If you have hired an SEO company that has promised to make your local business website “#1 in Google”, they may have used some unethical or “black hat” tactics to improve your site’s ranking. Google is constantly updating their algorithm to penalize sites that try to inflate their rankings by buying links and your site may have lost traffic during Google’s Panda or Penguin updates.
What Is a Backlink?
A back link is just a link from another website to yours. The other website is linking back to your website, creating a backlink. Just like you create links on your site to other sites that you find interesting or that have content relevant to your visitors, you need to create good content to encourage other sites to link to you.
What makes a backlink bad or good is where the link is coming from. Sites that less than reputable SEO firms use to create a multitude of links are usually in forums, blog comments and content farms, which are not actually helping visitors find the information that they’re looking for. This is the type of behavior that Google frowns upon and the areas of the Internet that you might consider bad neighborhoods. You don’t want your site associated with bad neighborhoods, because the association will have a detrimental effect on your site.
Google has created a way to disassociate yourself with these bad links by using a process in Webmaster tools to find bad links and contact the websites to request that they remove the links from their sites. If they don’t respond or remove the links, you can ask Google to remove the association between the link and your site, but it can be a long arduous process, especially if your SEO “help” has purchased lots of links.
As a business website, there are many reputable places where you can submit your information and obtain good links back to your website. These links confirm to Google that your website is the recognized source for information on your business. You can find out more about submitting your website to online directories in Scott Stirling‘s article on finding free online advertising for your business.
The following are reputable online directories where you can submit your business information to get good links back to your site, as well as provide accurate information to visitors who are searching the directories for businesses like yours. Most of these directories will already have some information on your business, but by claiming the account as the business owner, you can make sure the information is accurate and add additional information, such as your website, hours of operation, services you offer and much more.
- Google.com Business Center
- Superpages.com by SuperMedia which also powers Lycos whowhere.com
- Yahoo! Small Business
- Bing Places by Microsoft
- Yellowbook.com by Hibu
- Infogroup and Axciom which provide your information for many other directories, such as DexKnows.com
In short, while you need to make sure you don’t have any bad backlinks pointing at your site, you definitely should make sure that you have good links coming from established sites that Google trusts.