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Why Local Link Building Is Important for Small Businesses
What Is Local Link Building?
Local link building is the process of acquiring relevant links from local websites to help improve your local SEO strategy and ensure your business ranks high for geo-targeted keywords. These links are known as “backlinks” (also known as “inbound links” or “incoming links”), and they have various use cases.
Depending on your link building goals, backlinks can help to drive traffic to your website, increase brand visibility on local websites, or improve your brand ratings. There are two types of links, follow and nofollow. The former can influence your site’s rankings, and the latter won’t, but it will offer other benefits.
Local link building differs from traditional link building in one main way - the backlinks come from sources relevant to your location. For example, if you run a pet supply shop in Brooklyn, picking a link from a pet adoption center around New York City could be considered a relevant local link.
One of the best local link building strategies is getting involved in the community. You can do this by sponsoring local events, donating to local charities, or participating in other activities that will get you mentioned and featured in local news websites and blogs. This will help you gain exposure and keep your brand in the minds of potential customers.
And with the increasing cost of living, small businesses need to do all it takes to make themselves visible to as many prospects as possible to grow their revenues. A sure way to do this is to up their link building game so that they can increase their prominence on Google search results and secure more new customers.
Local link building helps you rank in two main ways. Your business will appear on the Google Local Pack (the three top results Google displays for local business search) and local organic results.
To rank in the Local Pack, you need a well-optimized Google My Business Profile.
Using our example from the pet supply shop above, let’s perform a search and show the difference between Local Pack rankings and organic rankings.
The Local Pack consists of only three businesses, and on the right side, there’s a map showing their location. Google determines which businesses to show in the three-pack based on relevance, distance, and prominence. As we mentioned above, prominence takes into account the backlinks of your website.
Below the Local Pack, you will find the organic results from local websites and directories. The organic results usually consist of resource content meant to help the prospects make a more informed decision.
Benefits of Local Link Building for Small Businesses
Local link building is a key factor in the success of your digital marketing campaigns. Getting relevant backlinks from local sites can help propel your business to the top of the SERPs. Since 81% of consumers are using Google to evaluate local businesses, link building is more crucial than ever.
If your company depends on foot traffic or provides services to people within your city, your link building strategy must be local. It will allow you to position yourself where you are most likely to find potential customers.
And that’s not all. Here are nine reasons why every small business needs to make local link building part of its SEO strategy.
Improve Brand Credibility
As a business, your reputation means everything. 83% of consumers use online searches before they visit a store. These customers are going online to research if your business can be trusted. When done right, local link building can help your brand credibility.
One thing you will quickly learn when creating your local link building strategy is that not all links are the same. Both prospects and search engines consider where your links originate from. If you participate in spammy link building tactics, you might scare away customers and get your website de-indexed by Google.
Link building can help you improve brand credibility only if links originate from high-authority sites. These types of sites include local news websites, high-authority local blogs, and other local businesses. Furthermore, your links should appear on these types of sites naturally.
Tools such as Serpstat Backlink Analysis can help you track your backlinks. If you notice any incoming links from a spammy site, you can request to remove them.
Increase Brand Visibility, Foot Traffic, and Sales
Whether running a brick-and-mortar store or an e-commerce shop online, building a solid online presence is vital for your business. It is the best way to expand your market, reach more people, and eventually improve your cash flow and profits. Local link building offers you the opportunity to generate more traffic and sales.
Backlinks enable retail businesses to increase visitors to their websites through referral traffic. When prospects see your links on other websites and click on them to visit your site, you can pull them into your sales funnel. Referral traffic is significant because it helps you meet your three crucial local link building goals.
First, when people see your business on trusted websites, it increases your exposure and brand recognition. Second, if those people click on your backlinks, it will increase traffic to your website. Finally, referral traffic means more qualified leads. When a user visits your website from a trusted source, they’re coming to learn more about your business and even get your store’s address.
When searching for link building opportunities for your small business, it is crucial that you approach local sites with high domain rankings. Don’t spam your links on regional forums or comment sections of local blogs or get backlinks from irrelevant sites that don’t align with your business. Such practices will cause Google to penalize you and affect your long-term goals of attracting customers organically.
