Link building is one of the most fun and rewarding parts of running a local business.
If that statement leaves you slack-jawed, you’ve probably read a bunch of posts telling you how hard and time consuming local link building is. Well, they’re right—a smart local link building strategy takes time to mature and firms roots in the community, which don’t come overnight. But they’re also wrong, because:
The best link building campaigns don’t just drive referral traffic and boost brand visibility, they also reflect your values and get you involved in your community in a meaningful way.
Local link building shouldn’t be a chore—it should be a natural fit extension of your personality and passions.
In this post, I’m going to run through 15 ways to kick start your local link building campaigns and show you that it doesn’t have to be a drag.
1. Partner with local businesses
Networking with other leaders in your community is a great way to build rapport, keep your finger on the pulse of current events, and earn a few natural links in the process. Consider supporting their charity drives or events, linking to them in your blog posts, and getting excited about their upcoming projects. Most businesses are happy to pay that goodwill forward.
2. Host a community event
Try hosting an event that benefits your community or gets people in your niche excited to attend. This could be anything from a community barbecue to a charity drive to a paintball game.
For example, the Cross E Ranch just outside of Salt Lake City hosted a Spring Festival at the end of April. It was a great family friendly event for all agents and it included a petting zoo and a wagon ride.
3. Apply for local awards
Do some research on local business awards and see what you qualify for—anything from small local newspaper awards to bigger awards (e.g. Chamber of Commerce’s “Best of the Best Award”). According to Greg Gifford’s Local Link Building Tips for 2016, you’ll almost certainly get a link if you win, but some contents even link to nominees.
4. Build a local resource page
A resource page is a great way to offer your community quality content and earn natural links. Find something that you’re passionate about (and preferably related to your niche) and create a curated list of all the “best of” examples you can think of. For example, if you’re super passionate about beer (who isn’t?) you could create a list of your favorite local pubs or microbreweries.
5. Sponsor a cause you care about
Get involved with groups you’re passionate about in your community, such as charities, art galleries, animal shelters, or even little league team. They’re usually happy to link to their sponsors. If you’re especially driven, you could even look into what it takes to become a board member for a particular cause.
One upcoming example that we’re excited about is the Bear Lake Classic bike race on May 13-14. This event has a whole bevy of sponsors ranging from Blue Water Beach to Pepsi to Utah Public Radio and promises to be a fun weekend.
6. Get manufacturer links
While less relevant for SaaS companies, retail businesses often miss a big opportunity staring them in the face. When you’re carrying different brand name products, those brands are usually happy to list your business as a location where their goods are sold. Reach out to manufacturing companies and ask if they’re willing to add your link.
7. Offer discounts
Do you operate near a college campus? Do you have a lot of veterans in your area? Local alumni groups and websites like MVDC are happy to toss your website a link if you offer special rates to certain groups.
8. Sponsor a meetup group
I owe Content Harmony’s Kane Jamison for turning me on to Meetup.com—a great website for both link building and meeting awesome people in your community. Try to find a meetup that fits your niche (e.g. a doctor’s office sponsoring a healthy living meetup) then ask the group owner if they’d be interested in a sponsor, and if they’d be willing to display your NAP.
Our local area has a bunch of cool meetups, such as Utah Outdoors (5,200+ members) and Brickyard Wellness Community (1,300+ members). There’s even a meetup for Utahn Java Users!
9. Collaborate on local blogs
Get networking! If you find a local blog that you love, see if you can eke into their good books and collaborate with them on some guest posts. It’s easy to start link building if you can get traction on a well-respect local website.
10. Get citations from local directories
You’ll want citations from your local directories anyway, so why not practice some good link building in the process? Just don’t sign up for everything—actually take a moment to find directories that speak to your particular business sensibilities (e.g. green business directories for eco-friendly businesses).
11. Attend local conferences
You should be eager to start networking at niche-specific conferences as it is, but one that’s going on locally is even better. Get to know other professionals in your niche and you’ll be surprised at how quickly link building opportunities crop up.
12. Get your name in the paper
There’s nothing quite like good PR to build your reputation in the community. Whether you’re hosting an event, launching a new product, or sponsoring a class, you can reach out to your local newspapers and magazines for some welcome publicity. Another great strategy is to create something special for these publications—such as an interview with a prominent industry figure.
13. Don’t forget seasonal opportunities
Jessie Low has one of the only lists I’ve seen that mentions seasonal link building opportunities. These only come around once a year, but they’re a great way to get involved and show your community your festive spirit. For example, you could sponsor a Thanksgiving food drive or host a raffle for Christmas gift baskets. You’ll definitely earn some links when local media catches wind of these events.
14. Team up with other influencers
This is link building 101, but it still applies for building local links. Find an industry leader that influences your work and collaborate with them on blog posts or organizing a niche-specific event. If you know of other influencers in your local area, even better.
15. Stir up some controversy
As much fun as it is to collaborate with other industry leaders, it can be equally exciting to butt heads with them. Argue your position with some well-grounded facts, and you’ll generate buzz with both haters and supporters alike. If your idea is wild enough, you might even get picked up by local newspapers.
In his Moz post, Casey Meraz gives a great example of a DUI attorney who created a Scholarship for Colorado students who admit to drinking and driving. This scholarship raised awareness for the dangers of drinking and driving and was covered by both The Denver Post and The Wall Street Journal.
Don’t let link building get you down
The days of plugging three hundred links into a terribly written blog post are long gone – today there are much better ways of doing local business SEO – we have to rely on solid copywriting and good old fashioned community outreach to build our brands. And we’re better for it.
However you choose to build links, try not to lose your passion in the process. Find avenues you’re excited to sponsor or donate to, and build relationships with your favorite local businesses.