New Small Business SEO Series – Link Building

Cobbler Building LinksLink building for small business SEO is one of two biggest challenges of the process. The other is creating content on a regular schedule. I know that many of you already have content, so we’re going to start this series before the content creation series.

SEO Link Building 101

This is going to be an extensive series over the next few weeks. We are going to cover a lot of material, but I’m going to keep it simple. We’ll start with the description of a good link for SEO and the link source. Then we’ll progress systematically with different sources for links and how to generate links properly from each of those sources. A few link sources will take more than one session. Article syndication and authority site creation are two examples.

The techniques I’m going to cover are white hat SEO. At least, they’re my interpretation of white hat. Some may disagree, but I stay away from black hat techniques because the risk is too high in my markets. Following these techniques should not cause any problems with the search engines.

Link Sources

Here is the list of link sources that we’ll cover in the coming weeks. As I said, I’m going to try to keep it simple, but I will provide links to other sites that will go into more technical detail. I’m thinking that you’ll want practical before technical.

Update July 15, 2011


Part 1Small Business SEO Link Building Basics – covering link HTML structure, DoFollow Links, NoFollow Links, Natural Links and Link Profiles

Coming Soon:

  • Link Practices
  • Authority Sites
  • Blog Comments
  • Social Media (YouTube, Facebook, Twitter)
  • Article Syndication
  • Guest Blogging
  • Press Releases
  • Profile Links
  • Reciprocal Links
  • Directories
  • Industry Organizations
  • Forums
  • Blogging
  • Link Exchanges
  • Your Own Sites
  • Internal Links

Ground Rules for Link Building

Here are my rules for link building:

  1. Thou Shalt Not Spam – there is no single good definition of spam, but let’s use the working definition of doing it for the link only.
  2. Contribute To The Conversation – “Great post, keep up the good work” is not contributing to the conversation.
  3. Best Effort / Best Content – content for blog commenting, authority sites, articles, etc. should be at least as good as what is on your site.  It should be your best effort.
  4. Relevance – if you sell flowers, make comments on flower related sites to build relationships. Don’t send links from a power tool site to your flower site.
  5. Treat Links as Gold – It’s not about getting the maximum number of links. It’s about getting the highest authority most relevant links.

I Would Love Not to Do Link Building, But…

In an ideal world, Google, Yahoo! and Bing would find the best content for each keyword phrase and display those results. We don’t live in an ideal world. The search algorithms are weighted heavily to external links. High value external links are difficult to get unless your content is excellent and unique. We advocate producing the best quality most relevant content for your customers whenever you publish – including links.

So, keep one thing in mind when creating backlinks for small business SEO – go to other sites to add value to that site. The exchange for you adding value is the link. Consider the power of the link to be directly proportional to the value you add to the linking site. If you create strong relevant content, regardless of where you post it, good things will happen. People will begin to notice you and start linking to you naturally. Let’s not think of it as link building, let’s think of it as promotion for the wonderful content on your site.

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Small Business SEO – Understanding The Search Process Video

What happens if you have traffic coming to your website, but your results are much less than you expected? If you’re focused strictly on small business SEO and you’re generating traffic, then now is the time to understand the SEO search process that visitors use.

The search process video below is about 5 minutes and 15 seconds, but could be the best five minutes you invest in a long time. Internet marketing is a two phase process:

  1. Generate traffic with SEO and other methods
  2. Converting traffic to your desired action

If you have traffic, but no results it’s likely a mistake in strategy.


The Big Internet Marketing Mistake

What do visitors do when they come to your site? It’s a big mistake to think they come to your site to read the content. They don’t. When they first come to your site or a page on the site, they are still in the search process.

The video describes the five phase search process:

The SEO Search Process

The search process steps are:

  1. Search Engine – type the search term into Google or one of the other search engines
  2. Skim / Read the search engine results page (SERP)
  3. Click the most the result that seems most relevant
  4. Evaluate the page the search engine serves
  5. Read the content

Visitors don’t read your content until the fifth step. If you have spent valuable time and money generating traffic using small business SEO and local SEO, but you’re not getting the results you expected, misunderstanding the search process is probably why. You may need to change your content, website design and structure.

I could attempt to explain it here, but the video is a much better way to do that, but let’s look at a couple of images from the video. Which one do you think would get the visitors attention and entice them to read more?

SEO Content Comparison

Wham! What a Difference

I’m reading the page on the left side. I’m betting you would too. Now, the question is, which of these examples is closer to your site. I urge to the watch the video for more.

Small Business SEO Challenges

Small Business SEO Challenges
The challenges for small business owners are massive. Small business SEO and internet marketing add more challenges. Indeed, in some ways it presents a threat.

