co Links build bridges |

Not all links are created equal in the eyes of the search engines. However, link building to your website as a strategy for small business Internet marketing, whatever the quality of the links, will be viewed positively to some degree. The best kind of inbound link is one that is one-way only, and that comes from a quality site that the search engines consider important.

Unfortunately when you are just launching your site, you will find it very difficult to persuade the owners of quality websites to provide a one-way inbound link to your site. The very first thing that you should do, therefore, is make sure that your website is one that quality sites would want to link to.

Provide high quality, regularly updated content throughout your site, and never cut corners. No one will link to a poor quality site, so make yours the best you possibly can. This takes time, but it is time well spent, for the effects will last well into the future.

One method of getting one-way inbound links to your site is to locate quality sites that you would like to have links from. If they provide a service or sell a product, become a customer. Then submit a glowing testimonial to the site owner. Make your testimonial benefit laden, explaining how it helped you. Write it in such a way that potential customers might be swayed to buy.

Most website owners are delighted to receive unsolicited testimonials and will usually publish them on their site as an additional tool to persuade people to buy their product. They will usually also be willing to provide a back link to your website as a way of saying ‘thanks.’ This link-building strategy is easy to implement and very underused. It can be surprisingly effective too, though it does take time to build up.

Another common method of getting one-way inbound links is to submit your website to a number of directories. There are hundreds of directories, most of them are free to submit to, but some ask for a payment. Often the payment required is small though.

Submitting your site to directories is easy to do. A search on any of the major search engines for “directory submission list,” or something similar, should yield a large number of sites that you can submit your site to. Manual submission is fairly easy, but time consuming. However, there are a number of software programs that make this part easier, though some manual intervention is usually still necessary.

Social media sites are becoming increasingly popular. They can have considerable link building value to the website owner too, if used properly. Most of the social media sites, such as MySpace, Squidoo, and others, will allow you to create a profile, or even a specialized blog.

If you provide real value on these sites and add your site link, using appropriate anchor text if possible, you will create a very valuable one-way inbound link for your site. Some of these sites use the “nofollow” tag, which tells the search engines not to follow the link, thereby not giving you credit for it. However, it is still worth doing as a small business Internet marketing strategy, as you can get valuable traffic as a result, and sometimes the search engines ignore the “nofollow” tag anyway.

There are a large number of sites that allow you to create a free blog. Using these places you can create a number of blogs and post to them regularly with links back to your main website. Admittedly, this will be you linking to your own site, but the search engines won’t know this. And besides, using this strategy you have complete control over the anchor text you use to link.

Adopting an effective linking strategy for your website need not be particularly difficult, or expensive. Persistence and a degree of continuity is the key. Link building should not be viewed as a one-time small business Internet marketing event. It is an ongoing activity that should last the lifetime of the website. The work put in will definitely pay off handsomely in the long term.

Caroline Melberg
Back to Small Business Marketing Mavericks blog