Have you adapted your link building strategy to play nicely with Google’s “Venice” update, a recent hyper-local algorithm change that matches local searches with local webpages? In 2012 Google Geospatial Technologist, Ed Parsons, noted that approximately one-third of all searches on Google are about a place.
What does this increased emphasis on local search queries mean for you and your local business? It means that in order to establish a lasting presence in search results, your website will have to firmly establish itself as a local presence.
Keep reading to learn how to establish your presence in the local SERPs using 5 time-tested techniques for local SEO link building.
Local Backlinks – Why They Matter & How to Get Them
Google has always used links pointing to a website as a way to measure which pages have the most relevant content.
In theory, the idea goes that if a webpage has amazing content other users will link to it. In turn, the pages that get linked to the most have the best content for that topic and should be ranked higher for related keyword phrases.
After the Venice update, SEOs are now finding that backlinks from sites with local attributes can have a significant impact on your local presence as well! Here are 5 tips that will help you build local links that signal to Google where you are located and why you should appear for local queries.
#1 – Build Out Your Google+ Business Page
I can’t emphasize enough the importance of building out your Google + Business listing. More so than any backlink, your Google+ Business profile is a clear indication to Google where you are located, what you do, and who you serve.
I’m a firm believer that if Google releases a tool or service aimed at helping your business or website, you should explore it. After setting up your Business page, you can also take things one step further and implement rel=“publisher” tags to snatch up even more real estate on the results page.
#2 – Get Involved in Your Community
Wholistic SEOs know that there is a direct correlation between building karma and building quality backlinks. And some of the best backlinks of all (the .edu, .org, and highly coveted .gov) are the easiest to score when your karma bank is overflowing.
So make something awesome for your community. Sponsor a local event. Create a scholarship fund. Organize a charity.
Not only does it improve your reputation, if you find a way to contribute to your community in a valuable way, then the local backlinks will flood in.
Pro Tip: Use advanced search operators to make finding community opportunities easy. For example: inurl:.edu “sponsor” Baltimore will provide a wealth of educational sponsorship opportunities in the Baltimore area.
#3 – Local Citation Listings
Local directories may not be as valuable as they were in the past but they still warrant attention. The only exception to this remains paid link directories, which are more pyramid scheme than value builder.
When it comes to local citations, however, the link itself isn’t always the most important thing. Having your business name next to an address can send clear signals to Google about where your business is located, even if the link to your business is no-follow.
Three things are extremely important when it comes to local citation listings:
- Information consistency. Your business name, address, phone number, etc. should be consistent across all of your citation listings. Otherwise mixed signals can be sent to Google about what your business is really named, or where it is really located. This can become overwhelming quickly as you’ll notice many listings are created automatically, often times with incorrect information. Tools like Yext can help you sort through the madness.
- Reviews. Few factors can influence a sale as much as a negative (or positive!) review. The fact that Google+ Business pages are now displayed so prominently for local queries has placed a new importance on not only building positive Google+ reviews, but also reviews from other citation sites as well like Yahoo, Yelp, Insider Pages etc. Add a button to your website and follow up with happy customers encouraging reviews.
- Keeping up with the competition. You don’t want to lose business to your competitor because they are listed in a prominent directory that you aren’t. Tools like Whitespark’s Local Citation Finder can help you close the gap between you and your competitors and ensure that you show up where they show up.
#4 – Get Social… Locally
Many local business owners question whether social media activities (such as Facebook updates) actually correlate to sales. And it is a valid concern… though a bit shortsighted.
Social network activities provide direct signals to Google that are beginning to work in a very similar way to links. As time progresses, these social activities (such as sharing or “liking” a webpage) may begin to outweigh links as indicators to where the quality content is really living on the net.
The key is staying active and participating in the online community surrounding your niche. Publicizing specials on Facebook, Google Deals, Groupon, etc. has helped many businesses to boost growth and win new customers as well.
#5 – Guest Blogging Locally
When Google’s Penguin algorithm update struck, a very clear message was sent to SEOs—quality content from quality domains are the only links that will count towards your site’s relevancy. Following this was the meteoric rise in popularity of the guest post.
Guest posting is neither quick nor easy, but it’s a great way to score valuable backlinks and establish yourself as an expert in your field to the online community. Combine it with Google Authorship and potential customers will see your face popping up all over the SERPs.
Guest posting on a local blogs provides several other benefits. Not only do you receive valuable local backlinks that will help your site rank, but you also build relationships with local publishers and media outlets that have real readers who could be looking for your services.
Building these relationships takes effort, but once you begin to establish more and more of them, it becomes easier and has huge potential for ROI once you fall in with the right audience.
Now Get Building – But Always Remember That Content is King!
If there’s one thing about SEO, it’s that it changes constantly. The one thing that remains constant is that search engines are in the business of delivering the most relevant, useful, awesome content for each search every time.
If your content is unique, informative, helpful and generally amazing, but not getting the visibility it deserves, then these 5 tips should help you to establish a presence in your local area through backlinks.
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