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Building Links? Check Out These Unconventional Approaches…

donate services to community for links/prIf you work with small to medium-sized businesses in Local SEO, you understand how valuable attaining local links can be for your clients. Local link building is a different animal than traditional link building for a large company or general website. 

The main differences between local link building and traditional link building are in the types of links you aim to acquire. In Local SEO, you are aiming to acquire links in the city, county, state, and/or niche your client is in. With traditional link building, it doesn’t really matter where (geographically) you are getting links from as long as they are relevant to your business. 

For Local SEO, the more links you can acquire from businesses, associations, newspapers, radio stations, or other local websites, the more relevant Google tends to see your business in that area. As an example, a New Orleans lawyer would want to find links from New Orleans newspapers, radio stations, colleges, churches, chambers of commerce, and the like.

Local Link Building Ideas

There are dozens of posts floating around on how to find good, local links so I’m not going to focus on any of those tactics. It’s not that those links aren’t valuable, because they are. The tactics I’m going to cover are more advanced and out of the box than the standard types you have already heard. So, let’s dive in. 

Build a local website

There are many examples and ideas you can come up with here, from small websites to large projects. From a time and cost perspective, a small website is easiest. A few examples are building a news site, sports website, food website, or creating a site based on the historical significance of your town. If the website has quality content, you should see links and traffic begin to increase. 

In order to take advantage of the website, you can either drop in a link to your client’s website, or you might take down the website once it has a good amount of links and redirect the domain to your client’s website. That’s a bit more “grey-hat” than we prefer…and keeping the website up as its own domain growing more links and authority can be a longer-term benefit to your client than the rank & redirect approach.

Ego bait local businesses

For this tactic, identify a niche related subject that overlaps with your client’s business. An example would be a personal injury lawyer teaming up with auto repair shops to aid clients who have had damage to their vehicles after accidents. Adding another business expert brings value to your content, business, and helps clients. Your client will likely see an increase in exposure and attain a link in the process. Bonus if the auto repair shop shares the content on social media outlets. 

Create Local Resource Pages

Resources pages are still a valuable way to attract links and a good way to drive local traffic to your client’s website. This could be a page that acts as a guide and links to local businesses in your city/county which can help visitors to your website. One example a criminal defense attorney creating a resource page listing substance abuse resources in the city (homeless shelters, mental health clinics, drug addiction centers, etc).

Once you have the page created and all of the businesses listed, reach out to them and let them know you listed the business as a resource on your client’s site. Ask them to link to the page. This can lead to an ego bait tactic as well.

Offer products or services for free

This can be a bit tricky, as clients are typically reluctant to do anything for free, especially with limited time on their hands. If the client has the opportunity to do pro-bono work, that can result in a backlink from the business you helped. If not, why not try helping a local business for your client? There are probably dozens of local businesses in the client’s town who either don’t have websites, need websites updated, or need graphics created. As marketers, we work on these things all the time for our clients, why not help a local business?

Do your research on local businesses and determine what they need. Email and ask if you can help them create graphics for their website in exchange for a link back to your clients website. You’d be surprised how often this works.

You can also offer a product or service for free to first responders, teachers, nurses, etc. A little bit of karma, shared out on your social channels, can get you some new business and maybe even a bit of PR and a news story in the local paper.

donate products to community for links/pr
Sponsor car seat checks

Cities will often perform free car seat checks for parents with small children. Hospitals, fire departments, and child safety advocates are the businesses to be on the lookout for as they will usually host the events. Offer to sponsor the event in exchange for a link on the business’ website. You can additionally leverage this by promoting to local newspapers, radio stations, and parent organizations.

donate services to community for links/pr
Be a drop off location

Offer for your client to be a drop off location for an event. There are a few details you have to work out before this can be put into motion such as; is there ample parking for people to get out of their cars and drop items off, do people have to have a code to get into your clients building, what can be dropped off and when, etc. Once the details are hashed out you can begin promotion of the event. Again, newspapers, radio stations, niche websites, and event planning sites can be leveraged. 

For example, a client can be a dropoff location for Toys for Tots in the upcoming months. The client will need to take responsibility and set up a dedicated space with signage and welcome guests. A small issue for what can be a great way to build local links and community rapport. 

Leverage Local Links

Local link building is essential for any Local SEO, particularly if your client is in a competitive market or industry. These examples are more advanced and require additional buy-in from your clients but are well worth the effort. Have you used any of these tactics in the past? Do you have any others you would like to share?

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This Post Has 8 Comments

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting.

      I don’t want to give any specific website away but have created some for historical landmarks in a city. The client was located in a historic building, mentioned it on their website, and very little else was mentioned about the building online. Thus, the client was ranking in the top 3 for information regarding the building. We created a site to talk more about the building, its history, and significance and were able to build links to that page.

      Something very similar can be done if your client is passionate about local sports, little league sports, local foods, etc. It will take time, money, and effort to set up, but could result in a nice link profile to the new site in the long term. Figuring out what to do with the site after that is up to you.

  1. I knew most of the basic links to do . Thank you for taking it to the next level. I love your basics on steroids:)
    Cool thing after reading was that you were mentioning for example , attorney, which was exactly was I was working on! Thank you Brian. I appreciate you.

  2. As usual, Great detailed article Brian. You stated ” As an example, a New Orleans lawyer would want to find links from New Orleans newspapers, radio stations, colleges, churches, chambers of commerce, and the like”

    If a company does business in only 1 state such as California(Both Southern and Northern), would it be best to follow the same style link building or to build more on a national level.

    I’m curious if that style of link generation would help more on a state level versus just a local city

    1. Good question. If the focus is Local SEO, you’re going to need the local links in order to help you rank locally. I see you have a section on your website called “Locations” with several cities listed on there. I would begin building local links to each of those different city landing pages. Those are more likely to rank because you already have a content page and Google has crawled it. Start building local links to those and track your local rankings in those cities. I’d bet they start to improve fairly quickly.

      The national links will be good for your overall SEO, landing featured snippets, and higher ranking for your important pages, but they won’t have much impact on your Local ranking.

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