Improve SERP Rankings
Backlinks increase your chances of appearing on the top of search engine results pages (SERPs), which can drive organic traffic to your website. This is the ultimate goal for any business looking to reach customers online. Research shows that less than 1% of Google searchers click on the links on the second page. If you want to increase your click-through rate and traffic from search engines, your business must make it to the first page of Google.
So how do backlinks affect your SERP rankings?
It all boils down to the concept of referral traffic we discussed above. You will start ranking for relevant keywords if your backlinks earn a lot of referral traffic from authoritative sources.
For example, let’s say you own a gym in a Chicago neighborhood and generate a lot of referral traffic from a Chicago gym directory or resource article for best gyms. Eventually, your business can rank as the best Chicago gym and increase foot traffic and sales.
Build Brand Authority
Local link building allows you to establish yourself as an expert in your field. The best and easiest way to do this is through content creation. Helpful content is Google’s number one ranking factor. If you can generate and distribute such content, you can increase your online visibility and build your brand authority.
When distributing your content or sharing your knowledge for local link building purposes, you should approach relevant sites that cater to your target audience.
For instance, if you are an auto mechanic, your prospects are car owners. You know the type of problems your customers face and how to fix them. You can approach a local car club and offer to write them a blog article about fixing some of those problems.
Let’s say you live in Wyoming. You can find a local car club and pitch a blog idea like “Five Common Car Issues During Winter and How to Fix Them.” In the article, you will naturally place a link to help readers navigate to your website.
If you get published, prospects may read the article and find it helpful; they will keep you in mind. Next time they have a car problem they can’t fix at home and search for a mechanic online, they’ll remember you when they see your website. Since your article helped them solve a problem once, you gained their trust, and now they will repay by giving you business.
There are two other ways you can build brand authority through online content creation. One is creating YouTube videos with geographical keywords. The second is by joining local online groups and industry associations and engaging prospects on topics relevant to your business. Remember to make your approach natural and avoid hard sales and link spamming.
Improve Brand Awareness
We already mentioned how link building could help attract customers and keep your business visible. But when it comes to building brand awareness, it can do more than that. Local link building enables you to create a memorable and unique brand awareness campaign that cements your position in the market.
Link building can help you increase your brand awareness which is instrumental in building client loyalty and familiarizing prospects with your business. Brand awareness enables you to stay in the mind of consumers, which is important when looking for repeat customers and gives you an advantage when a new customer is ready to purchase.
Local link building allows you to build different touchpoints with clients. Customers will choose the brand they recognize at the end of the sales funnel when they’re ready to convert and everything is comparable. Brand awareness through local link building can help you tip the scales in your favor.
Finally, depending on your ultimate business goals, brand awareness can also help you attract investors. When you are constantly mentioned as the best in your industry on different trusted websites, the value of your brand increases. With a powerful brand, you’ll be able to expand and raise funds.
Gain Competitive Edge
Gain Competitive Edge
You must stay ahead of competitors for your business to increase its revenue and attract new customers constantly. Local link building helps you achieve this in two ways.
First, part of link building involves doing competitor backlink analysis. To gain a competitive edge, you must have a better link building strategy than your competitors and constantly monitor their backlinks to ensure they don’t catch up.
Competitor backlink analysis is a process where you target a competitor ranking for your keywords, find the source of all their backlinks, and acquire the same links. This will level the field for you, but to win, you must also identify and avoid all of their bad links. If you end up with less spammy and more authoritative backlinks than your competitors, you will eventually rank higher for your keywords.
And if your competitors don’t invest in link building, you have a head start. Leverage your advantage to develop an SEO linking strategy that will help you dominate the search results for your keywords. You can generate more sales and stay ahead of the curve.
The second way is through exposure. Local link building gives you a chance to connect with your community. By participating in all community activities, you develop a rapport with the locals. When they constantly see your business in local charities and news, they’ll remember you when they want what you are selling.
Improve Website Domain Authority
Domain authority (DA) measures the health of your website on a scale of 1 to 100. The higher the score, the healthier your website. DA is a ranking factor and determines where your business’s website winds up in the SERPs.
