Today’s chapter is going to be focused on the best types of local link building that I love to deploy for our clients.
But, before we get into that I want to share my theory on how the local algorithm works.
Here’s the tl:dr; version of my theory: Google wants to highlight what’s popular in the offline world in the online world.
We know Google has a lot of information about us but exactly how much? new line if you have a Gmail account you can download all the data Google has associated with it. Visit bit.ly/the-machine-knows if you would like to see how much data Google has on you.
The first time I went through this process, there was nearly 8 gigabytes of data on my one Gmail account.
When I ran it on October 19th 2020 the zip file was nearly double then the one I ran last year.
Is that all the information Google has on us? Not even close.
A study commissioned by an Oracle lobbying group (so take it with a grain of salt) noted that Google collects two-thirds of its data without any input from users.
For my data, that would mean Google has more than 41.94 gigabytes total to work with. new line they know a lot about me, places I go to, my spending habits, demographic data, search history, Etc.
Surely, they have to be using this data at the local level, right?
Have you ever come across a website ranking well locally that you end up scratching head on why they’re making?
It’s almost a guarantee that if you spend time researching the business (entity), they have been in business for a long time and have been actively involved in their local community.
Google has this real-world data on users, why wouldn’t they use it to help inform their machine learning models?
HERE’S 3 PATENTS AND A TL:DR; THAT ‘MAY’ HELP MY THEORY:
Quality Visit Scores to Businesses May Influence Rankings in Google Local Search by Bill Slawski
TL;DR: Quality scores have commonly been associated with organic search results, but Google has received a patent mentioning a quality visit score for local results as well. We know that Google tracks mobile locations, and repeated visits to the same physical locations are a part of that quality visit score. Google is likely tracking how much time people spend at a location, as well as if they brought a friend with them. It’s possible that this information may be surfaced to users of Google My Business down the line, and that these quality visit score metrics are a part of the “Local Favorite” designation given to the top 5% of businesses in a category.
Google May Diminish Reviews of Places You Stop Visiting by Bill Slawski
TL;DR: Change is natural in businesses, so Google released a patent discussing how they account for these changes. In short, it is likely they will “diminish” the importance and/or appearance of reviews if a significant amount of time has passed since a review was written, or since Google has noticed a visit to a particular business.
Ranking Local Businesses Based Upon Quality Measures Including Travel Time by Bill Slawski
TL;DR: Google may look at how long it takes users to get to a place as an indication of the quality of that place. Furthermore, they may look at how many similar businesses one bypasses on the way to their destination as signal of its quality. Furthermore, this “time investment” metric also plays into their tracking of Google Maps usage, and walking/driving/taking public transport would be considered in this time investment as well.
Ok, we get it, Google has a lot of information and local links are beneficial for rankings.
8 LOCAL LINK BUILDING TACTICS YOU CAN START USING TODAY
- Long-form testimonials: For a number of years, local SEOs have used the tactic where you would write a review for a local vendor that your client uses in the hopes they publish it on their website and a link to your website. The tactic works quite well, but we decided to flip it on its head. instead of offering a local vendor just a regular testimonial, why not offer them a long-form testimonial/case study? In the first paragraph of this long-form testimonial you’re introducing who you are and what you do with a link back to your website, then the rest of content is focused on how that local vendor has helped your business. You reach out to a local vendor and offer it to them to publish it on their website. What do you think is going to happen? They’re going to publish it on their website, likely publishing on social media tagging you and thanking you, and they might even link to it in their signature and use it in their marketing materials. Not only are you getting the value of that hyperlocal link, but you are also getting in front of potential new customers. What makes this tactic work so well is it’s 100% genuine, you can’t fake this. Examples of local vendors; CPA, local Law Firm, bookkeeper, commercial property manager, commercial cleaner, commercial printer, Etc.
- Local sponsorships: not just any type of local sponsorship, I’m talking about local sponsorships that align with your buyer personas / Affinity categories. if you’ve never looked into your Affinity categories, you should stop reading and do that first, go to analytics.google.com, create a 6-12 month date range, go to audience, interests, Affinity categories. These are the categories that your customers are interested in. Once you have a good understanding of what your local customers actually care about, then you can start searching and identifying local sponsorship opportunities that get you in front of your target audience. E.g. the number to Affinity category in the screenshot is movie lovers, let’s use this for our example. In Bend Oregon, where I live, we have a local movie theater called the Tower Theater. Glancing through their website they don’t really have any type of link opportunities or sponsorship opportunities. just because they don’t have anything listed does not mean they are not open to it in the future. if you have an idea, why not simply ask? for the amount of benefit you could potentially get from partnering up with a website like this, it’s a win-win.
