If you’re a small business owner who’s spent any time investigating search engine optimization for your business, you’ve probably given some thought to the question, “How do I get links?”
In the old world of search engine optimization, it was a pure down-and-dirty numbers game. The more links in cyberspace pointed toward your web site, the more money you made.
As one can imagine, this didn’t last long. Black hat SEO companies invented a host of dirty tricks to artificially inflate the rankings of low-quality web sites by spraying links all over the internet. Common techniques included things like posting irrelevant comments on blogs and spinning large numbers of keyword-stuffed articles containing links back to the target sites.
The recent Google Farmer update was designed to directly attack this problem, but these link-building tricks have been declining in effectiveness for quite some time now. Why? It’s just common sense. If you fight against the course of nature, you’re bound to lose eventually. If your strategy for winning new customers is to trick them into walking into your store, you might get a few sales this way, but it’s a flimsy strategy at best.
To name two recent examples, retailers Overstock and JcPenney took a recent hit in the rankings over some questionable linking tactics employed by their (now fired) SEO firms.
It’s no different than paying someone to pretend to be your #1 fan. It might work for a little while, but it’s going to be embarrassing if you get caught.
How does one go about building honest-to-goodness links that generate real business results over the long haul? The same way you do it offline in the brick and mortar world. Build relationships with real people by giving value first. When you think in terms of building linking relationships, the entire game changes. Instead of thinking about how you can get 200 links from different blogs, think about what it would take to build a value relationship with a close handful of other online business owners with solid reputations.
What would happen in your business if online community leaders enthusiastically recommended your products and services to people who trusted their opinions? I assert that you’d never have to ask how to “get links” again.