Flummoxed when it comes to building links to your or your clients’ local businesses? Allow SEMrush’s Fernando Angulo to teach you a trick or two…
Creating links is one of those tasks where small businesses can either take a big step towards organic traffic or the final step onto the precipice of a Google penalty.
Link-building at the local level has become a great strategy for those looking to position themselves in territorial niches. Although it’s true that a micro market is less tempting than a full market, building local links can become one of the best forms of growth when a local business is getting started.
Are links back to your website still important in 2018?
Absolutely. If you’ve not yet read through it, I’d recommend taking a look at SEMrush’s Ranking Factors 2.0 study. It’s a good place to start from when looking to optimize your website to improve your positioning in Google, and it shows what an influence backlinks have.
You probably already know how important it is to have a community committed to your or your clients’ local business. You’re likely also aware that backlinks are important because they can help increase the authority of your website and domain; two factors that Google considers when ranking websites in search engine results.
But did you know that you can use your community to create backlinks to your site? Using what’s known as as ‘local link-building’ (as opposed to wider link-building), you can get backlinks by working with other local companies, website owners and organizations.
How to build backlinks with local link-building
The good thing about local link-building is that it’s easy to make it a habit, and it’ll reliably get you backlinks every month. Here are some ideas for specific tactics that you can use to create backlinks through local link-building.
- Write an entry on your blog or page about something locally relevant (information about other businesses, events, etc.) and mention those events or businesses by including links out to their websites.
- Communicate with the companies or organizations involved through email or social networks, and ask those featured to link or share the post on their social networks.
- Repeat the process at least once a month to create a stable way to gradually earn more backlinks and increase the authority of your website.
In a similar fashion, you can use the following tactics to create an activity workflow and make local link-building a nice daily, weekly or monthly habit.
Local Link-Building Tactic #1: Enter your business for local awards
Many entities and media companies organize awards in a variety of business areas. Search the internet for awards related to your niche and sign up for them. The instructions are usually on the event organizer’s website, but if not, don’t be afraid to get in touch with them to find out how to enter.
Some will advertise your website even if you are just one of the nominees. Others, only if you win. There’s also a chance that, even if you don’t win a prize, your website will appear on a high-visibility list, such as “The Top 30 Chicago Restaurants” or “Top 10 Hairdressing Salons for Children”.
Local Link-Building Tactic #2: Look for local influencers
Wherever you are in the world, there are likely to be several influential bloggers regularly producing quality content about your area. Search for them, talk to them, and offer an exchange of content. For example, this can be done through guest posts or asking for an online review. You’ll ask them to write a post or a review on your site, and in exchange you’ll produce an article to be placed on their blog. They might be small and very niche blogs, but since the focus for both of you is on the local audience, you’ve no need to reach an international audience.
Local Link-Building Tactic #3: Write about your favorite businesses in a similar niche
Owners of local businesses love that others speak of them positively. When they do, they are much more likely to help the business sell more, right? We can apply that same principle to your online marketing strategy.
Write about five small companies in similar niches (but not competitive with yours) in an article on your blog. For example, a chiropractor could write an entry in their blog about their five favorite pediatricians, dentists or general practitioners in the local area.
After writing the post, send an email to the businesses you mentioned or mention them on social media, letting them know you talked about them, and requesting a backlink or a social mention.
Local Link-Building Tactic #4: Create a local resource page on your website
If you’ve ever visited an educational or professional website, you’ve probably noticed that they have several pages devoted to “additional resources”. These pages are full of useful information and links to other related websites that provide a unique opportunity as a tool for building backlinks.
These resource pages can be about anything as specific or as general as you wish. For example, you could write details on the best hotels to stay at in your area, where to study design, etc. You should think about what types of resource pages will be most useful to your audience and what is best suited to your niche.
But creating this fantastic resource isn’t enough! You must then inform anyone you mentioned in the article and ask for a backlink or a social mention (as in Tactic #3).
Local Link-Building Tactic #5: Search for online mentions
Many companies make mentions to other businesses in their social networks or in their blog without including backlinks or social mentions.
Use social media listening tools such as BrandMentions and Mention to monitor the reputation of your online business. These tools will check if someone has mentioned your business in the last month (or even further back than that). You could also set up a Google Alert or do a Google search with the name of your company and the relevant keywords. If you find any resources, articles or tweets in which a website didn’t tag or link to you, contact them to request that they do so.
Of course, these are just a few of the variety of local link-building techniques you can use. If you have any more you’d like to share, let me know in the comments below!
Currently Head of International Partnerships at SEMrush, Fernando Angulo is actively involved in the search marketing world and is a regular speaker at Digital Marketing and Ecommerce conferences and events worldwide. He is a specialist in competitive intelligence and competitor research, and SEO and paid traffic strategies.