There are many sites that can help you calculate your website’s DA score. Ideally, you should aim for a score above 60.
Search engines consider different factors when determining the DA of your website. Some of these factors include the general security of your site, UI and UX experience, the quality of content, and, most importantly, the quality of your backlinks.
If local, relevant, and authoritative websites with high DA link to your website, this signals to search engines to increase your DA, which will eventually help you to rank higher and attract quality traffic.
You can also increase your DA by:
- Creating quality content that addresses prospects’ pain points. This will increase social shares and earn you backlinks.
- Conducting research and writing white papers relevant to your business. Higher DA websites may want to link to your research.
- Getting rid of bad links pointing to your site. There are multiple tools that allow you to disavow spammy links.
- Make your website user-friendly. This will reduce your bounce rate, another aspect that Google uses to determine the quality of your site.
Build Networks for Your Business
Getting people interested in your business is never easy, but local link building can help you do that. How? It offers a chance to network and collaborate with other brands in your area and foster mutually beneficial relationships. Since you share the same customer base, they can recommend your business to their customers, and you can do the same for them.
The local partnership helps expose your brand to potential clients through backlinks exchange. Businesses in your area are hungry for inbound links and referral traffic, just like you. They are less likely to turn you down when you approach them with win-win opportunities to collaborate to improve both of your exposure.
However, note that this doesn’t mean you should exchange backlinks with all businesses in your area. Strictly target relevant companies and ensure your links appear on their websites naturally. For instance, if you own a bookshop, you have no business collaborating with a brand that installs A/C systems. However, you can partner with carpenters who construct and sell bookshelves.
Finally, remember that not all collaboration has to involve links. If the backlink from a local site will hurt your SEO goals but still give you exposure, you can use nofollow links and brand mentions without any hyperlinks.
Improves Your Engagement Rates
Link building helps you stay in touch with existing clients while attracting new ones. When you list your business in local directories and review aggregators, you earn backlinks and open one more door to engage customers. You can answer their questions and reply to their feedback, which keeps your brand active online. Prospects notice such gestures.
Engaging with your customers also helps you build trust, which can increase brand loyalty. Additionally, when you engage with customers, you get deep insight into their needs which can help you improve your business.
When you engage with customers and address their needs, they will be happy. Happy customers leave more positive reviews, which can improve your reputation and help you rank on Google My Business’s Local Pack.
How To Do Local Link Building Perfectly
Local link building is essential for your SEO campaigns and your business success. Ignoring this part can affect your growth and hinder your presence online.
Building local links takes time and a lot of effort, from searching for authoritative sites you could get links from to when you start reaping the benefits. It requires patience and diligence. And with so many different tactics out there, you need to find one that works for your business and doesn’t break Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
Here is a step-by-step guide on how to do local link building perfectly.
List Your Business on Local Directories
Listing your business on local directories is the easiest and the first step when kickstarting your local link building campaign. And this is important for two reasons: Google crawls directories when determining business relevance, and prospects visit these sites to research brands. This helps you rank higher on SERPs and direct traffic to your website.
You can also use local directories to help grow your business. They’re an excellent place to advertise and hunt for companies in your area that may be willing to collaborate with you.
To list your business in a directory, you will typically need to add your name, address, contact information, and links to your website. The quality of the backlink will depend on several factors, including how authoritative the directories website is and how relevant they are to your business.
To benefit from inbound links on directories, you should:
- List your business on industry-specific directories
- Include relevant keywords and optimize your listing for search engines
- Add reviews to rank higher and persuade customers
- Don’t forget the most important directory: Google Business
Did you know you could monitor website rankings with global and local SERP checker, in mobile, desktop organic and paid search via Serpstat? Check out our new Serpstat Local SEO tool!
Collaborate With Local Business
You can get the highest quality backlinks from local resources and businesses. Google considers this when ranking local brands, and it’s also the best way to expose your business to prospects in your area. To earn links like this, reach out and establish relationships that will increase your chance of collaborating with local organizations.
