The most challenging and time-consuming part of SEO is link building. This is especially true for small and medium-sized businesses. Backlinks are vital because they connect you to the world at large. A strong backlink profile tells search engines that your site is legitimate, contains pertinent information, and is trusted by other websites. Without backlinks, your website is on an island alone.
Here are nine examples of different places you can land a backlink. All these methods still require either money, hard work, or both, but investing the time in these areas will be very beneficial to your business. In addition to the SEO value, keep in mind many of these options have a lot more value than just a backlink – exposure, lead generation, networking, etc.
1. Chamber of Commerce
By joining the chamber of commerce in your city, you get a listing where other members can view information about your business. This listing includes a backlink pointing to your website. This is a good backlink because it is locally relevant and Chambers of Commerce generally have good website metrics.
The Chamber of Commerce I’m a member of has annual rates starting at $295/year.
2. Your service providers
You likely have a real estate agent, an insurance agent, a house cleaner, a car salesperson, and several other service providers who owe you. Why not reach out to them and see if you can leave a testimonial (with a link pointing to your website) on their website or write a guest blog (with a link pointing back to your website).
Here is an example of seoplus+ connecting with one of our service providers for a win-win exchange. Versature is an Ottawa-based hosted PBX service (a VoIP telephone provider for businesses) that we use for our office phone system. We were so happy with Versature’s voice-to-Salesforce integration that we offered to supply a testimonial. They ended up publishing a case study about our experience.
3. Search Google
Search Google for the keywords you are targeting. Are there any paid directories or guest blogs on the first three pages? Contact them. For example when you search “Plumber Ottawa” in Google, 5 of the first 8 listings are for directories. If you’re a plumber you should get listed in these directories and some will even provide a link.
4. Unlinked mentions
An unlinked mention is a mention of your brand without a link back to your website. Often journalists and content writers mention businesses without linking to them. If you can find mentions of your business, the likelihood of getting this converted into a link is very high because there is already a relationship or connection. Search Google for mentions of your business with no link using this search “your brand” –site:yoursite
Here is an example of outreach to a community newspaper. Two quick emails helped generate a very valuable backlink for my client:
5. Donate money
The most rewarding way to generate a backlink is by sponsoring a local event or donating to a charity. Many charities have websites with listings of their sponsors. Charity websites tend to be very trusted and authoritative so having a link from them can be very beneficial.
To find opportunities, search “your city” + “our donors” and find a cause that you’re interested in. In most cases, you still have to ask for the link, but these opportunities are plentiful.
6. People seeking guest bloggers
A guest blog is when you write a blog for someone else. This benefits them with fresh content on their website and in return, they should link back to your website. Guest blogging is great because it is win-win, you get access to a new audience, and you start or enhance a relationship.
Here are a couple searches that will help you find guest blogging opportunities. Search “your city” + “guest bloggers needed” or “your niche” + “guest posts” or variations of this.
7. Directory listing service
In the early years of SEO, it was common to list your website with hundreds or even thousands of free directories. As the search engines have become more sophisticated, links from random websites have lost their effectiveness. However, there are still directories that are relevant for your industry and location. You can find them by searching terms related to your business and searching the search results for free directories or you can use a paid service.
I recommend whitespark.ca. They charge $5 for local/niche directory listings. Great value in my opinion.
8. Review bloggers
When you’re doing research for a large purchase, you may have come across a blog or review site comparing different services/products. Often these bloggers/reviewers are paid by the companies they review. Google’s quality guidelines state that webmasters should avoid “participating in link schemes” and “participating in affiliate programs without adding sufficient value.” So be careful if using this tactic.
How it works is, you reach out to bloggers/influencers using a service like Tomoson or Famebit. You propose an exchange to the influencers where they promote your product/service in exchange for payment or discounted services.
We use these services primarily for e-commerce stores that we work with and influencer campaigns can be done for as little as $50 on Famebit.
9. Help A Reporter Out (HARO)
We have used this tool to land our clients backlinks from CIO, AOL, Huffington Post, Realtor.com, FOX News and several other well-known publications.
HARO is a service used by thousands of reporters to connect with sources to use in news stories. HARO sends out 3 emails a day with requests from reporters. The reporters are looking for quotes from experts about home services, business, health, education, and everything in between.
HARO is competitive and many requests receive over 100 responses, but with persistence and practice, it will eventually pay off.
Generating backlinks is difficult. But the good news is, it is also difficult for your competitors. If you could generate one high-quality link from each of these methods, you will be light years ahead of most of your competitors. Good luck!