Link building for small businesses is very much alive. Yes, it’s incredibly time consuming to do it well and effectively. And it ain’t cheap. However, traditional link building (or white hat link building) provides incredible value for your SEO.

How come? Well, when a credible website like Huffington Post links back to your website, that tells search engine algorithms that your site is legit. Because a credible resource endorsed your website. The result? Search engines bump your website up in the rankings because they believe you’re legit. As you can see links are true SEO gold.

So how do you get a number of high-quality links back to your site from reputable websites? The following tips, that’s how.

Your Guide to Link Building for Small Businesses

1. Hire a Reputable PR Firm, Not Mass Link Building Farms

There’s a time and place for viral link building, but mass link building with black hat practices never ends well. In fact, it can put your website into penalty, cause Google to unindex your pages, and send your organic website traffic into a free-fall. But how do you know if a link building agency is the real deal and can help instead of harm? Price and volume.

The average link costs anywhere from $20 to $200 to procure. The low end starts with sites that have domain authorities of 30 and tops out with popular websites (like Forbes) with 80–100. If the term “domain authority” confuses you, let me explain. It’s a 0–100 ranking that tells algorithms how credible your site is. The more links you get, the higher your domain authority will be. The better your content and SEO, the higher still. But if you practice bad SEO and link building, you could suffer a huge dent in your hard-earned domain authority. But back to the question at hand: How do you determine if a link building agency is legit?

Link farms that promise you dozens or hundreds of links per month for cheap should send up the biggest red flag you’ve ever seen. These companies will most likely put links to your website on shady sites. This works absolutely negatively for your SEO. You don’t want your brand associated with sketchy businesses and websites.

Link building is public relations at its finest. It entails pitching journalists and publications with your content or securing press mentions with interviews. An agency like Witty Kitty knows how to speak to the press, avoid spamming reporters and influencers, and get your website on prominent websites that overlap with your customer base.

2. Utilize Free Tools When Link Building for Small Businesses

Since I just mentioned the massive expensive of link building, I’ll throw out a free tip. You should subscribe to HARO—help a reporter out—ASAP. Each day, reporters from every publication under the sun send out questions. Each question is organized by industry. If you have expertise to add to a certain topic like dentistry, health and wellness, or another industry, you can respond. If you play your cards right, you might end up on a huge website with a big link back to your site. It happens more often than you think.

But again, you need to know how to speak to reporters, give them the blurb they want, and make it as easy as possible for them to say yes. We consult on all of this if you need guidance.

3. Create a Press Page and Media Kit

If your organic SEO blog content does its job, it will bring in all sorts of qualified traffic. Bloggers and journalists included. This is fantastic as it’s done half of the link building work for you.

If a reporter comes to your website and wants to use your content as a resource, make sure your information is easy for them to access. They have less time than anyone alive. Create a press page and media kit so they can download your logo, messaging, and everything they need to write their blog or story. It’ll increase your odds of getting organic links. A.k.a. the best thing ever.

4. Build Niche Press Lists

Building press lists takes time. That’s why it’s so expensive to buy them. If you want to do it yourself to save money, take the time to find publications, websites, and influencers that have an overlapping demographic with your business. Then, go to each contact page, LinkedIn company page, or social media account to track down decision-makers. See? It really is time-consuming. Add the contact person’s name, job title, and contact info to a sheet with the date you added them. We recommend updating these every year since people come and go from jobs.

5. Don’t Spam Reporters!

Don’t spam your lists! You’ll get the spam folder quicker than an Amazon Prime delivery lands on your doorstep if you blast reporters and publishers with info they don’t want. Always include an opt out of emails line at the bottom of every email. Only send them content and story ideas you’re 100% sure would benefit the reporter. This is the ultimate exercise in putting their needs before yours.

6. Do Manual Resource Article Outreach

Yes, another labor-intensive link building tactic: resource article outreach. What does this mean? If you make a list of websites that overlap with your customer base, stalk their content. If you spot a resource section with broken links or something your content can complement, reach out and suggest they use your content. Give them the link, tell them why it will help them, and be brief. These are a crap shoot, but if you truly offer something to improve their website, they might bite.

7. Network, Network, Network

Networking will never go out of style. The better known and trusted you are, the more likely you’ll get links back to your site. Bottom line: Make connections with reporters and influencers!

8. Think All About the Reporter

Reporters are busy people. When you create a pitch or press release, you need to get to the point fast. More importantly, you need to get to why this matters to the reporter and makes them look good if they publish it. Think like you’re in the reporter’s shoes. Get all psychoanalytic to ideate what they really want and need. A great story always appeals to these people.

9. Guest Post Wisely

Not everyone will agree with us, but we’re seeing a downward trend of the value of traditional guest posts. That’s because they’re not as valuable or genuine as press mention—like a HARO post or media exposure where they site your company and link back to your website. Of course, it’s always great exposure to become a contributor on huge publications like Forbes, but choose your guest posts wisely. And if you hire someone to write them for you, be prepared to shell out $500–$2,000 for this public relations exercise.

10. Build Links to Each Page

Depending on how competitive your industry, you’ll need 10–50 links per page of your website. Focus on the most important pages—like your products, services, or shop page. Pitch one at a time. And of course, hyper-target your link building per page to those who would benefit most from linking back to it.

11. Do an SEO Audit

You don’t always need to do a ton of legwork to get links. You can improve your website’s SEO with an SEO audit to get organic traffic (and then have your press kit ready for when those reporters roll in!). That means government websites, bloggers, and news sources looking for information may find your site and link back to it! It’s basically the dream.

12. Track Your Links

Yes, you can manually visit sites and tally up your links. However, it’s much easier to use tools like ahrefs to check in on your backlink profile. It’s also a great way to spot shady links so you can disavow them and avoid going into penalty. Who knows, you may have links you don’t even know about! And when you find the good ones…

13. Post Trust Signals on Your Website

You’ve probably seen “as seen on” sections on most prominent websites. Ours, for instance, includes Forbes, Huffington Post, Fast Company, and more. Trust signals give you both bragging rights and credibility points—showing site visitors you’ve been featured on trustworthy websites. That will fast track them to a sale or lead.

How does link building for small businesses improve your SEO? When site visitors stay on your site longer and visit more pages (they’ll be more enticed to if they trust you). They’ll be able to do this if they see your trust signals and find your content organically because you have the links necessary for better search engine ranking. It’s all a cycle. If you need help navigating your way through it, reach out. We’re always happy to chat.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in June 2019, and has recently been revamped by our team to offer the latest and greatest images, stats, and educational info.