Link Building Ideas for Small Businesses

If the time is right for your small business, a basic search engine optimization strategy can do a world of good. Not only will it help you get found by people searching the web, but it will go a long way in defining your business to the major search engines. This has some great long term implications.

Getting indexed properly with sites like Google, Yahoo!, and Bing can really be the make it or break it for a website. This couldn’t be truer for a small business that probably cannot devote too much time or money to these search engine optimization efforts. Becoming relevant for the keywords that both define your business, and those used by customers to search for your offering is extremely critical.

Having this setup correctly at first will set your site and search engine optimization work up for success in the future. The added bonus is that you will be coming up closer to the front page of search results more often, and landing more clicks. I think we can all agree that would be very helpful.

So the details of building links aside, what are some effective ways for small business to actually get links. It’s well known that it is essential to actually reach out and ask people for links back to your site. But who should you reach out to?

Obviously it depends on both your business and industry, but if look in the right places there are many opportunities to start building links for your site. Not all of them will have the high authority and ranking that we all probably want, but traffic is traffic and you got to start somewhere.

Here are some great ideas for people to contact and where to begin looking for some basic links.

Maybe your business has some connections or partners within your industry. Simply ask them to include a link on their own business’ site back to yours. It doesn’t need to be overly promotions, just something saying you are affiliated.

If you can expand on this relationship and really use it your advantage even better. Take the reciprocal route and offer to link to their site in return. It doesn’t cost you anything and will show your relationship from both sides.

Look and see if there are blogs related to your offering or industry. Even if they are not directly related, blog authors are always looking for fresh ideas for a story or new blog post. Use this to your advantage and propose some content to them that relates to you.

There are two ways to approach this situation, depending on what their typical blog is about. Either make it promotional and explain the rest benefits of your product or service, or evaluate a topic with your opinion, given your industry knowledge.

Both of these angles would be deserving of a link back to your website, and with the traffic blogs are getting today it can be hugely valuable. But don’t settle for a single author, keep trying to expand your network, meet new people, have content repeated, shared, and new posts added.

That way your links will be building up, but so will your own business’ awareness which will hopefully lead to more sales.

Are you connected to any distributors or stores? Their websites can be great places to find links. A brick and mortar location with a website or just a simple e-store will always want to provide more information to their customers. Take advantage of this fact and ask to be linked back to your site to provide just this.

Maybe they are having a promotion or just featuring your offering. Make sure people can find you site and learn everything there is about you, once they visit your seller.

If you product or service is tangible or reviewable, consider sending our some free samples, sneak peaks, or free trials to people. Look around the web for people willing to try things out and right comprehensive, good reviews about them online.

They will likely have a blog and be more than willing to do so if they get your product for free. Because after all, everyone likes free stuff. Make sure they include a link back to your site in their review so you get credit where it’s due. If you have faith in your offering and know what your provide is good, then have no fear and send some samples away for review.

Many times these reviewers can have huge audiences that are likely interested as well, so you might even receive some great traffic from using this option.

Check out local news sites like the Patch for some coverage of your business. Use any advantage you have at the time and pitch that as a part of your whole story. Maybe your business is new and looking to reach more customers in town. Sell that fact and hyper local news sites like this will be happy to help you out.

Just like bloggers, they are always looking for fresh content and new stories. Giving them exactly this with a local perspective will almost guarantee you a spot no the site. This will come with a link that hopefully will bring you some good local traffic as well.

Sites like this are highly reputable among the search engines, since they are basically very local online newspapers and get great traffic.

Give some of these ideas a shot and before long you will hopefully be seeing increased traffic and better results among search engines. You have to start somewhere, and taking a grassroots search engine optimization approach is perfect for a small business.

Business Ideas – You’ve Got to Know Where to Find Them – Part 2

Anything under the sun can be turned into a business. You’ve just got to know how to package it correctly, reach the right audience and convince them that they need what you offer.

Take game apps for instance: They didn’t exist in the past, so nobody bought them and people looked for other forms of entertainment such as movies.

Now that they’re here, people still watch movies, but they also buy game apps. Game apps do not prolong human life, eradicate disease, rid the world of hunger or “change the world”, per say, but they were packaged so well, reached the right audience and served 1 easily overlooked human need: Accessible Entertainment.

They were so fresh, and new, and enticing that people snapped them up and made their creators rich.

Digital Downloads & ebooks are another great example. 10 years ago, who would have taught that people would pay for computer files!

My point is that ANYTHING can be turned into a business idea, and then into a business.

However, ideas rarely happen in a vacuum i.e They rarely just pop into your head.

You need to be inspired by something: A movie you watched, a book you read, a kid’s toy…

Also, the initial idea is rarely a success. It needs to be refined many, many, many times. And usually lots of money just gets wasted during the development process. Welcome to the ‘School of Hard Knocks’…

So Where Do I Start?

You can start your search for ideas by listing the daily problems that erk you, and then looking for solutions for them. Even the simplest, smallest problems can lead to the biggest businesses. Movies don’t solve any of life’s “big problems”. They simply serve our need for entertainment. Yet look how big Hollywood is.

What can you do? Can you walk a dog? Can you babysit? You can start by doing these things yourself. Then you can hire others to do it for you. Boom! Suddenly you have a dog-walking agency, or a babysitting agency.

All entrepreneurs are essentially in the business of solving problems. Couple that with loads of passion and you’ve got the makings of a very successful business. It’s not going to be easy, but stick with it and the rewards will be great. It’s much more than money: It’s about building something from nothing and watching it flourish into something of value.

“Do Something Today. Every Brick of Failure Builds The Path to Success.”

Creating A One Page Business Plan

The one page business plan is the key to getting your business started and running quickly.

I’ll get to where the 93.5 inches comes from.

The One Page Business Plan Advantage

Most people start a business without a plan. The ones that do a business plan will sometimes spend months on the plan and never get to starting their business.

I am a huge fan of planning. If you don’t plan, you will never get your business moving forward. That said, you really need to start doing business to make a plan worth doing.

A one page business plan can help you define what you are going to do, who you will do it for and how much you will charge, but it doesn’t get bogged down in five-year financials, etc.

The One Page Plan: When to Use It

If you are going to try to get financing for your business from banks, investment bankers or angel investors, you will need a full blown business plan. At that point, I would recommend that you get a professional plan writer at that point.

If you are simply trying to start a business, you need to make some decisions. Who will you sell to? How much will you sell for? What will be your measure for success? And so on.

The One Page Business Plan: The Questions

This is a list of questions that you need to answer on your one page business plan. Answer them with one or two sentences, in the order I have them here.

  • What product or service will you offer?
  • Describe your average customer?
  • Describe your ideal customer?
  • What will you charge for your product or service?
  • What will it cost to produce the product or service?
  • What will your profit be?
  • What volume (how many sales) will you need to break even (profit – expenses = 0)?
  • How much do you need from the business in order to survive (your minimum income)?
  • What will be your measure of success (your salary, number of customers, etc.)?
  • Is your goal to build the business and work it for years or to build it and sell it?
  • What is your company’s mission statement (based on the information above)?

No answer should be longer than 25 words. In other words, imagine you need to put this information up on Twitter.

The One Page Business Plan: Implementation

The key to your one page plan is the same as everything else I talk about here: Get going. Start now.

Now you know who you want to sell to, how much you want to sell things for and how much you need to do to break even and achieve success.

That’s the map, now take the journey.

The One Page Business Plan: 93 ½ Square Inches of Success

Lao Tzu said, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.” Well, the journey of your new business begins with 93.5 square inches, the area of a single sheet of 8.5 x 11 paper.