9 Reasons People Won’t Link to Your SMB Site

Getting people to link to your website is a struggle for any business. But it can be even harder as an SMB when you don’t have the large brand, immediate recognition or authority of a bigger, more established company. And that’s something I hear from many SMB owners- they think they’re doing everything right, but they’re frustrated that folks still seem wary of linking to their sites. What’s going on?

Below are nine reasons why people won’t link to your SMB site. Let me know if any sound a bit too familiar. We won’t tell.

1. You’re too new: Many business owners stand by the mantra that you are who you link to. For that reason, if your site doesn’t feel finished, established or properly aged, some businesses simply won’t link to you until you’ve “earned” that link. Linking a way of vouching for a particular business. Before someone makes that commitment or gives you that stamp of approval they want to make sure you’ll still be around tomorrow.

2. There’s no contact information: Want people to link to your site? Give them ample contact information! Display your address, your phone number, your email address, a map to your location – anything you can to show that there’s real life behind your business and you’re not a spammer. Contact information is one of the primary trust indicators that people use when evaluating a site they may associate themselves with. They want to know you’re a real business. A little contact information can show them that you are.

3. All your links are to yourself: If every link on your website goes to an internal site page, it tells people that you don’t play well with others or that you view yourself the authority on absolutely everything. Neither impression is going to inspire someone to link to you. To receive links, you must freely give them. Link out to authorities in your industry, to other resources, valuable communities, etc. Not only will this show people you’re a good Web citizen, it may also alert the people you link to of your existence.

4. Your site is one page: Again, another big trust indicator. It’s hard to establish much trust or authority if you’re rocking a one-page website. Give potential customers and potential linkers something to get excited about by adding more content and information about your brand. Hey, maybe even start a blog!

5. Your site is too salesy: Hey, we’re all on the Web to make a living, to grow our businesses and to connect with new customers, but that doesn’t mean we want to be hit over the head with it. Just because you’re getting involved in content marketing, doesn’t mean you have to be BIG and OVER THE TOP at every interaction. Learn how to convey your message in a way that is conversational and inviting, instead of spammy, and you’re bound to get a whole lot more link love.

6. There are no linkable assets: If people aren’t linking to your site, it may be because you have nothing to link to. This may be a good time to take a hard look at your site and ask yourself if you’d link to your site. What makes you worthy of someone’s link? Have you created a great resource? An interesting infographic? A useful tool? Clever product descriptions? What are you doing to earn those links you want?

7. You auto-play music/hit people with popups: Popups, ad overlays, music on auto-play, and things that flash or talk are all factors that will annoy someone right out of linking to your website. It doesn’t matter how great your content and linkable assets are if you present a lousy user experience. Don’t annoy people.

8. There are too many ads: People want to share sites that are informative, entertaining and useful. If someone lands on your site and they have a hard time making it past the ads, they’re probably not going to link to you. It may give the wrong impression and tells onlookers that you’re more interested in making some money via Google AdSense then you are in building a great business.

9. Your site takes too long to load: Internet users aren’t known for having a lot of patience. If it takes your website three minutes to load a page, you’ve already lost them. Do what you can to decrease the page load time so that you’re not turning off potential linkers before you even have time to lure them in.

Those are some common reasons people may be skeptical of linking to your website. Are there any you think I missed?


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.

17 Reactions
  1. Excellent article with some very valid points. Having reviews on your home page can also re-enforce trust in both the sites that want to link to you and customers of both sites.

  2. I’d add lack of sharing buttons.

    Great list, though.

  3. Like I didn’t know that YOU wrote this post, after I saw the title, Lisa.

    Great post.

    I just so happen to have a very special page set up on The Franchise King Blog for some of those “trusted resources” in small business,and they can be found under “Resources” on one of my top buttons.

    It works wonders. especially since they are the best of the best in small business!

    The Franchise King®

  4. You nailed all the things that drive me away from a website. Which I guess is another way to say that whenever you do any marketing, you should look at it from the point of view of the customer and what s/he wants, not from point of view of what you want them to want.

  5. Thanks for the list. I’ll definitely have to bookmark this one.

  6. I just started my own internet-based business and am having a difficult time getting links. I have a medium-sized site with a lot of external links pointing to reputable pages. I guess I’m too new. Unfortunately, only time can fix that…or can I fix it another way?

  7. Reason #1 – You don’t have anything worth linking to. (sad but true)

  8. @Craig- Keep at it. IMHO, there’s no secret sauce to meaningful SEO. It takes time but, if you’re persistent, you’ll be successful.

  9. Thanks, Lisa, for some really great tips. This helped me realize I am not linking enough to other valuable websites. This is something I can and will fix. You’ve helped me realize this, luckily, early on in the development of our website. I look forward to more great advice from you.

  10. Great article Lisa. I especially like your first item – the site is too new. In this “get it now” culture we often think that just putting up a site will attract folks and forget that it takes time and effort to attract visitors and get links from other businesses.

  11. Great article. I’m new to internet marketing, so I’m relieved to see that I’m not an offender in any of these except being new. I have plans to link to a few businesses I already know are reliable.

    One suggestion, because you never know when a newbie will visit your articles or site, it would be helpful to define jargon. SMB and SEO are like foreign words to the uninitiated. I can try to figure them out, but I can’t really be sure if I’m correct.

    Thanks for a great article that will help me start out right.

  12. I could not agree with the author more. The content of the website is very important, both for SEO and for attracting outside links.
    Think about Social Media connections as well – Facebook, Twitter and others. It’s all important to build your business on the net.

  13. Point number 9, page load speed is something to watch, personally I believe it to be a poor user experience and find it to be a frustration when using websites that are slow to load, the tendency is to ditch it and find a different site. Also google rate sites on speed i believe, so one to watch, you don’t want your site to be penalized by google algorithms.