Basics for Business Citations in Link Building Strategies
TL;DR: Cheat sheet for how to start building backlinks for your own website, including a Google sheet that will become your SEO backlink bible for your link building strategies.
During my most recent marketing workshop, I gave a beginner’s guide to “what are backlinks” and the importance of consistency in business citations (or business listings or business directories – call it what you will – it’s six of one or a half dozen of the other) in your link building strategies. Now, if you read my previous sentence and all sorts of questions popped up, then this post is for you. I say that because I built this article around the questions that my workshop participants asked me. So, look at that: you get tips for free that they had to sit through; it must be your lucky day!
And, as an added bonus, I am going to give you a shortcut to jumpstart your journey of whitehat link building techniques right now…go to this doc (http://bit.ly/backlinkcitationseo) and save it to your own files so that you can edit it. I’ll refer back to it later. You will eventually need to take the time to fill it all in for yourself.
What Is Link Building in SEO?
A backlink is a link FROM a website TO your website. Think of it like a popularity contest. Each link is like a friend. And whoever has the most friends is the most popular and a trendsetter. Some friends are easier to get than others and some want to be your friend just because someone else is your friend. To put it more simply: it is pretty easy to ask your Aunt Suzy to link to your website from hers, right? Great; that counts, but it is a little obvious and Google knows that, too. But, let’s say CNN.com features your company and has a link to your site. Now we’re talking! I’d bet your local news station would also pick up on that article and want to link to you, too. See how that goes?
There are a lot of link building services you can use; however, do not ever, ever buy backlinks. I’ll repeat that a few more times in case you forget. You want to be authentic. If you want to get a backlink to your website, you’re going to have to put in some elbow grease and it has to be legit.
How Important Is Link Building for SEO?
Very, in terms of your organic placement. Since Google takes into account the quality (and to some extent the quantity) of links that you have, you need to build and check your backlinks. But, NEVER, EVER, EVER, EVER buy backlinks in bulk. There are, however, a few reputable directories (like Lawyers.com or maybe even your chamber of commerce) that do require a subscription. But, to decide that, you have to know the Domain Authority of a backlink. And that requires an SEO tool that you may not have. So, as a general rule, if you haven’t heard of it, steer clear of buying backlinks. If you hire a link building agency, double check that it does not buy backlinks in bulk (like, we guarantee X number of backlinks unless it is from directories you know). If it does, run. These are not the “experts” you need to build your business.
For example, let’s say you paid someone to come to your family holiday party with you as a stand-in boyfriend (what, you’ve never done that? Yeah, me either…) Then, let’s say your mom starts planning your wedding. And then the bomb drops that it’s not real and you paid for this – wow. I would not want to be there to see the results. Well, actually, I would, and I would bring popcorn. But, imagine Google is your mom realizing that you paid for a “friend” – forgiveness would be really hard to get, if ever, and she/it would hold it against you for the rest of your (website’s) life.
What Are Business Citations in SEO?
When I refer to business citations or business listings or business directories, it’s all the same thing: a place that lists different companies and information about said companies. Some examples include Google My Business (GMB), Yelp for Business and Bing Places for Business. You have seen them pop up a million times, but you may not have stopped to figure out how to get your business there. Now is the time to do it since you are clearly interested in link building strategies; am I right? Each business citation may require different information about your company (more about that in a sec), but you want to make sure you are listed on as many as possible.
How Do You Create a Business Citation?
You could hire an SEO agency to build your backlinks and business citations for you (ahem, MediaSmack does this). But, I encourage you to at least try some yourself to have more constructive conversations with your marketing team. So, let’s start with your new SEO backlink bible that I made just for you. Click on this link and then you can save the file to your own Google account and use it moving forward. You will notice that there are two tabs. So, let’s break down each of them (I think I’ll expand on these in future blog articles, but if you need help now, just give me a call, please).
Basic background info: This is where you want to fill out everything in column B to start. And, as I harp on at every training that I do, consistency is of the utmost importance, particularly in identifying contact information for your business. Be very, very exact on your company name, phone number and address. Do you want your name to have L.L.C. in it? With the periods? Spell out abbreviations (like St should be Street). Do you use a toll-free or local number? Pick one. When you pick your business email, it sometimes shows up in the listings and sometimes they hide it for directory use only. But, know that you could get spammed, so you may not want to use your email.
For the description, tell me in 1,000 characters what sets your business or law firm apart. This might include your results, your price point or your experience, for example. You also need to tell me exactly what you do, as well as where you are located. Most directories only allow 250 characters, but if you can go long, do it now and edit it down later. There are a bunch of Yes/No questions. Note that most of these are for Google and you literally check or do not check a box. Plus, there are more questions and logins you are going to want to have on hand.
Citation listings: This is where you’re going to keep track of all the directories you submitted your company to. Make sure you write down your usernames and passwords. Your marketing company may want this later or you may need it to check backlinks later.
Where Do I Get Business Citations?
When just starting your link building strategies, always start with the low-hanging fruit (Google, Bing and Yelp). Those are super obvious, and they take the most time (because you have to verify that you are located where you say you are). But, the next step would be to use various SEO tools to find suggested backlinks (Moz, Ahrefs, etc.). However, those often need a paid subscription. So, ahem, MediaSmack offers backlinks for lawyers and other businesses if you want to call me now.
Otherwise, if you are still set on trying this one on your own, go ahead and just type in a few competitors into a Google search. It will amaze you as to how many places your competition is popping up and how easy some of them are for you to get, as well. You’ll see places like AVVO, MerchantCircle and more come up repeatedly for various competitors – if you’re not there, why not? I would also suggest a focus on local search citations, in particular. This focuses on directories that are geographically specific (like Google is national, but your chamber of commerce is local) and located near you (or your customer). If you have more questions about how to do local SEO, you really should take advantage of a free consultation with us. That’s a whole other set of blog posts that would overload this article.
Help Me! I Am Overwhelmed With Link Building Strategies
Link building is a strategy, and, like any good strategy, it takes time to develop and then to implement. Even if you start with the Business Citation Background doc that I made, which incidentally is a great start and more than most clients give me, this may be more than you want to do yourself. If that’s the case, then please call our TX-based internet marketing consultants now at (888) 530-2935 now and let’s discuss your goals. While our creative agency primarily works on search engine optimization for lawyers, we do have many small business campaigns that we create, as well, including for funeral homes, roofing companies, pest control services, car repair services and more.