Website links that point to your business website are one of the most important search engine optimization (SEO) factors that influence the online visibility and search engine ranking of your business.

Those backlinks signal to search engines how influential and relevant your business is online; they trigger local citations of your business and aid in deepening your local market penetration. Therefore, those backlinks help increase the online visibility of your business and influence the discovery of your business—over your competition—by online searchers.

So, if backlinks are that awesome for SEO and search engine results page (SERP) rankings, why do so many businesses struggle to get links that lead to their websites? Here are my Top 4 reasons.

1. It's hard work (with no effective shortcuts)

Sustainable results are best obtained via sweat equity. In this case, that translates to finger-numbing keyboarding. Automation doesn't cut it here because, typically, it's too general, so hitting the keys is your best bet.

Even publishing great content isn't enough in and of itself to get other websites to link to you. You need to get out there and promote that content (but that's a topic for another article).

Businesses have to commit to the notion that just as they have to be on the hunt for their next customer, so too do they need to be vigilant with their online linking. Linking is an all-the-time thing—not a one-time thing. Marketers don't know any secret tricks about "backlinking" other than those that "do" it... do well.

2. Commitment and consistency are fleeting

Setting a monthly strategy of creating a set number of backlinks seems to work best for many businesses. Stay on track, and commit time to get the work done. Consistency is the key: an hour a day keeps the competitors away.

Search engines take into consideration how many links your website picks up within specific time periods. Generating links to your site in bulk might seem like a great idea and could provide a short boost to your ranking and branding, but that tactic will ultimately hurt your business when along with your link-building actions your SERP rankings take a dive.

Continual Trickle Linkonomics (yup, I just made that up) is the best strategy.

3. You might be linked-in with an SEO scammer

There seem to be as many SEO scammers as search engine optimization specialists. Telling them apart is not that difficult, though, if you know what to look for.

  • Scammers promise quick results for quick cash.
  • Specialists (I'm refraining from using the word "expert" here) advise sustainable results over time and speak of your marketing dollars spent as a business investment rather than a quick spin of the return-on-investment (ROI) wheel.
  • Scammers speak of guaranteed top listings or No.1 placement.
  • Specialists will let you know that nobody—no one—can guarantee top search engine rankings or page rankings. Specialists are also more likely to show you a list of top-ranking client sites or testimonials that pan out when you do your due diligence.
  • Scammers promise to list your business on hundreds of directories and search engines... practically overnight.
  • Specialists speak of listing your business on relevant directories and online resources, and likely not on search engines, because they know that if other elements of your online marketing are in place, search engines will find you organically.
  • Scammers speak of immediate results.
  • Specialists speak of the big picture.

Listen to your gut. If the promises sound too good to be true, they probably are.

4. Tricking the system will not serve you well

Loopholes and SEO tricks are openly published online, but taking advantage of such trickery will eventually result in having fewer prospects knocking on your door. If you have doubts about using a particular tactic, or if your SEO Guru Ninja Rebel Fighter says things such as "Google won't even see this" or "It's safe; I've done this with other clients and haven't had any trouble," you should probably stop right there and reassess.

Ultimately, the search engines will create ways to find the businesses that took advantage of their vulnerabilities, and they will most likely return the favor by reducing those businesses' rankings—or, worse, removing those listings altogether.

The practice of implementing those aggressive SEO tactics is referred to as Black Hat SEO (think of it in cowboy terms), and those who follow best-practice standards are referred to as White Hat SEO specialists.

Don't get me wrong: White Hat all the way may well not be the best strategy for a business in a tough market. Shades of gray exist. Sometimes, the pioneering SEO practitioners and their unconventional ways get the best results—but such specialists are also most likely to know the difference between a tightrope and a sidewalk.

* * *

Businesses that rank high on search engines do so because of many factors. Building backlinks to their website is, arguably, second only to website search engine optimization (on-page SEO) in terms of importance and lasting results.

Committing the appropriate amount of time and money to link-building is a continual process that will provide long-term competitiveness and visibility via greater online search-engine discovery.

Remember: Those who dowill do well.

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Top 4 Reasons Businesses Don't Get Backlinks

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Chris Sheehy is the founder of SEO and online marketing company Sidewalk Branding Company. He can be reached via