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Some of the use cases explained in this case study are not available in lower plans.
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Effective SEO Strategies to Increase Visibility and Branding
How can small brands get high quality links? Every SEO and small business must have asked themselves that once. Though big brands attract links, small brands have to hunt for them. Fortunately, in the land of SEO, small, nimble businesses can snatch up powerful links if they know where to look.
Though big brands attract links, small brands have to hunt for them. Fortunately, in the land of SEO, small, nimble businesses can snatch up powerful links if they know where to look.
But where to start? In this guide, small brands will learn excellent ways to find links, including several overlooked strategies that will surprise you with their simplicity.
Don't compare yourself to big brands. Focus instead on what opportunities you can immediately seize and keep moving forward.
Someday you may be one of those big brands and guides like this would have helped you get there.
Enjoy & Learn
Christoph C. Cemper
Table of contents
- Sign up to good directories
- Local directories
- General business directories
- Niche specific directories
- Join associations
- Reach out to the press
- Get reviews
- Give testimonials
- Offer internships
- Attend offline events
- Organize contests
- Support local sponsorship
- Establish complementary partnerships
- Use relationships you already have
Building great links that Google will like and perceive as natural is not easy. If you are an owner of a small business, you probably find link building even more complicated because of the size of your company. Admittedly, big brands are in slightly better position here. Because they are well known and they already have a lot of traffic from other sources, they can get many natural editorial links from various places just for publishing some good content on their website.
By following these tips, you will be able to build high quality links, no matter the size of your company. I also highly recommend reading my previous case study, How to find great link prospects, and combine it with the tips from this tutorial.
Sign up on good directories
Directories are a slippery matter. They are stigmatized, but not all of them are bad. Of course, you should definitely avoid the low quality ones created only for SEO purposes and duplicated on many strange domains.
So then, which directories are okay to use? Look for real, well-maintained brands that have traffic and offer additional value to their users. One of my previous posts about assessing the quality of websites as link building targets could also be helpful to you when doing this, as it can be tricky to make the right decision. In reasonable quantities (just a few will be okay), decent directories will help you rather than harm you.
These are probably the best because they usually gather information from real local communities, and they are known and actively used by local users. Look for the ones that take care to promote themselves on a regular basis (thereby supporting all businesses listed within them) in your area.
Here is an example of how you can search for some local directories:
Include the official website of your city in your research. Seriously. It is entirely possible for you to be listed there! Check out who is listed there already, and who to contact to do the same. All you’ll need to do is justify your business’s presence there by explaining how it is useful to your town’s inhabitants and visitors.
General business directories
Be interested only in top, well known brands that you know will provide useful traffic to your website, and not just any and every place you can potentially get a link from. For instance, in the case of the UK, you may want to consider yell.com and thomsonlocal.com.
Niche specific directories
Here, the main advantage is relevancy. You can’t expect to get incredible amounts of traffic from places like this, but its quality and accuracy will be good. Conduct research and make use of all the aforementioned factors to evaluate the quality of your targets and go for the best ones!
Here is an example of how you can search for relevant directories:
Tip: What makes a difference in any directory listings? Make sure your entry is comprehensive and rich with a unique and long description, images, etc. Basically, utilize all the space you can to make your company profile look as good as possible.
Having memberships in various associations is cool and brings many more benefits than simply having a link from a given association’s website. I’m willing to bet those who belong to any would agree with me, and you also certainly will after joining one and seeing what it offers. Here, however, we are talking about link building, so I’m mentioning them in this particular context. Look for associations related to your niche and join them ASAP! The more prestigious the better, keeping in mind the possibly more stringent membership requirements of the best ones.
However, do not automatically disregard less known or freshly formed associations. With these, it will be easy to get in while the links and other benefits of being a member will still be valuable. Plus, consider all of the cool badges you could have, which are bound to make your customers say, “Hmm, they must be real professionals.” 🙂
Here is an example of how you can search for associations:
Reach out to the press
You may ask yourself, “What the $%^& is he talking about? Hyperlink from a newspaper?”
Yes, but of course not from paper editions but from their websites. There will be many valuable webpages, mainly due to their long lasting online history. You will be amazed by the metrics level of researched domains.
Especially look for two types of press:
- Free local newspapers and brochures.
- Specialist magazines related to your niche.
How do you get links by reaching out to them? You need to have an office or a waiting room where you meet with your customers. Newspapers’ goal is to distribute as many copies as possible. Offer their publishers your office as an extra, regular spot of distribution in exchange for a link from their website’s “Where to get our copies” section. I am sure most of them will have one.
For free local newspapers, it will makes sense because you are in the same area and your customers will have the opportunity to grab a free copy and read what is going around.
In case of specialized magazines, and I mean the really less popular ones, they usually are not available in every corner shop and use specialist shops and relevant businesses for distribution. I am sure they will be interested in that kind of deal with you and will want to provide their readers info about additional places where they can buy a copy. Maybe one of their readers who stops by to get a copy will become one of your new customers. 🙂
Here is an example of how you can search for magazines:
You can go about them two ways:
- You can write and publish reviews yourself, and then bring them to the attention of the brand or the producer of the product you reviewed. Of course, encourage them to link to the review (obviously, they should want to inform their users that somebody has good things to say about them).
- Identify bloggers/websites that review things connected with your niche and ask them to review your product or service. How can you encourage them to do that? Simply offer them a voucher for some free service, give them a sample of your product to review, and then provide them with such great service that they’re impressed enough to write an awesome review about your business.
