You’ve gone to all the work of building a great website, but plunking it onto the web to sit there looking all cute isn’t enough to boost your business website rankings.
A website is very much like a garden: it requires constant watering, weeding, and sprucing to ensure it’s healthy, your best plants and flowers are displayed, and people who pass by it feel happier just by seeing it and come by again and again to see what new thing you’ve planted (and then mention to neighbors what a lovely garden you have, so they come by to admire it, too).
That maintenance and care of your website is called SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Having a website is not only important, it’s imperative for writers and small business owners. But the next step- the one that is ongoing- is to continually update and maintain it in order to keep it high in Google’s search rankings. You can do this through blogging, which brings about slow and steady growth and backlinks, which show quick results but are harder to get.
I have built a self-guided course for writers and entrepreneurs on the importance of blogging as a key SEO tool for increasingly visibility, engendering trust in you and your business, and growing your audience. Blogging is an excellent grassroots way to let your community know how much you are invested in them and that you are an active participant in your field by adding to the conversation.
Yet blogging is a slower burn of encouraging website health that should be done in conjunction with some of the other 200 SEO tactics you can employ that offer effective boosts to your ranking.
Backlinks = The #1 Quick and Effective SEO Strategy
According to SEO specialist Neil Patel, the #1 thing you can do to rank high in searches is to get backlinks.
What Are Backlinks?
A backlink is a link to your website posted on someone else’s website. When another credible relevant business links to you, it’s very good for your website’s visibility and Google ranking. The more other businesses link to your website, the higher you rank in searches.
How Do You Get Backlinks?
Technically speaking, you should be getting backlinks by generating new engaging content on a regular basis and posting it on your site as well as across social media. If the content is valuable to audiences, they will stay on your site to read it, share it with their friends, and return to see more of your content.
All of that action from your blogs and new website pages boots your rankings. Because you’re ranking higher, other comparable businesses will find your blogs and website pages valuable and link to you on their sites.
You can also create quizzes, infographics, leave testimonials, and guest blog. Here’s a comprehensive list of backlink tactics you can employ.
Inorganic or Paid Backlinks:
All in all not a good idea. I get inquiries from backlink farms about 4x/week who either ask me to link to their business or who ask if they can guest post on my site.
“Hey ONE LIT PLACE, I recently read your blog [insert blog title] and loved it! I wrote a blog recently that would be totally relevant to your business and would love it if you would link to [insert kitchen cabinet store/vitamin shop/somethingorother totally not relevant].
Sometimes I call them on it because it’s fun to mess with people. The Kitchen Cabinet store was my favorite.
“Dear Sir,” I wrote. “I am so pleased to hear you loved my blog. I appreciate your offer of writing a blog about kitchen cabinets for my writers’ center. If you can make your kitchen cabinets relevant to writers, I’d be all over that.”
I’m still waiting to hear back.
Of course, if you were to actively approach comparable businesses and ask them very nicely to include your website in something, they might, but cold calling/emailing may not be as fruitful, especially since you can’t reciprocate, so what’s in it for them?
Why Can’t You Trade Backlinks or Guest Blogs?
This is tricky territory and largely a no-no because Google’s entire purpose is to make sure you’re linking authentically to other businesses in order to provide your readers with valuable and relevant information.
(Here’s a blog that explains it well- if you’re in a rush, you can scroll down to “Why Simply Trading Links Isn’t a Good Strategy.”)
Now, on one hand, if you link to an article from a big complex entity like The New York Times in one or more of your blogs, and by some miracle the stars align and they link to your business, you won’t be penalized as clearly no “under-the-table” bargain that would not be in the best interests of website visitors was struck.
For example, I link to articles at the Times constantly in my blogs because (obviously) they have great content and are a venerable publication.
Last year, one of our One Lit Place writing coaches, Marcia Walker, published a beautiful piece, “How I Came to Hate the Word ‘Wife'” in the Times, and in her bio, she mentions that she teaches and works with OLP as a writing coach and editor. I immediately got increased traffic because Marcia’s mention of us was in an organic context and deemed kosher.
But if you trade with a fellow small business owner, you have to tread carefully as Google may determine the trade is inorganic and cancel out the SEO benefit for both sides or worse, penalize both sites even further for breaching their terms of service.
In this case, trading backlinks (such as I link to your blog and you link to mine) is not advisable.
Use Your Community
Here is where being in a business group or having business alliances comes in handy. Perhaps a conversation amongst your group could be dedicated to the goodwill gesture of backlinks or providing guest blogs to those businesses in your group that are comparable to yours and whose products and services would be a valuable addition to your own blog or website.
For instance, I love promoting my team of editors and writing coaches’ books, speaking engagements, and websites as well as those publications of the One Lit Place writers, and frequently feature these authors and their works in blogs or on Our Writers and Creative Team bio page.
I am also delighted to promote those businesses I know and use that would be valuable to the One Lit Place community: I link to Danielle Lewis Designs for graphic design, Digital Pixie for website development and email marketing, and Pen Parentis: a literary nonprofit for writers who are parents because writing while parenting requires a tremendous amount of
med …dedication and support.
Do any of these businesses link back to One Lit Place? Yes, a few do because we cross pollinate in a number of ways in serving our communities.
However, I am willing to take the risk knowing my linking to them is organic and benevolent with a mind to the community benefit and hope Google recognizes how I have used these links in a natural context.
Above all, if the point of all this linking with blogs and backlinks is to generate valuable content amongst the world-wide web community, then operating from that place by linking to other businesses feels great.
Such goodwill is what keeps us all feeling supported and knowing we’re in a system of kindness. I wasn’t kidding about the kitchen cabinets- even writers keep their food in a pantry. If that guy writes back, I’d be open to posting his blog. From where I stand, if you can help boost someone else’s SEO and foster goodwill at the same time, everyone comes out a winner.
If you’re a small business owner strapped for time and need some help with your blogs, your business website, or anything in-between, please reach out. We’ll be happy to help you boost your business and reach new heights of success!