What’s the best way to reach your prospective customers? More importantly, what’s the best way to reach them without spending every last penny of your hard-earned profits? This is a common conundrum many small businesses face. You know you have to spend money to make money, but the key is figuring out how to budget in a way that gets you the best possible results. For SMBs, this continues to be local search.
In fact, our friends over at Search Engine Land did a whole bunch of work surveying, analyzing and compiling data so we wouldn’t have to (thanks for that, by the way). What they discovered was actually no big surprise: being found on Google, Bing and Yahoo is the best way to generate quality leads that convert.
Ok….great! *crickets* So….now what?
Well, one of the best ways to improve how your site performs in the search engines is through local link building. And, because we like you so much, we’re about to drop some decent knowledge down that will help you leverage this powerful tool to benefit your own small business. So, without further ado, here are 10 of the most effective local link building strategies to help your brand rise to the top of the search engine results.
Start with the basics. Which established sites already rank well and are super easy to link from? Review sites and online directories. When it comes to link building in local SEO, the first place to start is by claiming your listings on these pages. In particular, these sites include Google My Business, Yahoo! Local, and Bing Places. Popular review sites include Yelp and TripAdvisor.
Get to know your community. Getting involved offline can be a great way to get more local links online, so start mingling. Get to know the community organizations in your area, such as the Lion’s Club or Rotary. Once you’ve become an active participant, make sure your business is listed in their online directories as a recommended local resource.
Join business associations. Another excellent tool for link building for local businesses is to become a member of area business associations, such as your local chapter of the Chamber of Commerce. Not only will these groups provide access to powerful networking opportunities, but they also typically link out to members on their websites, which is great for SEO purposes.
Host (or at least participate in) community events. If you want your local prospects to get to know your business, start rubbing some elbows. Host a local fundraiser at your office or make a donation to an area charity. Giving back to the community is just good for business in general, but it also happens to generate some decent link-love as well, so it’s a win-win.
Create a local resource page. It may seem counterintuitive to get links by providing them, but if you take the time to compile a list of quality resources in your geographical area, people will not only start referring to your list, but also sharing it with others and – you guessed it – linking back to it. It might take a bit of time to generate results, but it won’t take much effort at all, so it’s well worth it.
Leverage your relationships. If you’ve been in business for a while, chances are you’ve established some valuable connections with other professionals in your area. Leverage these relationships by sharing links back to their sites and then asking them to return the favor. You know….the old “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” concept. Trust us – it works.
Identify local influencers. Who within your community could be considered someone of influence – preferably someone with a strong online presence, such as a local blogger, community leader or other popular local personality? Reach out and start establishing a connection with them. Over time, this could naturally blossom into a link opportunity (provided you go into it with the right intentions).
Try for an Award – Just about every city, state or region has its own type of local business awards, such as a “Best Of” list. Typically the winners are nominated and voted in by members of the community, so why not throw your hat into the ring? Even if you don’t happen to win, you should at least get a good deal of local media attention, which can be great for business (and for SEO).
Sponsor a local organization. For a minimal investment (probably a few hundred bucks) you can get the name of your business plastered on the backs of a local little league team (or other community organization). Not only is this a great way to get exposure for your brand and show your commitment to the community, but it should also generate some decent links.
Ask people. Seriously. If you’re confident that the content you’re providing is of good quality and valuable to your audience, don’t be afraid to ask them to share it. This will help get your links out to the masses, such as through social media and other online outlets. Simple? Yes. Effective? Definitely.
Other quick and dirty link building tips include:
- Find the right sources. Focus on sites that are reputable and relevant to your industry. Bonus points for super SEO-friendly sites, like those that end in .edu or .gov.
- Use the right vehicles. Focus on producing/sharing content that is original, engaging, well-written, well-researched, properly formatted and visually appealing.
- Don’t give up. Link building in local SEO isn’t something that happens overnight. It takes time, effort and ongoing commitment. Remember it’s a marathon, not a sprint, so keep your expectations in check.
- Hire a professional. Sometimes it just makes more sense to leave these types of things to someone who makes a living from them. Local SEO is one of these things.
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