Ever since Google rolled out the local results in their search engine result pages (SERPs) everyone has been trying to find out ways to get their businesses site to show up in the local listings since it appears above the natural rankings. Most of this was done by focusing onsite SEO for local keywords and claiming the business on directories like Yelp or Yellow Pages, and this worked great… that is, until Google rolled out ‘Local’ within Google+.
Now ratings and reviews on Google+ get precedent over third party directories. Being featured in directories and making sure those local keywords are featured on your site are great starts, but you can still actively perform off-page SEO in the form of link building with a local focus, and here is how.
Your Niche is Now ANYTHING Local
If you’ve been link building then hopefully you’ve been focusing on quality link building strategies rather than trying to do anything remotely black hat. If not, stop living under a rock and realize that relevancy to your industry is key to building an effective links list. However, this changes when you start using local link building strategies.
Rather than being limited to your industry niche, you can target any local site as long as they have the local name as a prominent keyword, or even have their physical address listed somewhere on the site. Once again, ANY LOCAL SITE. This is a hard pill to swallow for white hat link builders who regard relevancy as the holy grail of link building, but the fact of the matter is targeting local means the relevancy shifts to local and ultimately trumps industry niche.
Finding Local Sites
This sounds easy, but it’s harder than it sounds. To look for guest posting opportunities, try the classic search queries like “guest post” OR “write for us” KEYWORD. However, this will tap the most basic sources quickly and you’ll be scrambling to find more websites.
You need to get creative in your search queries so try searching for sites with ‘inurl:KEYWORD‘ in front of the previously mentioned search query (for example inurl:LONDON). ‘Inurl:‘ will show any site with the keyword in the websites domain name, but this has limitations as well since the keyword has to be separated. Use inurl:*KEYWORD*.
* in your queries to find sites with the keyword in the domain name that mashed together with other words. For example, inurl:KEYWORD would find examplesite.com/KEYWORD but it would not find exampleKEYWORDsite.com while the wildcard (*) search query would. Once those start drying up try using ‘intitle:‘ but be careful of non-local sites that are just featuring content about your locality.
Some other search queries to try might be “here in KEYWORD” or “its great to be back in KEYWORD”. Get creative and don’t forget about natural sounding language. Also try searching for specific neighbourhoods or parts of town within the area you’re trying to rank for, especially if it’s a larger city.
Other Local Tidbits
I consider “local” as anywhere that the site covers or the business serves. If a business serves multiple cities in an area, Manchester for example, then links coming from any sites based in any of those cities would be relevant as long as the keywords are reflected on both sites.
The best local sites will have their physical address complete with zip code and phone number (with area code) in a footer at the bottom of every page of their site, or at least listed on their contact page or about page. Web crawlers see this and it’s a giant green flag that this site is local, and links coming from these kinds of sites. I think it can be much easier to get successful link bait in a local setting. Things like sponsoring a scholarship for a local high school or university, offering discounts, outrageous changes to the store front or marketing campaigns, anything that the local community would find interesting can help build links for you.
If you’ve attempted local link building, how did you go about it and what did/didn’t work for you? Please let us know by leaving a comment below!