HOW TO: Building backlinks for your small business

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Written By Sam Davis Ph.D.

Sticker Crypt is the internet's premier source of free advice for artists and small business owners! 

Backlinks are an essential part of any SEO strategy. If you want to rank your website higher in search engine results pages, you need to build backlinks. In this blog post, we will discuss how to do it the right way. We will cover everything from where to find high-quality backlinks to how to use them effectively. So if you're ready to start seeing better SEO results, keep reading!

Building backlinks for your small business is different than getting backlinks for an affiliate or content marketing website. The main difference is that you need to be more strategic about your link building. For small businesses, it's all about quality over quantity. You don't need hundreds of backlinks from low-quality websites. Instead, focus on getting a few high-quality backlinks from reputable websites.

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Alright, before we dive in, a brief refresher: what is SEO and why do we care?

Search Engines and Link Building: A Refresher

Part of your website's ranking on search engines (like Google search) has to do with off-page factors, like how many websites link to yours. You can't directly control who links to you as a site owner, but understanding how search engines work is important.

You want to be able to do “link building” – which is where you get your website (get “backlinks” in SEO lingo) linked to by other websites. These are also known as inbound links, and the websites that do it are known as referring domains. For you develop an appropriate link building strategy, you need to understand how most people get quality links, and what link building strategies others employ. So hopefully you're caught up, and let's get into developing quality backlinks!

Basic Tips For Link Building

Here are a few tips on how to build backlinks for your small business.

Identify your ideal backlinks

First, identify the type of backlinks you would like to receive. As a site owner, you have some level of control over where you would like to get backlinks from. Popular backlinks for small craft business owners are:

  • Appearing in the media: podcasts, local news, or national content sites
  • Appearing in local listings: while exclusively online businesses might struggle with this, getting listed in your local BBB, Chamber of Commerce, or other business listing is an easy win
  • Appearing on related sites: Guest posts placed on your friends' relevant websites are a great way to build a little link building network. Surely you know other artists: so ask them!

Do your research

A link gap analysis is a great way for you to understand the potential areas where you could get the most links. Head over to Google Search and just start searching stuff related to your website.

Specifically, for a crafting business, you're going to want to zero in on:

  • Local beat reporters near you, even if you're an entirely online business
  • Resource pages that feature creators in special demographics that you match, e.g., woman, veteran, LGBTQ, pet owner, dragon enthusiast…
  • Resource pages that are outdated that you might be able to get them to update with just a link to your website

If you have enough to offer, you can consider using a service like HARO (help a reporter out) or QWOTED, which feature reporters who need people to respond to pitches. They are both free tools, but it can be exhausting to try and find relevant pitches.

A Note About Broken Links

One of the most popular strategies for link building is known as broken link building. This involves finding older websites that might have out of date links, and seeing if you can squeeze a relevant link of your own in there.

Broken link building is a difficult strategy for small business owners unless we're crafting our content to fit the broken links. My own website, Nonbeenary Designs, is a very niche website that sells LGBTQ+, wildlife, and pet merchandise. The only way I could do broken link building would be to try and find resources that are listing like… holiday gifts for queers.

Which is fine! But that's going to take a lot of time. So especially for small business owners, I just recommend that you stay away from broken links strategies because they're very time consuming. A broken link building method may only give you one link when you could've gotten three in another method.

Get to work

Next, identify the strategy you want to use to develop your high quality backlinks. No matter what type of links you'll go after, it always begins with initiating contact. Most often, the first step is going to be reaching out. It might feel weird as site owners to start blindly reaching out, but most people would be happy to chat, especially if you're adding value to their website.

The important thing is to have something immediately to offer. Guest posting is a popular strategy, but as someone who also works with larger websites: it gets annoying to field 3-5 requests per week for irrelevant guest posting. So be sure that what you're proposing is relevant and useful to the website you're reaching out to.

When you reach out, again – the focus is on your being helpful. Offer a guest post, offer to feature THEM on your site (in hopes that you'll get a return link), offer your opinion to a newspaper or reporter, offer an LTE, etc. You have to make it worth their time.

Be responsive and respectful

No matter the outcome, don't burn your bridge. Respond quickly, don't push too hard. If they don't respond or respond negatively, just thank them for their time, share relevant content, and move on with your life.

A quality backlink comes from a relationship

For small businesses, most backlinks are going to come from good experiences and relationships. Your customers will link to you as they brag about what they bought. You will build a relationship with a local reporter and share your charity drive. Or you will provide real value through an appearance on a podcast or as a guest blogger. These are the backlinks that will matter most in the long run.

There is no easy answer when it comes to building quality backlinks, but hopefully this gives you some starting points. No matter what, remember to focus on relationships and always be respectful of other people's time!

Do you have any tips for building backlinks?

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