Business owners understand that SEO (ranking high in Google) means more customer leads.
SEO is a bit of a long journey, especially if you haven’t put a lot of effort into it thus far.
One important thing to remember when it comes to SEO is that the more links back to your site you have — especially from sites of a similar subject matter — the better off your site will eventually rank.
Are you trying to maximize search results for a specific city or region? Make sure you focus on getting links from websites that are in your local region. This sends a signal to the search engines that your site is relevant to a specific geographic area.
Here’s some ideas for getting links for your website. Not all of these may apply to your specific website, but I’m guessing that a good chunk of these will.
Organic Back Link Ideas
1. Sponsor local events or charities.
This is good because you are not only giving back to your community, but you can get back links and mentions from localized sites. Getting back links from local organizations helps establish you are based in your region. Often times, these are back links with decent domain authority.
2. Do something newsworthy.
Want to rank well in local SEO? Get coverage from your local newspaper, TV station, or local business association. These links are like gold, because they come from extremely credible sources, and rarely disappear.
What can you do to get local coverage? Open a new storefront, launch a product, spearhead a fundraiser. Get quoted as an industry expert for a magazine or website article. There are plenty of ways to get mentioned in the news.
3. Publish a press release.
Press releases used to be widely used as an SEO tactic. These can still help — especially if the stories actually get picked up by local publications. They still have some value by themselves, though slightly less than they did in years past.
4. Join local business groups (Chamber of Commerce, Rotary, Business Mixers), make sure everyone knows what you do.
Have you ever heard the term, “Go where your customers are”? That’s the basis of this tip.
When you’re still trying to pull your search rankings higher, customers won’t find you through Google, so you need to go to where they are.
If you go to enough of these, people will become familiar with who you are and what you do.
Some of these will turn into qualified leads. Some of these people may have websites that deal with an industry parallel to yours.
When people know who you are and what you do, they may refer people to you directly. They may also share your pages on social media, or even link to your site from theirs. Some local businesses help each other out by publishing listings on a Recommended Businesses page or blogroll.
5. Speak at a Meetup, Toastmasters, or other speaking event.
One way to get back links is to establish your authority on a subject. One way to establish your authority on a subject is to give a presentation to a room full of people.
These are by no means the only two ways you can accomplish this goal. Check your local city for groups that meet, and see what is out there that feels right for you.
If there is one opportunity that you can take advantage of — and this applies in almost every industry — it is blogging.
Most of your competitors don’t spend resources on publishing content, they spend it on advertising. Please don’t make the same mistake of thinking advertising alone will improve your search rankings. Because when the ad dollars run out, so will your ad placement.
Blogging is a way you can answer customer questions. This is also how you’ll attract people to your product offering.
People have questions. People type those questions into Google. They visit the sites that seem like they might answer their question the best. Those sites that keep getting clicked on keep rising in the search results.
Why doesn’t everyone do this then?
Most often, it’s the classic response of “No time”.
However, I feel very strongly that you can’t afford not to spend the time creating content each week. This is how you can simultaneously establish your authority on a subject and attract new customers. All it costs you is your time. Please make the time to write.
7. Get on forums and help people.
If you’re feeling ambitious, here’s a way to go directly to your target customers.
There are forums for just about every subject under the sun. People are looking for help on forums. Find several forums that deal with what you do. Become an active member on each of these.
Resist the urge to start up-selling people from the first post onward. It’s bad manners, and it might get you banned from that forum.
Instead, take the time to be a part of that forum, and when the opportunity arises, answer people’s questions. If it is appropriate, you may share a link to content you’re written or recorded that answers their question.
Now you’ve not only helped a potential customer, but you’ve established good will, and built a back link to your site.
8. YouTube and embed on your site.
YouTube or Vimeo are good ways to let people see you and hear you answer a question. for people who don’t read as much as they watch videos, this is another way to reach them.
Also, embedding the video on your website increases the potential reach of your video.
9. Podcast and embed on your site.
Podcasting has been around for a long time, but has exploded in recent years. If you have a good microphone and have the resources to edit your recordings, you can start a show that is themed around what you do.
Podcasts are generally available in the iTunes store as a free subscription, and can be syndicated to other sources, like Stitcher and Libsyn.
If you need help setting this up, get a hold of me, and I can point you toward some people who know the ins-and-outs of podcasting much better than I do, who can help you out.
You can back link to your site in the show notes from iTunes (Google is starting to crawl deep links from apps), or from the syndicated show notes on other sites.
10. Teach a class or hold a workshop.
This is another way you can establish your authority on a subject, while building back links.
If you’re holding a workshop at a local venue or co-working space, they can link to it from their site. You can also sell tickets via a site like Eventbrite, but these links will likely disappear after your event date passes.
