5 Easy Link Building Tactics for Small Business

SMS Text
5 Easy Link Building Tactics for Small Business

Many small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) dismiss link building as something they don’t have time for. SEO in general can often be viewed as an unnecessary nuisance that many SMBs ignore.

In fact, link building is absolutely necessary, but only if your business is interested in search visibility. If your business would benefit from search visibility and traffic, then you should be considering links. Not only is link building important for visibility in search, it’s also achievable for small businesses.

Anyone Can Build Links

The truth is anyone can build links.

Link building requires hard work and determination, but really it can be done by anyone – there’s no magic or secret sauce involved. Many people think you must invest time and money into content creation in order to build links. However, it’s possible to build links without content.

Content marketing and link building are complementary, but they are not dependent on one another. I’ve said before that link building and content marketing work great together, but they are still two separate strategies that serve different purposes.

Having great content will certainly make building links much easier, and if you have the resources to invest in content you absolutely should. As a small business though, you might not have the budget or time to pursue content creation, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still pursue links.

Here is a list of possible tactics you can use to build worthwhile links without creating content:

  • Image link building
  • Local link building
  • Fresh mentions
  • Link reclamation
  • Relevant niche directories (RNDs)

These are some relatively “quick win” strategies that don’t require content in order to be successful. If you’re a small business that doesn’t have time to invest in content, you can still implement some of these techniques to build worthwhile links to your site.

Image Link Building

Computer Desk Unedited

The first quick win strategy worth exploring is image link building.

It’s possible to build worthwhile links with the images you already have, especially if you have great images hosted on your site. Chances are there might be a number of websites using your images. All you need to build some links is to find these sites and ask for a citation link.

To build links with your images you will first need to compile a list of images associated with your company or brand that could potentially be floating around online.

Some examples include:

  • Logos
  • Employee headshots
  • Branded graphics
  • Product photos
  • Company buildings/locations

Anything that is closely tied to your business or exclusive to your website is worth considering.

Once you have gathered your list of possible images it’s time to start searching for them on the web. To find the images you will need to perform a reverse image search. There are few different options when it comes to reverse image searching, such as:

Each tool operates a bit differently, but generally they can all get the job done, so it’s up to your personal preference on which one to use.

Essentially a reverse image search will show you where your images are being used online. All that’s left is to reach out to the webmasters using your images and ask that they provide citation via a link back to your site. For example:

Hello [NAME],

I am contacting you because I noticed you feature my image [IMG NAME] on your site, specifically on this page: [PAGE URL]. First, I want to say thank you for featuring it, and secondly I wanted to ask if you could please attribute my image with a link pointing back to my site – [SITE URL].

Thank you for your time and please let me know if you have any questions.


[Your name]

That’s just a sample template, and depending on the specific situation the message should be slightly different. The main point is to always be polite and courteous, as more often than not these webmasters will gladly provide an attribution link.

Local Link Building

Another great way to build relatively quick and easy links is through local link building strategies.

Some common techniques for building local links include:

  • Local partnerships
  • Give testimonials
  • Local sponsorships
  • Engaging within your community

One option for building relevant and easy links is through local partnerships. In fact, these partnerships may already exist for your business and all you need to do is simply ask for a link. Look at your existing partners’ websites and see if they have a “Partnerships” page where they could include a link back to your site.

Even if you don’t have any official partners, you can still build links by providing testimonials to businesses you regularly interact with. These are great links because they provide value to the site linking to you through a public endorsement. Simply provide the company with a testimonial and suggest that they include a link to your website as a citation.

Another local strategy that can lead to links is local sponsorships. Typically charities or special events have websites dedicated to them, and these sites often have “Sponsors” pages.  If your business sponsors local charities or events, ask if you can have a link on the event’s website via their ‘Sponsors” page – these are links you deserve.

Finally, you can find link opportunities by simply engaging within your local community. For example, if the local news covers an event you are involved with there’s an opportunity to build a link on that news outlet’s website. If the news team mentions your business, ask that they turn that mention into a link (more on this in a bit).

Likewise, if there is an event website you have an opportunity for a link there as well.

Other link opportunities that exist within your local community include:

  • Loyal customers with websites
  • Business associations and community groups
  • Group interviews/surveys

All of these opportunities exist within your local community, and you can build links by simply being involved and then reaching out for a link where opportunity exists.

Fresh Mentions

Finding fresh mentions can also be fruitful for small and medium businesses.

