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Google continues to be a dominating force in the digital landscape.  Billions of queries are processed every day for searches ranging from product information to local business details and more. Ranking at the top results for relevant keywords practically makes your site a magnet for targeted traffic.

But how?

With search engine optimization.

Google evaluates hundreds of different factors to determine rankings. These include:

  • Domain authority
  • Keyword usage
  • Content length
  • Social signals
  • Site usability
  • User reviews
  • Mobile friendliness
  • Page loading speed

SEO focuses on optimizing these aspects to improve rankings.

Google has always strived to deliver the most relevant results. Search results that are filled with spam sites create a poor user experience and unlikely to attract repeat visitors. Complex algorithms are deployed that consider all these factors to return relevant results for each query.

But one factor continues to have a strong impact on rankings: Backlinks.

According to a recent survey on local search factors, backlinks account for approximately 20% of how Google determines its search results:

Overall Ranking Factors

Why Do Links Matter?

Links are essentially like votes.

A page with more links means that it has garnered votes from other sites. Getting enough votes pushes the page even higher in the search results.

But not just any votes. Quality and relevance are still important here. Sites can actually get hit with a ranking penalty for spamming links to their pages. Because Google sees such activities as deliberate attempts to manipulate search rankings.

Having no links is equally bad. So a strong link profile is one of the key factors to ranking well. A quality link has the following characteristics:

  • Drives referral traffic to your pages
  • Builds visibility with your audience
  • Establishes authority and relevance

These types of links are enormously beneficial in terms of local SEO. Here we look at several link building strategies to boost your rankings.

1. Sponsor a Community Event
Events such as fundraisers and seminars are likely happening right now in your area. Sponsoring one of these events is a great way to not only gain a powerful link, but also to increase exposure of your business to your local audience.

If you are sponsoring a county-wide event, then you can get listed on the county site. Another added benefit is potentially being covered in the local news.

Check sites such a Meetup.com or your local business chamber site for upcoming events. Then reach out to the event organizer to ask if they are seeking sponsorships. If they are, do not be afraid to promote it either on your site or social media profiles.

In a similar fashion, covering local events is another great way to get featured in the news. For example, you can cover a local fundraiser and even interview some people at the event. Then you can contact local media to ask if they are interested in publishing the story.

2. Create a Local Resource
Content is one of the best ways to establish authority and attract quality links. Start by creating a community resource on your site that is relevant to your site. For example, if you own a flower shop you could create a guide on romantic places to visit in the city or a list of top rated restaurants. It doesn’t necessarily need to be a local resource.

Other content examples include:

  • Tutorials
  • Guides
  • Videos
  • Case studies
  • Industry news
  • Reviews
  • Interviews
  • Infographics
  • Webinars
  • Polls

Creating content that is relevant to your audience increases your authority in the search results and attracts quality links in the process.

3. Build Relationships With Influencers
Connecting with influences is difficult but can really pay off in the long term.

These people can range from journalists to event organizers and even competitors. Establishing these kinds of relationships is certainly not easy. But it also means building powerful links back to your site that most small businesses don’t even bother with.

To form a relationship with the local media, start by finding a list of press associations in your area. The easiest way to do this is with a search. With the list you can be able to find upcoming events which you can attend to meet people.

You can also establish relationships with influencers in your industry on social media. These contacts may prove to be incredibly valuable so take the time to nurture these relationships.

Link building continues to be an important factor in terms of rankings. But simply spamming thousands of links to your pages will ultimately do more harm than good. Recent changes to the ranking algorithm mean that quality and relevance matter more than ever.

Building quality links as described above is certainly an enormous undertaking. But making the effort not only means building a powerful link profile, it also gives your business a strong competitive advantage online.  If you have questions regarding website optimization or link building tactics contact us today.

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