11. Publish an e-book, either or paid.
Now that you’re blogging on a regular basis, you can always focus down on one topic within your industry and write and e-book about that topic.
Now, it would be easy to just distribute this from your own website, but you can also distribute it through Amazon through their Kindle service.
At this time, Amazon doesn’t allow true back links on their Author pages, but you add a plain text URL. This allows people to copy-paste that URL and go to your website. Google also sees the mention of your website, and even though it’s not a back link, many search consultants believe that mention of your brand counts for something.
12. Search for your hashtag on social media, and answer questions.
This requires the same level of dedication that joining forums does, but it can help build your back links. Google is once again accessing Twitter timelines and indexing a fair amount of these tweets.
Once again, this is a case where you can kill two birds with one stone, by helping people who have a genuine need, and get a back link to your site indexed by Google (via a tweet).
Always remember to focus on helping people first, and give them the best answer possible. Part of the reason I encourage you to create a ton of content is it becomes easier to refer people to your own solution rather than someone else’s.
13. Cross-promote if you have more than one website.
Do you have more than one website? Do these websites cover the same general category?
If you can answer Yes to both of these questions, then you have a prime opportunity to cross-link between the two.
For example, Site A has been around longer than Site B and has better overall rankings. By linking strategically from Site A to Site B, what happens is Site B benefits.
This really helps when both sites are of the same general subject matter. Google looks at context when it comes to back links.
14. Have friends? Partner up with them.
There’s strength in numbers. I know you’ve heard this one before. How does it apply to back links?
If you have industry friends who aren’t in direct competition with you, but are in a complementary industry instead, you can provide value to each other and your clients by cross-promoting.
This could take the form of you guest blogging on their site, or the two (or more!) of you doing a show on YouTube via Google Hangouts each week.
The goal is to provide maximum benefit for the audience or potential customers you are trying to reach.
15. Go find the people who need what you have.
Pretty much everything this article is saying boils down to this initiative: Find people who need your help and help them.
Whatever you have to do, wherever you have to go, you need to get in front of your potential customers. Whenever you can, see if you can get a link back to your site or mention online. These things add up after a while.
Some ideas we haven’t mentioned yet: go to trade shows, sponsor a high school sports team in your area, volunteer at your local SCORE chapter (then contribute to their blog), hold a webinar, self-publish a physical book. All these are means to get in front of people (and get mentions online).
16. Local directories.
Making sure you are listed in local directories (for your city) is a key component for local SEO. It’s also a good idea to make sure all your online citations (mentions of your business Name, Address, and Phone number) are consistent.
You can do a quick search to see if you have any inconsistent or duplicate listings using the Moz Local Check Listing tool.
17. Write letters, send cards.
Outbound marketing and direct mail can definitely work, if you’re targeting a specific profile of customer. For certain industries, it pays to send hand-written letters to influential people in your industry. Why? Because very few people ever do this, it can truly set you apart as a business that goes the extra mile.
18. Just ASK people for links.
While you won’t get every link you ask for, you will get some of them. One way to get links is find sites that already cover what you do. If you can find broken links on their site, and you have a replacement article of your own you can suggest, they are likely to use it to use it.
If you’re simply asking for someone to use your link, and you’re sending a cold email, you may get some back links, but don’t expect a 100% success rate. If someone links to you, be sure to send them a thank you email for taking the time and effort to link to your site.
19. Don’t forget internal links.
Internal links are when you link to other pages in your site from your own pages. Many businesses don’t realize they can benefit from internal linking.
If you blog, try to link to at least one other page on your site each time. Use anchor text that matches the page you’re linking to. (Anchor text = the words that are in the actual link).
20. Figure out what you want to be known for, and don’t stop until you establish yourself for that subject.
There are probably a lot of generalist companies in your industry. I know there are in mine. There’s a way to cut through the noise and rise to the top.
However, it takes time.
This is why so many businesses fail to take advantage of this opportunity. This is why you will be able to take advantage of their indecisiveness.
Step One is to decide what specific thing in your industry you want to be known for. Decide what specific type of customer profile you want to serve.
Step Two is to do everything in your power to establish yourself as an authority on that niche of your industry.
This means getting up and speaking in front of small groups. Eventually these groups will become larger.
It means writing and sharing everything you know about what you do. So few businesses actually provide value before making their pitch through content publishing. But this is how you will establish your authority.
If writing is not your forte, use video or audio instead. People thirst for information to help them make a qualified decision, not a marketing pitch. Use whatever tools you can to reach your customers where they are.
There are thousands of ways you can get back links to your site, these are just a few. Remember, there are no shortcuts to authority. Make that work a top priority, and you’ll never have to hunt for leads again.