There are hundreds of ways to boost your chances of ranking on the first page of Google for your search term, and one of them is to build backlinks. Whether you’re a complete beginner or you already know a few things about search engine optimisation (SEO), read on to see for our five backlinks ideas for small businesses.
What is a backlink?
Backlinks, which are also known as inbound links, are links from your website to another website on the internet. This is a backlink to a Yell.com article on the same topic we’re discussing today, and you may find it useful to read that page if you want to learn more about what backlinks are. Simply put, every link on your website and on other’s websites pass authority (also known as link juice) between websites, telling search engines like Google that your website is of high quality and is worthy of being linked to as a resource.
Why backlinks are useful
The most obvious benefit of a backlink is that Google and other search engines will see that your website has been linked to by third-party websites, increasing your website’s authority and increasing your chances of ranking highly on results pages. As Moz reports, it’s very difficult for your website to rank for competitive search terms (i.e. keywords that relate to your products, services or industry) without backlinks. Therefore, businesses are placing more emphasis than ever on building links back to their websites to help them rank.
Backlinks are not just good for search engines, however. A link from a high-authority website that’s relevant to your industry and audience can generate traffic and bring more potential customers to your website. It’s essential, therefore, that you build backlinks.
1. Ask local businesses to add you to their resources page
If you’re friendly with other local businesses (whether they’re your suppliers, distributors or neighbours), then ask them to add a link back to your website on their resources pages. If, for example, you stock a particular local ice cream brand in your store, then you could ask the manufacturer to add a link back to your website on their distribution page. This link will provide value to your audience, as it will show them where they can buy the ice cream, and it will add value to your site, as it will give you a ranking boost and provide you with traffic.
If you’re unsure as to how to reach out to a local business for a backlink, try this template.
Hi [website owner],
I’ve noticed that you have a resources page that lists local businesses and suppliers in the area. I’ve just launched my website at [link to website], and was wondering whether you’d be interested in checking it out and potentially linking to it on your page?
I’ve already gone ahead and linked to your website on my latest blog post [link to blog post], as I think your resources page is really useful to locals and tourists to our area, too!
Keep up the good work. I’m looking forward to hearing from you soon.
An email like this is short, sweet and should do the job. If the website owner doesn’t get back to you, then consider reaching out in a month or two’s time with a gentle reminder. Webmasters, especially those running businesses at the same time, are just as busy as you.
There’s no need to give a reciprocal backlink if you don’t think their website will be relevant to your audience, but doing so can act as a carrot and encourage them to do the same.
2. Get listed on local business directories
Before Google became a part of our everyday lives, some webmasters attempted to categorise and sort the internet by creating directories. Nowadays, these ‘link building’ directories as no longer as prominent as they once were, but they can still be valuable if you use them correctly. Sign up to as many relevant local business directories as you can, and take the time to fill in all of the necessary fields to give you the best chances of success. Don’t forget to add a link back to your website – there’s little point in doing so without it!
Google My Business is one of the most important local business directories to sign up to, but you should also check out Yell, Yelp, Scoot, 192.com, Free Index and City Local. While some of these don’t offer backlinks as much (some websites turn off the value of backlinks by adding a no-follow tag to their code), there’s still value on being listed on these sites.
3. Run a competition to encourage bloggers to link to your website
Running a competition is a great way to get started on social media, but giveaways can also be used on your website to boost backlinks. Package together your products, services or buy a desirable item such as a MacBook or iPad, and offer it away in a competition. If you want to increase your chances of getting a backlink, then you could centre your competition around blog posts – ask entrants to blog about your products and link back to your website. Free promotion and a backlink too? That’s worth more than a MacBook any day!
4. Blog on other people’s websites
Despite the great backlinks ideas that we’ve discussed above, it can still be difficult to get website owners to commit to giving you a free link with nothing in return. One popular way of increasing your website’s backlinks is to guest blog – that is, write content for another website. This marketing technique can be expensive and time-consuming, especially if you’re doing it alongside running a business, but it’s one of the best ways of gaining a relevant backlink from a high-authority website that will pass ‘link juice’ to your website.
Reach out to relevant bloggers, news agencies and industry resource websites where you’d like a backlink, and ask them whether or not they’re accepting guest posts. If they do, write a high-quality article that can go on their blog, and weave in a natural link or two back to your website. If you’re feeling particularly inventive, make your backlinks match your chosen keywords – this will work wonders for boosting your results page rankings.
Use this email template to ask a blogger whether or not they’re accepting guest blogs – and personalise emails if you want to increase your chances of getting a placement.
Hello [website owner],
I’m an avid reader of your blog, and really enjoyed your recent article/resource on [topic here]. I actually shared it on social media and mentioned it in my latest blog post!
I was just wondering whether or not you’re currently accepting guest blogs? I’ve got an idea for a topic that I think would really suit your audience, and because I work in [industry], I thought it could be useful for me to share my knowledge. Let me know your thoughts!
Keep up the good work.
Another short and sweet email template that can often be enough to persuade a website owner to give you a place on their website. If they respond and ask for a payment, then think carefully – is it worth paying for a link on this website, or can I find a similar opportunity elsewhere for free? Remember that you already have to take the time to research and write content for their website – a payment on top of this could be too much.
You may even decide to allow other people to guest post on your website. While you won’t get a backlink for doing so, you’ll get the free content that you can use to rank on search engines, and it saves you an hour or two writing your weekly blog.
There are definite benefits to accepting a guest post, but you should exercise caution before doing so. Google can penalise websites that publish low-quality content or that link to spammy websites, so make sure you thoroughly check their content before posting it on your website. Consider a tool such as Linkio.com before submitting content to check for quality.
5. Put a link back to your website on your client’s websites
This final backlinks idea won’t be appropriate for every business, but it certainly works for some. If you offer a service, such as web design, hosting or consulting, then consider putting a link back to your website on your client’s websites. ‘Web hosting by [company name]’ is a great way of securing a free, fast backlink – and, if you have access to your client’s websites indefinitely, you can change the text and links depending on what you want to rank for.
Nuts and Bolts Media has put together the pros and cons of placing a footer link on your client’s website. Visibility, SEO and credit are some of the biggest benefits, while your client’s SEO and reputation management are some of the potential negatives.
How many backlinks do you need to rank for specific keywords?
The number of backlinks that you need to rank well for a specific term is highly dependent on the competitiveness of your term (i.e. “groceries” is a lot more competitive than “fruit and vegetable deliveries in Primrose Hill”). As Stream SEO reports, the quality of a backlink is now much more important than the quantity. So, you could have a thousand low-quality backlinks from websites that aren’t relevant to your industry and rank lower than a website with fifty high-quality backlinks that relate to their keyword and industry. The art of finding high-quality, relevant backlinks can be challenging, but by doing so, you’ll be able to rank.
Where can I see my current backlinks?
If you really want to take link building seriously, then there are several tools you can use to monitor links pointing to your website. Tools such as Ahrefs can be used to track backlinks, see which websites are linking to your competitors and even track your rankings. The tool offers a free trial if you want to experiment, but the full package starts at $99 per month.
More backlinks ideas
Today, we’ve talked about five unique ways to build links for your small business, but we’ve only scratched the surface. You could create infographics, reach out to websites that link to your competitors, build more internal links by linking to pages on your websites from blog posts, write testimonials on other websites, use Help a Reporter Out to share your knowledge and get a link when you’re used as an expert, and even donate to charities that offer a link to their donor’s websites.
How do you build links on your small business website? What challenges have you faced when trying to get backlinks? Let us know in the comments below.