Not so long ago, local search engine optimization (SEO) relied heavily upon citations.
Recent studies have indicated that a mere fraction of citations built will ever get indexed, especially those on second- and third-tier sites. Compound that with the fact that some local results mirror organic rankings while others bear no resemblance and you can see that local SEO is quickly growing in complexity.
Just like its organic counterpart, local SEO has also been subject to updates, leaving local businesses frustrated. Remember when the map pack went from seven to only three places? To be competitive in the local SEO space for your business or those of your clients, local link building is a must. Today, we are going to touch on a few link types that can successfully fuel local SEO rankings.
Not all links built for local SEO need to be location specific. Last week, I briefly mentioned that a link should provide one or more of the following signals: power, popularity or relevancy.
In this case, niche specific sites could cover two signals. Let’s say you run an architectural firm located in New York and your site gets linked to from archdaily.com. That site is relevant to your business and the site is very powerful, so you have power and relevancy signals. That would make a great link.
As another example, let’s say you find a site that covers architectural history in your city. This site may not provide power signals, especially if the site is more of a hobby site, but it is a very strong source of relevancy signals.
Although different, both links are niche specific and could be very good links for your local search engine optimization campaign.
Location Specific Lifestyle Sites
In the above example, you can see that this site only has 15 unique referring domains pointing to it, so it’s not a “powerful” site in the traditional since. However, franklinlifestyle.com is extremely geographically focused to a single town. This site is great as a relevancy signal, in this case it is geo-relevancy instead of niche relevancy.
If you are running a local campaign and you run across sites like this one, don’t be too quick to dismiss them based upon metrics alone or you would miss a good local link opportunity.
Local Sponsorship Opportunities
For organic SEO, sponsorship and scholarship style links are overused and often low quality, making them all but worthless. When it comes to local SEO though, this type of link building still works, so long as you use it to create the right signal.
If your business is active in the local community, you can very naturally pick up a handful of links from local sites, here are some ideas for event and activities to sponsor:
- Little league baseball teams
- Local soccer teams
- Citywide cleanup events
- Sponsor a city 5K run
If you take just a few moments to jot down some events and activities that happen in your area, you could probably come up with several great opportunities to get involved in your community and increase the geo-relevancy of your site with Google.
Local Business Listings
No, I am not telling you to submit your site to a bunch of low-quality Web directories. You should, however, look for business directories specific to your city. Here are a few ideas to get location specific directories listings that don’t suck:
- Join the Chamber of Commerce.
- Join the Better Business Bureau.
- Look for business incubator programs from local colleges (great for startups)
- Look for local networking groups, mastermind groups or niche specific organizations.
In addition, you could also use a simple search like “your city” + “business directories” to uncover sites in your area that you may not have thought of.
Build Your Own Network
If you like to live on the wild side, (just kidding, this is pretty mild) you could set up your own geo-relevancy network.
The purpose of creating a geo-network is solely to create location relevancy signals. If all your clients are in Detroit, Michigan for example, a network focused solely upon Detroit could come in handy. Unlike private blog networks, these do not need to be built on expired or auctioned domains.
Since your main concern is generating relevancy signals, you could set up a free blog on Blogger, some social media profiles and you are off to the races. The whole point of this type of network is to gather, discuss and link to a location-specific business. The site above, franklinlifestyle.com would be a great template for creating your own geo-relevant site. Remember though, without all the right signals in place, a geo-network isn’t going to be nearly as effective.
There is no doubt that link building is every bit as important to local SEO as it is to organic. In some cases, your business may not have much local competition and you will be able to rank in the maps with just the basics. If you find yourself getting stuck before you can break into the top three map results, implementing a link building strategy and making sure your site is properly setup for local rankings is critical. If you have a business that is getting filtered currently, further research on geo-networks should be high on your priority list.
Over to you…
What is one of your “go-to” local link building strategies?
This article was originally written for and appeared in Website Magazine by Travis Bliffen, CEO.