The first people you should reach out to are bloggers and influencers in your region with high local traffic. Approach them and communicate your interest in partnering with them to promote your business on their sites. Some bloggers might charge you, but others will offer you an opportunity if you can pitch a good content idea and produce the content as well.
The second group you should approach is other business owners. You can take the same approach and communicate what you want. If the business needs backlinks, they may ask for the same favor in return.
The final group comprises local industry affiliates, media houses, and NGOs. You can discuss different ways to partner with them to earn backlinks. For instance, you can sponsor events or industry studies; these organizations will offer backlinks when they blog about your project participation.
Link building is a delicate practice. Before you approach anyone for partnership, do your homework. Study the quality of their traffic and ensure they have a high DA rating. You should also investigate if they were involved in anything that might ruin your business reputation after the collaboration. Finally, don’t just approach any business; find one relevant to your brand.
Find and Target Competitor Backlinks
To win at any SEO strategy, you must always stay one step ahead of your competition. If you are behind, you need to identify their strengths and weaknesses and use them to your advantage. Therefore, if your competitors rank because they have better backlinks, you must also find and target their sources.
By exploring competitor backlinks, you can identify where to place your backlinks and where to find customers. Lucky for you, many tools can help you identify websites that are linking to your competitors but not you. These tools will let you identify local competitors, analyze their backlinks and reveal their strengths. Once you are armed with this knowledge, you can target the source of their backlinks.
Leverage Social Media
Social media marketing can help you generate many local backlinks. When prospects visit your social media pages to learn about your products, you can direct them to your website. With the right strategies, you can appeal to customers and generate backlinks.
Social media helps you attract backlinks in different ways. The first one is sharing your content on your personal and business profiles. This allows you to engage with existing customers and those in your sales funnel. The second option involves sharing your content on local industry-specific groups and forums. You can attract new customers and establish yourself as an authoritative voice in such spaces. However, you should do this in moderation to avoid coming out as a spammer.
The other way to earn backlinks is by encouraging your audience to share your content. If more people share your content on social media, you will be able to earn more backlinks and reach more local customers.
Guest Blogging for Local Websites
Guest blogging is one of the best off-page SEO strategies to get high-quality backlinks and an approach local small businesses can use in link building.
You need to find local sites in your niche and pitch them by writing to their editors to get started. You have to come up with a good blog post idea that can be useful to the audience of the website you are pitching to and where you can naturally place your link.
Guest blogging provides you with most of the benefits of link building, from generating quality leads with referral traffic to increasing brand recognition. And it can also establish you as an expert. When you get guest post opportunities, you will usually get a byline. In the byline, you can add a link to your website to tell readers who you are and what you do.
For optimal results, constantly track your links’ performance on guest posts. This will help you identify sites you should write more for and sites you should abandon.
Find and Claim Unlinked Mentions
Unlinked brand mentions are mentions of your business or keywords associated with your brand that don’t have hyperlinks. While Google considers brand mentions without links important to your site authority, not claiming these links could cost you referral traffic.
Fortunately, you can easily identify brand mentions that don’t link to your website and earn those backlinks in three simple steps.
- Step 1: Find the links: Many SEO tools can help you identify unlinked brand mentions. You will simply insert your brand name or important keywords in the console and filter local sites that mention your brand.
- Step 2: Study the links: Before you claim an unlinked mention, you need to see if it’s worth it. The procedure is simple. Look at the domain ranking of the website mentioning you, ask yourself if it’s relevant to your business, and see how many visits the specific webpage receives.
- Step 3: Claim the link: If the brand mention originates from a highly rated website, receives a lot of traffic, and is relevant to your website, contact the website owner and ask them to add a hyperlink to the brand mention. Of course, there’s no guarantee they will listen to your request, and sometimes you will have to settle for a nofollow link.
Create Relevant and Linkable Local Content
Every business’s dream is to earn backlinks organically. One of the best ways to achieve this is through content marketing. Develop high-quality, linkable content for your website that can rank for your specific keywords, and local websites will start linking to it.
The most significant advantage of creating relevant and linkable content is earning backlinks from competitors.
Some types of linkable content include:
- Studies: Conduct independent research that is relevant to your industry. When other websites quote your findings, they will link to your website.
