By now, you should all be starting to realize that search engine optimization (SEO) is essential for business survival and a key component of SEO is link building. With the Internet only increasing in importance as an advertising and sales tool, to ignore the online potential of your business is foolish. In 2008, Internet retail sales reached 204 billion dollars and are climbing steadily every year. Here are some link building strategies to help optimize your business’ website for higher rankings in a search engine.

Every business should be listed in the major search engines and local search has become more prevalent and therefore important than ever that it is absolutely crucial that your business have a presence online (especially with Google Maps).  So if you do not have an online presence with the search engines, you need to start getting listed with some of the major directories.  Whether you are a dentist, hairstylist, doctor, candy maker, restaurant, florist, coffee shop owner, or retailer, many people search the Internet for local businesses. For example, shortly after I got married, my husband asked me to make a dentist appointment for him. However, he couldn’t remember the number of the dentist he used.

I got onto Google – NOT the yellow pages! – and typed the name and location of the dentist, got the number, and made my husband’s appointment. Had our dentist not had his contact information listed on the Internet, it is likely that I would have called other dentists that were listed. Listing your business on Google and Yahoo and other directories gives people basic information such as your location, your contact information, your hours, et cetera.

Oftentimes, people are able to write reviews of your business online so others can make decisions about your business more easily and this has a very positive impact with the search engines (particularly Google). Many search engines not only display websites in their search results, but also images and video clips.  These are all opportunities to create back links to your website. Could you create content appropriate to your profession that mentions your business? This can help you get more visitors to your site and optimize it even further for a search engine. You Tube is probably the most well-known way to provide informative content to a large audience plus you can provide links back to your business website.

For example, a hairstylist could post videos about how to do different hairstyles, a restaurant could do videos on table settings or recipes, a retailer could talk about fashion and possible outfits; the ideas are endless. The bottom line is that gaining links to your business from other websites gives you better search engine rankings and allows people to find you more easily. However, you should know that not all links are equal in the eyes of a search engine. Popular, credible and “authoritative” sites carry much more weight than a small site that links to you.   However, these back links which carry less weight are also important to have as they produce a natural looking back link quantity as it would be very unnatural to only have high authoritative sites linking back to your website (in the eyes of Google).  In other words, when getting back links from other sites it is important to look at the PR (page rank) of the site – looking for high PR is good, but remember that a site with a PR0 can always increase its page rank in the future so that same may link become more valuable than you think.  Happy link building!

Do you agree or disagree?  Perhaps, I missed something?  Either way, I would just love to hear what your thoughts are on this topic… just let me know your alive!

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