On June 29th, we held our eighth installment of our biweekly Twitter chat, #LinkaratiChat. Our topic was Link Building for Small Businesses.
Our featured guest, Anthony Randall, has been one of #LinkaratiChat’s biggest supporters since the start, and we were honored that he took the time to impart his infinite wisdom for us. And there were a lot of us this time. According to Tweet Binder, this was our most active chat yet!
Yes, I said that last time as well. Many thanks to everyone who helps the continued growth of our chat.
So without further ado, let’s get to some of the amazing answers!
Why Do Small Businesses Need to Invest in Link Acquisition?
Our featured guest kicked us off by answering:
Link building is another way to get ahead and get your name out there. It’s one of many digital marketing strategies. But link building isn’t just marketing - it doubles as optimization for the biggest online traffic cop on the web.
A1: Because there is ALWAYS something your competitors, large or small, are doing wrong. Always somewhere to execute. #linkaratichat— Anthony Randall (@tonyxrandall) June 29, 2015
Linkarati staff writer Andrew Dennis had this to say
A1: If your small business cares AT ALL about online visibility (especially in search), you need to consider links #LinkaratiChat— Andrew Dennis (@AndrewDennis33) June 29, 2015
Link acquisition matters because links matter. Google’s algorithm puts a significant emphasis on quality backlinks. The more authoritative, relevant sites that link to you, the more likely you are to rank highly in organic search.
Here is how Tripp Hamilton responded
@Linkarati A1: Small businesses need to build authority for their brand, and link acquisition is one way to do that. #LinkaratiChat— Tripp Hamilton (@Tripp_Hamilton) June 29, 2015
Of course, link building isn’t ALL about ranking. It’s important to realize that link building isn’t just link building - it’s brand building as well. The links you build aren’t only visible to search engines, but to real people as well. You want links that create positive brand associations in the minds of these people. And here’s the kicker: if you seek out these kind of links, search engines will be more likely to reward you.
How Can Small Business Compete With Big Brands in the SERPs?
Annie Singer answered by saying
A2 target locally, assuming they have local storefronts/services. Build a good website w helpful content & do outreach #linkaratichat— Annie Singer (@singerswings) June 29, 2015
A small business is a local business, and therefore should emphasize local link acquisition. National brands may have the resources to engage in local SEO, but they most likely won’t have the same community familiarity as a small business. That can make a huge difference in acquiring links.
Former Linkarati staff writer Dustin J. Verburg said
A2: Everyone will say this, but it's about linking local & community involvement in the real world. Or elf world. Whatever. #linkaratichat— Dustin J. Verburg (@DustinVerburg) June 29, 2015
A small business has a distinct proximity advantage over (most) big brands. A big brand can’t send an ambassador to every single community function; a small business can. A big brand won’t know the backstories of community influencers; a small business will. Note: The “elf world” reference is a callback to an earlier tweet in which he referred to SEO as “secret elf organizations.”
Cody Cahill had this to say
@Linkarati Small businesses need to think less about competing with the big brands, and focus on slowly building their own brand/authority.— Cody Cahill (@Pleasant_Pen) June 29, 2015
In the end, Google is always going to favor well-recognized brands in search over smaller entities, and these brands have a bevy of advantages at their disposal. Rather than try to usurp these brands, it might be more productive to simply cultivate your own brand identity. Don’t try to beat Wal-Mart at Wal-Mart’s game, when you have the opportunity to invent your own game.
What Do Small Businesses Need Before They Start a Link Building Campaign?
Here’s what Wojtek Mazur had to contribute
@Linkarati A3: First, Small Businesses should focus on investing in content which is worth linking to #Linkaratichat— Wojtek Mazur (@mazur_w) June 29, 2015
Link building is possible without content. However, there’s no question that quality content makes a link builder’s job MUCH easier. Other webmasters will be much more likely to link to a site with a collection of linkable assets.
Our featured guest said
A3: More than anything - more than a good site, or valuable content, or anything else - they need to be properly educated. #linkaratichat— Anthony Randall (@tonyxrandall) June 29, 2015
This isn’t said nearly enough. If you’re going to start a link building campaign, it’s incredibly important to familiarize yourself with the ins-and-outs of the trade. You don’t necessarily need to attain “expert level” before you start, but you are far more likely to succeed when you understand the whats and whys of what you’re doing.
Here’s what Bill Slawski had to say
a3 Small businesses need a website that can act as the central hub of their online acitivity. #linkaratichat— Bill Slawski (@bill_slawski) June 29, 2015
In the era of growing social media, many businesses are confusing their Facebook page for their website. In reality, both are highly valuable, but serve completely different functions. Link acquisition does little for your social profiles. It’s important that your website acts as your Grand Central Station.
