local seo

Local Link Building Strategies

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August 31  |  Local Business Marketing  |   Ryan Clark

Local links for businesses are a coveted item and fulfilling an effective local link building campaign can be a daunting task but it doesn’t have to be. Since we do a lot of real estate SEO, we spend a lot of time in the local netherworlds and have a few great ways to generate some link gold (awwwwww yeaaaaaa). The great thing is that you can absolutely dominate your local niche if you do a few things right. Our ideas should absolutely be expanded upon and hopefully they help you find your local link gems with little effort. The basis though, as should be true of all campaigns, is about building relationships with those that matter!

Local link building also shouldn’t take up a huge amount of your time, something that’s quite refreshing; It’s not like you’re going after the keyword “credit cards” or something insane. If you’re in the bigger cities, then you do have an obvious challenge ahead, but that also means that there are more link targets to snipe! We’ll also make sure to take a look at the link bait options as well as what you can do to build links yourself straight away. I know Google doesn’t like the latter but you gotta do what you gotta do!

The local link building game is, in my humble opinion, about three different types of links. This mix involves hitting up all the usual suspects such as:

1) Regular nofollow/followed links
2) Social media links eg. bit.ly
3) Citations even if it’s only a business name or the url typed out without it being “hyper”

This is all natural “web doings” for any business, so we shouldn’t have a problem here. I’ll also talk about what we see trend-wise in the local link building arena and talk about how other local businesses can do most of your link building for you – Yes you did read that correctly!

Sniffing For Backlinks:

After 6 years of viewing link profiles in local markets, I can tell you two things that are still dominating for rankings. These two are pretty obvious and in the end, pretty sad:

1) Local business directories work well
2) Links from local bloggers are awesome

There are, however, two positives that come from these two things: You can take better tactics and build WAY BETTER links than those. The other positive? Building those links is relatively easy and you can make a lot of headway in just a few months time. I know a lot of local businesses don’t have a lot of spare time to market themselves, let alone build a few dozen links. So, for the first month you go at it all you’ll need to arm yourself with is a link analysis tool.

It’s pretty obvious I’m going to tell you to pull the links of every competitor in your vertical, true! But there’s more! You’re in a local market and there are tons of other places you’ll be able to get a link from. So sit down, break out a pen and pad (what’s that?) or your laptop, and write down a dozen other local business categories. I’ll bite and give a few examples such as plumbers, lawyers, mortgage brokers, local webmasters and even local SEO consultants. Sniffing their links out will always lead to other local link finds, I guarantee it!

Local Directories:

This is the easiest and first place you should look for links, even though I’m slightly embarrassed to be recommending directories in this day and age. The truth is, in the local scene they’re an asset. You also have a plethora of options to rock out with and it can keep your link building fingers going for a while. There are always the hyper local directories that have been around for years. As well, there are plenty of the big guys that serve the local market. I’ll only provide a small sample of links because everyone and their mother has lists for this already.

Hyper Local Link Directories:

- $cityname business directory
- $cityname web directory
- $cityname directory
- $cityname local business links

“Big Boy” Local Link Directories:

- Yelp.com
- Local.BOTW.org
- Google Places
- Bing Local business
- MerchantCircle.com
- MyCity.com
- YellowPages.com
- http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/10322/The-Ultimate-List-50-Local-Business-Directories.aspx

Because You’re a Business:

Since you’re a business there are a good amount of other link building opportunities to take advantage of. We’ll kick off the thought process for you, but you’ll really need to take what you learn here and dig deeper. The rabbit hole sometimes goes way down and you’ll really have to work at it.

Chamber Of Commerce - This can always lead to a really strong link and definitely comes with a fee… well usually anyway. You’ll also find that if you get linked here, other websites will use that data to fill out their link pages or if they happen to write about your market. It really can lead to good things!

Business Associations - Becoming a member of a local organisation is not only essential for a local business, it can provide one helluva link. Memberships usually come with a fee, but for the networking alone I’d recommend it. In fact, I demand you do it! (Good)Links are all about relationships and I almost can’t think of a better way to do it in a local market.

Meetup.com - I’m a huge fan of this social networking site and running an event not only leads to a great link, it leads to business.  If you’re speaking at your event or have a guest speaker, the chances are good that you’ll get attendees blogging about it and linking away.

Local Event Listings - If your business can put on a function, you best be making sure you’re getting links for it. For an example, my hometown’s local business site lists events and links to the homepage for whomever is putting it on. You can also list to the big event sites like Eventful.com for some great exposure as well as a link! Check out our old post on event link building for way more awesomness.

Company Directories - While these may not be local sites, they’re usually good because they’re listed by Country and area. Sites like Manta.com and Company.com are great business directories to get into. There are also a lot more sites out there like them so check that link and do some snooping of your own.

Local Media Networking:

Getting a mention in the local media requires not only some skill, but something worthy of a link/mention/citation. Getting mentioned the easy way requires you to do something horrific that they just can’t refuse talking about. Perhaps that’s not the best route, however. Getting links from this area requires networking, time and patience. If you’re not doing anything exceptional in business, then skip this part and move along.

Finding Your Connections:

It’s easier than ever to connect with people via social media so there’s no excuse not to try reaching out to local media influencers. This works the same for the local blogger as well as your newscaster. There are three obvious places to start and, while I’m reluctant to reiterate, I might as well for the increased word count.

