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getting started with link building

8 Ways Local Businesses Can Get Started with Link Building

I work with clients and consultants all over the world, and a common theme I see is that many local businesses don’t know where to get started when it comes to local search, and with that, comes not understanding the importance of link building and how to get started.

Link building has been, and remains to be, an important factor for local search traffic, and it’s not nearly as intimidating to get done as it may seem (takes effort, yes, but intimidating, no).

There are many “SEO professionals” that charge money to do a lot of “evil things” in the eyes of Google to generate links because they’re so important. Don’t do this and don’t hire anybody who does. Google will recognize if you’re being shady and will penalize you in search engine results pages for it.

Instead, consider getting started with link building through the 8 methods below.

1. Conduct keyword research

I use keyword research across various aspects of my marketing, but for link building specifically, I use it to help me understand my audience’s intent when they go out looking for something that I could help them with. It gives me an understanding of what their problems and challenges are and often provides actual questions that they are typing into search engines.

From there, I can come up with shareable content ideas (more on this later) that I should produce as well as the platforms and businesses I should be interacting with to get in front of my audience. This, in turn, increases the number of links driving back to my site.

2. Focus on creating high-quality content

Content is air. Your marketing simply won’t survive without it, and link building is no different. People link to things worth sharing, so if you want to get a lot of shares, you need to create useful content that is valuable to your audience.

This content needs to be educational and informative for your audience and should establish thought leadership. Feel free to be creative with this content, it doesn’t just need to be your standard blog posts, ebooks, or white papers (although those can also be useful). Other ideas include:

Consider adding a local focus to some of the content you create to really capture your chances of backlinks from other local businesses.

While creating content is a necessity, you don’t always need to reinvent the wheel. Consider repurposing content you already have. You can also take a look at your competitors’ content that’s performing well and think of ways to make it better.

In addition to improving existing content, consider sharing content with your audience that was created by others. By doing this, you’ll increase your odds of them sharing your content naturally.

Lastly, creating the content alone isn’t usually enough to generate links back to your site. You must promote the content in channels where your audience hangs out. Find out what social media channels they’re on, what forums they visit, etc.

3. Be a guest

Guest posting is still a great link building tool, but it should be done by networking, not spamming. If when writing a guest post, your only intent for writing it is to get links directing back to your site, then you’re probably not going to get much value out of it.

Additionally, consider becoming a guest on a podcast. I have found tremendous value from this in regards to link building, and believe in it so much, that I actually joined up with one of my Duct Tape Marketing Consultants, Phil Singleton, to create Podcast Bookers to help people book guest spots on podcasts because there are so many benefits from doing it, including acquiring links back to your site.

4. Leverage strategic and local partnerships

Forming partnerships with local businesses and organizations can be a great opportunity to get backlinks from their websites. These should be local strategic partners that you can refer your customers to when they are in need of something you don’t provide. A great way to supplement this activity is to make sure that you and your local partners are linking to and sharing each other’s content.

If you’ve produced a great piece of content, let them share it with their networks as well, and vice versa. Additionally, consider writing testimonials for your partners and don’t forget to include a link back to your site in the review.

5. Get involved in your community

Consider sponsoring local events in your community to help you get links from the event’s sponsorship page as this can be extremely effective for local SEO. Most of these local organizations have a website and get news coverage leading to higher authority local websites.

In addition to sponsoring events, you can host your own as well and generate links through promotional press releases, social media posts, partner newsletters, and so on.

6. Network

Link building today is very similar to how you would do effective networking. My best advice for getting links is by meeting real people and promoting their content. When you employee effective networking techniques, both online and off, you’ll start to see real link building results.

7. Get added to local citations and directories

If you haven’t already done this, make sure your website is listed in local citations and directories.

Getting your business on Google My Business, Yelp, and local sites like your chamber of commerce or alumni directories, is extremely important in getting backlinks to your site. Just make sure that your name, address, and phone number are consistent across the board to avoid confusion. Use a tool like MozLocal or Yext to get started in the right direction.

8. Pay attention to your competition

It’s a well-established SEO practice to go after the links that might be helping your competition rank in search engine results pages.

Conduct a few searches on the keyword phrases and terms (from your keyword research) that are important to your business. Once you find a handful of competitors, use a tool, like Ahrefs, to get a list of sites linking back to your competition. Use this to see if you can figure out an angle to get a link of your own. (Here’s a nice tutorial on doing competitive research using Ahrefs.)

