LOCAL SEO GUIDE
SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION
Planning, creating, analyzing, and adapting online content in order to rank high in Google and the major search engines for a targeted keyword phrase and grow interest, likes, shares, links, lists, sales, and customers.
What Is Local SEO?
What is local search engine optimization?
Search engine optimization (SEO) for small businesses is the art and science of creating, marketing, optimizing, and managing online content with a primary goal of organically ranking it on page one of search engines like Google for targeted keyword phrases.
Ultimately, SEO marketing is about INCREASING SALES through more traffic, lists, leads, and customers.
SEO for local businesses (called Local SEO) adds:
- your online reputation on customer review sites, your own website, and social media.
- local business, industry, and reviews directories like Google My Business, Bing, Yahoo!, SuperPages, YP, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Apple Maps, etc.
There’s a ton of local people already searching about topics in your industry. They’re seeking information on your products and services but based on their questions, problems, needs, wants, and desires, etc.
Many are ideal prospective customers for your business.
Your mission (or ours) is to find exactly what they’re searching for that’s related to your local business, then create great content for it, provide it in every format, design it for local SEO, get it ranked organically in Google, and market it in every way possible.
Go where the traffic is.
Create the content they’re asking for. Solve problems, answer questions, provide how-to’s, etc.
It’s about creating content that will rank on page one of Google and other search engine results pages (SERP) to get traffic, and converting that traffic into leads and sales.
Because now nearly everyone has a smartphone in their pocket. It’s a new world.
And we all use it to search for everything, including shopping for local business, products, and services.
Nearly 90% of U.S. citizens are Internet connected and 77% have smartphones. And those numbers are rising rapidly.
According to Google, 4 in 5 consumers use search engines to find local products and services.
The stats make it pretty clear where your customers are.
High-speed, fiber-optic cable and the smartphone have changed the world forever.
Look around right now. Odds are people’s eyes and attention are directed at their phones, tablets, or desktops.
We used to look in the yellow pages, newspapers, magazines, or walk through the malls and drive through towns to shop for products and services.
Today we search the whole world within our phones.
That’s where everyone is.
That’s where the business is.
Be seen or be invisible.
It starts with local search.
Does your business stand out or dominate page one of Google’s search results page for the keyword phrases your local prospects and customers are using the most?
Local SEO gets your business and content ranked and seen.
Good conversion design in the content turns the new search engine traffic into more leads, sales, and customers.
Every local business has it’s own unique needs, wants, and desires.
Google and all major search engines change their metrics and algorithms daily. You’ve got to stay tuned and adjust to what is.
With that said, there’s still plenty of core local SEO fundamentals that everyone should be implementing and which usually produce very good results.
The reward at the end of the SEO marketing rainbow is more highly-targeted and qualified traffic, lists, leads, sales, and customers.
Like all things, it’s about doing the work. It takes time and effort to develop and maintain. It also takes Google and other search engines a few months to get around to crawling, indexing, and ranking your newly optimized website code, structure, and content.
It’s not only essential and required, it’s the path to thriving and predictable success.
We’ve put together a list of powerful local SEO tips, tools, and on-page strategies that any business can use to choose, analyze, and optimize your content by keywords, code, structure, links, rankings, and more.
Also included are a bunch of suggestions for off-page SEO efforts to build brand, reputation, relationships, and high-quality, long-term inbound links.
This FREE Local SEO Guide offers you the nuts and bolts of what works for us and what we’ve learned over twenty years of online experience; building and operating an e-commerce store, ranking websites, and owning three small businesses.
SEO for a local business, known as local SEO, has three main sectors. Each needs to be planned, optimized, and actively managed.
- SEO content on website and social media – The on-page design and coding of content and the off-page promotion and syndication to get inbound links are all required to earn high rankings in Google, YouTube, Bing, Yahoo, etc. We’ll cover how to do that throughout the rest of this guide.
- Local business directories & citations – managing your company name, address, and phone number (NAP) and website URL information in the hundreds of free local business, industry, and reviews directories like Google My Business (GMB), Bing Places, Yelp, Yahoo! Local, CitySearch, Apple Maps, etc. is extremely important to growing your sales.
These are high authority sites with lots of traffic that provide local business listings with links back to your website in their searches. Each one helps send traffic, a backlink, “link juice” and ranking power to your business and it’s ranking in all the directories, maps, and organic search results pages (SERPs) for your website. Optimized directory listings (called citations) are essential to ranking in local searches and growing leads and sales.
