Despite the fact that the Google search rank algorithm has become increasingly more complex and diverse since Google was founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin (as part of their joint doctoral dissertation at Stanford) in 1998, the most influential factor of the Google search algorithm remains link analysis (a calculation of the quantity and quality of the links pointing to your site from other websites; the score derived from this process is often referred to as Pagerank). 2015 research by Moz on Local SEO suggests the importance of quality, diverse, and localized links for purpose of ranking in local search results.
As outlined throughout the LSEO website and blog, local search – in particular Google’s blended search algorithm – is unique compared to other forms of search and incorporates many factors beyond local link building, such as the quantity and quality of Google+ and 3rd Party business reviews, engagement with your Google Business page, and overall social influence of your business. At the same time, links remain quite important in local search and since the competition for blended search dominance isn’t as mature as it is in National or International search, there is a significant opportunity for you to catapult your business to the top of the local search rankings through proven link building strategies and that’s exactly what the 15 proven link building tips and strategies provided below are intended to do!
Before we get started with local link building there are several important things to consider.
First, all links aren’t created equal. In other words, you should always temper your desire to accumulate as many backlinks as possible with the need for quality – the fact is that one or two links from powerful, high authority websites (for instance, .edu’s, ,gov’s, PR 7’s, etc) can have a much greater impact than 100 links from websites that lack authority.
Second, there are different types of link building and link building in general is an inherently “risky” endeavor since Google has strict rules against certain forms of it. For instance, one of the most popular and dreadful Google penalties is called “Penguin.” Link building is a critical LSEO function so what’s most important for you to appreciate is that there are different levels of risk with link building – all of the tips and strategies shared below are generally considered low risk strategies.
Third, link building requires that you make an investment of your personal time or money (if you hire someone) to execute. Keep in mind that without the investment you will be unable to compete at the level this content is dedicated to helping you achieve. Finally, there are both manual and automated (white hat) forms of link building. Manual link building tends to be tedious and boring, while automated link building (i.e. through widgets, quizzes, etc) requires significant technical ability. Because of this, most clients opt for a monthly service when it comes to link building to ensure that they continue to keep ahead of their competitors.
Regardless of what types of link building you use the bottom line is that even a few new links every month will have a dramatic and positive impact on your local search rankings; therefore, link building must be part of your LSEO toolbox. However, the best digital marketing agencies will be building thousands of links for their clients every month, to the point where it can be difficult for them to check that all of their links have gone live. Many marketing agencies long for a way in which all of their links can be automatically checked to see if they are live or if they require replacing. Thankfully, this article explains how to do just that using bulk checking URLs with Google Sheets. This can save link builders hours of time that would otherwise be spent on manually checking all of their URLs to check if their links have gone live.
We get that local link building is cumbersome and not east. That’s why LSEO offers professional local link building services. Use the form below our tips and we’ll contact you or you can call 877-778-1749 right now and we can have a conversation about how to help you rank higher in local search results.
15 Proven Local Link Building Tips and Strategies
- Get listed in local directories – Leading local directories such as Yelp, Google My Business, ReferLocal.com, and Citysearch are excellent sources of backlinks to your website. In addition, local directories are critical places to be listed not only because they will naturally generate traffic and link equity to your website, but also because local directories help Google validate your business through NAP (name address, phone) information – remember, it’s critical that your business name, address, and phone number is accurate and consistent across all local directories. The top 10 local directories that every small business should be listed include ReferLocal.com, Google+ Local, Yelp, Citysearch.com, Merchant Circle, Best of the Web Local, Yahoo Local, Local.com, Yp.com, and Yellow Book.
- Content marketing – Content marketing is the process of building different types of content with the purpose of generating links from that content back to your website. The content isn’t necessarily meant to sell anything as much as it is to provide value to the reader and generate links. For instance, one of the more popular forms of content marketing is through a device called an infographic. The goal of an infographic is to make complex ideas or topics easy and visual. Other forms of content marketing include the use of “Top 10 Lists,” educational marketing (i.e. Learn how to save $300 per month by cutting one cup of coffee per day and stopping one other thing you don’t even know you do.”), research studies and use of statistics (we surveyed 100 clients in the legal profession and the results will change the profession forever).
- Guest Blogging – If you own a business you likely have considerable subject matter expertise in your profession. You should leverage your expertise to speak at local events, colleges, and conferences. See chapter 4 for tips on how to build your social influence, which will help you get guest blog opportunities. If you haven’t already, start a blog and get blogging. To become a prolific guest blogger you should be able to point a prospect to numerous pieces of content that you have produced. Meet other bloggers in your area and at meet-ups and conferences and see if they are open to guest bloggers – return the favor by inviting them to blog on your website. Ideally, in the body of your content or within the credits section at the bottom of your blog post you will incorporate one or more links back to your business website or Google Business page.
