Local link building is the core of many digital marketing strategies, and it’s easy to see why. As search engines build their algorithms around links, mentions and authority, the chance to work within that framework and build your presence online in your area whilst also providing valuable insights to readers seems like an obvious boon. What is less obvious, however, is how one actually goes about doing this successfully.
Although working with a specialist local link building agency is the easiest and most direct way of improving your strategy, that doesn’t mean there aren’t things that you can do on your own to gain local traction on search engines using your links. So, today we’re going through a few of the ways that you can drastically improve the power of your link building without too much in the way of additional costs.
Before we begin, however, there is a question that we need to touch on:
Why is Link Building Difficult to Do Correctly?
While very effective, link building can be quite difficult to actually get solid information on. Whilst some will say that links are the only way to improve your SEO and hit the top of Google’s rankings, others will say it has been dead for years and is a waste of time. As someone who has spent the past 5 years providing comprehensive link building services to businesses across the globe, I can say that neither of these approaches is entirely correct.
In terms of the first point, whilst I agree that links are a fantastic part of any SEO strategy and can often make or break a site’s ability to rise above competitors, it is by no means the only thing required. A terrible, poorly-optimised site with no on-page content is unlikely to rank no matter how good its backlinks may be. Search engines like Google want to direct users to the best possible resources for their queries and to hit that first page, you need to make sure your website is providing that before you start building authority through links.
The second point is, to put it nicely, completely unsubstantiated. People have been saying link building is dead for over a decade now, and no matter how many times this idea is espoused, links continue to be effective and valued by search engines. In many cases, those repeating this idea mean that low-quality link building is dead, and that’s true. Whilst, in the 2000s, people could spam links all over the place with little rhyme or reason, search engine algorithms have become more complex and advanced over time. This means that those who aren’t willing to put in the work are likely to get penalised if they’re even acknowledged at all.
With that in mind, this leads us to our first strategy:
Submitting Yourself For Local Awards
Simple, efficient and effective; submitting your business for local awards is a fantastic way to show off your business within its own area. If you manage to get cited on the award website, this is a great way to get a free link whilst also showcasing that you are within this area to search engines. Not only that, but you may even win an award which, if you’re exclusively doing this for SEO purposes, is just a nice added bonus.
Becoming a Local Resource
Whilst link building often involves mimicking the natural link profile of a growing business for search engines, that doesn’t mean you can’t do things the old fashioned way. By creating a local resource page on your site, you can get links naturally from people discussing the area, whilst also tying yourself to your local area in the eyes of search engines. These pages can be anything from blogs on things to do in the area, important resources available in the area, local fun facts, or even simple directories.
See If Your Place of Education Offers Alumni Links
Some of the most coveted links in link building are university and government website links. One of the more common ways to get these types of links is reaching out to your university, if you went to university, and seeing if they’d like to showcase your business. Universities love bragging about the achievements of those that have gone there, so why not make those student loans a little more worthwhile?
Place Yourself in Local Directories
Search engines like Google have a number of ways of determining your placements in their listings, and one of the most effective foundational methods of building up your online presence is by putting your business in local directories. This is a quick, often free way to get your link building started, and while it not be as effective and growing your DA or authority as other methods on their own, it’s great for helping search engines understand where you are and what your field is. This, in turn, will make it easier to rank for relevant terms in the future.
Create High-Quality Guest Blogs on Local Sites
Although link building is still considered its own little niche in the copywriting world, the truth of the matter is that search engines crave quality content. This has led to outreach link building effectively becoming a form of journalism, requiring a high level of skill and literary prowess for those that are looking to truly reap its rewards. So, if you’re going to Fiverr for all of your content and taking a quantity over quality approach as many business owners attempt to do, you’re unlikely to get what you’re looking for.
Finding The Right Websites to Post On
This process starts with finding quality, authentic blogging sites within your local area, and ideally, within your niche. After all, search engines are all about categorising sites, and the easier you can make it for an algorithm to know where you’re meant to be placed, the easier it will be to rank you for relevant terms. With that said, this doesn’t mean that you always need to get granular with your choices.
For example, a toy company doesn’t have to build links on toy-based blogs in their exact suburb exclusively; they would just have to think about the types of blogs in which their services would seem a natural fit and the broader area in which they reside. This may include everything from childcare blogs to collector blogs, early development blogs, gaming blogs, and the list goes on.
The Writing Process
Once you know who you’re writing for, you then have to find an angle that matches your services with the expertise of the site you’re trying to post on. From there, it’s time to start writing. Some things to keep in mind include:
- Whether you’re writing on-site blogs or guest blogs, longer-form content is generally going to be preferred. Try to set a minimum word count of approximately 800-1200 words depending on the subject matter.