Is there a new model of the equipment you’re selling to be released in the near future?
Great, then find anybody with a website who might be interested in getting their hands on it to do some tests and review the stuff. Just take care to provide them with the product at the earliest possible stage of distribution. Then ensure they will link to you to inform readers precisely who it was that made it available to them.
Ok, let’s say you are not a retailer and you don’t sell anything. Maybe you provide some sort of services, instead. Do you run a beauty salon, for instance? Reach out to every possible female blogger, reporters of local online magazines, or some forum moderators, and offer them a free cosmetic procedure in exchange for publishing a piece about their experience.
You can build links by giving testimonials to others rather than asking for them. It should be obvious that the other company, who’s getting positive references from you, will want to publish them on their website. Your task is to make sure that the testimonials you give them are published with a link to you as the recommender.
You can always suggest that that company lets their users know that someone is recommending their services. Even if they don’t have a testimonials page yet, do not hesitate to advise them that they would benefit from having one.
Moving on, you can also:
Reach out to every college or university and offer internship vacancies to their students. Make sure they inform their students about this by publishing some information about that opportunity on the university website. And here you go, enjoy a great link from a local edu resource! Take even more advantage of this idea by finding all of the websites and local magazines dedicated to students and having them write about your internship offer.
Thanks to this technique, you can really kill two birds with one stone. Not only do you build links from great education websites, but you might just also find a new employee, fresh out of college, brimming with enthusiasm and ideas.
Attend offline events
Join conferences, industry meetings, and every event where something related to your niche is happening. You will meet people from your industry and establish new relationships, and a bit of networking has never hurt anyone. Try to sign up as a speaker there as well, which will result in links to your website in the speakers’ bio section.
If there are not many events in your area, think about organizing and hosting one. It will be demanding to organize this kind of event, but it will pay off. Host the event webpage as a subpage of your company domain; everybody who will be involved should link to the event’s page. Invite other experts, people interested in your niche, and even competitors, and offer to have them give a speech and present some slides. This is a win-win situation, which will provide additional promotion for both of you.
This tactic especially will bring you many more benefits than just links, namely new visitors, social shares, and buzz about your brand. Just figure out some suitable conditions for your contest to make sure there will be a necessity for the participants to publish something with a link back to the contest’s webpage.
This really doesn’t require any huge investments. Maybe you have some old stock in your magazine? Use it as a prize for the winners! If not, think what gifts could be cool and useful to your users. If you provide services, prepare cool vouchers for your services. There are plenty of options.
Tip: You can also submit your contest to pages collecting all contests from across the Web. Of course, there will be links back to your website in it for you.
Support local sponsorship
Junior sport clubs, schools, non-profit organizations, etc…they always need something. They also usually have a page on their website where they publish a list of sponsors who help them, or a news section where they can let everybody know what’s going on. Simply become one of the sponsors in exchange for a link. Find out what they are in special need of—cash is rather obvious, but almost any other kind of donation will be much appreciated as well. As with organizing the contest, maybe there is something just lying around that will be helpful to somebody?
Below you will find out how to search for local sponsorship link opportunities:
Establish complementary partnerships
Partnering with businesses that are your direct competitors, especially in the same area, may be difficult. That is why you should look for partnerships that complement each other. Whatever your business is about, and whichever niche you are in, there must be some complementary products or services to yours. Use this to your advantage and partner with those companies. You will also add extra value for your users, as they may possibly be looking for just that service. Create a special section on your website and link to each other there.
For instance, if you are a personal trainer, partner with a sports nutrition shop or a physiotherapist. Or, if you run a construction company, establish cooperation with a window manufacturer, etc. If you really know your niche, I bet you know who to look for.
Use relationships you already have
Think about all of the people you already know, both business and private relationships. How many of them do you think have a website, blog or even just contribute somewhere from time to time? There will definitely be several people you can come up with. Or even if you do not have many friends connected with websites, I bet that “you know somebody who knows somebody.” The starting point is obviously to find out.
Sometimes it will be enough to just ask for a link, while sometimes it will be necessary to try more methods. Why not use one of the tips mentioned above, then? Thanks to earlier relationships, people will be more open to any projects you might offer. Projects which will result in a link to your website, naturally.
Remember your goal. You want to get a link from there. So even if this requires time, investments, effort and pushing somebody to make that happen, be consistent and do not give up.
Almost every link-achieving technique I mentioned above will bring you many more benefits than “just” the link itself. At the same time, each of them requires quite a bit of effort, investment and creativity. But this is simply how it works. Building quality links from other “real” websites is not an easy thing to do, but it certainly is the right and safe direction to follow.
Especially these days, in the era of Google’s continuous battles with web spam in the name of caring about the quality of their users’ search experience, cutting corners is risking a manual penalty for your website. Forget about Fiverr gigs offering “500 article submissions on high PageRank directories and blogs” for 5 bucks. This just doesn’t work, and it will probably lead to dramatic consequences.
You need to put a lot of work and energy into building great and natural-looking links for your website, and that’s all there is to it. If you do not have enough time or skills to do it right, be sure to at least avail yourself of the link building services of professionals.
This guide was written by Wojtek Mazur, CEO at Elephate, and proud user of Link Research Tools and Link Detox.
A word from Christoph C. Cemper
There are so many SEO strategies that it can be tough to know which ones to do first. Fortunately, Wojtek's guide saves small businesses precious time by focusing their SEO efforts on what they can realistically achieve.
If you're a small business, I want you to try at least one of these strategies and share your experience in the comments below. Let's learn and improve together.
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