There’s no way around it, link building does take time and effort, but done correctly, the hours put into it will be well worth it.

If you enjoyed this post take a look at our Ultimate Local Marketing Guide.

link building

Why Link Building is the New Networking

Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch About Link Building

Despite what you may have heard, link building is not some technical SEO-type of under-the-hood tactic. It is the new networking, and no matter what Google does to try to devalue backlinks, they remain an important factor in terms of your site showing up when people search for the things that you want them to find you for online.

The Game Has Changed

Certainly, the game has changed. There are a lot of SEO folks that charge a lot of money and do a lot of “evil things” in the eyes of Google to generate links because they’re so important.

Here’s what you need to remember: People link to things worth sharing. It really is that simple. It’s not some black hat SEO practice or way to trick people into linking to you. You’ve got to work at this.

You’ve got to create something that people want to link to. That’s why I say it’s the new networking because people want to share great content. They want to share it with their audiences, networks, and visitors.

If you give them something to share and target the right people for links, you’re going to acquire the links that you’re going to need to rank, or at least outrank, your competition.

Keep an eye on your competition

The first tactic that I want to talk about in terms of link building is to keep your competitors close. To find the best resources for where you might find great links or people that might want to link back to your content, search and review your competitors, and find out who’s out-ranking you.

This doesn’t necessarily have to be the person in your town that you go head-to-head with as a competitor. This is anybody who is out-ranking you for the search terms that you want to rank for whether that’s locally or nationally.

Find those people. Do some searches on some of the things that are important terms to you and you’re going to find a handful of competitors or other high authority sites that rank already and that have links.

How do you find those links? I use tools like SpyFu and Ahrefs. What these tools do is allow you to go to any website or any URL and see who is linked to this site, who is sending traffic to this site, and who is linking to their content.

I like to look at the last 30 days because you want to look at recent activity. It might not be that relevant if somebody linked four or five years ago. Look at the recent activity and start finding the content they link to and then start thinking about how you could make a pitch to this website or influencer in a way that would make them want to link to you.

For example, if you see that a particular site links to a lot of guest posts or writes guest posts, think about pitching them on a similar idea. Take an article from a competitor that has written something and really expand on it and make it better. Introduce them to somebody in your network that might be a good contact.

There are tremendous relationship-building tactics that you can do once you start identifying some of these sites that link to competitors. In many cases, they’ll be very motivated to link to you if you’re producing good, relevant content.

Get added to roundups

I don’t see a lot of people doing this, but this is one that I think can be quite easy and quite effective as a way to both get links and also get people sending traffic to your content. About once a week, I get a request from a content marketer who is working on something called a roundup-style blog post.

What they do is they’ll go out and they’ll try to round up a bunch of experts, tools or resources and create a post, because as it turns out, people love roundup posts. They’re like list posts but with more detail and a little more depth. The search engines like them better as well.

They can also draw a lot of shares and links which are two of the main reasons that I think people produce these roundup posts. Let’s say a post features 20 or 30 experts. The hope is that each of these experts is going to spread the word.

It’s a great link building strategy to find sites that routinely assemble these roundup posts, particularly if it’s in your niche or industry. Network to have them quote you, link to a post that you have or include you in their next roundup article.

To find these roundup posts, just turn to Google. If you were trying to find people that do roundup posts, say for link-building, you would just type in Title, Column, Roundup+link building, and you would find a bunch of roundup-type of posts or a list of sites that run roundup posts.

Once you find a suitable list, you’ll want to spend time networking. Don’t just simply reach out and say: “Hey, include me in your next post.” Follow them for a couple of weeks. Read up on them, comment on them and share them.

Do all the things that equate to networking as it’s an effective way for you to start getting noticed and start building strategies. I’m much more likely to link back to a person, pay attention to what it is they’re doing, or in some cases, think about including them in something that I’m doing or sharing a link to some of the content that they’ve written if they’ve shown prior engagement.

Network with local businesses

This is one of my favorites because it’s just solid business content relationship-building and referral building, and it covers so many areas. It’s particularly effective for local businesses and new business owners that are trying to find people in their community.

One of the things you’ll want to do as a business development and business-building strategy is to start networking with local businesses, particularly those that could be potential strategic partners.

Think about also building an online platform with them. If there’s somebody you work with, buy from, or network with that’s local, think about ways that you could link to and from each other.