- Make sure your linking keyword is contextually relevant; search engine algorithms have ways of determining whether a link makes any sense regarding its placement in a piece, and you don’t want to run the risk of coming off as spammy.
- Spelling and grammar matter. If you’re not a confident writer, you can work with a link building company, hire experienced copywriters to do it for you, or if you need to do it yourself, programs like Grammarly can assist you in many cases.
There is an art to this style of writing, and it’s essential to take it seriously if you’re looking to boost your rankings effectively. However, whilst guest blogging is one of the more effective link building strategies, there are ways to get links without writing articles.
Every once in a while, you may stumble across a piece of content that you’ve read before, only to find that it has been updated with new links. Whilst this is sometimes the blogger going back to provide more context that will be relevant to readers, in many cases, it is what we call curated linking.
What is Curated Linking?
In short, curated links are backlinks that you have placed in older content. Whilst not necessarily as powerful a tool as guest blogging, it does offer some benefits that creating full new articles does not. Sometimes, sites will be hesitant to take full guest blogs and will otherwise prefer to place links in blogs that already exist for a fee.
The Benefits of Curated Linking
The main practical benefit of curated linking is the fact that you’re receiving historical links within blogs that have already had time to build page authority, which can look great in your link profile. After all, if it appears from an algorithmic perspective that people have been linking back to your website for years, it will seem more natural than you suddenly getting a large number of people linking to you in a short period.
Curated links also provide you with more options of places to post, allowing you to get links in places that would have been unavailable through other means. This is not to mention the benefit of it simply being a more affordable option than getting full articles written by professionals.
Doing this yourself as opposed to working with an agency will still be quite time-consuming, mainly due to the need to source posts on viable websites and make contact to discuss their willingness to link to you. However, it is an incredibly viable link building option for those who are willing to put in the work.
There are some cases in which this is made far easier, namely when you already exist in an article that has been published:
Making Use of Mentions
Say you happen to stumble across someone making reference to your site in a local article, but they’ve decided not to link to it or have simply forgotten to include you as a resource. This is often an opportunity to score a free link in an article that is, more often than not, incredibly relevant to your services.
All you need to do is contact the owner of the blog and request that the mention of your company, product, website, service etc., be linked back to your site whilst providing a URL to where you believe the link would be most relevant. This is simple, effective, and a great way to make initial contact with some local bloggers that may already be interested in your services.
The Broken Link Method
This is one of the more opportunistic options for link building, but the process is quite simple. Broken link building involves finding dead links in local blogs that would have once linked to competitors or similar businesses in the area. Then, either find or create relevant information on your site (generally in the form of a blog) and contact the site owner to see if they would be interested in replacing the dead link with your resource.
This is often a way to get free links on sites, but it is also difficult to do on a consistent basis without a lot of research. The number of dead links relating to your services will, in most cases, be relatively limited, and finding them can be tricky. However, it is an entirely viable method of sourcing links for those who are willing to put in the work.
As a side note, if you’ve restructured your site recently and noticed a dip in rankings, it may be worth going back and making sure that links you’ve built in the past are still functioning. After all, a slight tweak to your URL structure can completely derail a lot of hard work when left unchecked, and you don’t want local competitors stealing your links.
Going back to the idea of building local linkable page content, you can also create more complex, thorough resources for local blogs, writers and businesses to link to and from. Creating resources can take many forms, but the most useful style is infographics. Infographics are a simple, effective way of getting information across to readers, making them highly desirable as a source. There are two ways to use infographics to get links:
1. The On-Page Method
What are you trying to do when you manually create links? Well, to simplify it, you’re trying to mimic the natural process of acquiring links as people site you as an authoritative resource. So, why not become an authoritative resource? Placing an infographic on your site will provide you with the chance to court free links naturally and contextually whilst also positioning you as a genuine authority and resource within your field.
2. The Off-Page Method
Another way that some businesses decide to use infographics is by pitching them to other businesses altogether. This can be a mutually beneficial process where they get to post a fantastic resource on their site or in one of their existing blogs while you get citations as a reference.
Infographics take a lot of work to get just right, but it’s well worth it if it means getting authoritative links and building up your brand image online.
Building up your local presence can take some time, but it’s extremely valuable in the long run, especially for brick and mortar stores. If you don’t feel you have the time or resources to take this on yourself, you can always work with a local link building agency or hire someone to help you with your online marketing. Whatever you end up going with, just always remember that quality is key, and you should be fine for the road ahead.