- Reputation management – encouraging and growing great online customer reviews is also vitally important in the online world. Consumers trust online reviews and every business needs to earn great reviews and proudly display them. Provide excellent service. Encourage naturally great reviews and make it easy for your customers to give them.
The very first thing every small business should do for local SEO and online marketing, is to create or claim your FREE listings in local business directories like Google My Business to increase your search rankings.
Getting ranked in the top 3 or 4 listings that are displayed in Google Maps for local search results will get you more leads, sales, and customers.
It’s the first thing people see after the ads when doing a local search.
In the local SEO world it’s called “the Google snack pack” because it’s a tasty place to be. Those listings get most of the clicks, calls, and sales.
There are literally hundreds of free local business, industry, and reviews directories like Bing Places, Yahoo! Local, Yelp, SuperPages, YP, TripAdvisor, CitySearch, etc.
These directories list your company name, address, phone (NAP) and provide a link to your website URL. Some allow for photos and videos.
Much of the NAP and URL information can be incorrect, especially if your business has moved or change phones, websites, etc.
The more of them your local business is in with the correct NAP and URL information, along with good website SEO, the better you’ll rank in search and the more leads and sales you’ll get.
Your business is in some or many of these directories already just from search robots crawling the web and picking up mentions of your business NAP and URL.
If listings are wrong, then the search engines don’t know they belong to you. Resulting in you losing ideal traffic, leads, and sales.
Online software can help you manage these. Though we think the job is best done manually.
A local directories and citations management service is offered by most digital marketing and local seo companies like ourselves.
For the DIY’ers make sure the name, address, and phone number (NAP) and website address is accurate and identical in every directory. Make sure the directories are relevant to your business, industry, and customers.
Add as many photos as each permits. First make sure the filenames of each photo have keywords in them but still apply to the photo.
Try to describe the photo and it’s related keyword. DO NOT JUST STUFF KEYWORDS, Google will penalize you. Have it make sense.
Geo-tag all of your photos with your local business location. If you have multiple locations, geo-tag separate photos for each location. Geo-tagging embeds the latitude and longitude of the photo and search engines read that and help it rank for related searches in that same local area.
Add a video if the directory permits and make it a “business listing” type of video that quickly provides your business name, address, cross streets, days open and hours, the products and services offered, and why your local business is a better choice for the consumer. The super low-budgeted can make a slide-show video from photos of your location, products, services, and staff.
If the directory allows a description, create a good actionable description using words like “free, learn, try, get, find, etc.” And include your keyword phrase for your industry in your city. For example “ABC are the best plumbers in Boulder Colorado.”
Be sure to link out from the local directory to your website. That link adds value and ranking power to your website.
The more links your website has from quality authority sites, the more value and Google ranking power your website gains.
Placing that same NAP data on every page of your website in also important. Your phone number should be in the header so it’s easily seen and made to click to call. The address can be in the footer with the business name and phone repeated.
Adding structured data or local schema code on your website is important too. These tell the search engines who you are in the language they want it in, and that your matching business name, address and phone number (and website URL) is being talked about all over the Internet from high authority sites. See Google and LocalSchema.org for more info.
There’s also special structured data or local schema code for reviews pages, posts, products, and more. They’re all a tremendous help in getting your site and content organically ranked and growing traffic.
Online reviews have a direct influence on local search engine rankings, leads, sales, and your business’s brand and reputation.
Online reviews are also one of the first things people see in your Google My Business listing displayed in maps for local searches.
90% of those surveyed said positive reviews affected their buying decisions and 86% said negative reviews did.
Since consumers trust online reviews almost as much as reviews from friends and family, they need to be a priority in your business and SEO plans.
Your local business needs lots of great reviews on Google+, Yelp, Bing Places, etc.
7 out of 10 customers say they will leave a review for a business if asked according to the Sixth Annual Local Consumer Review Survey by Bright Local.
It’s against Yelp and others policy to ask for reviews or provide any type of incentive.
But you can display tent cards or stickers that you participate and appreciate Google+ and Yelp reviews. Or other sites that apply to your business.
You can also train your staff to ask customers to leave photos of your business and it’s products or the results of it’s services (before and after) on Google+ and Yelp. This is legit and will encourage natural, organic reviews being made and more engagement with your customers.
