I mentioned in a previous post how long it actually takes to rank highly on Google, and at the bottom of that article, I outline a few things you can do to help this along. Increasing the links to your website, or link building is one of the most important.

What do I mean by link building?

Link building is when you have links on other websites that take the user to your website. A directory like yell.com is a good example of this. Yell is basically an online version of the Yellow Pages, you can have a business listing on there that will link back to your website.

By regularly link building, you seek out websites that will link back to yours. I will outline more examples of these later in the article.

Why link building is important

Link building is important because it shows Google that your website is trusted by others. Logically, if a website links to yours, it indicates that they value your content and trust that it’s worth associating with.

Google treats this as one of its indicators for a ‘good website’ and gives it some brownie points when it determines if it should rank highly or not.

Here’s the catch though. If all the websites you get links from are seen as ‘spammy’ by Google or have viruses attached to them, Google will punish you too.

Here’s what not to do

  • Don’t put your website link everywhere, not all links are valued in the same way.
  • Make sure you get links from directories that are relevant to your business and make sure that they are reputable sites.
  • Don’t allow your link to be put in somebody else’s website footer (a footer is the bottom section of a website, it’s usually on every page and the same throughout the site).
    • This is bad because it looks like you are spamming their website with links, Google will not only punish you for this – but them too.

My top 3 places to link build for service businesses

1. Directories

I’ve already mentioned them, but directories are perhaps the easiest and most obvious choice when starting link building.

The method of adding your site to a directory can vary, but for the majority, you sign up and simply add in your website/business information. Then the person running the directory will check your listing and verify it for you.

Finding specific directories for your business niche is important, but here are a few you can add your business to. For these, it doesn’t matter which niche or industry you’re in:

N.B. Don’t blindly add yourself to any directory. Make sure you explore the website and check to see if they make any hidden charges before signing up.

2. Guest posts on blogs

If you’re serious about increasing your Google ranking and impressing your customers/clients then you should have a blog on your website. Posting regular quality content on your blog will help to increase your Google ranking, but that’s not what we’re here to talk about.

If you’re doing the above, then it should be fairly simple to convince somebody else to let you write a blog post to go to their website, right? Well, it depends on who you approach.

Serious bloggers will have an application process that you need to complete to do a blog post, others will just want to know what you want to talk about.

Regardless, start looking around for blogs that you can contribute to, but bare in mind the following:

  • Make sure the blogs you write for are for your target audience.
    • There’s no point writing for another photographer when you could write for a local lifestyle business blog instead.
  • Make sure you can include a photograph, paragraph about you and a link somewhere in the post.
    • By writing a guest post you are doing them a favour. They get fresh content on their website, so you should get recognition and a link back
  • Make sure the website you are writing for, gets enough visitors.
    • There’s nothing worse than spending hours on a blog post, for it to reach nobody. If in doubt, ask the person who owns the website for their page view numbers.

3. Join forums

Forums may seem like an outdated concept now that we have social media, but they are a valuable source for link building.

In many forums, you can have a link back to your website in your signature – like you can in emails. If not, you can add a link back to your website on your profile.

By joining and being active in relevant forums, you become a source of information and an expert in your field for the close-knit community. Make sure if you join a forum, you’re active, polite and professional.

The forums you join will be unique to your business and your target market. But here are some top tips for finding the best forums:

  • Start on social media
    • Many social media communities have a website base as well. Search for your target market on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram and make sure you add the word ‘community’. It might take a while to find what you’re looking for, but once you do, usually two come along at once.
  • Google it
    • Think about your target audience and add forum or community on the end. For example, ‘girl boss forum’, or ‘independent business forum’.
  • Ask around
    • If you already know your target audience/niche, then you probably already know certain people in that niche. Contact them on social media or via email and ask if they know of any good forums you can join.

Top tip: Don’t join more than two forums when you’re first starting out. Remember, quality over quantity

Bonus: Add your business to Google My Business. By doing this, you get a free link back to your website and when somebody searches for a business in the area (in your industry), you will pop up on their Google Map. You do have to put an address down for this, but it’s well worth it even if you don’t have a specific office.