Getting highly ranked in search engines is hard, really hard. When launching a new site, you’re likely up against thousands of well established competitors who have already established their web presence and have gained lots of backlinks online, and matching up against these businesses can seem impossible. Lucky for you, it’s not. When you’re early in your site’s growth, one of the best ways to improve your search engine rank is just by increasing the number of backlinks to your site. Here are a few sites that offer free backlinks and profiles to get your site out there.
Case in point: once upon a time, when I first started my business, I quickly learned that there was another firm named Plato Web Design – a pretty large branding company from New Zealand. I was worried – were clients going to be able to find me? The New Zealand firm dominated searches for the words “Plato Web Design,” and I wasn’t sure how long it would take to overtake them. Lo and behold (much to my relief) within a week of submitting to these sites, my business shot to the top of the rankings. Within a few months, I was receiving quote requests from clients in New Zealand.
Note: You’re not likely to receive much (if any) direct traffic from these directories, because not too many people search via directories anymore – we’re more interested in later traffic from search queries
Manta is a business directory website that boasts over 30 million viewers a month, and 3,000 new small business users per day. It’s not a bad site – they allow you to submit your information into a free account, add a portfolio of your work, and post status updates. Although they claim that it’s a great place to find new clients (and they’ll endlessly try to sell you on their ad services), I’ve never known anyone to get any actual business from it. However, posting a link to your website on your Manta profile can be pretty helpful as Manta pages are posted in search engines, and perform relatively well.
2. Angie’s List
Angie’s List pages are free to post and allow backlinks to your website. Plus, contractor pages rank pretty highly in Google by themselves, which is great – when new clients search for your business name online, profiles from other sites make you look more credible.
For local businesses (particularly restaurants) Yelp profiles are a must. The site sports 100 million unique users, and Yelp pages always rank highly in search engines.
4. Facebook and Twitter
Easy backlinks here. Although social networks might not be the small business goldmine that they’re sometimes touted to be, that doesn’t mean there aren’t search engine perks from having your own profiles. Google is known to keep somewhat of a mysterious social network “score” on each of your website’s pages to track how many times they’ve been liked and shared. How much the score impacts your rankings isn’t well-documented, but the backlinks are free, and any free chance to promote your business is a good one.
Thumbtack is another small business directory site with an emphasis on connecting contractors with clients. Clients post projects and contractors submit proposals – Thumbtack charges you for each proposal you submit. There’s some controversy over whether or not some of Thumbtack’s projects are entirely fake, but even if they’re real, bid sites like Thumbtack and Elance are notoriously difficult to find work on. However, the backlinks at Thumbtack are free, and you should take them.
If you take a few hours, you should be able to get your profiles for all of these up and running, and within a few weeks, you should see a small, but marked rise in your business’ search engine position.
Where to go from here?
Massive, massive advertising, and making use of viral networks (the likes of which I’ll talk about in a later article).