Display reviews on your website home page.
Make it easy for people to leave reviews on your website. Create a “review-us” page on your website that displays your great customer reviews and provide links to key review sites and social channels for your business. Give them a choice of where to write a review.
If you have multiple locations add a “select a location” menu to review the proper location.
On your “Review Us” webpage provide a “we’ve got a beef” or “not satisfied” link to a input form that allows a customer to let you know about what they’re not satisfied with.
Divert the unhappy customer and potential bad review back to you to find out what’s wrong and how to correct the issue and satisfy the customer.
You’ll also learn about and be able to correct possible kinks in your customer service, processes, and procedures.
Also ADD social share buttons to your website content pages. Make it easy to share.
Content is King
It all begins with content… great content.
Brian Dean of Backlinko has confirmed that to rank in 2018 and beyond it will take great, well-researched, long-form content with lots of video that keeps people on the page a long time (dwell time), gets lots of clicks in search (click-thru rate CTR – from great Titles), and has lots of backlinks from a diversity of high-authority and relevant sources.
Your long-term online marketing success will be driven from a foundation of valuable and marketable cornerstone content.
Well researched, in-depth, and informative content that solves problems, answers questions, teaches, inspires, and entertains.
Your content must fulfill the needs of what your prospects and customers are already searching for.
Your customers don’t want interruption ads anymore.
Finding information, products, and services is easy now.
They all have access to instant information in their hands.
And people want to learn.
Now they want to know things related to your industry, products, and services.
They want to know how to solve problems or get answers to questions they have.
You have to find their wants and needs then give them an exceptional experience.
There’s no middle ground really, people want an informative and enjoyable experience.
You have to provide content they will actually want to consume and share.
Let your prospects slowly get to know, like and trust you by providing information that’s helpful to them.
Then your content also has to be written and coded in such a way that makes it search engine optimized to get it ranked on Google, Bing, and other search engines.
Local SEO marketing uses customized content to drive traffic to your website, blog posts, video, social sites, forums, and more.
There’s a sea of competitors in your industry who show up in local search engine results. Your content has to be better.
Great content is the cornerstone of your business’s online presence. It’s what we all see, experience, and measure you by.
It’s your brand.
An important part of getting content ranked in Google is having outside authorities and influencers in your same industry know, like, trust, link to, mention, and share your content with their audiences.
Getting authorities and influencers to link to it requires the content be of value to the consumer and worthy of sharing and linking to in the first place.
It always comes back to rich, well-researched, informative content that provides value to the consumer.
Well, you’ll still have to work for most of those backlinks, but it’ll be much easier, more effective, and longer-lasting with quality content.
Good cornerstone content usually has “evergreen” value and can be used in many ways and produce leads, grow lists, and increase sales for many years to come.
In the new smartphone world, how much any company’s ability to compete and grow will be in direct proportion to the importance given to Local SEO and online marketing and the VALUE of the content created.
NO value = NO visitors = NO business
All the SEO in the world won’t help poor content.
Every local business has cornerstone content.
What are the top ten questions your customers ask?
What problems do you solve for people?
You’re good at what you do right? What can you teach?
The features and benefits of your products, services, and company and how they directly benefit the people who use them are key cornerstone topics.
What service calls could you prevent with a video or how-to guide posted online?
Survey your customers and social groups. Ask them what problems or questions they would like to see covered that’s related to your products or services and their uses, features, and benefits.
Write long-form content of 1,500 words or more.
Various studies have shown that long-form content gets better search engine rankings than short-form.
Google and other search engines want to return valuable, in-depth content to help users find a broad scope of information on the topic they’ve searched for.
Well crafted long-form content that cites sources and provides outbound links to external authoritative sources, in addition to having inbound links from external recognized authorities on a subject, tells the search engines that this content will be of help and value to the user.
It goes back to being an information hub.
Provide lots of great content on a subject and you’re more likely to rank well in the search engines.
Long-form content is also easier and more likely to receive links from external sources, which helps increase the authority of the page or post to search engines.
Do the work up front and you’ll be richly rewarded.
For more on this topic see this SearchEngineLand article: The SEO And User Science Behind Long-Form Content.
Readability is an important part of crafting content.
People online want written content that’s easy to read and scan.
Make it as smooth and sweet as honey.
Well organized content with keyword headings and sub-headings keeps people on your page and learning.
