Once upon a time citations were the real deal for local SEO. They were working quite well but recently during the SMX West Conference, these citations were not the topic of discussion. As a matter of fact no one bothered to ask questions about them. Since the arrival of Google’s Pigeon algorithm update, there has been a lot of fuss about links. Link building has grown to become of great importance for local search since this update was made. It is however worth noting that local link building strategies are not all that similar to the ‘traditional’ strategies in a number of ways.
During the conference it was very evident that the update caused a huge shift in the world of local search. Most of the issues that were aired during the conference related to things like links and the content that is available on a website. This makes a lot of sense because according to study by Moz in 2014 on the local search ranking factors, the two most important factors that popped up were links and on-site signals. This brings us to the issue of content marketing.
Content marketing and building links
Content marketing is not anything new to any SEO expert who is worth his/her salt. By now SEO professionals should be able to do content marketing in their sleep. It has become ridiculously prevalent but you should be shocked to know that a majority of business owners have no idea how to go about it. It sounds so simple when you read about it but then getting it done is another story. There is assumption that creating content is similar to content marketing.
Let’s start from there. Content marketing is literally marketing the content that you have created. So, the first step is developing that content. It must be of premium quality and relevant. If you stop there then you should not expect success. The next step is to market it effectively. In order to do this, you will have to get links to your content. It is a cycle that goes on and on. When you market your content, you get noticed, when you get noticed, you get links which make your content even more noticeable/visible.
The unfortunate thing is that link building is a strategy that continues to evolve as time goes by. There was a time when links were just links and any will do. Today you have to get high quality links and fresh ones for that matter if your do not want Google to penalize your site. After the Pigeon update, links have become more important. What is saddening is the fact that people continue to do link building in the same way and expect it to be successful. There is always something that will be missing.
The link you have been missing
When Google made an upgrade of their Penguin algorithm, link building shifted focus from using just any links. This algorithm helped to clean out spam. Link builders started focusing primarily on the high authority sites. They will always give you a warning not to go after the domains with low authority because you will get a penalty from Penguin. Well, that is true even now but then for local SEO this is not the case.
Any expert in local SEO services will tell you that in order to build local relevance there is no ignoring a single site. Even those sites with low local authority are excellent. These low authority local websites are the ones that hold tons of relevance. Think of sites like that one your local church put up on the web, or the one your local Christmas planning committee set up. Traditionally link builders will avoid such sites like a leprous patient but for your local SEO they are the ones you are looking for.
Here’s a bit of info concerning these sites. Sure, they are low authority. Yes, they are tough to navigate. Probably they are plain ugly but they are extremely focused on the local area. Just one link to your site from these ones is going to do wonders for your website. Of course you are not going to be looking for just one link but several of them. They are laser-focused on a particular area. These links will help to bring your local relevant to a higher level.
It gets even better. A majority of enterprise sites are going to be ignoring these small local websites. This is because they employ the traditional link building strategies. Simply put, this gives SMBs the opportunity to dominate the search engine results pages (SERPs) in their local areas by getting hold of several of these links. These are the links that you have been missing.
Why local links are helpful
There are several reasons why you should go for local links a lot. They are very beneficial when you want to avoid targeting the same sites that all businesses in your niche across the country will be targeting. The competition will not be fair and you are bound to lose if you are going up against major world corporations. Instead you can get yourself unique links for other sites that are unique to your city. Local links help to level out the playing field for businesses.
Secondly, local links are quite easy to obtain. You will not be building links but rather you will be earning them. It is easier to earn links than to build them. Local links are earned simply because of the fact that a site is in the same local community and it has information that is useful. If you would like to increase your local link profile then here are ways to go about it:
1. Assess your competitors
2. Analyze your online relationships
3. Earn the links
When you assess what your competitors are doing and you analyze your current online relationships, you will be able to get more possibilities for link building.
Local link building is not similar to the ‘traditional’ kind of link building. There are several things that will have to change. One of these features is focus on low authority domains within a particular location. These sites are focused in specific location and linking to them improves your local ranking. This however does not mean that you should link to spam sites in a location.
Derek Iwasiuk runs national digital search engine optimization firm headquarted in Minneapolis. Also spends a lot of his free time educating the minds of thousands of young SEOs and top agencies. You can also follow him on twitter @Diwasiuk to learn more about local SEO services and local linking.