In much the same way that some general SEOs are still churning away at links, ignoring some of the other massive changes happening in the industry, many local SEOs are still churning away at citations. The truth is, links are increasingly important for local SEO, and they can't be ignored.
So what is the key to a successful local backlink strategy? More than anything else, it's simply a willingness to get links that your competitors won't bother getting because they feel it's too much effort or too far outside their league. With that in mind, here are a few things you can do to capture the links your competitors won't.
1. Start Blogging
This isn't news to general SEO practitioners, so odds are it isn't really news to you either. It's far easier to get links to blog content than it is to get links to a static site for a local business, because it's much easier (though still not easy) to build excitement and buzz around a site that keeps producing content. Users visit and revisit blogs. Some of them eventually become followers, and when you reach the point of "thought leader" you will start attracting natural links with virtually no outreach efforts.
The great thing about blogging is that so few local businesses are doing it. This is often because they feel nobody wants to read a company diary. They just want to find a local business that sells what they're looking for and make a purchase.
Well, that's true. Nobody wants too read a company diary, or a series of sales announcements. But people love subscribing to magazines and newspapers, and even more so their modern day equivalents (Read: "blogs"). Take a step outside your company and start thinking about your consumer. What are they interested in? What does their lifestyle look like? That's the kind of content you should be producing.
2. Do a Groupon
No, this one's not mine, but it's a very good one. For those of you who may be unaware, Groupon is a site that mixes social media with coupons. Success with Groupon is mixed, because many of the shoppers redeem the coupons and head out the door, rather than treating them as the loss-leaders they are meant to be. For some, they aren't profitable.
But, as it turns out, Groupon can also be a powerful part of your local backlink strategy. The deals are syndicated to thousands of other sites through the company's API, leading almost immediately to tons of links. Furthermore, there are several "couponing" blogs, and a growing couponing culture (TLC even has a show called "Extreme Couponing"), so the opportunity for deals to become linkbait is better than ever.
3. Write Local Guest Blog Posts
Guest posts are starting to look a bit old-hat, but they are still one of the most effective strategies out there when used properly. The fact of the matter is, it's often easier to get a guest post up on a local blog. The competition is easier, there's a bit of camaraderie if you live in the same place, and local blogs may have more trouble coming up with content ideas.
Try using search terms like:
- "write for us" denver
- "guest post" denver
- "guest contributor" denver
- inurl:denver "write for us"
And so on. If you find yourself seeing a plethora of SEO posts explaining how to write guest posts, try adding "-SEO" and similar negations to your search query.
This can be a great way to start building up links from local businesses that have the right geographical signals in place. Don't rely too much on this strategy. You will eventually reach a point where the quality of the blogs simply isn't there, and you'd actually have better results going after niche blogs than local ones, approaching your work like a traditional SEO.
Remember, aim high. The goal should be to get posts up on well-read blogs, not to get as many links as possible.
4. Sponsor Something
It could be a charity, an organization, or anything else that makes sense for your business to sponsor. Obviously, doing this merely to get a link will probably be overkill in many circumstances, but working this in as a part of your branding strategy could make a lot of sense.
Seek out organizations that you would like to sponsor, and see if they have a page on their site with a list of sponsors, including links back to the sponsors. Factor this into your local backlink building strategy, along with link metrics like domain and page authority. You will also want to consider the quality of the sponsors themselves. If there's any reason Google would see the sponsors as "spammy," it's probably best to avoid building a link from the site.
On a related note, you can build similar links if you are involved in any kind of scholarship program. Many educational institutions will list links to scholarships that are available. Links from these institutions can be very authoritative.
5. Speak at an Event or College
You should be able to pull this one off without too much difficulty if your business has been around for a decent amount of time. It won't always be possible to host a massive event but getting a speech in for an organization or college should be within your grasp.
Try searching the web for events in your area, and see where the links are coming from. Spend a little time digging through the data and identifying the most promising prospects. Whether it's a link from a professor's web page or from your local newspaper, links associated with events can be a great way to boost awareness.
How else might it be possible to hone your local backlink strategy?
Image credit: velkr0