Local link building may seem like a daunting task, but there are plenty of tools available that make the project much more manageable. These five are a great place to start.
Google My Business
Google’s first responsibility is to its users and their recent updates are focused on improving user experience (UX). If your business is worth finding, then Google wants their users to find it! (www.google.com/intl/en/business)
Thankfully, Google is rolling out a new tool, Google My Business, that is specifically designed to make organic local link building a lot easier.
Google’s power lies in its ability to share your business information across all of its applications. My Business makes it easy to update your business information through one interface. Now, not only will Google’s search engine provide accurate information about your business, but so will Google Maps and Google+. And, most importantly, Google My Business will help ensure that customers and users are interacting with the real you, allowing you to respond and provide effective feedback.
Previously, Google relied on whatever data it could collect to try and represent your business accurately. Now you are in control. And that’s definitely a good thing when you are working on a local link building campaign.
As far as engaging with search engines is concerned, Google should be your first priority. But like Google, search engine upstart Bing (www.bingplaces.com) is also trying to improve the way it represents businesses. They provide a similar tool to business owners who are trying to ensure that their business information is accurate.
You might be tempted to focus on Google exclusively. But Bing matters because Bing is staking its value on being a more organic search engine. If Bing succeeds and begins drawing more searchers away from Google, you don’t want to be stuck playing catch up because you only worried about verifying information on Google. However, if Bing only succeeds in forcing Google to emulate Bing’s organic search algorithms, it makes good business sense to ensure that you are part of the reason Google improves. In other words, if Bing results are more organic, and your Bing ranking is high, then Google will tweak its algorithms to find YOU!
Whether a searcher is using Bing or Google, you want your information to be accurate. That way, if that searcher is also in the habit of generating links, those links will contribute to your link building campaign with only minimal effort on your part!
To illustrate their importance, let’s do a quick experiment. Think of a local business that you admire and search for them with your favorite search engine. Ideally, that business’s personal webpage will appear at the top of the search results. But that business’s directory listings will round out the first page of results.
Now, not all directories are equally valuable. And depending on your market, different directories will be more relevant. (A directory like Urbanspoon is only important for restaurants.) So if you’re wondering which directories are most important, do a search for a local business that is trying to reach the same market as you. The top results should be your top concern.
But regardless of which directories matter the most for you, it is important to include them in a link building campaign. Search engines look to them to make sure that your business is real and locally relevant.
Now that more authorities, such as newspapers, local bloggers, and universities, are generating online content, they have become a central factor in determining local relevance.
Building links among these authorities does require some leg work. But, thankfully, that work is also just good business practice. Contact newspapers and bloggers and let them know why they should pay attention to you. Good press is good business, an axiom that predates the internet. But now that good press is also an invaluable part of a link building campaign as well!
Search engines are trying to make their results make sense. That means they want their results to be what real people want. And since you, as a business owner, are also a real person, let your common sense lead you. If you feel like commenting on a relevant blog and want to include a link, do so! But if you think that link will come across as spam, then maybe you should reconsider. Organic results are generated using organic logic. So don’t be afraid to go with your gut.
Of course, you need to collect data to make sure that you are using these tools effectively. ClickMeter puts that data at your fingertips. In this sense, ClickMeter is the tool that makes sure that you are putting all the other tools in your toolbox to good use.