As a business owner or manager, you’ve probably done your fair share of networking before. You know the drill: Dress sharply, put on your best smile, and find new contacts – all with the aim of expanding your network and spreading the word about your company.
Almost everyone knows the value of networking in getting new business, but not many realise that networking is also one of the best tools for acquiring high-quality links to your website. Not too long ago, Google explicitly revealed that content and links are among the top ranking signals for websites. But what they haven’t expressed as clearly are the most effective ways to get these.
This is where networking for link building comes in.
But First, What is Link building?
Link building is the process of getting other websites to link to one or more pages on your website.
In the old days of SEO, any page linking to your website was considered an asset, and the more pages you had linking to your website, the stronger your link profile was. As you can imagine, many businesses abused this by subscribing to link farms, enlisting in spam directories, or creating press releases that linked back to their websites. But Google quickly detected this and eventually penalised websites that used these techniques, which are now among the prime examples of “Black Hat SEO”.
Today, link building is a lot more about quality than quantity. It’s not so much about how many sources are linking to your website; it’s about how many good sources are linking to you. But how do you get other websites to link to you? Simple: you offer them something worth linking to, whether it’s useful content, valuable information, or any other resource that their website could benefit from.
Effective link building is about providing value to the users of the websites that are linking to you. Remember that Google’s search engine algorithm is – and has always been – designed to give users the most useful and relevant websites related to their search. So if you want other websites to link to your website, you have to provide their users something worth linking to.
How Does Networking Fit Into All This?
If you’ve done a lot of networking before, you then know that new connections are made based on an exchange of value – or at least the potential for it. And this is exactly what you’re doing when you’re link building for your website.
Link building is also about offering a value exchange between you and the website linking to your page. The more value you provide these sites, the more likely they’ll link back to you. And the more links you get from high-quality websites, the more credible and useful your website will be in Google’s eyes (i.e. higher search rankings). So link building is networking, just in the digital realm – it’s online networking, if you will.
It’s easy to understand the benefits of traditional networking (i.e. finding new customers, making new contacts, etc.). But when you realise you can also do it for link building purposes, networking becomes something so much more. Now, every new contact won’t be just another entry in your phone book – it’ll also be a new opportunity for creating a new online connection.
As a business owner or manager, you’re already networking anyway (and if not, you should be!). If you’re going through all the trouble of meeting new people and building connections with the right contacts, you might as well get some SEO benefit at the same time.
Networking for Link building
If you take a look at what normally happens when you meet someone new, you’ll see just how well networking and link building can go hand-in-hand. After exchanging pleasantries and discussing each other’s businesses, you’re both then likely to look up each other online to connect further.
The goal of networking for SEO, then, is to turn all your contacts – both old and new – into online connections. But this is often easier said than done. Common ground with new contacts isn’t always clear from the start, and you may have to build this base first before connecting.
One thing that can help make this easier, however, is to build and maintain an active online profile. That way, new contacts can find you sooner, and you’ll be able to make a good impression when they come across your profile. And remember: the better your online profile is, the more likely they’ll see you as a valuable connection.
Your online profile is determined by your presence and activity in major online channels like the following:
- Website – Your website is likely the first point of contact for your businesses and the one you want your contacts to link to. Needless to say, you have to make sure it provides useful content, a user-friendly design, and accurate information about your business.
- Social media – With the world increasingly becoming more social online, keeping an active social media profile (especially on platforms most relevant to your business) will open up opportunities for making new connections.
- Professional online groups – Depending on your business, professional groups can be excellent platforms for contributing content and information that build your credibility. These groups are particularly valuable because they already involve members that share similar interests to you.
- Directories – These can help your customers and new contacts find you online when they’re looking for similar products or services.
- Guest blog posts and media opportunities – Sharing your knowledge and insights with other websites or media outlets demonstrates authority in your field.
By building your online profile and keeping an active presence across these channels, you’ll quickly build trust and credibility in the eyes of new contacts. It will also expand your network by spreading your reach to people whom you may not even have met yet. So even if you don’t get links right away from new contacts, you’re still setting yourself up for possible connections with other people.
The Power of Online Networking
As a business owner or manager, the great thing about networking for SEO purposes is that this is something you can do right now. You don’t have to work with a digital marketing agency to find new contacts and make new connections (although they can help). You just have to go online, build your online profile, and start making connections. Networking is something that’s ultimately in your hands, and you can take it as near or as far as you want. (We recommend far.)
With that said, networking is not some magic SEO tool that will automatically put you on page one of search results the next day. But it can lay the foundation for putting your business on the map and building momentum for your SEO campaign. And the best part? You already have this tool in your arsenal! It’s just a matter of making the most of it.