If you own a local business, you’ve had someone try to sell you SEO in the past. There’s a reason. Google has, over the years, brought the world’s information to the fingertips of everyday people. Its’ ranking algorithms have propped up businesses who bring value and contributed to the demise of many local businesses who refuse to keep up. You may have even seen this yourself. Either way, it’s important to understand how Google sees your business so you can focus on growth.
Your site needs links to increase authority, it’s a fact. Since Google is basically a giant high-school popularity contest, you need to get in with the cool kids. That is to say, links from popular sites help create credibility for your site. Each link is like a vote for your site, but votes have different weightage based on who its coming from – some can be extremely good, and some can actually have a negative effect. For example, links from low quality sites with spammy anchor text can land you in “Google jail” and your site traffic could fall off a cliff as a result.
The SEO “Metric” You Should Focus On
With a bevy of SEO tools out there, it’s often difficult to distinguish between them in order to come up with a link-building strategy. You have Domain Authority (DA) and Page Authority from Moz, Domain Rating and URL Rating from ahrefs, and similar metrics from SEMRush, Majestic, and others. These can be wonderful tools, but the problem is that these can all be manipulated.
The metric you should care about above all is relevance. When researching link opportunities, make a quick rating 1-5 of how relevant the site (and link) would be to your business. A “1” would be in a completely different industry and no overlapping content. Completely random. A “5” would be the closest thing to a local competitor, a site within the same industry with lots of overlapping interests.
It’s rare to find a perfect “5”, but here are a few tips to get some 3’s and 4’s, at the very least.
Your business has local competitors who won’t link to your site in a million years. However, there are similar businesses in your area who would love to partner up in one way or another. You need to craft a valuable pitch that “gives before it receives”.
Getting a wad of reciprocal links isn’t the best thing, but a few won’t hurt your site in the least. If you’re a plumber, look to other similar industries like handyman, lawn care, or another home services business and reach out. There just needs to be enough of an overlap that you can help each other and the link will still be valuable. It’s in the same geographical area in a similar business, which means it’s probably a “4”. Boom!
Any business or website that is specific to your area is probably a good link to have, whether or not it has high DA/PA. The fact is, this type of link can establish more local relevance than a link with better metrics in an unrelated field. Look for local directories, chamber of commerce, local bloggers, and news sites for outreach and link potential.
People are often surprised when looking at local SERP’s that there’s not that strong of a correlation between what is there and what the metrics say should be there. In these cases, it’s usually a relevance thing. Prove to search engines your brand, your industry, and your location(s), and you’ll be golden. This has to do with onsite optimization as well backlinks, but the same principle applies.
Another thing to consider when reaching out is if your target audience (or anyone else for that matter) will actually click through to your site and like what they find. The prominence of guest posting has created lots of links, but only a small number are relevant and create traffic to your site. You may be thinking, “why would people want to go to a local business site from a random online blog?” That’s exactly the right question, and could be much the same question Google uses to evaluate the value of a given link. Create some long-form resources on an industry topic, one that people will actually read. Link to that. Sites that only have homepage links tend to appear unnatural. Create resources, then use internal linking to maximize that inbound backlink.
Hopefully you’ve found value in these suggestions. They are the exact principles that have helped my business immensely and I hope they help yours find success as well.