The trouble with link building
Anyone who’s done at least a little SEO research knows that a link structure and backlinks are an important piece of the puzzle. The level of importance is arguable, and each expert has a different opinion. But, the fact that links matter is evident, and legitimate links are even harder to get than ever.
Google and other search engines look down on link buying and trading, making your page decline in rank if their algorithms detect anything at all. So while it may seem like a good idea to trade links with friends, you should probably pass. Search engines are smart enough now to pick up on tertiary and even quaternary link trading. And don’t even think about buying into link building programs; they mostly just sell backlinks and will only hurt your search engine rank.
With all these obstacles, how are you supposed to get quality backlinks? There are a few ways, but Business Networking is the one we’re going to talk about here.
In Person or Online?
If you’re anything like me, you don’t like a lot of socialization. (If you’re not anything like me, and you love socializing, even better!) The easy answer to this one for anyone like me, or anyone who doesn’t have a lot of free time, is online networking. Social Media plays a huge role in this, but there are some other sites offering networking opportunities in ways that may surprise you.
Some sites, like Alignable, were created specifically for business networking. You create a profile, welcome new members, connect with businesses in your area, and frequent the forums. You can trade reviews, and pretty soon you’re getting to know other business owners. This is a great option if you’re B2B offering professional services or products to other businesses.
It can earn you backlinks because you can find people to review your products or services and write a post about it. You can also use it to find guest blogging opprtunties. Or maybe your connections will like you so much they’ll link to you without incentives.
Alignable has been my favorite business networking site so far. It’s just for businesses, so everything is completely on-topic, and everyone has the same goals.
Even grandpa has a Facebook profile these days, so adding your Facebook Business Page is a no-brainer. But, a lot of businesses miss out on the opportunities that abound in Facebook Groups. Find groups for others in your industry, especially help groups. If you help people by providing them with tutorials, advice articles, or free products from your website, they are likely to find you valuable enough to link to.
Most of all, this is just a great way to meet new people without having to put on pants. Meeting new people opens the door to networking opportunities and ways you can help each other’s businesses grow, including through web links.
Does your neighborhood have a website? Any community sites for your city or county? Check those out and see if you can place an ad. Better yet, check for events you can go to and be listed as a participant. Look for ways you can contribute to your community through donations, classes, or mentoring programs for the chance of being featured on their website.
Business organizations go with this as well. Those will be location-based, so you meet other businesses from your area. Check out your local chamber of commerce, look into joining up, and you’re likely to end up on their website and maybe other members’ sites as well.
Neighborhood websites don’t always produce a lot of referral traffic, but when they do you know it will be on point.
Crowd Funding … What?
Yeah, you read that right. Crowd funding can be an excellent resource for link building. If you check out business related crowd funding sites, you might find people who are willing to add a link to your website on a “sponsors” page on their site. Of course, that means you have to pay to sponsor them. Actually … this is the only legitimate method of paying for backlinks that I’ve ever found. So take advantage of it while you can.
If you’re not sure where to look, Patreon, Fundable, and Indiegogo are likely to have the opportunities you’re looking for. Pro tip: when searching for people to back, look for someone already established in your industry who has a prominent website and blogs or publishes regularly.
Linking Success Story
We’ve used a combination of the methods mentioned here for successful backlinks. Most recently, I took advantage of an opportunity I found in a Facebook group for web developers using the Divi framework. One of the most prominent members of our community was looking for sponsors through Patreon and offering a listing on his sponsors page as a reward.
Of course, I jumped at the chance! When I first began my journey into web development with Divi, I was constantly referring to this guy’s tutorials. So now I’m a sponsor, and Rainbow WP has a logo and link on his sponsors page. And he gets my support for further development of help articles and tutorials. We’ll call that a Win/Win.
I’ve already seen an increase in traffic, improvement in rank, and more likes for my Facebook page since … though I haven’t had enough time yet to evaluate how big an impact this opportunity has had in comparison with my other efforts. But for only $20/mo, the ROI is sure to be insane.
A Final Note on Link Building through Networking
A lot of links you’re going to get will be no-follow links. That means search engine bots won’t follow the links, and you won’t get a higher search engine ranking for them. That’s okay, and I’ll tell you why. If it’s a quality link back to your site (but doesn’t count for search engine bots), it’s still going to drive traffic to your website.
Links from larger, more popular sites or from industry-related sites are going to pass visitors over to you. And traffic ALWAYS matters to search engines. It always has, and it always will. Not only that, but if it’s a link from a relevant site (closely related to your industry, business, or location), the visitors are more likely to stay on your page longer. And that also factors highly into your search engine ranking.
In fact, no-follow links may even protect you against being seen as someone purchasing backlinks and prevent issues with non-related site links influencing your ranking toward irrelevant search terms. So, obtaining quality backlinks is always worth your time and effort, even if the site owner sets it to no-follow.
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