Every small business needs to have ready-made policies and strategies in place to make future decisions and processes easier and help you stick to your business goals. If you’re creating content online for your business (and you definitely should be), you’re likely linking out to other websites and having other websites link to you. You might be considering paying for links or learning more about ‘link building.’
Regardless of your end game, if you’re creating content online, you need to develop a linking policy for your business.
If you have a process in place that tells you exactly what types of linking are beneficial for your company and which are damaging, you can make the right decisions to help your content rank better in search.
How to Develop a Linking Policy for Your Business
Before you actually develop a linking policy for your business, you should consider the goals, values, and mission you want people to associate your business with. This will give you the framework from which to build your linking policy.
What you won’t link to
The best place to start is with the links you never want to allow from your website to others. Come up with a list of the websites, topics, and other criteria you want to avoid linking to. Check out the Small Business Administration’s linking policy below – notice that they avoid linking to sites with paywalls, commercial sites, clear biases, etc.
SBA will not link to websites which contain the following:
Websites which exhibit hate, bias, or discrimination or promotes one political party over another
Websites which are primarily commercial in nature (i.e., advertising a product, charging a usage fee, soliciting user information, etc.)
Websites which charge a user-fee for access
Websites which violate federal ethics policies or only promote or endorse non-Federal products or services
Websites that encourage the public to contact Members of Congress or other Federal officials, as well as state or local officials, on behalf of an Administration position with respect to pending legislation, regulations, policies, appropriations or ratification actions
Websites that are deemed to be misleading, contain unsubstantiated claims or are determined to be in conflict with SBA’s mission
Creating your linking criteria
Next, create a list of clear criteria that all potential links should meet before you’ll include them on your website or in your content.
Start with the criteria you developed above for websites and content you will not link to and ask their opposite. For example, if you say that you will not link to sites that charge a fee for access, one of your linking criteria should be “Does the website offer free access to all users?”
Here are some sample linking criteria:
- Does the recommended website provide credible information or services?
- Does the recommended website support existing information, products and services on my own website?
- Is the recommended website easily accessible and applicable to my audience?
- Does the recommended website contain language, themes, or biases that clash with my company’s values?
- Does the recommended website require user registration or payment for access?
- Does the recommended website collect personal information in a way consistent with my privacy policies?
Now that you have established your do and do not lists, you’re ready to piece it all together in a linking policy for your business. Just create a simple document with the criteria and standards links on your website should meet so you can consult it for future reference. Additionally, once you’re ready to bring someone in to help with content and marketing, you’ll have a clear linking policy to pass on.
What’s in your linking policy? Have you been inspired to create one? We’d love to hear about it!