Let’s say you’ve produced a great ebook. Think about all the strategic partners that you might be able to share that with and let them co-brand it and send it out to their entire network. Think about writing testimonials for each other.

Think about that business that you love and do business with, and write an unsolicited testimonial which becomes great content. They’ll want to put that on their website and in many cases, they’ll give you a link back. If you expand that whole tactic, there’s no reason you couldn’t be doing eight, ten, or twelve of those a month to start drawing links back to your site.

Don’t forget the organizations you belong to either, including:

  • The Chamber of Commerce
  • Your local chapter of your business organization.
  • BNI groups
  • Charitable foundations
  • Alumni chapters

All of these are great ways for you to get links back to your site. One of the benefits of being able to support charities in your community is that in many cases they will create sponsor pages. Those will automatically generate high-quality links back to your site.

Don’t Forget Local Print and Offline Options

Many print publications have online press release portals for local news. Find these sites and learn how to submit press releases to them. Do this every month and you’ll soon start to see some nice links coming from highly relevant, local sites.

There’s no question that link-building has become a hand-to-hand combat of sorts. But again, it is very much like effective networking, if you think a little bit outside the box with some of these tactics. People aren’t just going to shower you with links because you buy them or because you sign up and list your article in a directory. Those days are over.

Today, Google wants to see what feel and look to them like handcrafted, organic links between businesses that support each other through content producers that are writing and producing great content.

Use these three strategies to really ‘up’ your backlink quotient.

If you enjoyed this post take a look at our Ultimate Local Marketing Guide.

 

podcast

Build Your Brand and Acquire Links Through Podcast Guesting

I want to talk to you about podcasting, but in a way that may be different than what you typically hear about the topic. I’m not going to discuss production logistics or anything like that. Instead, I want to discuss how to use them to build your brand and acquire links.

There’s no denying that interest in podcasting has increased over time, especially within the last 5-6 years. I think this is for a couple of reasons:

  • Content has become the air that drives so many channels
  • It’s portable and allows for multi-tasking nature of it

The combination of the two has allowed the popularity of this medium to skyrocket, both from listening and production standpoints.

While I think producing a podcast is a great idea and can provide many benefits for your business, there are also a plethora of opportunities that are there in podcasting for any business owner, namely through being a guest on another person’s podcast. Let’s dive in.

Guest interviews

Putting yourself out there as a guest on podcasts (as opposed to traditional PR with radio and TV) is one of the best things you can do for your business these days, but let me be clear, in order to be successful with it,  you must put yourself out there and pitch yourself on an ongoing basis, and truly build this as a channel for your marketing efforts.

A podcast interview is not only content, it’s great quality content. It’s a tremendous way for you to build expertise, authority, and branding for you and your business. When people hear your voice, it adds a deeper level to building trust, and the more a person trusts you, the more likely they’ll be to buy from you.

SEO and the benefits of podcasting

My friend, Phil Singleton, is one of the most knowledgeable people on SEO that I know, and he recently stated (over this past weekend, in fact) that of all the time he has spent on SEO, podcasting may be the best SEO tactic to give you the biggest bang for your buck. Being a podcast guest provides the following benefits:

  • Gives you access to an engaged audience
  • The host does the majority of the work
  • You have virtually no preparation (especially in comparison to guest blog posts)
  • High production value will make the content more shareable
  • There will likely be show notes that will drive links back to your website
  • Reviews can help build authority and credibility
  • There is a ton of repurposing potential with the content

At the end of the day, SEO really comes down to three main things:

  • Keywords – You must know what keywords your ideal client is searching for
  • Content – You must build those keywords into your content on a consistent basis
  • Links – That content must be seen and shared by other people by acquiring links from other sites to link to that content. From that, Google surmises that it’s good content.

If you focus on those few things over time, you will show up, and likely rank highly, in search engine rankings. What this means, is that a guest appearance on a podcast is your content on steroids. You get high-quality content and awareness to the podcaster’s audience (podcasts get shared more than blog posts).

Guest blog posts are a lot of work and time-consuming. Even if a podcast doesn’t have a huge following, it will likely still have more engagement than blog posts and have the ability to get more shares than regular blog posts and you will get links back to whatever it is that you’re promoting.

To make this even better, a lot of podcasters, including myself, are also creating transcripts along with their podcast episodes to have the written word content go along with the spoken content. In many cases, if you appear on a podcast, and they don’t transcribe it, many podcasters will let you transcribe it and repurpose it for additional content on your site; again, which will help to boost your SEO.

