Build Links Locally for Long Term Success
Building links in relation to your geographical area of business should be a key focus for small businesses. Although getting links from high ranking domains should always be a goal, starting locally and building outward is often the best use of time for a self-managed, do-it-yourself SEO campaign. Before we dive into what you should do, let me start by pointing out that it is generally not a good idea to implement tactics that 1) develop links on low-ranking domains that have no association with your geographical area of business (links from foreign domains), 2) create links quickly (sudden jumps in backlinks are generally bad), or 3) look spotty (link pops up in UK one day, and Singapore the next).
Fortunately, for small businesses that have never had a budget to participate in black hat link building, they are one step ahead. Reason; Having no links is usually better than having bad links. That being said, building local links is fairly risk free…since they are 1) originating from your area of business, 2) developed over time, 3) consistent in nature (because they’re often controlled by you).
Why Build Local Links:
With so many business listing and directory sites always attempting to get top placement for locals search results, why not let them do the heavy lifting. If you provide carpet cleaning, for example, and multiple directories for the area show up displaying businesses that provide the service (often show up based on city or zip. Ex: “Top Ten Carpet Cleaners Near 92021”)…make sure you’re on there. Although these can often be no-follow links, they can drive qualified traffic to your site…provided they offer the ability to display a URL.
Google! In an effort to provide people with the most relevant information, Google scans local outlets to make sure you’re operating in the region you say you are in. So if you show up on a variety of local sites, you will increase your chances of getting a Google boost in your region. After all, they have a method to the madness…that’s why you see the closest Italian restaurants when you search for “pizza” in the middle of the night.
Develop, Update & Add To Business Listings:
Search for your current biz name, old biz name, phone number variations, address. Claim listings that are up for grabs. Verify via phone or email if necessary and add contact info, domain, products/services and other business critical info. Be sure to do a thorough search for your business on a site before adding a new one. It can be super frustrating to find out that you have multiple variations of your business on Yelp.
Note: These sites don’t always have the best domain authority, so don’t spend too much time on them. But if it’s simple enough to add or submit current/additional information, take the time to do so. Over the course of a year, the amount of traffic that comes in from business directories can add up.
Good places to start developing business listings…
- Google Places/My Business
- Bing Local
- Yahoo Local
- Citysearch (powered by Express Update)
Tip: Check out your local listing overview on MOZ (https://moz.com/local/search). They let you scan your business for free. Although it might not be the most complete or up-to-date info, it is a free way to see if you have inconsistent or inaccurate listings online…and where they can be found. Here’s how to do it.
Step 1 – Go to https://moz.com/local/search and enter your business name and zip.
Step 2 – Review the sites you’re listed on, and select one with errors to see where your listed incorrectly.
Step 3 – After clicking, view your listings to see what listings are showing different information. You will be able to click on a link to each site so you can have a starting point for correcting or updating business information.
Build Links On Local News & Event Sites:
If you have a press release or news worthy event, and don’t have a PR agency working for you, many news sites make it easy for you to submit your content online or via email. Do a search for “yourtown + news”. Chances are that three out of the first six have a link to submit a story, upload a press release or email an editor about a story idea.
Tip: After submitting a press release or adding a news story, shoot the editor of the online publication an email to inform them that you are available for a follow up or interview regarding the story you submitted. This can increase the chances of your story being noticed.
Events work in a similar fashion. A simple way to do this, is to search “yourtown + local events”. Don’t go past the first page or two, but take a look at all the results and see if there are any sites that haven an “Add/Submit an Event” section. If all you need to do is let them know what’s going on, you might have just found a great way to get a link, and also promote your event. Tip: News sites often have an Events Calendar or Local Events section.
Develop Links On Social Media:
Social media sites are great because they provide you with the ability to develop and control content and link development. Sometimes getting a page ranked high happens only after Google has noticed traffic going to it. So social media sites can be a great way to promote new content. Tip: If you’re posting photos online, and have the ability, create the slideshow on your own site and then link to it from social sites…instead of creating the slideshow or album on the social site. This will increase traffic to your own site, and may give you a SERP or domain authority bump.
In addition, one of the best ways to make sure that your contact info (address/phone/url) is known and reproduced correctly is to add it to social media sites. Reason: Many online business directories use social media to get info. So if you’re not on there, or listed with incorrect info, the damage could be compounding.
Read our Social Media Sites Every Small Business Should Be On article to learn more about the basic sites you should be using to promote content and have your business info listed correctly on.
Sometimes this one can cost a little money, but there may be a lot of high ranking domains you can get involved with for little investment. This can often be a tipping point that helps get you the local placement you need with search engines.
Local sites that may be worth the time and investment:
- Official Local Government Sites
- Local Tradeshows (often let paying exhibitors include link on their site)
- Chamber of Commerce Sites (often let you promote events too)
- Local Training & Educational Sites (offer a free class or training event)
Keep Building Local Links To Improve Your Ranking
Depending on how many resources you have, develop or can find online, building local links can be an easy way to increase site traffic as part of a small business SEO campaign. When you start building local links (note: be sure to only use your business name or url as anchor text), you may start to see yourself show up more often and get ranked higher locally or regionally. This can happen even with highly competitive search terms related to your business. Although building local links may be time consuming at first, once the work is done you will be able to shift into a maintenance mode. Just be sure to keep an eye on where your business is listed, and any additional opportunities for promotion. New resources may appear from time to time that could easily start driving in local customers and traffic.