The best advice for good readability is to read it out loud before you post it.
You’ll be able to spot where the flow just doesn’t feel right and be able make any needed changes.
Recording it on your phone and playing it back can help too.
As the say, “measure twice to cut once.”
Double-check spelling and grammar. Though you might break some paragraph rules in exchange for ease of reading online.
You can also use an SEO plugin like Yoast or All In One to get readability scores for your content. But don’t solely rely on a plugin.
Listening to your content being read out loud will always be your best editing tool.
A sign of good research and quality information is to cite the sources you use in the information you provide.
Readers will question the research, statistics, quotes, and content you provide if you don’t also provide the sources you got them from.
Just like in school, you need to cite the sources of your content.
Once you have a list of ideas for potential cornerstone content, it’s time for lots of keyword research.
Use online keyword research tools to examine the traffic and competition of each keyword phrase and their related search terms.
Keyword research always takes you on a road toward discovering other high-traffic search phrase variations similar to what you were originally looking for.
Research your cornerstone content keyword phrases to discover the longest tail keyword with the highest traffic that fits your customer’s content idea, problem, or question.
Generally you want longer keyword phrases with multiple words that have good or great traffic and low or mild competition.
Stay away from short, highly competitive keyword phrases. Use longer phrases that contain those words if possible.
For example instead of “Dentist in Boulder” use “best local emergency Dentist in Boulder CO (999) 111-1234”
Look for longer phrases with multiple words that indicate buying signals like, “best”, “reviews”, “compare”, etc.
Start with your most relevant cornerstone content ideas that have the best traffic.
Choose three to ten or so of these to be your main keyword topics.
The goal of keyword research is to identify and target a single keyword phrase that your potential customers are searching for and will bring traffic to your site.
For example if you’re a dentist, your research might lead you to create content that targets the keyword phrase “the best ways to whiten teeth.”
Each keyword phrase should become a separate piece of content.
Everything about the structure, content, and design of that content needs to be targeting that particular keyword phrase. It can add a shorter broader term keyword within in it.
If you do that well the search engines are likely to reward you by ranking it high in the search results for that phrase. Higher rankings bring more traffic to your content page and grow your business.
Of course you’ll also need off-page SEO tactics to help get it ranked but we’ll get to that in part two of this guide.
First we build it, and then we go get others to link to it, share it, and talk about it.
There’s a ton of keyword research tools you can choose from. Here’s a short list of some commonly used ones.
8 FREE keyword research tools & ideas:
- Google Adwords keyword planner – requires a Google Adwords account but you don’t actually have to spend money and run any ads.
- Google keyword suggestions at the bottom of their search results page. Type in a broad keyword and then go to the bottom of the search results and look at similar searches that Google suggests. These are popular searches.
- Bing keyword research tool – also requires an ad account but you don’t actually have to run any ads.
- YouTube – use a broad search term then look at results for ideas.
- Quora – search questions being asked then put them into a keyword tool to see their popularity.
- Wikipedia – use a broad term search then look at table of contents for ideas.
7 PAID Keyword Research Tools (not affiliate links)
In the old days, the more you stuffed a keyword phrase into your page the better it ranked. Those days are absolutely over and now that will hurt you.
Today, most local SEO experts suggest you use the exact keyword phrase in the first paragraph or one hundred words.
For the rest of the content Yoast currently recommends to keep keyword density down to between 0.5% and 2.5% of the total number of words.
Google will likely penalize the page if it’s more than that.
Keyword stuffing days are over. It takes more work and skills today to be good at SEO.
Page or Post Title – this needs to be the exact keyword phrase you’re targeting.
Using the dentist example above it would be “the best ways to whiten teeth.”
Add title modifiers like “best”, “review”, “guide”, “how to”, etc. That’s the natural way people search.
Start the title with the exact keyword phrase so it’s the first thing the search engines see and will give more weight to it.
Page or Post Description (a.k.a. Meta Description) – this is a snippet of 160 characters that search engines show in the search results. It’s that little paragraph you see right under the page title.
This Meta description needs to entice the searcher to click on it (take action) and should include the local SEO keyword phrase to reinforce the reader that this page or post has content that’s directly related to what they were searching for.
Use call to action phrases like learn more about…, try…, free guide to… Etc.