Imagine you own a store. Then, imagine that one out of every ten potential customers are blind to your store when they walk by. Then can’t see it at all. It doesn’t exist for them. Now imagine that was five years ago. Since then the blindness has increased to three of every ten and within another year it could be five or more.

This is exactly what is happening for business owners who don’t have a web presence or don’t have a web presence in the search engines. Local SEO is needed to make your business visible to search engines and visitors who buy what you sell.

The Three Challenges of Small Business SEO

Let’s categorize the challenges for small business owners when thinking about internet marketing. Here’s a story to illustrate.

Sergeant Johnson must do some crazy things to qualify for special forces. He must dive off a cliff, land in the water without hurting himself and then swim five miles across the channel to the other shore.

Sergeant Johnson has some thinking and deciding to do. First, is this special forces thing really worth it? Second, do I have the skills to jump off a cliff without hurting myself. Finally, do I have the stamina to swim five miles across open water?

The small business owner looking at internet marketing for the first time is a lot like Sergeant Johnson. Is it really worth it? Do I have the skills or can I find them without a huge hassle and expense? Will my efforts get me to the search engine rankings and how long will it take?

The Challenges of small business for local search engine optimization can be looked at in three steps:

  1. Deciding if internet marketing is worth it for my business
  2. Getting started
  3. Staying with it until it pays off

Deciding if Small Business SEO is Worth It

Let’s go back to the beginning of this article. How many potential customers are walking by your door because they never see you? It’s pretty simple but powerful question. If some percentage of customers in a business come from online searchers and your business is not where they search, they will never see you.

So, this decision comes down to two basic questions:

What percentage of potential customers start their search online? The National Association of Realtors reports:

Information sources used in home search:

  • Internet: 74%
  • Real estate agent: 69%
  • Yard sign: 22%
  • Open house: 12%
  • Newspaper ad: 9%
  • Home book or magazine: 6%

If you’re a real estate agent and you don’t have a solid internet presence, you will be missing out on a lot of business. What are the numbers in your business segment? Check with your industry association, talk to other people in the same business, but find out.

The second question is do you have the resources necessary to compete in the search engines and using other forms of marketing on the internet?

Budgets are critical for most small business owners and if you don’t have the money, you need to determine if you have the time to learn and do the work necessary for building a web site and ranking in the search engines. If you don’t have the time or the money you’re not going to make a dent in a competitive market.

But, let’s assume you have the resources necessary and you are sure of the need for small business SEO and a search engine presence. Now what do you do?

Getting Started With Small Business and Local SEO

What do you need to get started with SEO? If you are new to SEO, watch our Small Business SEO Explained Video that we created just for small business owners.

Whether you do the work or someone else do the work, to get started you need to get the technical aspect of site design and SEO right:

  • Site Structure
  • Site Design
  • Hosting
  • Content Management and Content Management Platform
  • Market Research
  • Competitive Research
  • Keyword Research
  • On Page SEO
  • Link Plans

Practical SEO – The Real Work

Once the technical aspects of SEO are complete, the work begins and the work is all about content. Content offers three challenges:

  • Creating Content
  • Creating Lots and Lots of Content
  • Staying With Content Creation

The quality of your content must be better than the competition. It’s that simple. Do whatever it takes to make your content the best in your industry. Then the content must be written for both customers (first) and SEO (second). Don’t be fooled into believing that only SEO content matters. It’s always customers first.

I believe in the very near future that content creation quality and volume will be barriers to entry into many business segments. If you’re not able to create good content and lots of it – you can’t play.

Blog rate abandonment is estimated to be 95%. If you spend a lot of time searching on the internet you see that many businesses fall into that category or they’re teetering on the edge. The rate of content creation and maintaining that rate are critical. If you are not in it for the long term, you are not in. You must stay with content creation forever. The rate of new content is based on your business segment and competition, but plan to create new content for as long as you are in business.

Not What You Wanted to Hear?

Sorry, I don’t pull punches. I don’t tell you BS to sell you. Internet Marketing and small business SEO are competitive and becoming more competitive by the moment. If there’s a market, then there is or will be competition for search engine rankings. It takes work, it takes resources, it takes skill and knowledge. If anyone is telling you it’s easy, they’re wrong. Easy rankings generally mean that there’s no competition or no market.

If you have questions call me (Mike Byrne) at 386-295-2049. You can also reach me by email. I am a Daytona Beach SEO Specialist, but I service the US and Canada and beyond.

