Proven Link Building Strategies for Local Businesses

Proven Link Building Strategies for Local Businesses

On Wednesday, June 13th, two search pros at the top of their link building game joined us to share the tactics and techniques they use to help local businesses achieve relevant and beneficial links.

In our ‘Proven Link-building Strategies for Local Businesses’ webinar, Myles was joined by Juris Digital‘s Casey Meraz and Location3‘s Matt Lacuesta to share their top tips for acquiring backlinks – video below for those who missed it!


Video: Proven Link Building Strategies for Local Businesses


Top Link Building Tactics for Local Businesses

  • Event link building – e.g. conferences, community or university events
  • Sponsorships – e.g. sponsoring a local baseball team, or scholarships
  • Giveaways
  • Monitoring existing brand mentions and asking for backlinks
  • Relationships with related local businesses – e.g workshops at your business, or discounts for businesses in your network

Evidently, some backlink opportunities are more expensive than others. Casey said, “Don’t go for sites who have loads of sponsors. If there are loads of other sponsors, how much value are you really getting? You have to look for the gems when you’re doing this. Spend the time and do the due diligence to weed through to do the ones that will pass the most equity to you. Of course, this can cost money.”

What Makes a Good Backlink

  1. Localized links from your area
  2. Niche-specific links
  3. Links that earn clicks
  4. How many other links are on the target page – the fewer the better

Matt discussed how domain authority isn’t too much of a factor for local businesses: “Just because a domain authority isn’t great doesn’t mean it’s not worth going to if it’s relevant and local.”

Key Link Building KPIs

  • Domain authority: While this shouldn’t be everything, if you do have an opportunity to get on the New York Times, make this a priority, says Matt.
  • Quality of traffic: Getting the right people through to your site
  • Link equity

Matt touched upon how to get high quality with the top publications. “PR people are the OG link builders. They’ve been doing it right all these years. They’ve been creating content using their contacts, and providing value to newspaper and magazine readers. Journalists want to share a story, not just some content someone made. Creating a discussion, whether good or bad, brings attention, drives links, and gets people talking about the brand.”

Casey discussed an interesting case study he’d worked on, where high school students who had driven under the influence signed a pledge with a law firm to not do it again. The subsequent controversy was picked up by national media.

How To Get Backlinks

  1. Phone people up! Most SEOs are afraid to pick up the phone, says Casey, and are jaded about whether people will want to accept your call. But if you don’t ask, you don’t get!
  2. Get to know your targets. Train the whole team in link outreach methods via phone, email and social media. Get to know who you’re pitching to, and they’re far more likely to help you out than cold outreach. Local PRs are useful as they often already have the necessary relationships with publications and businesses.
  3. Set your targets. Make a shortlist of who you’d ideally like to link to your content. Outreach to these first personally (or consider an ‘exclusive’), and you can offer alternative angles, data, or spokesperson interviews as a sweetener. Make your key targets feel special. And once you’ve exhausted your key targets, broaden your outreach list.

Matt shared a good way to ask for links: “A nice way to pose it is to say, ‘We’re moving this content that you’ve linked to, we’d love for you to update this link as it provides a better experience for your user’. Don’t do it from the perspective of it being better for your link quality, and they’re more likely to take care of it for you.”

How Do You Cost Link Building For Clients

Casey says, “If it’s a sponsorship, we’ll pass this cost onto clients. For other work, we’ll do a retainer and amount of work needed for the links, and this boils down to an hourly rate. Not every month will have the same amount of time given to link building.”

Matt says, “Generally we have a broad SEO budget where we allocate time to specific strategies and tactics based on clients’ goals. When things change or new goals come up, we’re flexible and stretch to reach this.”



Thank you to Sterling Sky’s Colan Nielsen and BrightLocal’s Matt Coghlan for their help on the Q&A. You can follow Colan on Twitter here.

Q. As a new person to all of this, once I find a relevant place to link to, how exactly do I get backlinks?

A. You need to contact the owner of the site/program you’re looking to get a link from and ask them if you can sponsor the event / write a post for them or whatever the end goal is. Think cold calling, but over email. – Matt Coghlan

Q. As an agency how would you reach out on behalf of clients? Are you using an email associated with their business or do you just mention them in your emails?

A. Having an email on the clients’ domain can increase open rates but is not always possible or realistic. There are a ton of great outreach email templates and resources if you do a Google search for “link building outreach templates.” – Colan Nielsen

Q. What tools do you use to track to links you are getting, and how do you report this?

A. We use ahrefs for tracking links. It allows you to see new, old and lost links which is useful. You can download some insightful reports directly from ahrefs. – Colan Nielsen

Q. What are your best link building and monitoring tools?

A. A few come to mind: ahrefs, Link Research Tools, Google Search Console, BuzzStream, Google Search Operators – Colan Nielsen

Q. What would you say is an average success rate of a link outreach campaign?

A. That really depends on what type of links you’re going for and your approach. You’re far more likely to generate a link targeting a local company if you can provide value to them vs contacting 50 blog owners with the same email template. I would love to be able to give you a figure like 5% but I don’t think it would be accurate. – Matt Coghlan

Q. How about using press release submission sites like prweb and sbwire? After a month most of the backlinks we’d received were removed. Do you advise doing manual press release submission instead of using submission sites?

A. Don’t use press releases as a link building tactic. If you are going to do a press release do it for the purposes of getting information out to the public, but not as a link building tactic. – Colan Nielsen

Our Expert Panelists

Casey Meraz
Casey Meraz

Casey is the founder of Juris Digital and Ethical SEO Consulting. He is a regular contributor to the annual Local SEO Ranking Factors Study as well as a frequent contributor to the Moz blog. He is the author of “How to Perform The Ultimate Local SEO Audit” and has been helping small businesses and law firms with SEO for the past ten years.

Matt Lacuesta
Matt Lacuesta

For nearly a decade, Matt has been a digital marketer focusing on organic search and is now Director of Earned and Owned at Location3. Here he heads up the strategy for the SEO and Local Search teams, with a focus on partnering with clients to increase the online visibility for their business locations and drive more qualified online traffic from local organic search.

Myles Anderson
Host: Myles Anderson

Myles is Founder and CEO of BrightLocal. He has worked in the local search industry since 2009 and has been a major contributor to the Local Search Ranking Factors Study. Myles has also written a regular column for Search Engine Land and has spoken at SEO conferences such as BrightonSEO and Inboundcon (Toronto).

Rosie Murphy
About the author
Rosie managed BrightLocal's delivery of research and survey pieces. She headed up data-driven content such as regular polls, webinars and whitepapers, including the Local Consumer Review Survey.

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