- Referral partner links: if you were to ask any of your local clients if they refer business to other vendors, do you think they would have any? Let me ask you directly, are there any companies you refer out certain types of work to because you don’t offer that or it’s more of a complimentary service offering to what you offer? the answer is probably yes. if you work in the Home Services category, often times you will see resource links on these websites. Austin, Realtors have a local resources section highlighting their favorite vendors, too. if your local client has a local vendor and they don’t have a resources page on their website, why not build one for them? Before you do that, you may want to reach out to them and see if they would be interested, and if they are, cure one for them. Don’t just include your business by itself. The resource should actually be a local resource that your local referral friend partner would be okay with publishing.
- Surveys/data-driven content: Data-driven content has a ton of potential to earn links regionally, locally, and potentially nationally. How do you gather your data driven content or survey data? I’m a big fan of Google surveys. What makes Google surveys work so well is that they can actually be very very affordable. Unless your Google 360 user, you’re targeting options are little bit different. For example, you can’t Target by city or zip code, but you can if you’re a Google 360 user. The most hyper local you can get is targeting at the state level. If you ask a single question Google survey, your cost per response is going to be $0.15. now, there are ways of freezing your single question survey so you’re actually getting two questions for the price of one. If you do ask him to question survey through Google surveys, it’s going to cost you $1.50 per response. it’s recommended to have at least 1,000 respondents to any survey. We like sticking with 1500 minimum. Therefore, a survey that gets 1500 responses to a single question, is going to cost $225. When you start working with Google surveys, you can add or remove certain demographics, including age ranges and gender, without increasing the cost per response. When we run surveys, we like to try and find a national data set to compare our data against. Define those national datasets we rely on Google’s dataset search. if you run a survey and compare it to a national dataset, then you have a lot of ways of interpreting your data before you even begin Outreach. When you’re trying to find a national dataset to no avail, why not be the first to create it? This could help earn links from publications across the country.
- Gamify PAA To Earn Links: Remember when gamification was all the rage? Before infographics were the hot ticket to building links, quizzes and games were a great way to build links. Then, like all things in link building, the tactic was abused. Take a look at the PAA results for Bend Oregon. The first PAA is “is Bend Oregon expensive to live?” The answer to this question is a very, very contentious Topic in Bend. If someone is moving here from the Bay Area, then the answer is no, Bend is super cheap. But, if you lived here your whole life, then yes, Bend is super expensive to live in. you could easily come up with a simple game that relies on a user’s input before it spits out an answer to you. a simple to like this could earn a lot of local links and be talked about for some time, because it’s a very sensitive topic. Using PAA to help come up with your game ideation is an easy way of staying top-of-mind in your local community. if you want to really explore PAA, head over to alsoasked.com to view even more PAA results.
- Pay it Forward: At the beginning of the pandemic, a local insurance provider started taking meals to our local hospital every Friday. He would order a dozen or so pizzas from a local pizza place, then would deliver them in person. every single news publication covered the story for more than a week. Something like this doesn’t take a ton of time or money to execute but the potential benefits to your business can have astounding effects. This local insurance provider earned links from every single media publication with tons of praise. How can you get involved with your local community in situations like this?
- Hyperlocal guest posts: Generic guest posting doesn’t work like it used to, but getting a guest post on a hyperlocal website is entirely different. Do a search for “city state blogs” and you’ll be surprised to see how many are available. Obviously, you’ll need to vet the opportunities that are available and will likely have to pay for the placement. Even then, these types of websites are locally relevant and can send locally-relevant traffic to your website. When evaluating these opportunities, third-party metrics should be some of the last things you pay attention to. How active is the website, what type of content is there, how big is their social media presence, are there any spammy looking posts, etc. If the blog has a decent social media presence and their DR is 0, I would recommend getting a link from the website. It’s a local website with some local authority not measured by any third-party metric.
There are dozens of other types of local link building tactics that I could write about but these are my personal favorites.
Go off and build some links.