Local SEO Link Building in 2016

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:: By Travis Bliffen, Stellar SEO ::


Last week we covered some of the most important elements of local SEO, one of which was link building.

Local SEO link building has changed quite a bit over the past few years, shifting focus from creating citations in high volumes to building a combination of high-quality citation and links. Here is what you need to know to effectively build links and citations in 2016.

1. Local Citation Audit

Before you build any citations you need to know what is already out there for your business and ensure that each existing citation has the correct name, address, and phone number list. If you do not have a citation finder tool like Whitespark, you can search Google using allintext:”your address” to find a list of your existing citations. You should also check every site for an existing listing before creating a new one.

2. Surveying Your Local SERPs

Local search results are dynamic and can vary greatly based on the search terms and location. Search for auto insurance 90210 and you will see something like this:

Is Google in the lead generation game now? Above you can see the option to get quotes through Google. That being said, you should always start by looking at the SERPs for your keywords so that you can have an accurate expectation of the value of ranking for various terms based on expected CTRs.

3. Setting up Google My Business Listing

The first citation you should create is a Google my Business listing. Simply follow the steps and you can have your profile setup within a few minutes. Once you set it up, you will need to wait for a postcard to verify your listing and then it will be live. At this point be sure to record your name, address and phone number so that you can list it the exact same way across all of the future citations you will create.

4. Identifying Top Ranking Citations Sites

If you are just getting started and are not sure where to list your business simply start by searching for your keyword + location and make note of the directories that show up on the first and second page.

Refer back to how you listed your name, address and phone number on your Google My Business listing and be sure to list it exactly the same way on the new citations. As I mentioned earlier, you can use tools like Whitespark.ca to find additional citations sources based on what your competitors have. Another great resource is the BrightLocal citation list of 1,000 citation sources sorted by niche.

5. Building Unstructured Citations

Most citation guides discuss directories where you can list your site but unstructured citations are also beneficial to local rankings. One easy way to build several of these citations is through the use of a press release. In the past press releases where useful for organic SEO and were used to pass link juice to money sites. While Google has stated that press releases for this purpose are no longer helpful, they are still great for local rankings. Web 2.0 sites setup to be niche relevant are also a good source of unstructured citations and built correctly, can pass link juice to your website safely.

6. Boosting Citation Strength

One common practice is local SEO is citation boosting. Many people do this using automated programs, Sape or private blog network links. If you are going to use automated link building to boost citations, you should check to see if the link on the citation source is do follow. If so, you should not build spam links directly to the citation as it may pass negative signals to your website. A better way to boost citations is by linking to them from guest posts, Web 2.0 sites and other better quality links. Increasing the distance between your site and any spam is more important in 2016 than in the past when spamming Web 2.0s and directories was commonly done.

7. Increasing Website Trust

Google looks to promote sites that are actual brands over sites that are not authentic. One way to generate brand signals is to set up profiles on the top social sites and link them back to your business website. You can do this manually or you can use a service like KnowEm to have these profiles setup quickly. Remember to list your name, address and phone number on these sites to gain additional citations.

8. Link Building

At first citations was all it took to rank locally but now Google also looks at inbound link signals. Unlike a traditional link building campaign, you can actually lower your standards for local SEO. I am not telling you to build spam links but I am telling you not to overlook great local sites because of low metrics. Look for local bloggers, small local papers and for business associates that have websites. If a site is relevant to your niche or location, think carefully before you pass up on a link from them. As with citations, you should also look at your competitors to find link opportunities. Guest post links are also great to add to your link building campaign.

For these, niche relevant links are great and they do not need to be location specific.

There you have it, a fluff free plan that will help you boost your local rankings in 2016.

Over to You…

What is your favorite trick for finding a great local link or citation opportunity?

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19 comments

Amin 01-26-2016 2:04 PM

Thank you for your helpful post. I have other question can I rank in a local city or country if I am outside. for example if I live in London and want to rank in the US. is that possible and how hard is that. thanks again.

