Three link building strategies to improve your Google ranking

What you need to get to the top

To get to the top of Google, and we're talking top of the organic (non-paid) search results, you have to convince Google that your site is the best one for whatever it is that the searcher is looking for.

If you operate in a competitive market, just having a great website won't be enough. By competitive, we mean there are more than half a dozen local suppliers in the same industry as you are.  This means they are fighting for the interest of the same audience.

If this is the case you've got to persuade Google that you are better than all of them.

The most powerful way to win Google over

SEOIt's like high school all over again - with popularity the name of the game.  In the world of search engine optimisation (SEO) you need others to confirm that your website (and therefore your business) is a great destination.

On the web, this means links.  Links from another site to yours. Also known as backlinks.

Not all backlinks are made equal – buying '1000's of low quality links through article spinning and offshore directory listings is not the way to do it. It requires commitment, creative thinking and relationship building.

And there is no getting around it – this means it takes work.

If someone inside your business doesn't have the time, skills and experience needed to build links you can buy this expertise in.  This can get expensive and you have to be very careful who you use.

The good news is you are probably already doing things within your business that you can leverage, re-use and re-purpose to help get backlinks without having to sell your soul.

It's all about being local

Local link building or local SEO is vital if you deliver services to a specific geographic location e.g. Auckland. In this context, getting links from locally relevant sources is what you are aiming for.

Locally relevant sources include those who have some kind of standing in the business community – businesses, service providers, not for profits, media, councils and government agencies, educational institutes, associations etc.

So - how do you get backlinks from these types of organisations?

Strategy 1 – Get involved

This can take true commitment and the links back to you will take time, but getting involved in your local community is a great way to get to know the people in that community, network and support other organisations.

The outcome you want is a mention (and with it, a link) on their website, and in any material published elsewhere, of course. Make sure you ask them to give you a link from the relevant content on their website as not all of these groups will think to do it as a matter of course.

  • Host a local event – seminars, charitable or community events and get your co-sponsors or supporters to promote it (with a link to the information about the event on your site).
  • Sponsor local schools, sports team or not for profit such as an animal rescue organisation. Make sure there is a link back to your site from theirs and in any promo material.
  • Start a discount/product partnership with a local organisation.
  • Contact local media and offer your expertise as a source for their work.
  • Offer to speak at a local educational institute (such as a night class).

In all cases, the idea is for your business name and a link to your website to be on any/all material published on-line about the event. It doesn't have to be flashy, just a simple text link will suffice (see the bit about anchor text below).

If you are already involved in your local community, it will be a case of asking people for these links to be included - easy!


Participate in local on-line discussions and forums if you can add value to the topic at hand. Don't use the now virtually pointless tactic of comment spam. This is comments like "Great work" or "Nice post – look forward to reading more, in the meantime check out my software training services".

Networking Groups

If you are already involved in local business associations or groups, ask for a link from the people you have a good relationship with, particularly if you have done work for/with them. Make sure you are listed on any local business group's website you do belong to or are part of.

See it as another way to get referral businesses for those people in your group.

Strategy 2 – Create useful resources

This means having something on your website that is useful to people such as:

1. A map, guide or list of local:

  • Tourist sites of interest.
  • Retail/shopping areas with free WiFi spots.
  • Events and activity based attractions.
  • Business meeting rooms and locations.
  • Key buildings or destinations.
  • Cultural attractions.

2. A guide through local by-laws or how to get something done using local businesses and organisations with contact details and web links in a step-by-step instruction

3. Video how-to's and tutorials for standard tasks that everyone needs to be able to do from DIY home improvement to changing the printer ink cartridges.  You can refer to local suppliers within the video if you want to make it more relevant and useful to people within a specific area.

If possible, when creating this content, think of something related to your business because then you can include some of your expertise into the mix e.g.:

  • GST calculator (bookkeepers).
  • Tax return and payment due date tables (accountants).
  • Phone system cost calculators (telecommunication companies).
  • Building cost estimators (builders or quantity surveyors).
  • How to change a tap washer video (plumbers).
  • Styling tips (personal stylist).

The idea with these types of resources is that other people who find them useful will link to them, rather than create their own.

For example, we're looking at one of our most popular blog posts How much will that website cost? to see if it can be turned into an on-line calculator so people can estimate the cost of a build based on their individual needs.

If it's relevant to your business, you can create digital resources in the form of images.  Upload to Flickr or similar photo sharing site and make sure you specify that a citation and link is to be included if someone uses the image.

Strategy 3 - Leverage the relationships you already have

If you've spent time building a mutually positive relationship with a client or supplier then it is easier to ask them to help build both your businesses, than it is to ask a relative stranger.

Provide glowing (but honest) testimonials for any local business you interact with in return for a link on the testimonial when they publish it on their website. And who doesn't want more testimonials on their site?

This can include whoever you have used:

  • For your office fit-out or furniture.
  • Set up your computer systems or provided a laptop.
  • Cleaning your offices.
  • Your signage, printing or other design work.
  • Catered lunch or an event or even delivers your coffee!
  • Organised your insurance.
  • Took care of your plumbing, electrical, painting or other property related services.
  • Did copy writing work for you.
  • Printed your logo on pens, t-shirts and corporate gifts.

Or, you could offer something to help their content efforts, such as guest posts for their blog (if they have one).

And be sure to ask to be listed on any preferred vendors or partner pages.

Anchor text - an important ingredient

Anchor text is the text used for the link back to your website, e.g.:

Essentee provide website design and website management services in Auckland

It's important because the text that is underlined - i.e. used as the link gives Google a clue about the site being linked to, and what it is all about.

Obviously if you are a lawyer, then you'd want the anchor text to be lawyer, legal advise, Auckland lawyers or something along those lines because it tells Google what you are.

Unfortunately, over-enthusiastic SEO practitioners have abused the use of keyword phrases in anchor text, so Google will look for a 'natural profile' for these - which means that it looks  like it hasn't been gamed. So it means mix it up a bit e.g.:

  • Essentee are a website design and management company based in Auckland.
  • Essentee provide website design and website management services in Auckland.
  • Essentee who are based in Auckland and provide website design and website management services, say that local SEO is vital to their clients.

You want a decent percentage of your back link anchor text to include the phrases you are trying to be highly visible for, but don't focus on a single word or phrase.

The Time to Start is Now

Building a large number of links back to your website takes time. 

Think along the lines of three to six months to make an impact, depending on what your competition is doing.

So you can't afford to not start as soon as you can if visibility in Google is important to your business.

A quick last note about content

While you are putting effort into creating back-links, don't forget to create regular, useful content to publish on your website. If you're stuck for inspiration, here is 20 ideas for website content

This all contributes to creating a great website that is so packed full of good stuff that Google simply can't ignore it! A great piece of content can appear on the front page of Google within minutes.


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