- Hire a writer to write great content for your website – The key ingredient to getting people to link to your website is great content. Too often than not you are too busy to write or writing is not something you are good at or enjoy. That’s not an excuse to not build great content! Instead, you should hire a professional writer. You can take out n classified ad in your local newspaper (or on ReferLocal Classifieds – www.referlocal.com/classifieds) promoting a content creation position or you can simply hire someone off a website like Elance or Freelancer. Someone from your team will be responsible for putting together a content calendar and posting the content to your website or blog. Importantly, once the content is created and published someone on your team will be responsible for reaching out to relevant websites and blogs and getting them to link to your outstanding content.
- Host contests on your website or blog – People love to link to contests and share contests on social media. You can even make linking to your site a condition of entrance into the contest. Often you can get others to donate prizes (in return for some promotion) and the contest will end up costing you nothing and you’ll end up with links to your website.
- Create widgets, games, and quizzes – An advanced but incredibly powerful form of acquiring links is by building widgets, games, and quizzes and hosting them on your website or making them easily published on 3rd party websites with a link back to your website. The game, widget, or quiz itself doesn’t necessarily have to have anything to do with your business. For instance, dating site OK Cupid created a popular game called “the Psychologist” and quiz called “What is Your Real Age Test” that each have generated hundreds of backlinks to the OK Cupid website. Widgets can be built to display your product inventory on partner sites. For instance, you can build a widget that allows the user to sort your entire product catalog by most popular, lowest priced, and for sale. Your partners would place this widget on their site because it would add value to their users and you would simply inject or ask for credit (aka a link) at the bottom of the widget. Note that great widgets, games, and quizzes are all about creativity – be creative and be willing to go far outside your comfort zone in terms of how unrelated your game or quiz is from your actual business – it’s not about selling product per say, it’s about being a link building powerhouse and outflanking your competition in the local search results.
- Donate to Charities – Donate to charities but ask for a link. In fact, in most cases charitable organizations will place your logo or banner on their website as part of being a donor. However, since charitable organizations aren’t necessarily posting your logo for SEO purposes you need to ask them to put the link behind the logo or to add some text that includes a link back to your website. As you know, charitable donations are tax deductible and indeed you’ll go straight to heaven if you give money to charity. At the same time, if you ask you can often turn a good gestured donation into a backlink to your website. Don’t ever be afraid to pick up the phone and ask for a link as part of a charitable donation – you’ll be surprised by the response, which is likely to be an enthusiastic yes! BTW – this strategy works for local, national, and international charities alike, especially if you are willing to donate larger sums of money.
- Speak at events – Most people wouldn’t simply speak at a local VFW, Chamber of Commerce, or University because they can score a high authority backlink (especially from an .edu), but it’s one of the primary reasons (aside from building your Klout score by tweeting everything you do) you should be looking for every speaking opportunity available to you. Almost always the coordinator of the event you are speaking at will promote your speech before and after the event – ask to see what types of promotion the coordinator intends to do and when they show you the example of the website promotion make sure there is a link in the promotion back to your website or Google+ Page.
- Sponsor a Scholarship – If done properly this can be a primary way for you to get links from high schools, colleges, or universities. Here’s how you do it – donate a sum of money to a local high school or college and ask for the funds to be put into a scholarship fund in the name of your business. Provide the high school or college with basic details of the qualifications for the award, but also include in the text / copy of the award – for more information on the “Your Business Name” please visit www.yourbusinessname.com for more information.
- Start a blog – The three leading free blog software companies are WordPress, Tumblr, and Blogger. WordPress is the best solution for longer form content and SEO, while Tumblr is the easiest to use and most beneficial if you are more interested in sharing short form content (images, videos, links, etc). If you have a business website you should have a blog – there are many reasons, but one of the primary reasons is because a blog is the most flexible place on a website to continually add fresh unique content, which Google loves. In addition, the more interesting and unique content you have the easier (less hard) it will be to accumulate backlinks. If you don’t have the time to write you should hire a professional writer and have them write under your name.
- Generate as many awards and badges as possible – Write down all the awards your business has achieved in the last five years. Now write down all of the awards that you and your staff have personally won in the last five years. Next, identify all the awards and badges that you and your company are eligible for. Once you win an award (and when you are seeking out new awards) see if the host promotes the winners online. If so there’s a very good chance that you can ask for a link back to your website if they haven’t already given you one by default. Don’t ever be afraid to ask for a link back to your website or Google+ Local page. If you get nervous just simply tell them exactly why you are asking for the link. Say “I’m looking to aggressively build my presence on search engines like Google. One of the primary things Google looks at is how many people link back to your website. I figured since I won such an amazing award and since you are already promoting me and my business that you would be willing to also put a link behind that banner on your site or add this text and link it to my website. Thank you!”