Use screenshot here of an example
Heading tags (a.k.a. H1 and H2 tags)
There should be at least one H1 tag and it should be either the first sentence on the page or in the first paragraph.
It should contain your exact keyword phrase in the same exact order of words.
It’s what the page or post is about.
H2 tags should be for subheadings to establish a hierarchy and structure of the page.
H3 tags could be used as subheadings of the H2 headings.
H1 tag = the best ways to whiten teeth – which is also the file name and page title
H2 tags = professional whitening procedures, over the counter whiteners
H3 tags = light-activated whiteners, bleach trays, whitening strips, etc.
This can go all the way down to H4, H5, and H6 tags in a very long page or post.
It’s about structure and it helps tell the search engines what the page or post is about
Page Loading Speed
Google has made it crystal clear that page loading speed is critical to getting a great ranking.
Optimizing images plays a giant role in having a fast loading page or post.
The WordPress theme you’re using and the number and quality of the plugins you’re using play major roles as well.
We really like the Thrive Themes and Divi Theme. Customized child themes are then installed on top of the main theme.
W3 Total Cache is a WordPress plugin that can help your site improve it’s performance and loading speed. We use it on every site.
Images always make your content more interesting and engaging, but only when you use images that pertain to the topic being discussed.
Find images that relate to your topic and create even more impact than the words could do themselves.
Using your own images is ideal but not often a reality.
Don’t just Google a keyword and use an image you find. You’ll almost certainly be violating copyright laws and there’s a good chance it can come back to bite you with BIG fines.
Creative Commons images has images you can use that either require no attribution to the creator or that only require you attribute the image to the original creator of the image and provide a link to the author’s page.
If you’re using the images on a commercial site make sure the image creator allows “attribution for commercial use.”
There are also paid sites that will license you the use of royalty-free images without attribution.
Be aware that paid sites also have “editorial use only” images that cannot be used on a commercial site. Always double-check to make sure. I’ve slipped these in my carts without noticing quite often.
PAID sites for images
Optimize your images!!!
Images are usually very big file sizes and will slow down the loading speed of your page, post, powerpoint, etc. Slow speeds hurt you in search engine rankings.
There are WordPress plugins that will automatically optimize your images as you upload them, and some also optimize the ones you already have on the site with your help.
Online Image Optimizer
TinyPNG.com – we use this all the time! Plus a WP plugin.
WordPress SEO Plugin
Installing a WordPress SEO Plugin will do wonders to guide you in creating SEO optimized pages and posts.
There’s no way we would work on a site without one.
The two most popular are:
Yoast SEO – This the most popular and most used SEO plugin. Yoast offers a free SEO plugin and a premium upgrade to it. They also offer a Local SEO pack which helps manage citations and directory listings. We use Yoast and install it on every site.
All In One SEO Pack – an easier to use plugin than Yoast but still very helpful.
Responsive Web Design
These themes adjust the screen to fit the type of device being used. It will automatically adjust to mobile phone and tablet screen sizes.
A responsive theme is an absolute must today.
Mobile and tablet use is growing rapidly and according to SimilarWebs State of Mobile Web US Report in 2015, mobile use accounts for over 50 percent of consumer traffic today.
If your site doesn’t fit peoples screen, they’ll leave in a heartbeat.
Be sure your WordPress Theme is a responsive theme. Look at your site on your smartphone… how does it look? How about on a tablet, laptop, and desktop? Test them all and test all browsers.
We really like Thrive Themes and Divi Themes.
Create internal links to relative content on your site.
Link to content within your own site that’s related and helpful to the page or post you’re creating.
Internal links help spread link juice earned from off-page SEO links and help establish site architecture to the search engines.
Link internal pages within the same silo to each other and especially to the parent silo page.
Be an information hub.
Linking to sites other than your own shows both visitors and search engines that you’re trying to create the best information hub possible on that topic.
Studies done by Reboot and others have shown that search engines reward you for linking to quality sites that provide great content related to your own.
Add Videos to your webpages, blog posts, social media, etc.
Consumers want video!
Video content accounts for over 65 percent of all content consumed on the Internet in 2017 and that figure is growing rapidly.
Cisco Systems and Facebook have stated they believe that video content will account for over 81% of all content consumed by 2021.
It’s why we’re focusing on the video marketing business. It’s the new world.
We humans just naturally want a full multimedia experience and video provides that. Most all of us would rather watch a video than read text or listen to audio only.
