Recently I had a client that was buying a local directory listing for $550/year. It was a great backlink and was bringing them about 5% of their traffic. They came to me and asked if they should renew it. I said that they should try building some local links to their site instead because with a little bit of brainstorming and work, they could be way more powerful (plus cheaper!). They liked this idea so here is my guide. 🙂
Backlinks are an important part of an SEO campaign. Google is constantly telling you to not build backlinks and that they are bad for SEO but the truth is the internet runs on links. If sites didn’t link to each other then the web wouldn’t be the amazing place that it is! Your site needs to get backlinks but the key here is that they must be quality backlinks that are in your niche. Remember quality over quantity.
First I’ll go over some basics about backlinks and then give you a complete guide on how you can either:
1. Do this yourself
2. Have one of your employees follow these instructions
3. Use it for your clients (if you’re in the SEO business)
Backlinks are simply links that point to your website from another source. This is a backlink to a Wikipedia page about backlinks. It is a one way backlink because the Wikipedia site is not linking back to our site. And that’s what our goal is; getting links on sites in our market that link to us where we won’t link back to them.
Getting backlinks is time consuming but is a great way to build your rankings. If you or an employee spends a few hours each week you be able to build them over time. Follow my steps below to get backlinks from relevant sites:
- Create an Excel Spreadsheet or Use Mine: Create an excel spreadsheet to list all the sites and contact information in your niche. This is where we’ll keep all of our research listed. Please feel free to use the template that I use, Backlink Spreadsheet.
- Brainstorm: This is the fun part where you can become creative. Think about every job, function, charity, or business that you are associated with. If you are a plumber then think of any service business associates or organizations. Painters, electricians, or any home improvement service company will work (if you’re a plumber that is).
Write their contact info down in the spreadsheet and look up their site in Google. List the web address in the spreadsheet. Start with a list of 20 sites for the first month (5 a week). If you can do more than feel free but remember this will take time. If you blow out of the gates full throttle you will most likely not continue with it. DO NOT CONTACT ANYONE YET. This is our research stage. We are aiming for 3-5 links for each month. That doesn’t sound like a lot but out of the 20 sites you contact only a few might be interested. Plus Google likes to see gradual progression. If you get 100 links in a week they might see that as a red flag and manually review your site.
*TIP: Don’t be afraid to reach out to family and friends. You want sites in your general market but charity and school sites to get backlinks from are excellent! Sites with an .org, .edu, or .gov are great links.
I don’t know anyone in my niche or market? If you feel that you’re in this situation then start researching sites and common businesses around your area. These contacts will be more “cold” but if you are genuine when you reach out then they will be happy to help.
- What can you offer? – Think about it like this. If a company were to come to you what would you post on your site about them?
- Is this the time of year that you can offer a special offer or coupon? They could post this on their site and FB page.
- Is there an event that you want to spread the word about?
- Did your company do something special?
If you’re stumped and can’t come up with any ideas don’t freak out. You can write a guest post for their website. Guest posts can be a very powerful way to build links. Come up with a 400 word article and only include 1 link back to your website! (For a complete guide on guest posts check this out.) Don’t be greedy; one link will be just fine. This article should be suitable for their site and about your market. So if we use the plumber example then write an article about “How to unclog a drain without a plunger!” How great would that be if you came across that piece of content?! Personally I would love to know! Come up with a few ideas and mark it on your spreadsheet under content ideas.
IMPORTANT: You are only using 1 article for each link. DO NOT use the article 2 times! This will hurt your SEO efforts. Also do not only write about your company! This is such a big mistake people make. They write about them, them and them. Give valuable information and then simply include your site name or company name with a link back to your website.
- Reach Out! – It’s time! You have a list of sites/contacts, you thought of something you can offer (a guest post or offer) and now it’s time to reach out to your list! Don’t be scared. Remember these should be people that you sort of know and you’re giving them an awesome piece of content for their site or sharing an amazing deal that your company is offering!
I would personally call these people instead of emailing. It’s more personal. You can say:
“Hi John, how are you doing (blah blah blah)….
I was working on this article and thought it would be perfect for your website. It’s about blah blah blah. Can I send it over and have your web person post it up? Thanks!”
Don’t explain that you’re building links or anything like that. They probably don’t care. Tell them that this article will help their site show up in search engines because it’s good, valuable content.
- Follow Up – I made an extra column on the spreadsheet so you can keep track of follow ups. Remember you only really need 3-5 links per month so only track about 20 total contacts each month. For a follow up you might want to call or send out an email. If they post the article or link then thank them. DO NOT offer to exchange a link and post it back to their website. Remember we only want 1 way links. If they happen to ask say that you need a well written, 400 word article from them with a link in it. Most likely they will not do that. And if they do then you have a good piece of content for your site.
So let’s review:
- Create an excel spreadsheet or use mine.
- Brainstorm about people you know in the business or your general market. If you don’t know anyone then start researching companies in your area that you can ask for a link. ONLY 20 companies the first month!
- Think of an offer or something you can post on their site. If you can’t think of one then write a guest post for them.
- Reach out to them and ask to post the offer/article on their website.
- Follow up to make sure it’s posted. Also thank them if they did.
Remember you want to be consistent with this and take your time! Building backlinks and getting a better Google ranking doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a long time and hard work. But trust me that you will see results if you can build 3-5 quality backlinks each month. Good luck!