This is our fifth expanded post from our article on top 10 learnings about the hyperlocal digital publisher market over the past year. Our first four learnings were:
- Local search is a differentiator on hyperlocal sites.
- Make sure you side door looks as good as your front door.
- Don’t Be Seduced by the Quick Wins of Social Media
- The World is Mobile
Our fifth learning focuses on backlinks. This is the most misunderstood and sporadically used benefit, but one that has a huge payback when done effectively.
Backlinks are links on other people’s sites that link back to your site. They are one of the most important SEO attributes, and we’ve discussed the power of backlinks previously. Especially for local publishers, since the majority of the backlinks they would get would be from other local businesses. This sends a signal to search engines that your site has local authority, exactly what you wan
SEO does not simply come from great content. How much great content is on Yelp or TripAdvisor? It would be awesome if your hard work was simply rewarded from writing great content. But it just isn’t so.
So, what should you do? We suggest a few specific actions:
- Get backlinks from local business associations – your local Chamber of Commerce, Business Improvement District and other local business associations should have a link (or more!) back to your site. They can link back to your business guide, your calendar of events, or a business focused news section of your site. There’s lots of opportunities to get links from these types of associations.
- Get backlinks from non-profits and Educational groups – Why not sponsor some local charities that focus on your community? Offer a “local schools” page that the school districts and Universities can link to. Search engines give a lot of credibility to .org and .edu websites – the more links from these local sites, the better.
- Get backlinks from local businesses – If you are using Bizyhood, you have a business guide where every local business gets their own URL on your site. Give local businesses a link back to their page on your site that they can link to. Give local businesses a link to articles about them that they can put on their websites. Do not focus solely on Facebook – any link on Facebook lasts for approximately 2 hours. After that, nobody sees it. And links on Facebook have absolutely no SEO value. We’re not saying to ignore Facebook, but we’re certainly suggesting you not focus on it solely.
The great news about backlinks is they tend to be additive. Once somebody adds a link to your site, they likely won’t take it down. So, your efforts should be rewarded and grow over time.
Local SEO is a “superpower” for local publishers. You write and curate much better content than typical directory sites. But they play the backlink and SEO game much better than you do. If you can level the SEO playing field, you’ll absolutely outrank them consistently since you have the Local SEO benefits as well as the highly curated local content. It takes some time and effort, but once it’s setup, it will build upon itself.
Try just one of the above three tips and nail it. Then try the next one. We’re confident that if you spend 2-3 months of solid effort on each of these items, you will be a Local SEO powerhouse!