Brands and organizations spend large amounts of time and money attempting to become highly visible on search engines for a national or international audience. Too often, though, the value of local searches is underestimated and pushed aside in favor of trying to rank for a high-traffic keyword.
You can’t ignore the value of local links, however, because they can be a competitive SEO advantage. Local links will help bolster your online presence and open the doors to a wider variety of searches. Ultimately, a strong local links campaign will increase your overall organic reach.
Local links will indirectly help your brand get found online for a larger variety of searches, especially those that include your immediate geographic area. This is beneficial if your business only services a local geographic area. Not only that, but potential employees may use local search terms if they’re trying to re-locate to a specific area. You want your brand to be easily found in order to recruit the best possible talent.
The easiest way to start your local link building efforts is to use your current connections in the community. Take a look at the events and/or charities your brand is involved with; if you’re a sponsor your brand is probably mentioned on the event’s website. Make sure that you’re receiving SEO credit with a “do-follow” link. If you aren’t, then simply ask for one to be set up.
Another easy way to build high-value local links is to make sure your brand is listed in relevant local directories. Start with your local chamber of commerce and make sure that you’re at least listed there. The chamber of commerce may also know about other directories that your brand could and should be listed in. Directories are often referenced by outside websites, which means that your brand will be popping up more often in search results.
Once you’ve picked all of the low-hanging local link fruit, you’ll need to start cultivating some on your own. First take a look at your website and see if you mention any local attractions or events. If you do, you should insert a link to the attractions and/or events. After you have a link, notify the webmaster of that site and ask for one in return. It’s highly unlikely that you’ll ever receive a link back if you don’t notify the webmaster of a site.
If you don’t have any current ways to link to local attractions or events, create some space to do so on your site. One example is to create a page titled “What To Do In [city].” This could be a natural extension of your employment opportunities page so prospective employees can see what your area has to offer. Now you have the perfect place to list (and link to) local businesses, events, and attractions that people coming to your area will find interesting. Do your employees have a favorite restaurant that they go to for lunch? List it there and write a mini-review. Don’t forget to notify the business’ webmaster that you linked to and ask for a link back in return! Here’s a quick guide from Google on how to contact a webmaster.
Educational institutes are unique in regard to local link building strategies. You’ll most likely get the highest-quality local links from a school/university, so I want to call them out separately. The easiest way to get your business listed with a school/university is to form a connection with its career services department. Most universities have a department dedicated to finding new graduates gainful employment; it makes the university look good in the eyes of prospective students and it helps local businesses. Make an effort to form a connection with this department because you’ll receive multiple links to your site and possibly some great candidates for jobs/internships.
Another approach is to become active with a university by having your employees speak at events and build a relationship with instructors who teach courses relevant to your industry. It’s also a great idea to offer tours of your business to student organizations. Those activities will get some buzz going around your business online. You just want to make sure that if you’re mentioned anywhere that you’re getting a link to your site.
I’ve armed you with enough knowledge to get started, but keep in mind that there are limitless ways to approach a local link building strategy. You can really get creative and do some off-the-wall stuff if you want. It’s just important that you start building local links sooner than later. Whenever an SEO conversation pops up within your team, someone should always bring up how your local links are doing and how to improve. Keep an eye on your organic traffic once you have a few high quality links. I think that you’ll be surprised at the results.