Nick - Adficient 01-26-2016 2:20 PM

I cannot stress how important it is to focus on local citation. Certain sites have higher linking metrics, so it's important to first register with sites that are higher quality. Often sites will see immediate results in local rankings after just listing their company on the top 10 local citation sites.

Orlando Acupuncture 01-26-2016 2:45 PM

We heard that if directories are ranking on the first page, it should be pretty easy to get a local website ranking there, but it does not seem to be the case lately!

Internet Marketing Harrisburg NC 01-26-2016 4:25 PM

That is a great list. Very effective in increasing search rankings.

RyanE 01-26-2016 4:37 PM

Amin, you need to have a physical address in the location you want to rank for to have any chance of ranking there locally.

BrianH 01-26-2016 11:14 PM

If you're in a small market, you may be able to do most citation building all by yourself without spending any money on a service, but if you're in a market where you will want to have a lot of citations in order to rank well, you will probably need to get some help with a service like Whitespark or BrightLocal. If nothing else, they help you keep track of the different directories, which ones you have submitted to, which ones need verification, which listings are live, which ones were deleted, etc.

ThpalexT 01-27-2016 3:52 AM

Thanks for your detailed insight, well there are many ways and local resources for link building as well.

DigitEMB 01-27-2016 5:59 AM

Great article I found my all questions' answers!

Website Hyderabad 01-27-2016 8:08 AM

Thanks for sharing

Website Hyderabad 01-27-2016 8:08 AM

Thanks for sharing

Website Designing Hyderabad 01-27-2016 9:03 AM

I will say you can still get away with quite a lot, but actual penalty material as I claim above is all to do with your INTENT as GOOGLE interprets it to be.

factsd.com 01-27-2016 9:54 AM

yes i learnt that your citations must be consistent to get good results, so you should take care of that, inconsistencies can be dangerous.

Enviro-Equipment, Inc. 01-27-2016 11:10 AM

Excellent article but I wish more was devoted to telling the difference between a high-quality potential local link and a low-quality potential local link. The only way I know to do this is to check  each individual potential link using MOZ and that is extremely time-consuming… but I'm sure it's well worth it.

DidierM 01-28-2016 9:33 AM

At the end of the day, you always need links.

Cyberworx 01-28-2016 11:15 PM

Wahoo. Really good and useful information for us: Thank you to share it...

ValeriaB 01-30-2016 5:42 AM

Many people think that link building is a past thing and does not have much importance today. But I strongly believe that to get better search results every website should have a good link building strategy. These tips will help business promoters in a better way.

RudoR 01-31-2016 8:00 PM

Great article.  I especially found that brightlocal link to be very helpful.  I am gonna use that list for sure. It solved a problem for me.

Lakshminarayanaseo 02-01-2016 6:05 AM

First, let’s take a look at some of the major link building developments we saw in 2015 (and in previous years, which continue to influence the industry), why they’ve been taken into such heavy consideration, and how they should affect your strategy:

The Penguin Update.

Link building avoidance

Picky publishers

Higher content standards

Why Link Building Is Still Important

Finding the Right Sources

Your first job is finding the right publications and sources from which you want to achieve inbound links. You can’t post links indiscriminately, as this practice will get you flagged by Google’s Penguin algorithm. When scouting for new link sources, select only those that are:

Respectable. This can be a subjective term, but use common sense. Do a lot of people use, read, and trust this site? Does this site cite its sources? Has it been around for a long time? Is it a household name? The more respected your source is, the more value the links are going to hold (unfortunately, that also means the links are harder to acquire).

Relevant. Your sources should be as relevant as possible to your business and industry. If you’re posting content about manufacturing on a dentistry blog, it’s going to send a red flag to Google.

MounikaD 02-01-2016 6:15 AM

No fundamental element of SEO has received as much scrutiny or attention over the past few years as link building. Local SEO experienced a few twists and turns, Mobilegeddon served as a kick in the pants to any businesses who hadn’t yet adopted a mobile-friendly site, and the revelation of Google’s search quality raters helped many of us hone and refine our strategies, but most of these changes are pretty objective in terms of their impact. Link building is an area where many SEO experts remain divided—and almost universally, everyone has been forced to update their link building strategy in one way or another.

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