Oh yeah… and Google owns YouTube so it favors YouTube videos in search results.
There’s even a video tab on the major search engines menu bar now for every search result.
For the overwhelming statistics, reasons why, and how your local business needs to harness the power of video marketing, see our complete Guide to Video Marketing.
Create a Sitemap
According to SearchEngineLand.com submitting a sitemap to the search engines alerts them to the content you created faster and helps establish you as the creator of that content, which might later be syndicated on other sites, or worse, stolen by other sites.
A great tool for this is a WordPress plugin called Google XML Sitemaps
The Google XML plugin auto generates a sitemap that the search engines can use to index your site.
It should almost go without saying but your content should be pleasing to the eye and easy to scan and read.
Keep paragraphs short or break them up, even if it’s not grammatically correct.
People like to scan web pages and posts and short paragraphs with good subheadings help them do just that.
Videos, graphics, and Infographics also make content pleasing to the eye and entice visitors to stay and even share your content.
Calls to Action
You’re in business right? So the point of it all is to collect emails for future marketing, get likes and shares to social media, and new customers through sales.
Make it easy for people to contact you.
Include your email and phone number if applicable on your top menu bar.
Include CTA buttons and links to Opt-in to your email list, or to download a free guide, etc.
Create a “Contact US” page.
Like a call-to-action, a contact us form makes it easy for visitors to reach out to you and send you a message.
Create a “contact us” form and make it easy to access from every page on your site.
SSL / TLS
If your site completes transactions and needs to protect data, install a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate on your domain (a.k.a. Transport Layer Security or TLS).
“HTTPS is an Internet communication security protocol that protects the integrity and confidentiality of data between the user’s computer and your website.” – Google
SSL / TLS protects your users data from being intercepted by a third party. It secures communications between your domain and your domain hosting service’s server.
You know a site has an SSL certificate if the address bar shows HTTPS://webaddress instead of just HTTP://webaddress. There is also a padlock next to the address.
SSL can help with search rankings too!
Google has confirmed they use SSL as a ranking factor and want all websites to move toward this level of security.
OFF PAGE SEO
Off-page SEO is all about getting links to your sites’ content from external authorities and influencers in your industry such as blogs, forums, social media, etc.
Backlinks is the recognized term and refers to links from other sites that refer back to your site.
It’s arguable that backlinks are the most valuable part of ranking your content in the search engines.
Backlinks from popular sites within your industry bring qualified traffic, which your website then converts into lists, leads, and sales
The search engines will not rank your content well without good quality backlinks. They need to see authorities like your content.
If people are talking about your company and linking to your content then they must like it.
It’s “social proof” that people like your content enough to share it and put their name on it.
That’s how the search engines see it too.
The more high-quality sites that link to your content, the more the search engines will see your website and company as being an authority on the subject and rank your site higher as a result.
Even people just mentioning your brand on other sites without a link is picked up by the search engines and provides value to your content.
But not just any people… it works best if well respected and high-authority websites, blogs, forums, and influencers in your industry are linking back to your online content and talking about your brand.
That happens when you produce valuable and useful content that helps people then reach out to promote it.
Great content is the cornerstone of being able to reach out and create relationships that foster the sharing of content and backlinks to your site.
It’s going to be difficult to get any website of value linking to thin, crappy, and half-ass content.
If you have very few or low-quality incoming links to your content, the search engines will not rank you well.
So high-quality backlinks are VERY important and you have to develop a plan to get them.
“If you build it, they will come.” Well maybe not exactly… but if you create good content it’s going to be a lot easier for you to get others to want to share.
You have to develop a marketing plan to get your content seen, liked, followed, shared, and linked to.
Email, social media, and backlink outreach is an ongoing function of getting and keeping your content ranked.
Be diligent and patient, it takes time to develop backlinks through outreach, building relationships, engaging with communities, etc.
It may take time, but high-quality backlinks produce powerful long-term, evergreen benefits of getting your content seen, shared, and increasing search engine rankings.
Links from high-quality sites in the same industry ensures you will get highly qualified traffic to your site to grow your business.
So where do you start?
Two kinds of links to know about:
Dofollow links = allows Google and other search engines to follow the link and pass on the page authority from the page and domain (known as “link juice”) to the page being linked to. These are your number one priority to focus on. They give your content a little boost to the search engines and help build the authority of your content being linked to.
