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Is your business missing the rocket fuel it needs to really take-off and thrive? 90% percent of consumers now use the web to find a business in their local area. (BrightLocal, 2020) So if you can position your web presence to get their attention, there is a ton of potential for more people to discover your business and what you offer. But how do you do that? It seems really technical and complex. It’s true there are a lot of factors that affect the visibility of your web presence, but there’s one KEY ingredient that’s created huge gains for our clients, and almost no local businesses are using it!
In this article, we will explain what this key ingredient is, AND walk you through some basic steps of how to utilize it to boost your online visibility, search engine rankings, and ultimately drive more people to your business.
The Content That Matters
When you search for a local services ‘near me’ on google, the results will show a map listing local businesses that provide that service along with their reviews. The million-dollar question is; How do you become one of the companies that shows up at the top of the map? The first step is to create a business listing. If you aren’t already aware, you can create and manage your Google Maps listing using Google My Business. (GMB) The example below shows the top search results for the search “house painting near me.” Users are more likely to choose one of these first options than to scroll down to view more businesses, especially if they are on a mobile device or feeling a sense of urgency. Businesses ranking in the top 3 Google Maps results enjoyed at least 100 percent more clicks then those in lower positions. (MomentFeed, 2021)
The SEO experts at MOZ have compiled the pie chart below to show how Google’s algorithm determines which businesses to show first in the search results. Important factors that affect your ranking include your office location, business type, and even the keywords used to describe your business on your Google My Business page. Your listing should be near the user, relevant to what they are searching for, and current.
Building Local Links
Link signals tell search engines how much local relevance and authority you have. Local links are links to your website or GMB listing from other organizations in the same region or location. These are also known as ‘backlinks’ and act like a ROCKET FUEL for your web presence that most companies aren’t even paying attention to. For example, if the local newspaper writes an article about you and includes a link to your website in the online version of their article, this is a signal to Google that your business is legitimate and trusted by authoritative sources in your area. These links are essential because they show that you have a real physical presence in the area and that you are a credible source for people living there. These links are more powerful than a backlink from a random blog or website that’s not connected to your local area.
The image below shows an example of a backlink for a Food Truck in New York. This could be an article on the blog of local advertising agency, also based in New York. Since both businesses are local and they aren’t in direct competition, it makes a lot of sense for them to cross-promote one another with a local backlink like this. In this case, the backlink also includes the word “New York”. This is an additional signal to search engines that you’re a local business.
Searching for Local Link Opportunities
If you’ve been doing business in your area for a while, you probably already know some other local business owners you could talk to about local backlinks (or introduce to your Web Experts like Hog the Web to handle the details). If you don’t know of many companies in your area, you can try searching Google for related companies that aren’t in direct competition. For example, if you own a painting company in Chicago, you might search for “home decor+Chicago” because your services and audiences are complementary.
Make sure that any business you want to reach out to has a website and that they’re still actively in business. If you aren’t sure, you can call and ask them. Their website should be listed on their Google Business profile (if they knew what’s good for them!). That’s a rookie mistake, so don’t forget to add your website link to your GMB listing as shown below.
Write Related Content
Another way to get local links is to write blog content relevant to your industry that includes some information about another business with a similar target audience as yours. For example, if you’re a Law Firm that specializes in business law, you could write an article mentioning a local bookkeeping company. It’s a good idea to reach out to that local businesses first and ask them if it’s okay to link to their site. Plus this is a great opportunity to ask them if they could link back to yours as well.
Asking another company to write a blog article for you might be a big ask. Instead, you can offer to write the article for them as a “featured guest author” on their blog. Then your author bio can include the link back to your site. This is also known as a ‘guest blog article.’
Once the articles are published, don’t forget to cross-promote both articles on your social media channels and email list if you have one! (No need to promote them simultaneously though)
Sponsorships, Scholarships & Events
Many local websites will include a section for Partners or Sponsors. Think of places like schools, sports clubs, gyms, and community events in your area. These online Partner or Sponsor lists often link back to each company’s website. If you’re already a partner or sponsor of some local companies or organizations, then check if they included a link back to your website on their site. If not, then why not ask?
You can also form new partnerships with some of your local organizations and have them list your logo on their site, especially if they have a similar target audience. To reciprocate, you can also list their linked logo/name on your site.
Consider having your company offer Scholarships for local schools and clubs. Even something as minimal as $500 per year can be worth a mention on their website. (Of course, it’s best when it’s a cause you sincerely believe in supporting anyways) These links will boost the rankings and visibility of your website, and Google business listing for local searches.
Another opportunity is local events hosted by local businesses or organizations! If your business hosts local events, try looking for local websites that promote public events and reach out to them to post your event on their online event calendar or page. It helps to create a page about your event on your website that they can link back to. If you do this enough, users should be able to search local events in their area and see your listed event displayed at the top of the search results (see below). If you search events in your area using the location+events method shown below, you can also find sites that may be willing to post your event on their calendar.
What is the Best Way to Reach Out?
If you are looking for local links then the best way to reach out is in person. You can take advantage of this opportunity when attending events or visiting other businesses in your area. For example, in my area, many vendors set up a small kiosk at community events. This is a chance to talk to the business owner, get to know them and talk about how you can work together to boost your online presence with local links. Make sure to give them your business card so they have your contact and website information. (Maybe you could send them this article!)
Boost Your Rankings
Research shows that local links are one of the most potent factors that Google’s algorithm considers when choosing which businesses to show first in search results. Yet, almost every company that we talk to about their web presence has no clue about this opportunity. That’s why we consider local links to be the rocket fuel that can launch your businesses way past all your competitors and right into the face of tons of potential customers in your area.
Now that you have this knowledge you can start making an effort to build your visibility in Google. If your business doesn’t have a Google My Business page yet, use that as the first step to increasing your rankings. Once you have your business page set up, start asking your customers to leave reviews on your business. This will increase your rankings and help establish your legitimacy to Google and potential customers. Once that’s done, then focus on the local links! Or if you’d rather leave this work to the professionals, then contact us today!
This is just one key strategy to build your local online presence, but there are tons of other effective strategies too. Feel free to share other ideas and tips in the comments below! And if you found this article helpful, let us know that too! It gives us the signal to keep creating this helpful content for YOU!