How to get on shows

Remember, this is a consistent process, not just something you do every once in a while, so it’s important that you allocate time and attention to this. Below are a few ways you can approach getting on podcasts.

Google search

Google is great at showing podcasts. Start by searching with an industry you’re interested in and google “[industry] podcast” and see what appears. Simple enough, right?

iTunes

iTunes not only categorizes podcasts, they include related searches like Google as well.

Amazon

If you click on an author link, Amazon will show related authors, which can help expand your search.

From your research, build a spreadsheet of hosts you want to reach out to. Most podcasts have some form of contact information or a form asking people to pitch themselves as a guest.

Once your spreadsheet is filled out, one of the things I’d spend time on is to think of your objective for being on a show. Make the podcast host understand the value they’ll get by interviewing you.

From a content and link objective perspective, don’t worry about how big the show is or the size of the audience. Focus on the links and content and make sure they align with your objective.

In almost all cases, you need to go out and pitch people. I can’t emphasize this enough, if you listen and subscribe to their show and know the host’s listeners, what they talk about, and how they deliver value, you’ll do a much better job of showing how you’ll benefit their listeners in your pitch.

These days, podcasters are looking for guests to have one-sheets that include your bio, why you’re a good fit, what you have to offer, places you’ve appeared, what others have said about you, and so on. If a podcaster is trying to decide between you and another guest, the one-pager can go a long way. The more professional you’ll look, the better your odds are of getting chosen for the show.

How to be a great guest

Your work isn’t done once you book the podcast. In order to be a great guest and get the most value out of this exposure, you really need to prep for it.

Subscribe and listen

If you want to be on a show, subscribe to it, or at least listen to it and really educate yourself on the host’s style and type of questions he/she may ask.

Don’t sell

The purpose of the interview is to educate or entertain the host’s audience. You may have the opportunity at the end of the episode to say where people can find you and so on, but nothing will turn an interview sour faster than selling.

Answer questions succinctly

A minute to 90 seconds is often too long for a response. Prepping will help you be clear and concise in your delivery.

Sound quality

Nothing is more frustrating than listening to a podcast with poor sound quality. Before you hop on the interview, confirm you have a solid internet connection or cell reception, and take the call in a quiet space to try to eliminate any extra background noise.

Show appreciation for the opportunity

Once you’re on the call, remember to thank the host for having you on the show and express your appreciation. Once the show is complete, be sure to leave a review for the podcast on iTunes.

How to promote your interview

After the show, most podcast hosts will send you a link to promote the show, and may even send you proposed copy for social media posts. Sharing and promoting your appearance makes a lot of sense. It helps spread the word and it’s good content that people may want to share. Look for multiple ways to promote it to your network.

After everything is said and done, ask your host for a review and use it in your marketing to boost your authority. If you own a local business, have them do the review through Google. Think of this as an opportunity to produce content and get amazing links and put your SEO on steroids.

Introducing a new podcast booking service called – Podcast Bookers

Want to streamline your efforts to get booked on podcasts? I’ve started a new service just for that. Podcast Bookers will help you create your one sheet, will show you how to pitch yourself, and will help book you as a guest on podcasts. For more information, click here.

Need more tips on search engine optimization? Check out our entire Guide to SEO.

The Secret to Building High Quality Links

Screen Shot 2015-12-15 at 1.24.21 PMMarketing Podcast with John Jantsch

Today I am doing a solo episode about link building. No matter what Google tries to do to devalue backlinks, they still remain an important factor in your ranking.

Getting high-quality backlinks to your content is one of the more important factors is getting your content to rank. Buying links and acquiring links in shady ways is no way to go about this.

Today link building is a lot more like networking. In order to be effective, you have to do a little relationship building and digging, but the payoff can be well worth it.

In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast I talk about 3 of my favorite and not so well known ways to get links.

  1. Researching and pitching sites that link to competitors.
  2. Researching and pitching publishers of roundup-style posts
  3. Building a link platform based on local strategic partners

I wrote in more depth on link building here if you would like to read as well as listen.

What you’ll learn if you give a listen:

  • 3 tactics for growing your backlink count
  • Tips to save time while link building
  • How to beat your competitors by finding where their links are coming from
  • How to find websites to be linking with
  • Why backlinking is a form of networking

This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is sponsored by Inbound.org, an online hub where marketers go to get better.