How Can Small Businesses Integrate Link Building Into Their Existing Online Strategies?
Martin Lieberman started us off by saying
@DevDawg Patience, grasshopper. Focus on relationship building, not links. Ask for the favor after there's a connection. #linkaratichat— Martin Lieberman (@martinlieberman) June 29, 2015
Great relationship building creates an opportunity for even better link building. Of course, relationship building can take a considerable amount of time before lucrative opportunities present themselves. It’s hard to preach patience in a business world that’s getting speedier by the week, but there’s a reason patience is a virtue.
Abel Udoekene replied with
A4: Link Building is a core ingredient of Engagement, the best way to create links it to engage with your audience... #linkaratichat— Abel Udoekene (@abelekene) June 29, 2015
Even if you are a firm believer in the link earning principle only, links don’t happen without engagement. If you want links, you have to give people a reason to link to you. When you talk to your audience and answer their questions, it creates a positive association with your brand and the audience. Great links can be born that way.
Here’s what Devin had to say:
A4: Look at the goals of their online strategies and ask will link building be able to aid it realistically #linkaratichat— Devin (@DevDawg) June 29, 2015
Of course, link building is one of many, MANY digital marketing strategies. Listing all of them could take up half of this recap. Link building complements all of these other strategies to some extent. It’s much easier to fit link building into your comprehensive campaign when you specifically pinpoint the goals of your link building campaign, and how it can benefit the other strategies.
How Can Small Businesses Use Offline Tactics to Support Link Acquisition?
Dustin J. Verburg said
Q5: best offline tactic for small businesses: talk to people about something other than link building once in a while. #linkaratichat— Dustin J. Verburg (@DustinVerburg) June 29, 2015
Look, we love link building more than just about anyone (obviously). But there’s more to life than link building, and most people don’t want to talk business only. If you’re going to make efforts at offline link building, remember that the people you’re talking to are, well, people. They’re not just prospective customers.
Annie Singer answered with
@Linkarati A5: especially if local is relevant, leverage personal relationships #linkaratichat— Annie Singer (@singerswings) June 29, 2015
A small business is likely to have several pre-existing relationships that can easily turn into link opportunities. Who catered your Christmas party? You can endorse them on your site, and in turn they’ll be more inclined to link to you.
Tripp Hamilton weighed in by saying
@Linkarati A5: Attend local meet-ups for small businesses. It's a great place to make connections in person, and online. #LinkaratiChat— Tripp Hamilton (@Tripp_Hamilton) June 29, 2015
As stated before, small businesses will often have a distinct proximity advantage over bigger brands. Attend Chamber of Commerce meetings. Volunteer for charitable community events. Set up booths for local festivals. Some of it will be expensive, but the marketing benefits are plentiful, even beyond link building.
What Tools Are Affordable for Small Businesses Looking to Build Links?
Our featured guest wanted to highlight one tool in particular
A6: After a bit of thought, I think if I had a budget for only one tool it would be SEM Rush, honestly. #linkaratichat— Anthony Randall (@tonyxrandall) June 29, 2015
SEMrush indeed is an incredibly valuable tool for SEOs of all expertise levels. The best thing about SEMrush is how comprehensive it is. SEOs of all stripes can get important data from it.
Kate Smith said
A6: There are hella free tools and most freemium model tools give enough free usability for small businesses to get by #linkaratichat— Kate Smith (@SmittyQ14) June 29, 2015
Rand Fishkin has talked at length about the benefits of “non-measurable serendipitous marketing.” It’s the concept of solving your audience’s problems for free. In turn, the audience will turn into your customers. A large amount of industry tools believe in this principle, and offer free versions of their products. Of course, these free versions will only offer limited functionality, but small businesses can get away with using these free versions for a long time.
This was Tony Dimmock’s reply
@Linkarati #linkaratichat A6b) Tools will NEVER replace human connections & relationships.. Nor the hell should they ;)— Tony Dimmock (@Tony_DWM) June 29, 2015
Every SEO is going to need a few tools to aid them, but Dimmock is right when he says that they should not be substitutes for human interaction. No one wants to link to a robot.
These were just some of the great responses we combed through in #LinkaratiChat. Just as with every chat since we started, we are entirely grateful that all of you choose to participate and share such spectacular advice. Our next chat will be on Monday, July 13 at 1:00 PM EST. As of now, we do not have a topic or a featured guest, but when we do, we’ll announce both from the Linkarati handle. We hope to chat with you then! And once again, to all of the participants: