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Link Building in a Local World

If you have been paying attention during Whiteboard Friday then you know that building topical and authoritative links to your site will help with your rankings, traffic and sales. While this concept works very well on a national level, it may not work as well for a local barbershop or a car dealership.

Let’s say you are a local Pharmacy in Philadelphia and you are just getting started. Check out these results from searching for the word ‘pharmacy’ from my local area code.

First, notice how I didn’t add a geo qualifier here. The search engines are getting smarter and it is no longer necessary to search for ‘pharmacy in Philadelphia.’ Google now knows where we are as well as the intent of many of our searches (if logged in.)

Just a few years ago, Google would return a bunch of blue links with no map, but now, Google returns some blue links, a map and even some local Google Places results. Some of these results like Fishtown Pharmacy don’t even have websites, only a Google Places listing. I explained here why having a Google Places listing is so important.

While the best practices like proper site architecture and killer content implementation can really help a website, implementing a solid link building campaign can really help drive rankings, traffic and sales.

So, what is link building? First let’s break the word down into little pieces.

Link = clickable reference to another site

Build = to create

Basically, link building is the art of getting as many topical websites to reference your website. By doing this, we are funneling some of the SEO value from the linking site to our site. This SEO value (or link juice in some circles) is what Google uses to assign rankings within the SERPs. By getting more of it, you are increasing your site’s ranking potential for the keywords that are most important to you.

So now that you know what link building is and why it is important, I want to provide 4 tactics for building these links to a local business.

1. Local Chamber of Commerce

Just about every city has a Chamber of Commerce and every Chamber has a business directory section. Let’s say that you are a local Philadelphia sushi restaurant and you want to show up in Google’s results for terms like “sushi.” Philadelphia has a Chamber of Commerce with a restaurant business directory here. I clicked on the Buddakan  result and check out the result that shows up.

As you can see, some good information is here as well as the nice juicy link pointing to Buddakan’s website. This may not seem like much, but one link per day really adds up.

2. Sponsor a local site

While much has been written about paid links, I still believe that there is an ethical way to build these types of links that can be great for both the linker and the linked to. Let’s say you are a restaurant and you want to drive local SEO rankings and you also want people to notice your brand. What better way to do this than sponsoring a local team?Check out PSN’s website where they list their sponsor bars. Not only do you get a nice little write up and link, but you also get your t-shirts front and center when the team you sponsored wins the tournament. If nothing else, you have a steady stream of hungry kickball people coming to your bar/restaurant for the next few weeks.

3. Offer a deal

Karma works both ways. Sometimes, when you give something, you can also receive. Uwishunu is a cool website that deals with everything Philly. They have a deals section here that people love. Bus Stop Boutique is a cool shop in Philly, and by offering a deal, they received a nice mention in Uwishunu’s deals section along with a link here. Don’t be stingy with your products. Give some of it away. If it is cool, the people who got the free stuff will come back and purchase something else.

4. Get some press

I know, I know. Easier said than done, but think about how hard that you have tried to get the press to come to your business. Could you have tried a little harder?

Check out this list of top 7 hidden bars in Philadelphia. If you have a great bar and you are willing to get your hands dirty, I am sure that you will be able to land one of these mentions throughout the course of a year. Besides, these websites are hungry for new content and they love it when people can do the work for them. Don’t believe me, check out the Submit News button that’s front and center on their website.

So, now that you have a little more insight on driving local results via link building, give it a shot today and watch your rankings soar. Also, if there is anything that you have tried that works really well, feel free to leave it as a comment below.