Twitter – This is an obvious one and all you need to do is follow and get noticed. Start retweeting, asking questions and being interested in your targets. Make sure to utilise sites like WeFollow.com to easily find the most influential people in your area. I also like to check for the local new’s twitter account to scout of followers and lists they’re involved with. This always leads to finding the key people I need to associate with.

Facebook – Almost every news site has a Facebook page and it can be a great place to start networking. You also don’t want to come off as a spammer, so don’t sign up to just post your latest blog link. You’re going to have to be crafty, participate and perhaps find a way to cover a hot news topic on your blog.

LinkedIn – Here’s a great way to connect with local media types and build some trust levels up. You’re golden if they accept a friend request so just make sure your profile is professional, clear and appealing. I’d also check out any groups that person is in as it opens a door. Perhaps there’s even a local media group worth checking out.

Bloggers – All I an say about this is either try and get interviewed from a local business blog or podcast. If you can’t initially, why don’t you interview someone more prominent with your area who can push social followers your way? They’re going to promote the interview to their fans and this can only do good things for your marketing efforts.

Press Release Strategy:

Make a list of all the local news sites and see which ones are picking up on press releases, especially ones with links in them. While dupe PR may not be the best of links, you still might as well get all you can out of it. You’re going to have to whip out your backlink analyzer of choice and reverse engineer the press releases. I like to have every little bit of information so I can try and game my clients release getting on that news site. It’s not hard, just look for what service it was launched with. See if they have geo-targeting options and even what tags they used with the release.

Those in larger cities will have better luck with this. To give you all an example, The Miami Herald has an area for press releases and they do provide links within the release. Sometimes going this route is much easier and quicker than building connections up, but do both or I’ll be upset with you as a marketer!

Getting Legit .Gov/.EDU Links:

Everyone and their mother wants these links but most of you folks pay some shady link broker to sneak them in. When it comes to the local market it doesn’t require any money to snag these links, just good content, time and a little creativity. There are a few easy ways to score some local .edu and .gov links and I’ll drop a few methods. After that, you’ll have to scour their websites to see what they’re linking out to and how you can create linkable content. They’re definitely some of the hardest links to obtain, so don’t give up and do the best you can.

Links For Jobs – This is a great way to score some natural links from either your local government or university. A lot of .edu’s have local job boards and hiring local students to do work is great for everybody involved. Government sites tend to also have job boards so do your best to sniff things out. You’ll have to watch out for https job postings and weakly linked job pages that don’t index well. Also keep an eye out for job/career fairs because they usually provide links to the participants.

Guest Speaking @ School – This has worked for me personally and it’s a great way to not only score some links, but become a local business leader. Connect with the department heads that relate to your business and offer yourself out. You never know what’ll come of it!

Reciprocal Linking:

Yea I said it, so what? Google’s quite clear that recip linking for the purpose of passing PageRank is a no-no, but that’s not what I’m talking about here. A well designed, uniquely named links/resources page for your area can really do you some good and provide users with a piece of useful content. I’m talking about only one or two dozen links on the page backed with unique content, but most importantly, never game any anchor text.

A lot of people think that reciprocal linking is a waste of time and are dead wrong when it comes to ranking locally. I’m coming from years of experience as well and we have clients surviving and thriving thanks to this link profile diversification. Like any tactic, you don’t want to rely solely on it, you don’t want to game anchor text and you want to link to and from quality related sites only.

While I might get some flack for what I’m about to say, I’d even recommend buying links on related, local businesses resource pages. If you just stick to getting a site/brand name link, mix some up with nofollow and pick really quality sites, you’ll do just fine. Sometimes you’ve got to get your hands dirty and if you do, be damn sneaky about it! There’s no way Google’s going to be able to tell it’s a paid link unless the webmaster rats you out. But even in that case, nothing is likely to happen because they might get penalized for selling links. As long as your link profile is diverse, clean and not too spammy, you’ll be fine. If worse comes to worst, Google just devalues those links.

Guest Blogging & Blog Commenting:

Local blogs are a great place to build relationships, get some links and build up your brands awareness. This can be done by guest blogging, commenting like a boss on a really good post or doing an interview on your blog with someone influential. I recommend doing all of those tactics because they work great and add a good link diversity to your profile. Not only that but you start to really build your brand within the community, make friends and have fun all at the same time.

Do’s:

- link to other local influential bloggers a lot
- write as much as you can and contribute somthing to the discussion when commenting
- use link bait such as infographics and widgets to score links from local blogs
- blog about local hot topics to attract social traffic
- build a good local Twitter and Google+ follower set to influence the SERPs
- do crowdsourced content locally when possible

Do Not:

- use keyword anchor text for your “name” when commenting
- steal copyrighted images for your posts
- slander another business as this never works out well
- comment on lousy obvious spam blog posts
- syndicate content from other sources in your area

Build It And They Will Come:

This is some of the best web advice out there! Keep blogging, networking and inspiring and the links will follow along with the business. These core tactics and fundamentals should be enough to dominate any local marketing effort within 6-12 months. Don’t give up and once you find your groove, there’s no stopping you; Only you can get in the way at that point. If anyone has any specific local link building tips then you know what to do, drop them in the comments below!

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