Small Business SEO – How to Fail Fast

Want to know the sure-fire way to fail at Small Business SEO? It’s really simple and many small businesses do it without trying. Here we go – make your site and its pages boring and irrelevant.

SEO Gets You Traffic Not Results

You are a searcher as well as a business owner. Think about how you feel when you search for a keyword term and the result is not relevant to what you’re looking for. If you’re like me, you’re not happy and hit the back button pretty quickly.

Then, think about how many times you get to a website and are not engaged by the website content and hit the back button.

Now, ask yourself – is my site and its pages relevant for searchers? Is it interesting? If not, you may have done a good job of SEO, but are not going to get the results you expect. To get results, you need to entice people to stay or stick.

Small Business SEO – What’s Your Purpose?

For every page on your site, you must explicitly state the purpose of that page. Here are a few questions to ask:

  • Who is the target for this page?
  • What does a visitor to this page and site want?
  • Does this page give the visitor what they want?
  • Is the page unique and interesting?
  • What do I want the visitor to do? What is my “Call to Action.”
  • Is this the best content available on the web?

A website page for small business or local SEO should be crafted with purpose to meet the requirements of the questions listed above. Craft it so that after you’ve done the hard work to attract the visitor to your page, you get the payoff.

Great Content and SEO = Results

Great content by itself equals poor results. Great SEO, without great content, equals poor results. Put them together and you can achieve great results.

Every day more pages are created and indexed. Let’s be honest. Lots of these new pages are crap. They are little more than spam. Don’t join them. The difference that makes a difference in the future is going to be outstanding content.

Picture this as your content…

Ferrari for SEO

Not this…

Junk Car

Make Ferrari content, not junk content. Keep these images in mind every time you begin to develop content. It will be better if you turn our half  or even a third of the content and make it twice as good. Take the time to add photos and other images. Add video if you can. YouTube makes it easy to post there and then show it on your web page.

Combine great content and traffic generating SEO to produce the results you need for your business.

Read more about Small Business SEO and Local SEO.

Google Fires a Shot Over The Bow for SEO Content?

Does Google Have Your Attention Yet?

Google’s Panda update changed 11% of its search results. Some big sites, like and were affected. Bad news for them, but good news for you and me.

Quality SEO Content

Quality content is about both search engine optimization and customers. It was only a short time ago that copied (scraped) content and shallow, rather stupid content, could rank in Google. Now Google has fired a shot over the bow with Panda. They are not at full war yet.

Google’s goal is to provide the best search results for visitors. This is not out of the goodness of the hearts. No, it’s because Google sells advertising (AdWords), and if the content they send people to view is poor, it reflects on Google and no ads are clicked. No ads clicked means no revenue.

They are aggressively targeting poor content. Their mission is to kill it by removing it from their search results. With the hundreds of Phds and other smart people working there, they will get there eventually.

Google Bing and Yahoo! Mission

The big three search engines are advertising platforms. That’s how they make their money. It is and will always be about the money. Google has about 65% of search traffic, but Bing has been gaining recently. Yahoo! is now using the Bing search engine, so the results will be almost identical. Many SEO “experts” say to ignore Bing and Yahoo! and just focus on Google. I’m not willing to leave 3-4 out of every 10 searchers out.

Google has fired its shot, but Bing and Yahoo! will be right behind. The quality of your content matters and will matter more in the future.

What Does Good Content Mean?

Don’t take my word for it. Google has published explicit guidance. Now I don’t believe that Google can check for all these things today for every site, but I believe they will continue to working on it and get closer every day. Here’s part of what Google says:

  • Would you trust the information presented in this article?
  • Is this article written by an expert or enthusiast who knows the topic well, or is it more shallow in nature?
  • Does the site have duplicate, overlapping, or redundant articles on the same or similar topics with slightly different keyword variations?
  • Would you be comfortable giving your credit card information to this site?
  • Are the topics driven by genuine interests of readers of the site, or does the site generate content by attempting to guess what might rank well in search engines
  • Does the page provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?
  • How much quality control is done on content?
  • Was the article edited well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?
  • Would users complain when they see pages from this site?

These are the highlights, but there’s more. Read the post at Google’s WebMasterCentral –> What counts as a high-quality site?

Future Proofing Your Website

None of my websites have suffered from any of the Google updates in the past two years. I have written close to a thousand posts and articles in that time. All my content is original and will stay that way. I take the time and effort to assure that content is useful to the visitors searching for the keyword terms targeted by the page.

Yes, I target specific keywords, but I make sure the content matches the keywords and is useful to the visitor.

To future proof your site; make sure you SEO content is of the highest possible quality for visitors. Visitors will be happy and so will Google and the other search engines.