If you have lots of “dofollow links” to your content it tells the search engines that other high authority websites think your content is good. The higher the authority of the site linking to yours, the more link juice gets passed on and the more search engines will see your content as valuable and therefore rank it better in search results pages.
More links = more link juice = higher search engine rankings for your content
Nofollow links = this link as special HTML code in it that tells the search engines NOT to follow this link and therefore it does NOT pass on any link juice or authority.
Nofollow links can still be valuable to you if the site is relevant to your content because it brings qualified visitors who want to learn about your content.
If the referring site is very high authority and the link is well-placed in the context of the article or comment, then you could get a lot of high quality traffic to your site which can convert into leads and sales for you.
The following code is used to create a nofollow link:
<a href=”http://www.website.com/” rel=”nofollow”>Link Text</a>
Why are there nofollow links?
Because the SEO community started spamming links everywhere once they found out Google used incoming links as a key part of PageRanking.
So sites like Wikipedia, WordPress, and many forums, blog comments, etc. that used to provide dofollow links have changed to nofollow links.
Exceptions abound, especially in forums and blog comments where you are honestly contributing to the community. The webmasters of such sites may allow for a dofollow link as a reward for adding to the community.
In addition to qualified traffic, nofollow links may also get noticed by others who then choose to link to your content from their own site and will provide a dofollow link as a result. So you get traffic plus dofollow links from others if your content is good and others choose to link to it also.
You can see if the page you’re on uses “nofollow” links by right-clicking on the page, view source, and ctrl-F to search for “nofollow.”
If they are no-follow, how good is their Moz domain (DA) and page (PA) authority? Anything over 25 is good candidate. You’ll have to decide yourself.
How to Get Backlinks?
1. Top Page One Search Results from Google on your Keywords
Google the primary keywords of your content and look at every link that came up on page one search results page that’s not yours. Exclude the review sites, directories, etc.
Use a free tool like Moz Open Site Explorer or ahrefs.com and see what backlinks are coming in to each of the URL’s in the organic search results for your keywords. Then try to get backlinks from those same sites.
You can also use to search Google for backlinks to a site using the link search operator.
Example: to find links to a site or page that are not from the site itself use this operator
Repeat this process for every website on page one of the search results page for your keyword. Excluding review sites, directories, etc.
2. The next best places are blogs, websites, forums, and social media that are talking about your industry, products, and services.
First, you’ll need to know if a site has high authority and is worth the effort to reach out and get a link from it.
We use the free Moz Bar extension for the Google Chrome browser to do just that. You can download it at
The Moz bar provides you their proprietary page authority (PA) and domain authority (DA) rankings of a website, page, or post.
Ranked from 1 to 100, the higher the number the more authority that site has with the search engines and the more likely it is to help your site rank better.
A DA or PA above 20 is a good site to look into further. If the DA is high but the PA is low that’s okay.
Visit the site and get a feel for it’s content. If the site looks and feels like a high quality site then add it to your target list to try and get links from.
Use Mozbar to get a feel for how you and your local, regional, and national competitors rank, and where their links are coming from.
There’s a paid premium upgrade to the Moz Bar that will provide additional useful metrics but just using the free PA and DA numbers alone can help you identify great resources to try and build relationships with and backlinks from.
3. Blogs – guest posting and blog commenting
– Guest posting
You can create content for same-industry authority websites, blogs, and influencers, and insert a contextual backlink to your site. You get a link, qualified traffic, and get seen as an authority on the subject. It starts branding you. Make sure they’re related to your industry or you might get penalized for these by Google.
How do you find qualified blogs to guestpost on?
your keyword “submit a post”
your keyword “forum”
Examine the results for potential opportunities. Look at the blogs, examine the shares and tweets their content is getting and the formats that they like. Fit your content to the forma, style, and topic of the blog. Include outbound links to good sources and a backlink to your own domain. At the end, ask readers to comment and reply to their comments. More engagement means more opportunity to your brand.
– Blog commenting – this is one of the easiest ways to get backlinks form quality blogs. Look for high authority blogs that are active and people are commenting and sharing. Check the Moz bar domain authority and make sure the domain has good authority. Don’t spam! Write what you liked about the content and provide additional value and link to your related content.
4. Reach out to the authorities that your content links out to. Let them know you included them as a resource in your content, and if they like would they mind sharing it.
5. