When building and implementing your SEO strategy, there are quite a few things to take into account. While on-page SEO is very important, it’s not the only factor that will help your search result rankings.
Backlinks should be a crucial part to your SEO, but before you start thinking and looking into the many ways of getting them, you have to understand the difference between organic SEO and local SEO, which is important if you own a local business and know exactly where your target audience is located.
But let’s start from the beginning and cover the basics first.
What is Local SEO?
Local SEO is the process of optimization for the local results in search engines.
Basically, the main difference between organic and local SEO is that in organic SEO, search engines are looking for relevant and trusted content, while for local SEO, they are seeking out relevant and trusted locations.
Local SEO is important for companies that operate locally and want people to find them based on the service they provide as well as convenient location. These people will most probably add “near me” in their search queries.
Here is an example: You are at work and want to go out for lunch. Since you feel like eating Chinese food, you will most probably type “Chinese restaurant near me” in order for Google to list places that are close to you. But even if you don’t add “near me”, you still want to see restaurants that are close rather than restaurants in different cities or even countries. That’s where local SEO comes in handy. It gives Google the information necessary to come up with search results based on your location and customer’s location.
Although it seems that location is the only important factor in local SEO, it is not. Getting to the first page of local search results takes a lot of work and dedication, and like with organic SEO, backlinks are very important for the process.
What Are Backlinks And Why Are They Important?
Backlinks are a critical element of every SEO strategy, and they require a lot less technical knowledge than some other SEO techniques. But what exactly are they?
Before we explain how to get them, first we’ll clue you in on what exactly they are. Backlinks, sometimes referred to as inbound links, are links from other websites that link back to your site.
Whether they’re from a similar business, an industry-relevant blog or your friend’s website, they help boost your SEO results and therefore your traffic, which hopefully leads to more customers and better business results.
You probably already have some existing backlinks without even trying, but the fact of the matter is that you surely need more.
As you will see for yourself, getting backlinks requires time and effort, but it’s worth it in the long run.
You might wonder how exactly backlinks impact your SEO and why they are so important. Simply put, this is the way Google figures out if your website is reputable and worthy of the first page of the search results. That’s why not all backlinks are worth the same.
Local Link Building
If you are doing business locally, it is only reasonable that your SEO efforts are also focused on your location rather than the whole world. This also applies to your backlinks.
The basic concept of link building is essentially the same, but we are going to share a few pro tips that will make a difference for your local SEO.
When looking to score some backlinks, here’s where you should start from:
1. Your Clients
It’s great to maintain a relationship with your past clients, we all know that. Among many benefits, it makes asking for something like a backlink infinitely easier. Many of your clients may have case studies, associates or past work section on their site, which can be an opportunity for them to include any partners or collaborators and link back to your site.
Offering to exchange backlinks is a great way to help secure a spot on your client’s site. If you often work with well-known clients (with a lot of traffic), this is definitely more beneficial for you than them, so jump at the opportunity.
2. Local Publications or Blogs
You know what they say -- “any press is good press!”. While we aren’t totally sure if that’s true, being included in local publications or blogs and sites of any kind is a great opportunity to score a backlink.
Sometimes, making a hit list of publications and blogs you’d like to be included on, drafting a news update or release, and getting the conversation started via email is all it takes. The news can include your special offers, new additions to your business or any kind of socially responsible action you might have taken.
Local publications (and we’re talking about the online ones) will probably want to inform people about community news, and no one is going to mention a business without linking to their site.
Competing, and ideally winning contests is also a surefire way to have your site included in a roundup of entries, runners-up, and definitely winners (if you win!).
Participating in events, either in person (trade shows, neighborhood events, etc.) or online (digital sponsorships, awards, charity, etc.), within your industry or locally can help your site be included in a roundup of participants or sponsors online.
3. Become a Local Sponsor
Many local events, groups or sport clubs are often in need of additional funding. Becoming one of the sponsors (or the only sponsor) will benefit your business in more ways than one.
Next to being seen as socially responsible and, well, just being seen, you can also be featured on the website of the event/group/club you are sponsoring and with that usually comes a link to your site.
In addition to these websites, you might also get a link from local publications, as mentioned above. This is exactly the type of news that could be interesting to your community, so even though these sponsorships cost, they will pay off in more ways than one.
4. Industry Websites or Directories
From Yelp to any modern-day Yellow Pages, getting listed in a directory is a great way to get a backlink as well as contribute to the directory in question -- a win-win for both parties! Even Facebook location pages, Foursquare/Swarm profiles, or industry/niche-specific/pay-to-access directories will help.
See if there are any industry sources that pertain to your business and inquire about getting a profile set up there.
Submitting your business to online directories can be done both manually or with the help of automated software. If you don’t have time to deal with this, you can pay for the automated software, but keep in mind that these software programs will most likely add your business to any directory, regardless of the relevance, and sometimes not all your information will be included.
This is why manual submissions will always be better than automated. You can find relevant directories and determine the best categories for your business.
Whether you list a business yourself or with the help of software, you have to remember one thing: your business’ contact information (especially name, address and phone number) must be consistent. Search engines use this information to validate a business and any inconsistencies might confuse them and harm a business’ authority.
5. Sponsored Posts
Though this often costs money or involves some sort of product trade, collaborating with anyone -- from a famous blogger, to a brand or a media company to get your site’s link included in their content can often be far more valuable than its cost.
For example, a shoe company collaborating with a fashion blogger in exchange for links on her blog as well as social media channels would greatly increase SEO visibility, especially if the blogger has tens if not hundreds of thousands of followers.
For collaborations or sponsorships with partners with smaller followings, trading products, services, discounts or a backlink should suffice in lieu of formal payment.
Modern readers can detect sponsored posts from miles away, so try to keep these as authentic as possible for branding and credibility. Even though that will not directly affect SEO, it can’t hurt.
Before you start link building…
Here are a few things to take into account before developing your link building strategy:
- Make sure that the websites are relevant to your business or the community you operate in.
- Always check the authority of websites you can get a backlink from. Backlinks from low-value, spam or non-pertinent websites will quickly reduce the value of your site in Google search.
- Make your website functional and presentable because backlinks are good for more than just SEO. They also provide you with traffic and once you get people to your website, you don’t want them to leave immediately.
- Don’t forget about your website’s content and try to produce high-quality blog posts on a regular basis. This will help your SEO (content is still king), and it can also get you organic backlinks.
- Check your competitors’ backlinks to find relevant websites where you can try to get a backlink. This research can be a great start to your link building process.