September 2, 2014

Why SMBs Shouldn’t Fear Link Building

When we tell small business owners that they need to invest time in link building, they often respond with a very fearful look on their face. Link building? What is that? How are they supposed to go about building links to their site? Impossible!

But it’s not. Because what many small business owners don’t realize is that they’re naturally awesome at this whole link building thing. Don’t tell those larger brands, but SMBs are actually ringers.

Why?

Well, here are just three reasons.

1. SMBs Understand Relationships

Ask any SEO expert worth their salt and they’ll tell you that link building is all about establishing relationships. It’s about making the time to get to know the influencers in your niche, to introduce yourself and to give them a reason to link to your website. That’s why link building is so difficult for larger businesses to get a handle on – because they’re not in the habit of becoming friends with their customers or building relationships with fellow SMBs, vendors and even competitors. Small business owners have been doing this for centuries. It’s what their businesses are based on.

As a small business owner, your ability to be human and connect with people will become your biggest asset as a link builder, because you can’t just walk up to a site and ask them to link to you. You need to establish a rapport with them first. And that’s where SMBs have a huge leg up – they know how to do this better than anyone and usually already are!

2. Offline Contacts Have Become Online Contacts

Small business owners are master networkers because they have to be. For people to find out about their SMBs, they know they have to get active in their community and their niche. It’s not uncommon for SMB owners to volunteer at community events, to be active in their local chamber of commerce or even to speak at local schools or universities. The average small business owner has a long list of contacts and people built up over the years. What they don’t realize is that many times these offline contacts can also be online contacts, as well.

  • That university or group you speak at? They’re online and capable of linking to you.
  • Your Chamber of Commerce? Yup, they also have a website.
  • That community event you donated services to? There’s a website and a Facebook page for that, too!

Each of these provide an opportunity for a small business owner to get a link back to their site by taking an offline contact and turning it into an online one.

3. Small Business Owners Make Great Local Sources

Local newspapers, websites and blogs are always looking for local content or local faces that they can put to national stories. Whereas there may be a lot of competition to get quoted in The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal, there’s not so much competition in getting quoted in The MyTown Gazette with a link that can be nearly as powerful.

I’ve written before about how to win media coverage as an SMB and these are opportunities that you always want to be on the hunt for. Are you hosting a noteworthy event that may be worthy of coverage? Are you releasing a new product or celebrating your 10th year in business? Is there a national story that you can present a local angle on? Reporters are always looking for easy content. Help them do their jobs, while also securing yourself a link.

Above are just three reasons why small business owners shouldn’t fear the art of link building. Because, the truth is, you’re already doing it. You just don’t realize it.

15 Comments ▼
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Lisa Barone


Lisa Barone Lisa Barone is Vice President of Strategy at Overit, an Albany Web design and development firm where she serves on the senior staff overseeing the company’s marketing consulting, social media, and content divisions.

15 Reactions

  1. Thanks a lot, Lisa.

    Links have been quite the hot subject lately. Obviously, they’re important.

    SMB’s have a definite advantage in some cases because of their size, and their mentality about connecting with other like-minded SMB’s.

    The Franchise King®

  2. For goodness sake, don’t just blindly email the webmaster and ask for a link exchange. That’s today’s version of blasting out a press release and hoping that it sticks. Be very targeted and get involved in the “virtual” community. Heck, they will probably ask to link to you before you even get a chance to ask them!

    John Sternal
    @sternalpr

  3. It’s true. Linkbuilding is a natural online extension of the relationship building that SMBs are already good at. You just need to take the additional step of asking for the link. “Ask and ye shall receive.”

  4. Great point, the local market and media should never been overlooked. Not even for online business and blogs.

  5. It’s true that link-building for small businesses can be a natural extension of networking relationships, but small business owners should still consider hiring a part-time SEO link builder. This might make it easier for business owners to get that work done without the extra worry for a fairly low price.

  6. Loved the post and a great subject. Links are very important and I agree that it is and all about the relationship building in the link building. Small business should always be working on their links!

  7. Awesome Lisa! Thanks for this post. The only additional thing I do is see where the social media connections exist, too, because those shares are growing in importance, too, right? But if we have to focus on one thing at a time, do the link request first, then the social media sharing request.

  8. It is extremely important for SMBs to be online and to do all the online marketing they can. This includes monitoring what people are saying about their business.

  9. Linkbuilding is a great SEO tactic.

  10. You hit the nail on the head. Link building isn’t a strategy of joining blog networks or webrings that try to game Google by linking to each other, but rather a byproduct of marketing. You do the same things you do in the offline world, and by being more personal and giving customers the content they want, links will follow.

  11. Lisa, thanks for this article. I appreciate you highlighting the relationship aspect of online/offline links.

    TJ, could you explain your point more? I would think that it’s more appropriate to connect through social media, i.e. LinkedIn or Twitter, then request a link from their site. The social media link allows a way to build the relationship before requesting the link.

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