I am in the content business, not the website coding business. My blog posts on this site rarely address elements at the back end of a website. However, any small business owner who hopes to gain business via the Internet needs to understand the basics of search engine optimization and its importance in getting you found on Google, Yahoo! and Bing, among others.
One of the best ways to build your online credibility — and your site’s visitors — is to use inbound links. These are links from other websites that link to yours. If the other site has a large number of regular visitors and they link to you, your placement in the search engine rankings will surely go up.
Within days, my little Red Sox blog was found on Google among big-shot websites like ESPN, SI.com and The Boston Globe sports section. That’s the power of one very strong inbound link. Let’s say a writer links to your website in an article from The Huffington Post, which has a gigantic daily readership. Let’s also say they properly linked to you using solid anchor text within the article itself (as opposed to the comments section, which diminishes the strength of the inbound link). When the search engine bots crawl around the Web and see that the Huffington Post linked to your article, it’s a major endorsement from an established online presence, which therefore makes your site the go-to place for that particular topic. Do this a few times and you’ll be climbing to the top of the SERPs (search engine result pages) faster than you could imagine.
Now I know you think it’s probably impossible to get links of that quality to point to your small business website. The answer is yes and no. You see, the Internet is starved for content in a world where Facebook rules and sharing content is America’s new pastime. If you continuously provide good, original material, people will find you and link to you. A few years ago I wrote a Red Sox blog just for fun and one day Slate linked to my site as one of the blogs to read about Opening Day. Within days, my little Red Sox blog was found on Google among big-shot websites like ESPN, SI.com and The Boston Globe sports section. That’s the power of one very strong inbound link.
So what happens when you’re not as lucky as I was with my blog? You don’t have to aim for websites like Slate or HuffPost for success. My friend, Susan Weiner, is a powerhouse investment writing blogger. She’s also got a strong, loyal readership and has built her reputation as a speaker and instructor. I can’t tell you how much I admire her work ethic and her clean, crisp writing ability. Last year, Susan asked me to be a guest blogger to help her readers out with some easy SEO tips. I jumped at the chance, knowing that Susan’s readers would find their way to my site (which they did) and my Google street cred would get a boost (which it did).
So when Susan asked me for another article, my answer was yes, of course I would. As a follow-up to my guest blog, she asked for something on adding links for SEO, and I provided a post on how to strengthen your website with internal links. I’ve always found internal links to be the great oversight of SEO, so I thought that would be the perfect post for Susan’s readers, who probably aren’t nearly as tech savvy as they are in the world of finance. I’m hoping for a repeat of the spike in web traffic I received after posting on Susan’s site last year as well as another leg up on the competition when it comes to finding me on search engines.
1. Create great content that readers will appreciate.
2. Try your hand at guest-blogging for someone with a popular site. It doesn’t have to be CNN or some other major outlet, but someone with strong credibility in a particular industry. Ask for a link to your site in your bio or introduction.
3. Make sure the anchor text is strong and accurate to maximize your success with search engines.
4. Check out HubSpot, the authority on inbound links. Tons of amazing information about maximizing your web presence.
Have questions about inbound links or internal links? Put them in the comments section below or email Steve.