Landing high-quality backlinks from within your local community to aid your SEO effort is an important consideration for any small business, and a topic I've written about before. But the problem is, many local business owners assume all links are created equal, and that's not the case at all.
In fact, this misconception often leads businesses to SEO firms that deliver what those businesses initially wanted -- links -- but in the long run the low quality and spammy links they receive cause more harm than good.
When local business owners receive a $500 monthly quote from one SEO consultant and a $2,000 monthly quote from another, the difference may seem to be $1,500 -- but more is at stake here, because there aren’t any push-button solutions. What's needed is a combination of outreach and relationship-building, and this takes time as well as experience.
So, to secure high-quality links, even with a limited budget, first understand what a high-quality link is by targeting backlinks with the following characteristics:
- They'll be seen by potential customers and therefore drive targeted referral traffic back to your website.
- They have high-quality metrics, which will help increase your website's authority.
- They help improve your company’s image -- so seek only link opportunities from websites you want your business to be associated with.
Now, here are five sources of links that are of high quality for your local SEO effort -- and valuable as such, because links are the most influential ranking factor in Google’s algorithm.
1. The Better Business Bureau
This is a link any local business can acquire, as long as it meets the requirements to be an accredited member of your local BBB. A regular BBB listing doesn’t include an outbound link in the listing, while an accredited one does.
Even though there is an annual fee for that status, the benefits exceed just links. A coaching client told me, “I don’t really want to pay over $500 for a link,” but then I explained the additional benefits: credibility, trust and the reality that many consumers still make decisions based on whether or not a company is accredited by the BBB.
The added benefits beyond a link are particularly important for service-related businesses, such as plumbers, contractors, electricians and landscapers. You can find your local BBB here.
2. Local media
Local media outlets provide an abundant source of link opportunities. Imagine if you owned a local home-security company and your area was experiencing a large enough number of home invasions to warrant a news report. As soon as you see local media pick that story up, you should be contacting them with an offer to provide content for their website and information for their broadcast.
By staying connected with local media, you get a nice link and valuable branding and advertising for free. Even if you can’t watch the local news daily, give media websites a daily scan and be alert to what is happening in your area.
Another opportunity exists, beyond a breaking news story that relates to your business. Using the same home-security company example, you might consider contacting local media outlets and saying, “I own XYZ home security, and we just put together a 10-step home security checklist that I think would greatly benefit the community. Would you like me to send it over so you can put it on your website?” Most local outlets would take you up on the offer.
3. Local schools and nonprofits
Local schools and nonprofits often have sponsorship opportunities that highlight all donors on a dedicated page of their website. If you spend a couple of hours searching for these, you can typically uncover amazing link opportunities.
Find local school websites with Google, and use GuideStar to identify local charities and nonprofits to explore further. Even if a particular website doesn’t have a donor page, it never hurts to ask. A quick phone call or email can reveal opportunities that will cost as little as a $10-to-$25 donation.
4. Local partners and suppliers
The first thing I do when I work with a local business is to ask for a list of its suppliers. So, a restaurant's list for example, will often include local produce companies, butchers and supply companies. These are established relationships -- sometimes decades old -- which makes the request easier, since it’s an established relationship. A simple, “Hey, since we have been working together for so long, we would love your listing us as one of your preferred buyers” can often be all that’s needed to secure a nice link.
This same approach can apply to almost any local business. Do you lease office equipment through a local company or purchase any products or services from local businesses? If so, ask if they would like you to provide them with a testimonial for their websites. You are actually doing them a favor while getting a link in return, so it’s a mutually beneficial win-win situation for both parties.
5. Local awards and contests
Virtually every local market has “best of” awards, and they are typically handled by local entertainment websites or local magazines and newspapers, which also have online versions. Either way, if your business is awarded “best of,” you are almost guaranteed to earn a link.
Many of these lists allow local businesses to nominate themselves, and they then turn to their readers to cast votes to determine a winner in each category. Apply and submit your business to as many of these “best of” opportunities that you can locate. Submit your business to as many categories and sub-categories as possible to increase the odds of winning; then call on your customers and social media followers to vote when the polls open.
While building quality links for local SEO isn’t easy, these simple tips may help elevate your visibility in local search results. For more free tips, check out my blog and while there, sign up for my weekly VIP newsletter for free weekly SEO news, tips and case studies.
Related: The Top 4 Reasons SEO Is Dead