Building links through fresh mentions is somewhat similar to image link building via reverse image searching. Instead of looking for images related to your brand you are searching the web for brand mentions and terms.

Again, before you do any searching you want to ensure you are casting a wide net. Compile a list of any and all terms associated with your company, for example:

  • Brand
  • Company name
  • Product
  • CEO

Once you’ve organized a list of brand terms, you will need to use a tool to find mentions across the web. Google Alerts is a free option, but for more comprehensive mention searching and monitoring you should use a paid tool like Fresh Web Explorer or Mention.

Again, you will need to reach out (typically via email) to webmasters that mention your brand and ask that they include a link to your site as attribution. You can utilize a similar type of email as the example I provided for image link building. Once more, remember to be polite and professional.

Link Reclamation

Another great link building strategy that requires zero content creation is link reclamation.

Link reclamation is named as such because it involves reclaiming lost or missed link equity. One of the most common methods of link reclamation is retrieving link equity lost to 404/dead pages. This can be a great strategy if your website has had updates or migrations recently.

If you aren’t sure which pages on your site are returning 404s, you can use Google Webmaster Tools to identify them – simply go to the “Crawl Errors” section and look for pages with the response code 404.

Once you have the URLs of all the pages on your site returning 404s, you can begin to look for sites that link to those pages. In order to find inbound links pointing to 404 pages, you need to use a backlink tool.

Some great options include:

  • Ahrefs
  • Majestic
  • Open Site Explorer
  • Cognitive SEO
  • Raven Tools

Once you find these linking pages, it’s time to reclaim your link equity. To fix your broken links you have two options – contact the webmaster of the linking site and ask that they adjust the link to point at your new page, or create a 301 redirect from the 404 page to a new page on your site.

Depending on the situation, one option might be more appropriate than the other, but always remember to check link quality first to ensure it’s a link worth reclaiming.

If you are struggling to find any links to your dead pages, you can broaden your search and potentially find more opportunities by examining the backlinks of a competitor that has recently gone out of business. With this strategy using 301 redirects would not be a viable option. But you could still reach out to these sites and let them know the company they’re currently linking to is out of business, and it would be more useful for them to link to you.

Relevant Niche Directories (RNDs)

Finally, relevant niche directories can be a viable way to build worthwhile links for SMBs.

It’s still possible to build useful links on RNDs, as long as there’s an emphasis on the words “relevant” and “niche”. While building links on low quality and irrelevant directories is a dead tactic, it does not mean all directory link building is useless.

For me, the best criterion for evaluating a directory is to look at it from a user standpoint and determine if the directory would actually be helpful or not.

If a directory is very broad and has links that point to sites from several different verticals, odds are that’s not a directory you want a link from. However, a directory that focuses solely on a specific niche or industry (and is relevant to your site) is likely somewhere you do want a link.

Also, hyper-focused local directories should be considered as well. Any local directory that contains relevant businesses in your community should also feature your website.

Some examples of local resources that pose link opportunities include:

  • Chamber of commerce
  • Local business directory
  • Local business journal
  • Local review sites

Local directories don’t have to be specific to your niche, and can be very useful for both driving traffic to your site and foot traffic to your store.


Link building may not be for every business, but if you want any sort of visibility within search you need to build links.

Anyone can build links; there are no secret tricks, it’s just hard work and dedication. Many people believe you must invest in content creation to build links, but that is simply not true.

While engaging content will always help to supercharge a link building campaign, it is not wholly necessary. Even if you don’t have the ability to create fresh content, you can still build links through some of the quick win strategies outlined in this article.


Images via author.

Jon Ball
Jon Ball is CEO and co-founder of Page One Power. He is a research expert that specializes in the implementation of highly effective link building... Read Full Bio
Jon Ball
Jon Ball
Get the latest news from Search Engine Journal!
We value your privacy! See our policy here.
  • Roman Prokopchuk

    Good list. here are a few more methods I like to utilize for our clients that add high value. Ego baiting, how-to’s, and tutorials which do require content to be created. Targeting chamber of commerce is good like you mentioned also local event resources and community organizations. Other things you can look to explore are finding gaps in others content, updating old content, and dead content recreation. These all require a writer or writing to be done but are valuable. Thank your the list def a helping hand to any small business in terms of link building.

    • Jon Ball

      Hey Roman,

      Glad you enjoyed my post. Finding content gaps, updating old content, and dead content recreation are indeed worthwhile ways to build links. And all can be extremely effective.

