It’s one of the enigmas of SEO.
Most conference talks and articles show results from Fortune 500 companies, brands you know by name.
What about small to medium-sized businesses?
You might have great content but your success at outreach compared to the F500 brand is going to be stark.
You know you need links to rank in local search.
Should you try and replicate what a Fortune 500 does?
Link building for local search is entirely different.
Local relevance has a bigger impact than topical relevance more often than not.
Earlier this year, we tested 5 different local link building tactics to see what kind of impact they had on organic rankings.
Let’s start with the control group:
4% decrease in visibility. It’s understandable, nothing was done in the control group.
We built 10 citations per location for this group. 5% decrease again. Progress was down slightly but for the amount of time invested in building citations, it makes perfect sense.
You can build PageRank passing links with Yext. If you watch the webinar I share how to set this up if you wish to test for yourself. 4% visibility decrease.
Instead of linking to the location page, we linked to the Google My Business CID # to see if that would help organic and map rankings at all.
Gasp, guest posts! We used Loganix to help our test. Each location had a different number of guest posts published. 2, 4, 6, and 8. 3% visibility decrease.
1% visibility decrease, not too shabby. Again, we used Loganix to help our test. Each location had a different number of topically relevant links placed. 1, 2, 3, and 4.
Our Tests Conclusions
If you want to help your rankings, don’t;
- Just build citations
- Just get guest posts
- Just go after topically relevant links
You need to a holistic approach. In hindsight, I wish we would have included one more test group that included everything we tested and rolled it into one test group.
Before you start doing “all the things”, you should look at your market first.
I like BrightLocal’s local search results checker to emulate SERPs in locations that I am not physically located in.
Perform some searches of your most competitive keywords to see who’s ranking in Google Maps and organic search.
Once you have a good idea of what companies are ranking well, it’s time to find some low-hanging fruit.
Put in a competitor’s domain name, and put yours at the bottom (But doesn’t link to (optional)).
You’ll now see a list of domains that link to your competitor but not to you.
Sometimes, you’ll even find an opportunity like the example above. There are 211 websites linking to a 404 page.
You could create a better piece of content and reach out to those websites.
The link intersect can also shed light on the link building tactics a competitor is using to help them rank.
You don’t want to copy them outright, but it’s good to be informed.
Repeat this process for each competitor.
If you are in a small market and don’t find much, look at other major markets.
It’s good practice to do this no matter how large your market is.
You don’t want to pigeonhole your link building efforts, why pigeonhole your research to your market only?
Congratulations, you have a plethora of opportunities to go after.
Google Analtyics Affinity Categories
Local sponsorships are nothing new.
What if you could make informed decisions on the types of local sponsorships you made that could get you in front of potential customers, too?
Hello, affinity categories.
Affinity categories are “Users in these segments are more likely to be ready to purchase products or services in the specified category.”
These are categories your potential customers are also interested in.
The 3rd category is Pet lovers in the example.
Our customers are pet lovers. What local organization can you sponsor or create a marketing campaign with locally?
Your local no-kill animal shelter
Your local humane society
You get the benefit of a link, plus so much more, including;
- Social media mentions
- Email newsletter with your logo
- Actual local brand building
Oh, and you’re getting your brand DIRECTLY in front of potential customers!
Search operators are your friend as they can surface opportunities for you quickly and it’s free.
If you add site:.org to a search operator, it will only show domains that end in .org.
Qualifying each opportunity will depend on a lot of factors.
Never go into looking at a sponsorship as just getting a link.
The bullet list above mentions a lot of what’s typically included in a sponsorship.
Some sponsorships have other benefits, like signage at an event, a table at a dinner, brochures, etc.
A great example is your local Chamber of Commerce.
If you want to find other examples, search on Google for “List of business organizations in city state”.
If you join a local organization, get involved!
Never join an organization for the sole purpose of a link.
Local Vendor Case Studies
A tactic for getting local links is offering a review to a local business you do business with, and they add a link to your website from the review.
Well, let’s flip that on its head.
Instead, offer them a case study of their business has helped you and in what ways.
The first paragraph of the case study is an introduction of who you are, what you do, where you’re located, and a link to your website.
Then, you start talking about how that business has helped you, your results, and an overall more thorough recommendation.
They publish that on their blog or website, and what do you think they’re going to do?
They are going to post it on their social media and might even start sending it to prospects they’re trying to sell.
You get the link, and you’re getting in front of other locals.
It’s a win, win, win.
Be Like Bob Vance
If you have ever seen me speak, saw a theme in the images above, or saw the hours watched counter on the homepage, you know I love The Office.
If you’re unfamiliar with the show, first of all, how dare you.
Any time Bob Vance was on the show, he was constantly plugging his company, Vance Refrigeration.
One could argue that a major reason for him marrying Phyllis was because she was in the documentary and he had ulterior motives.
Be like Bob Vance, start focusing on building a better, local brand.
Google wants to rank what’s popular in the offline world in the online world, especially in local.
Blake is the President & Founder of RicketyRoo Inc. He has more than 12 years of local SEO and paid search marketing experience working with a variety of small to medium-sized businesses. He’s a contributor to the Moz Local Search Ranking Factors and speaks at digital marketing conferences about local SEO.