Importance of Links for a Local Business
Brandon Schmidt | Jul 8, 2019
The world wide web is called a web for good reason: the basic structure of the internet is a collection of interconnected websites, documents, and files. The “web” that keeps everything together are links from one page to another.
As a local business, your website is an important component of growing and defining the web of information. Gaining new links to your website can improve your search visibility, send more traffic to your website, and grow the number of qualified leads from your online marketing.
In This Article:
5 Benefits of Links for a Local Business
Vote of Confidence
Put yourself in the shoes of Google: for every topic under the sun, there are millions of web pages vying to be number 1. How do you choose which one to display? One of the ways Google does this is by assigning value to each link between pages.
Google views links between pages as an endorsement or vote of confidence. A brand new website with no links does not have great confidence in the eyes of Google. But a website that has a sizable number of links – and continues to receive links on a regular basis – will be seen in a more positive light.
The sources of the links can also inspire trust for your website. Google places more value on links from established, credible, and relevant sites. Links from important websites in your industry or links from local organizations are valuable assets in growing your online presence.
Leverage Existing Relationships
If you have been in business for a while, you already have existing relationships with other businesses and organizations: subcontractors, suppliers, manufacturers, and non-profits that are close to your heart. By highlighting these relationships, you can support these relationships and refer customers to each other.
Introduce Yourself to New Audiences
Every link from another website gives you a chance to introduce yourself to a new audience. Whether you are sponsoring an event, writing an article for an industry magazine, or winning an award, your brand is getting in front of people who may have never heard of your business. It’s a fantastic way to grow your brand in your community or industry.
Create & Shape Buyer Pathway
Links between pages on your own site are important in shaping your customer’s journey from the landing page to your desired CTA. Called internal links, these help the user get the information they are looking for and prepare them to take the next step – whether that is to fill out a form, contact you, or visit your physical location.
9 Types of Links that Matter for Local Business
Not all links are created equal. Most of the link building advice online is geared towards large national brands, software companies, or news & blogging sites. These tactics don’t always work or make sense for local businesses.
Here are the types of links that matter for local businesses:
1. Internal Links
Your site needs to have a well-planned internal linking strategy to intentionally move a potential customer along. This includes having a cohesive menu structure, links in the body of the pages, and a natural flow of the site structure.
If you are rebuilding your website, you’ll want your web developer to create a solid internal linking plan. You can also add internal links to an existing site to ensure the user journey is well defined.
- Links in main navigation and footer
- Links from landing page to important product/service pages
- Links to contact/request a quote from
2. Social Profiles
You would be surprised at how many company profiles I’ve seen on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or YouTube that don’t have a link to their website. It only takes a few minutes to add a link to all your profiles, yet it makes it that much easier for potential customers to find and engage with your website.
Tip: instead of linking to your homepage, consider linking from your social media profile to a landing page or important blog post. You can also add a special discount on that page for your social media followers.
- Links from Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and other social media profiles
3. Online Directories
Online business directories are another form of digital low-hanging fruit. Citation management is crucial for providing a consistent experience across the internet, yet too many businesses don’t invest in it. It is considered table stakes for most competitive local industries and is especially important for businesses that have moved, merged, or grown in the last few years.
- Links from major directories: Yelp, Yellow Pages, NextDoor
- Links from niche directories: Houzz & Porch for home improvement
4. Industry Links
Within your specific industry, there are plenty of ways to get links. Industry trade organizations, magazines, training, and conferences are all sources of links to your business. While these links might not bring you qualified leads from your local service area, it will help you raise your profile in your industry and provide for new business opportunities.
- Link from trade association business profile
- Profile or interview for industry magazine
- Link from training or certification course for the company or team members
5. Related Business Links
Links are a great way to highlight the real-world connections you already have with other businesses. It makes perfect sense to have links from your manufacturer or dealers, the brands you sell or support, and any related business you work with.
- Links from dealers or subcontractors you work with
- Case study on a project you completed with another company
- Review/customer testimonial on software/product you use on a regular basis
6. Awards & Recognition
Most national or regional trade associations have awards to recognize outstanding projects or contributors. Every Chamber of Commerce, business group, or local publisher holds an awards night to honor local businesses. And many manufacturers or suppliers provide recognition based on sales volume, training, or customer satisfaction. These awards – and the publicity surrounding them – are helpful in getting links to your website.
- Links from local awards
- Links from industry awards & recognition
- Links from a manufacturer’s website on sales award
7. Community Links
Does your company give back to the community? If so, there may be opportunities to get links to your website. Sponsoring a local sports team or theater group, volunteering your time, or creating scholarships or internships can garner links, recognition, and press coverage.
- Links to scholarships or internships you offer
- Sponsorship opportunities for local sports, theater, or community events
- Press coverage and links for volunteering & supporting local charities
8. Expert Advice
If you are selling a product or service to customers, you should know more about your industry than the average person. Highlight this knowledge and hard-earned experience by sharing this information with your neighbors.
Whether you create helpful resources on your own website, get featured on someone else’s website, or get interviewed by a local publication, you can share your knowledge and get links to your site at the same time.
- Create local resources about your industry and share freely with others
- Work with a local blogger, tourist website, or Chamber of Commerce to answer common questions about your industry
- Be interviewed by local journalists, newspaper, or TV station for seasonal questions
9. News & Press
In some ways, part of any good local link building plan includes digital PR. Gaining editorial links and coverage from local media outlets (newspaper, radio, television, or community magazines) helps elevate your brand in the eyes of your potential customers. In addition, there are digital publications (local websites, podcasts, newsletters) that act similarly to traditional publishers and can be good places to get your company’s information in front of your target audience.
- Media coverage from community involvement
- Interview for breaking news or seasonal topic
- Announcement for a new business line, company growth, or key hires
What Links Should a Local Business Avoid?
Not all links are helpful. Google is very specific about the types of links that are positive and what links are forbidden or against their terms of service. And even if a link is acceptable according to Google, that doesn’t mean that the link is helpful for your local business.
Spammers and unethical SEO agencies are constantly trying to game the system to give websites a competitive advantage. When Google discovers links that go against their ToS, they will flag the offending site with a manual penalty. If your website gets hit with a Google penalty, you will see lower rankings, reduced traffic, and lost revenue from your site.
Don’t tempt fate by experimenting with bad SEO or link building practices. You may see an initial boost in rankings, but in the long run, you will pay far more to undo these mistakes and get back in Google’s good graces.
It is really easy to get links to your site. It is more difficult to get helpful links to your site. A link from a news agency across the country (or outside the country) may be worthless to you, while a link from your hometown’s newspaper is infinitely more valuable towards building your brand and finding potential local customers.
Some SEO agencies focus on building a lot of links to your site, reporting on sheer volume numbers. But how many of those links matter? How many of those pages will be crawled? Will a potential customer ever visit your site from one of these links?
If you are working with an SEO agency, make sure you know the types of links they are building to your website. Ask them how they vet linking opportunities. Find out how they measure success with link building campaigns. Don’t invest in any link building that is done without your knowledge or input; chances are they are building unhelpful or even harmful links to your site.