It’s a race to the top of Google, folks! And often the one key metric that Google uses to determine your rank-worthiness is quantity (and Quality) of links to your website. How else would Google know that other people appreciated your website? Google is looking for links! So let’s do this!
Step 1: Make a list
Start by making a list of all the people you know that might be appropriate to ask. These are people who like you and have websites. Your husband or wife counts here too. Seriously. Your friends & family probably love you and owe you a favor. Anyone who has a website and wants to rank better needs links too. They understand. Vendors, Suppliers, Clients, Contacts, Classmates, Neighbors, Referral Partners – these are all awesome potential sources for links. Take 15 minutes and think through this. Scroll through your phone contact list – literally. That will generate some ideas. Do this right now.
I mean it! Do this now.
Extra Credit: Then add industry contacts, colleagues, influencers to your list. These are people that you don’t know well. Just add a few of these. Why would they link to you? We’ll cover that in a minute. Great. Is there 30 people on your list yet?
Step 2: Find the opportunity
Slow down just a little. Don’t just reach out with “will you please link to my website?”. That will make this harder than getting Google reviews from your friends. Start with the first name on your list. Go visit their website. If they wanted to give you a link – from what page would that be appropriate?
Research their options that would be least obtrusive and would make sense to them. If it’s a supplier, they may have a “Retailers” page. Referral partners may have a “Resources” page. Many sites have a “Testimonials” page where your name or business name could be a link to your website – as long as that testimonial isn’t faked, of course. If there’s a blog, then perhaps it makes sense for you to get a mention and a link like I did below for Everett Street Autoworks. You get the idea. If you are already linking to their website you can leverage that in your ask. On our website we link out in several ways including on our Testimonials.
Step 3: Make the ask
Reach out via email with a warm & friend tone. Give them details on where they could create a link for you so they don’t have to wonder. It will make sense to them. They’ll likely forward the email over to the person who manages the website – so think of that when writing the email. Be direct & succinct in your request. Someone you don’t know may fill your request.
I was looking on your website yesterday and noticed that you have testimonials from some of your customers. I’ve been working hard to get my website to rank better online by getting more links to my website. If I sent over a testimonial for your site would you be able to make my name into a link back to my site? We’ve got a link to your site here on our resources page and often send our clients over to you. Every link counts! In case this is a possibility, below is my testimonial for your business.
Thanks so much!
We’ve been using your super-duper-blammo machine in our clinic for the past year and our patients really do feel relief from their back pain. I just noticed that you have a local clinic page. Could we be added to that page with a link back to our website? That would be so helpful for our business as we’re trying to grow and get the word out about your blammo machine. As you probably know, links do help for website rankings. Below you’ll find our full business info & website URL. And thanks for any link that you can set up for us.
Thanks so much! And keep up the great work!
Extra Credit: When making this request of people you don’t know, you’ll generally need this to make sense. When reaching out to industry leaders, remember that they like to help people too – they just need to be inspired. Did you write a blog post that they might be interested in? Are they personally connected to the topic of your service or product and would they love knowing about you or sharing what you do? Come on! You are awesome so let it rip! And do your research first. What’s the worse thing that could happen? You don’t get a link? But you just might!
Step 4: Follow up
Don’t just cringe and bury your head in the sand. Imagine every link you get is like you finding $1,000 cash on the sidewalk. That’s probably what it’s worth to your business. If you make your requests in June, then put a calendar reminder on your calendar for July to check to see what links you got. Sure, you’ll get a few replies with questions or rejections and some people will not reply. Even those non-reply folks might just forward your request to their webmaster and forget to respond to you. You may even need to follow up on your family & friends! So in a month – go down your list and look for the page on their site that you suggested and see if that link is there.
If it’s not there, and it’s appropriate to send a gentle reminder (like when they said, “yes of course!” but still there’s no link) then do that about a month out. People are busy. Life is crazy. It’s okay to poke them one more time to give you a link.
** A note about link quality. Not all links are created equal. For most small businesses, getting a link is better than not getting a link. Let’s start there. If you got a link from the New York Times that would be high quality since that site has so much authority. Local links are better than non-local. Relevant pages linking to your page are better than non-relevant. The text of the link matters too “click here” is lower quality than “Acura repair shop in Portland, Oregon“. Wow – they just got an awesome link! And there’s a lot of noise online in the SEO community about spammy links and linking rules. If you are a small business – just don’t pay for links or employ spammy tactics. Go out and get a bunch of real actual links.
For now – just get one link! Do it now!
We can’t make your link outreach list for you. But if you are a client of ours, give us a call to help you expand your list and get some high-quality links! If you are not a client yet, why not exactly? Give us a call!
Jeffrey has consulted for thousands of small business owners over the past 12 years as a Local Search nerd. His opinions can sometimes be quite impassioned. Bighorn Local SEO is his latest successful agency venture based out of Sisters, Oregon and Portland, Oregon, which offers unique subscription SEO services. Bighorn Local SEO also designs websites, logos, and print media and strives to create great success for local business owners across the country.Jeffrey Magner