. Essentially, the more high quality links you receive from other websites, the more credible Google believes you to be. If you and a competitor are vying for the same keyword, with all things fairly equal in terms of on-site optimization (i.e. optimizing title/meta tags, headers, body copy, etc), it’s the off-site optimization, or inbound links, that will help you place higher in the search results.
All inbound links are not created equal, which makes link building that much more difficult. Google has a sort of ranking hierarchy when it comes to domain extensions. Any .gov, .edu or .org link is going to carry more weight than a .com or .net. The first domain extensions I mentioned are all informational in nature, generally providing resources, whereas, .com’s and .net’s are definitely more commercial. Sites that carry the .info and .biz domain extensions carry even less weight as these sites tend to be a bit more spammy (not always, but generally speaking).
So, as a small business, how do you go about link building in an effective way? There are a number of strategies you can take to obtain high quality links, however, I will warn you that it is time consuming. The strategies I’m going to outline are more manual in nature, versus link development tactics such as directory submissions or article marketing.
- If you reside in the same city as a university, consider working with the business/marketing department (or whatever) to get links. Ask if you can post potential job openings for internships. Most departments, and even professors will have a sub domain on the university’s website. This is an excellent .edu link.
- Do you provide a service to your city? If so, work with your city government to get listed on their site. Maybe you are hosting an event that would benefit the community, and they’d be willing to put a link on their site in the events section. We’ve worked with clients who have done this, pretty easy to do. These sites will all use the .gov domain extension too.
- Don’t overlook all of the hyper-local directories that are out there. Get yourself listed in the appropriate category.
- Utilize any PR experience you have to work with local newspapers to get links in stories. Always be thinking about how you can pitch a story to the local news channel.
- Working with local organizations, or charities, can be a great way to get a link. Whether you donate money or resources, ask them for a link in return, and most are more than happy to do so. Most of these organizations have a .org domain extension, which is a juicy one.