How to Find Community Sites to Get Local Links From
- Look for large community websites with an engaged audience posting frequently, but smaller sites can also be useful!
- 75% of SEO experts class local community website links as the most valuable link source for boosting search rankings as a local business.
- Compile a list of other local businesses and review their backlink profiles to find local community link opportunities.
Link building is to SEO what PB&J is to bread—a perfect fit. There’s no denying the power of links for boosting rankings, but acquiring the right kind of links is a different story. For local businesses, the prospect of link building can be daunting.
Conventional wisdom dictates that you must have a good quantity of links, from a decent variety of high quality (and relevant) websites, with varied anchor text, to a range of pages within your site.
It’s a tough job for even the most seasoned of SEO pros but, for a local business with little likelihood of a top tier link (read Huffington Post, the New York Times, Entrepreneur, etc.), successfully link building for a ranking boost can seem about as likely as scaling Yosemite’s El Capitan.
But what if local link building was different? What if links from other local sources were as important as high profile referrals are in conventional link building? Actually, they are.
Our most recent Expert Local Business Link Building Survey discovered that 75% of SEO experts class local community website links as the most valuable link source for boosting search rankings as a local business. 70% cited local news and content sites and 60% chose high domain authority sites.
Of course, finding neighbors and other local organizations with both influence and a willingness to link to you is no small task. Our Survey was definitive—link building will not get easier this year. In fact, 35% of link builders believe it will become harder. This makes having an actionable strategy for finding local community sites more important than ever.
Benefits of acquiring links from local community sites
According to the Local Search Ranking Factors survey, the number of inbound links to your domain from other local domains is a key ranking factor. That means that acquiring more links with a local origin will make a tangible difference to your search position.
There are additional rewards to reap from local community site links, too. If you’re able to get a link from a local church group, a local group founded on ethnicity, local business groups or a local chamber of commerce, you’re mimicking the impact of better local SEO rankings by obtaining visibility within your local target market. This could translate to more in-store visits or more sales.
As Search Engine Land columnist Greg Gifford explains,
If you get quality links on local sites, they’re links that humans will actually click on. Those local links will bring you more traffic, and they’ll increase your brand’s visibility.
What to look for when building local community links
Although high domain authority sites ranked just third on our Expert Local Business Link Building Survey table of importance, quality control is still essential. In fact, our survey found that quality and authority of links was the most important consideration for local link builders.
That doesn’t mean you need to judge every community site by a single inflexible metric such as domain authority, but you should have some criteria against which potential link sources are measured.
This list may include:
Frequency of update
If the site is updated very infrequently (such as once every few months) it’s a good indication that the site is small without much of an audience.
If the community site lacks an engaged audience, you’re unlikely to receive much traffic from a link. Check how often visitors post comments or review the share counts on social media buttons. Even without much engagement, you may weigh this seemingly negative point against the need to diversify your link profile (90% of SEO experts believe link diversity is valuable).
Size of site
Study how big the site is. If it’s a longstanding local community site, you should expect the site to be a fair size. Look first at the menu – how many pages and sub-menus can you see? If they are sparse, head to the blog.
How far back do the archives go? The sitemap should give you an at-a-glance page count. If you can’t find it, head to Google and use the site operator search for a rough idea of how many pages are indexed (type “site: www.communitysite.com” in Google Search).