      I’ve found for many small business owners content is an investment they’re not quite ready to make, despite needing some links. Content really is a large investment – your company’s name will forever be tied to that content (so long as it’s live).

      Hopefully this post helps show business owners not yet ready to invest in content methods in which they can still build links.

  • Lucas Rose

    Nice read.

  • Kundan

    Hi jon,
    Your article have real good tactics which can be used. But please let me know. That when some other websites using our images and we email them for citation via a link back to our site. If that particular website get penalize or do spammy activities in future, Than it will affect our website also. What is the solution?

    • Jon Ball

      Hey Kundan.

      As with all link building, you need to be sure you’re building quality versus quantity. A very important portion of this process is often referred to as “link prospecting.”

      In this case, examine the website using your image. Is it relevant? Is it authoritative? Would you want Google to find that link? Would you want a customer, client, or colleague to find it?

      If your answer is no, you might be better either leaving the image unlinked or reach out and ask they not use your images.

      • Kundan

        Thanks John Ball.

  • Shree Vella

    Fixing a dead link in a relevant wikipedia page is always a good way of scoring a nice backlink as well.

  • Cameron

    You made a great point Jon that you don’t have to create content to build links. Creating content is one of the most difficult tasks for clients and seo managers to accomplish. It’s good that you mention link building can still be done without content and that link building isn’t as spammy as people seem to think if you do it right.

    • Jon Ball

      Absolutely Cameron. Many people think content is the only way to build links anymore, which simply isn’t the case. If you’re interested in more link building strategies that don’t require content you should check out this guide: http://linkarati.com/link-building-without-content-resource/

  • Nikhil Ganotra

    Hey Jon,

    Great write up Indeed!

    The tactic you mentioned of “image link building” is really very very impressive. Thanks for mentioning the format also.

    I truly appreciate your efforts in writing such an informative post for search engine journal. 🙂

  • Soumya Roy

    Good read and a comprehensive guide on link building for small business owners and entrepreneurs. Nice points, easy to see but hard to achieve especially today when link’s or linking page’s quality must be judged before building the link. A true knowledge is really important and crucial otherwise it can cause a penalty.
    I would like to add few points for SMBs who are planning to start building links on their own.
    Before you start, make sure that you are building a link on a page which is relevant to your site’s (business) or page’s (product or service or info) topic, relevancy is must.
    Second, search with the brand name of the site on Google to see whether they are coming on the first position with sitelinks or not, if not then that site might have been hit by an algo.
    Third, check the domain authority and page authority of the site.
    Fourth, check the other outbound backlinks (as much as possible) and their niches or quality.
    Fifth, check the quality of the content of the page itself where you may get a link from.
    Sixth, check whether the page has too much ads or affiliate links.

    These may identify whether to build the link or not on a site or page. Build your instinct to smell bad and crap sites just by seeing them.

    • Jon Ball

      All good points Souma. The goal with these tactics, as in all link building, should be quality over quantity. You want good links on sites that make sense.

  • Al Gomez

    Thanks for the tips John. I would like to add linkbuilding tactics for image. You may include Memes and Infographics.

    Have a great day!

    • Jon Ball

      My pleasure Al. Memes are a bit harder to build links to, as they’re easily generated and replicated. Much less ownership attached.

      Building links with infographics needs to be treated like all other content – they need to be thoroughly researched, industry specific, meet a need, and have a proven audience. Otherwise you’ll have a really hard time building any links to your infographic.

  • vishak N Kumar

    Thanks Jon…its a great stuff that we could built links. Also image link building is new one to me and surely I will try out this.

  • Joel Libava

    Nice job on this post, Jon.

    Link building will continue to be an important part of online marketing.

    The links just have to relevant, and as you said, niche-specific.

    The Franchise King®
    Joel Libava

  • Mustafa Gaziani

    Hey Jon,

    Indeed a very informative post and really interesting list. After reading this post It comes in my mind about Image link building. This is one of the best tactics to build link.
    Thanks for sharing such a great list!


  • Nate Somsen

    Thanks for your well written article that was very easy to understand about link building tactics. As I read through it, I thought your mention of link building via images from your website that are implemented elsewhere and requesting a link to your website is a good idea that I never even thought of. I also like the idea of utilizing websites that mention your business as a sponsor and requesting that they link to your website. Do you think you’ll follow up this article discussing when it is appropriate to evaluate backlinks and possibly submit a disavow?