Day 16 – Build your business not your backlinks !

Marketing/ seo/

I’ve talked about Backlinks in several of my posts so far.   But I haven’t really gone into any detail about them.   They are certainly one component that you have “some control over” and contributes significantly (maybe even up to 30%) towards your pagerank.   This feeling of control seems to drive people to focus on collecting Backlinks and that may ultimately end up a complete waste of time.  It may also lead you to consider paying someone to “collect links” for you.   This is a bad idea…  You can’t control what these people do.  If they list your website or generate backlinks using “cheats” or “trickery” or simply harvest backlinks from dubious sources they are ensuring that any short term benefits you receive could cost you your company’s long term reputation and ranking.

Here is an example sales pitch from a “Whitebox Linkbuilding Contractor”

We have a team of specialists who do nothing but link building. If you would like us to undertake a link building program, we would assign one of specialists in this area who will analyze your competitors’ in-bound links and attempt to replicate those for your site. We will submit your site to relevant internet directories, links will be placed into discussion forums and some reciprocal links will be sought. This will dramatically help promote your website across the Internet to drive traffic and potential customers.

On paper this sounds great ! And lets you completely wash your hands of doing your own marketing work.  The truth is that this kind of link building could ruin your business (especially if all of your customers are sourced online).  You just don’t know what these people are going to do to generate backlinks for you, ( Click here to read Google’s Official stance on paying for backlinks ).

Here is an alternative to paying for backlinks that resembles everyday business development strategies that existed pre-internet.

Develop a relationship with other businesses in your area.

Search out 3-4 businesses in your local area that are already ranking in google as PR3 or more.  I’m talking about shops or companies that you can walk into the front door and speak to another human being.   Schedule a meeting at a coffee shop/your office/their office whatever, and talk to them to find out if there is anything you can do for each other, or together to help each other. Even the smallest thing can make a difference.   eg.  I have two clients who are literally two doors appart from each other.  One is an art gallery the other is a construction company.   They are as different as they get…. yet they found a way to help each other.  The art dealer offered to hang attractive artwork visible from the front window of the construction company (attracting the eye of passers by, any re-enforcement of brand recognition is a good thing for any company.  The reciprocal favor is the construction company who is able to recommend their customers on where to source artwork for corporate receptions and the like.  They are able to send their friends and customers over to buy artwork from the gallery.   Both businesses are able to benefit at no cost to either business.

Developing a rapport like this can develop a beneficial relationship and gives each business a legitimate reason to link to you from their website.   ( I also have a sneaky suspicion that Google takes proximity into account when it evaluates your backlinks ).

Ask for a link to your website from your customers and suppliers.

If you have customers with websites (espeically if they rank well… be selective about who you ask).  Ask them if they wouldn’t mind putting a link on their webpage back to your site.    It’s very relevant in terms of being a legitimate backlink and your proximity comes into play again.   If you are a retailer and have a good relationship with your suppliers there is no reason why they wouldn’t link to you as a retailer for their products !?  In fact they would be silly not to right ?   If you are in a service industry you can ask for endorsements.   A good way to display these endorsements would be for them to click “like” on your webpage and write a few works explaining why they like your company.   There is no shame in asking your customers to do this.  If they think highly of you they will be more than happy to give you an endorsement.

 Make some Noise !

This idea is not for everyone but can be a fun way to get people to link to you (especially from social network sources).   I’ll illustrate my point by giving you an example.    If your business is selling “safe and strong toys” then start a series of youtube videos where you smash toys on video, first smash the leading “cool” opposition toy with a heavy object and see how it holds up, then smash your own product and take a look at how it holds up.    It doesn’t really matter if its not scientific or even fair, what matters is that it’s fun and spectacular.  Make a mess of things and make it noisy and colorful.   If your lucky you may create the next hit “viral video” and receive millions of visitors overnight.   The most important thing to do is create something unique that people will love to link to or share the link from.  This is also a good opportunity to include family and friends as they will want to share they video with their networks which is a good way to get the ball rolling.

Say something profound

Think about the problems that exist for your customers and try to understand how they can overcome them…   Then tell them how ! It sounds overly simple.  You may have to run some experiments or gather knowledge via a survey before you have the statement/lesson that you need but it’s worth it because  you can teach your customers something that has value for them and they’ll like you for it.

 Backlink while Networking

As you grow your business, it is very likely that you will develop and grow your network of customers and business associates.  This will no doubt involve a number of client meetings, industry social events etc…   Keep in your mind with all of your customers and associates that they could be a future backlink or endorsement.   Make  sure you are very familiar with these people before you raise the suggestion of cross marketing techniques.

Really when you look at it., all of these suggestions are based in actions that are physical (“not virtual”).  These are everyday behaviors that you can develop as a business building habbit.  Each of which can end up creating a reason for someone with a good online reputation (ie. Pagerank) to associate themselves with your business.   Keep thinking about this idea….   Create content that people will love to link to.  Create relationships with nearby businesses that will love to recommend you.   Don’t be afraid to ask your customers and suppliers for support to help you be successful in your future business.

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