This is an update of a post from early 2020. Most of the themes still hold true, as is the case for many of the fundamentals of SEO. Rather than reinvent the wheel, we tweaked and updated for 2021.
This was part two of a little series to help small business owners focus on the core pieces of their SEO that really move the needle in 2020. We have updated with some minor changes for the world of 2021.
With literally hundreds of ranking factors, SEO can be overwhelming and confusing. All of the factors do matter, but when you have limited time and resources, it just helps to focus on the core pieces of the puzzle that can move you forward the most. This series focuses on what I believe are the core 3 pieces of the pie; Proximity, Links, and reviews. Part 1 was last week and explained why and what proximity means to your business. Now we will focus on link building and why they are important. Part three will dig into reviews a bit.
Links Are Still Extremely Important in 2021
Countless ranking factor studies over the years have returned inbound links as the top ranking factor for SEO. Still today, with the growing importance of reviews, links are critically important for both your Google My Business placement and your organic rankings.
Links tell Google a lot about your business and whether other sites in the internet neighborhood trust it. The types of pages and sites that link to you tell Google a lot of information about your business. It is good to have links from many different types of pages to help give Google more information about your business. Google looks at every page and site as an entity with a certain strength and topic relevance. Some pages have high geographic relevance and others are more industry-focused. Some sites have built up large levels of authority and strength while others have less strength but are much more relevant to your business. The more legitimate links you have from legitimate sites (avoid link packages and fake sites), the more you can move up in the rankings. There are many types of links small businesses likely have available to them if they sit down and think about their business relationships and how to turn them into these important links.
Types of Links for Your Site
Below are some links that small businesses tend to have available to them if they think about their offline relationships. It is worth reaching out and seeing if you can turn these relationships into links if you haven’t. You should also “bake in” link building to your business process. If you are involved with events or organizations, always ask if there is a link involved.
Chambers of Commerce: Chances are if you are a local business, you have joined at least one chamber of commerce. Chambers are great ways to find referrals and other business owners in your area and membership typically comes with a profile that includes a link to your site. These local links tell Google information about your business. It shares that you are relevant in this or these geographic markets. If you are serious about marketing in a certain geographic target area, it is typically worthwhile to join the local chamber of commerce and make sure you get a link on your profile.
Industry Organizations: Most industries have at least a handful of organizations that you can join that host conferences or events either nationally or regionally. Joining these organizations can again be a great way to meet contacts you can lean on for your business and the profile links tell Google your site is relevant and more trustworthy in regards to this industry subject area. Definitely worthwhile to join these associations and get links for your SEO.
News Stories: Local news stories about activities that you or members of your organization are involved in within the community (both industry and geographic) are great ways to get more powerful broad audience sites to link to you. Always remember when you are involved with something newsworthy but don’t get caught up in online press releases, as those don’t serve the same purpose.
Local Sponsorships: If your business is involved with sponsoring a local little league team, charity, or event, this is a great link opportunity. These sites may not be strong, but they tend to show a lot of local relevance. Sometimes a group of business owners can pool together to create a site for a charity event, etc. I do this for my own clients. Make sure you check into it if you are doing a sponsorship.
Community Involvement: If you or your partners or employees are members of local civic organizations like a Rotary, etc. they will often include a profile with a link to your business. Again, a great chance to show local relevance.
Blogs: These are a little tougher to get in touch with, but if you know blog writers in your industry or general blogs that can mention your business or link to it as an example for one of their topics, this can be very helpful too. I spend a lot of time reaching out to reputable blog writers for my clients. This is a little tougher and next level, but if you have that relationship, it is worth asking for a link.
Internal Links: These are a little bit of a different category but also helpful. With user experience being very important to Google and of course for human users, Google gives value to links within your own site. If you have a blog post or other service pages and mention one of your other products or services, always link over to that page of your sit. Linking back and forth between pages on your own site can give boosts to those pages for topic relevance and helps spread around the strength of your site.
Take a look at our post on content proximity for help with internal linking. Build supporting content around your core products or services and link that content back to the main page. Build that page as a strong entity around that topic and link back and forth so that users can clearly find the exact info they want. If they want to dig deeper from the main page, give them those links to FAQ’s about price, process, etc., but if they are in the weeds and want to easily get back to the core page, make that happen to. Google will reward you for it and users will enjoy the experience more. But do it with design. Never just do things because they are a factor. They are a factor because they improve UX. Make sure what you are doing improves UX.
All of these techniques will help build your strength and link profile. In a not so competitive area, just a handful of these links may spring you to the top of the rankings. Each legitimate link you get is more power to your site to move up the rankings. Once you get some of these easy and early links, you can reach out to You Can Be Found for support and help in continuing to build quality links.