- Sponsor local events, conferences, and parties – Chances are that you or your employees attend at least one or more conferences every year. All conferences include sponsored events and parties. In most cases the events are promoted before and after the event takes place. One of the primary places that event coordinators promote the event is online, typically on a website or blog like this one. In addition, in the summer months there are local golf tournaments, bazaars, and sporting events that are always looking for sponsors. Most local types of sponsorships are inexpensive and can result in your accumulating a high authority backlink, which will result over time in you leaving your competition in the dust within the local search results.
- Tell People about Errors on their site and help them “fix” the link by replacing it with your content – This one is best reserved for your webmaster or most technical person on your team, but the truth is that just about every website on the Web has one or more broken links on it. By “broken link” it simply means that either a link was placed on a website that no longer works (i.e. the site no longer exists) or the URL was typed incorrectly. Regardless, the website owner will be pleased that you identified the broken link for them, which is great, but the real key is to have a solution for them to replace the link. Ideally you will provide them with either content they can host and link back to you or you publish the content on your website and ask them to simply swap the broken link with a fully functional link back to your website.
- Publish press releases – Search engine optimized press releases are one of the easiest ways to build buzz and links for your business. Inexpensive online PR distribution companies exist such as PRweb.com that allow you to not only distribute your press release to hundreds of important outlets across the country (generating buzz and natural website traffic), but the service (and similar services) provide you with the ability to link out from the press release to your website. In most cases news agencies will post the content as is, including your links. Granted, there are all kinds of issues with duplicate content and other factors making press release link building less desirable than other forms of link building. However, the fact remains that press releases generate buzz, buzz generates engagement with your site, and buzz worthy content gets shared on social networks like Google+, Facebook, and Twitter. Taken together press release distribution for the purpose of generating website traffic, buzz, and backlinks remains a smart and viable form of online marketing.
- Academic Articles Promoted to Academics – One of the core secrets to successful link building is that great content is easy to get links to. However, what you’d be surprised to find out how easy (less hard) it is to get links from academics (college professors, high school teachers, doctoral-level college students) by writing academic articles. Think back to link building strategy #2 above Content Marketing – content marketing is not necessarily directly related to your business or profession. Instead, content marketing is about adding value to the reader by proving a visual depiction of an otherwise complex concept. Similarly, writing academic articles and publishing them on your website doesn’t necessarily need to directly relate to your product or service, but instead should tie in on some level and serve the greater good of education. Here are a few interesting topics that can be written about with a high likelihood that academics will link to the articles from their work websites (aka – colleges, universities, etc). “Elementary School Guide to Computers.” “How to Build your own computer.” How to keep your kids safe online.” “The History of the Camera.” “The Father of Modern Computer Science, Alan Turing.” Once you draft the academic content (or prior to depending on how you want to work) you will need to manually write or call each teacher or professor and ask for a link to the article. Do ample research upfront to make certain to explain how your article relates to something the academic has written. In fact, your article should cite to educator one or more times thereby increasing the likelihood they link back to your business based on the law of reciprocity.
Hope you found these tips useful!
So when push comes to shove improving your search ranking in local results comes down to optimizing specific local SEO ranking factors. Here you’ll find detailed information on local search engine optimization ranking factors, including:
Start here with an Introduction to Local Search Engine Optimization.
Local SEO Education:
At LSEO we take great pride in helping you execute your local SEO strategy – if we can help, contact us. If not we still want to help you.
Local SEO is a process that includes a series of steps. We conceptualize each step as a “Ranking Factor, which Google used to determine whether to rank your business over the competition. Optimize each ranking factor and you’ll be in the drivers seat. Click any of the links below to learn more about Local SEO.
Ranking Factor #1 – Google Business Listing Optimization (formerly Google Places and Google+ Business)
Ranking Factor #2 – Business Reviews (Quantity, Velocity, Sentiment)
Ranking Factor #3 – Local Link Building (Quantity and Quality)
Ranking Factor #4 –Content (Quality, Quantity, Resource Laden)
Ranking Factor #5 – Local Citation Management (Consistency of NAP Information)
Ranking Factor #6 –Social Media Signals (Size of Audience; Quality of Engagement)
Ranking Factor #7 – Avoid Negative Ranking Factors
Ranking Factor Bonus – Small Business Local SEO Tips from 15 Top SEO Experts, including Bruce Clay, Neil Patel, David Mihm, Matt McGowan, Chris Boggs, Christoph Cemper, Marcus Tober, Matt Bailey, Andrew Goodman, Eric Enge, Thom Craver, Todd Malicoat, Fili Wiese, and Chris Boggs.