For small businesses, Google can be one of the top referrers of new customers as it has replaced the Yellow Pages as the main tool to search for local service providers. However, the challenge for small businesses is that they need to learn the important factors that Google uses to rank local businesses or their business may not be easily found by searchers. This is not easy for many small businesses who are already putting in long hours just to keep their business running. The good news is that small businesses can help themselves rank better just by doing a few things right like creating relevant content on their site, listing business information in local directories, and getting links. This article focuses on the most difficult yet critical task: getting quality links pointing to your website. Here are seven simple ideas that small businesses can execute themselves in just a couple hours per week to earn links.
Interview Local Businesses on Your Blog
Find local businesses (not a direct competitor) and invite them to participate in an interview on your site where they can share information about their service. Email them a brief list of interview questions then publish their responses directly to your blog with a short introduction that describes what they do. Afterwards, ask them if they would mind linking to the interview from their website. Often they will be happy to reciprocate since you just helped to promote their business.
Interview Local Bloggers
No matter where you are located there are probably bloggers who live in your area including sports bloggers, mommy bloggers, and even farm bloggers. You can ask these bloggers if they would participate in an interview on your site to discuss local topics like favorite things to do in your town or favorite restaurants. Not only is this great content for your visitors, but you can ask if they would mention the interview on their blog.
Sponsor a Local Organization
There are probably several local organizations or non-profits in your area who have a website. This can include a school PTA website, youth sports team, or club. If the organization has a website they will often link to their sponsor’s websites. You can find these opportunities by using the following search query in Google: Seattle site:.org inurl:sponsors
Request Links from Business Partners or Vendors
If you work with other local businesses who provide you services, ask them if they can link to you from their website. If you would recommend the company, you can approach this from an angle of offering to provide a testimonial for their website. If they publish your testimonial, ask if they will include a link to your business.
Organize an Event
Events can be a great marketing tactic that can also help your site earn some links. Kane Jamison wrote an excellent article about this titled “The Complete Guide to Link Building with Local Events“. Local news websites often have a section dedicated to local events and you can submit your event to earn a link. Some city websites also allow you to submit events that can be posted on their website like this one at Seattle.gov.
Create an Awesome List
My wife works in apartment management and I created a list of the Top 16 Things to Do in Kent, WA. It usually ranks #1 or #2 in Google for “things to do in Kent, WA” and attracts visitors who may be new to the area. It hasn’t been linked to from other sites yet, but it has potential to attract natural links by being the best resource on things to do in the local area.
Write a Guest Article on a Local Blog
Depending on your area there may be some local blogs that cover local events and news. You could offer to write an informative article on a local topic. I contacted the blog iLoveKent.net and asked if I could write an article for them about upcoming summer festivals in the area. They were happy to publish my article titled “5 Great Summer Festivals Near Kent in 2012” and they linked to my wife’s apartment website.
Submit Your Site to Powerful Directories
There are some authoritative directories that can provide your local business with a helpful link. One warning on directories is that not all directories pass link value. The ones that are more likely to pass link value are highly trusted directories like the Better Business Bureau or niche directories like your local Chamber of Commerce. A side benefit of submitting to the BBB is that you can put their badge on your website which makes your site look more trustworthy to potential customers. Avoid directories that will accept any site since this can do more harm than good.
Examples of powerful directories:
Better Business Bureau
Best of the Web
Seattle Chamber of Commerce
Get a Listing on Local Directories
Local directories don’t always provide a followed link. Often they will add a “no-follow” attribute to the link to tell Google that it shouldn’t count as an editorially given link. Although the link itself probably doesn’t improve your search rankings there are several benefits to submitting to local directories. One is that your business listing is considered by Google as a local citation, which is a factor that Google considers in its local search ranking algorithm. A local citation is essentially a mention of your business name, address, phone number together. A great resource for finding local directories to submit to is GetListed.org.
Local directories include:
Charles Sipe is an online marketing specialist in Seattle, Washington. You can follow him on Twitter at @charlessipe. He can be contacted at csipe84(at)gmail.com.