- Infographics: Search engines and readers alike love visual content. But not everyone can create them. Visual content such as images and charts can earn you backlinks when other websites borrow and credit you as the source.
- Press releases: Announcing your promotions, offers, hirings, and new products through press releases to local media can earn you backlinks from reputable sources.
- Resource content: These types of content help consumers compare businesses. They are usually listicles with titles like “10 Best Auto Repair Shops in Tampa, FL” or “The 17 Best Pizza Places In Miami.” You can create and post such content on platforms such as Medium or Reddit and have your business in the top three.
Remember To Include Internal Links
Internal links are links you build from one webpage on your website to another, and they have many benefits. For starters, they enable you to connect and tie the content on your website together. This helps Google crawlers to understand your website better and keeps the reader engaged. Internal links indicate to Google the keywords you want to rank for and reduce your bounce rate.
Internal links also help you guide a user through their buyer journey from the moment they make their first touchpoint to conversion. Additionally, when a user can easily navigate your website, it creates credibility and trust that leads to their conversion.
Your internal linking strategy can only be helpful if you follow the best linking practices. That means you should avoid exact matches between anchor text and link target and phrases like “click here.” Instead, target long tail keywords and link to anchor text that has value, like statistics. Finally, avoid adding too many internal links to your article or webpage.
Avoid Link-Building Shortcuts
Part of creating a solid link building strategy is avoiding rookie mistakes that can affect your goals. Your website will be penalized if Google notices any malpractices in your backlink profile. Your business won’t rank or appear on SERPs, and you will have problems attracting customers through search.
With that in mind, what link building shortcuts should you avoid?
This is one of the biggest mistakes you can make when building links for your business. Many sites offer this service and usually rely on the SEO ignorance of business owners. They’ll promise exceptional ROI, but these practices can hurt your business.
Sites that sell backlinks usually have fake DA scores and traffic due to the repurposing of old domains. You should take precautions and conduct thorough research on any site that promises to help your link building for a fee. You should only get backlinks from sources you completely trust.
Black Hat SEO
For your link building to be beneficial, you must adhere to all the good SEO practices. One of the worst practices is getting backlinks from bad websites to increase the number of your incoming links. This will signal to Google that you are also a bad website.
Other black hat SEO tactics to avoid are keyword stuffing on backlinks, anchor link optimization, fake content, invisible keywords, and misleading links. These strategies will affect your ranking and destroy your online credibility and reputation.
Exchanging links with relevant local businesses isn’t necessarily bad, but it can become a problem when you overdo it or start forcing it. Google looks at your link profile when determining the quality of your website. Therefore, you will be penalized when they notice that every website you link to also links to you.
You should either wholly avoid link exchange or do it in moderation, so it’s undetectable. You can use attributes that prevent crawlers from factoring in the quality of some of the links that can affect your SEO.
Not Using the Right Tools
Link building plays a vital role in your SEO strategy and the success of your online presence, which is why you must rely on something other than luck and guesswork. You need to know everything from how your competitors are building links to which websites are mentioning you without linking to your website.
The only way you will be able to know that is by investing in the right tools. The beauty of these tools is they help you do more than build links; you can use them for all your SEO needs.
Forgetting About Your Backlinks
Backlink analysis is important for the success of your link building strategy. You need to know how each link performs and how it affects your website’s rankings. For example, if the website ratings of a site linking to you drop, you will have a chance to disavow it before it affects your score.
Backlink analysis also helps you identify broken internal and external links and lets you get rid of them before they affect you.
Link building is an ongoing process; as long as you are in business, you don’t have the luxury to avoid it. With that in mind, you need to take calculated steps to ensure that your efforts pay off in the long term.
That requires that you follow Google Webmaster Guidelines (now known as Google Search Essentials) on link building and other aspects of SEO. You don’t need thousands of backlinks to accomplish your objectives like ranking higher in Local Packs and organic search. Most local businesses have less than 150 backlinks and are doing well. This is because it is the quality of the links that matter, not the quantity.
Now that you understand the why and the how of link building, it’s time to get started. Ensure you follow all the correct practices and avoid bad ones like the plague.
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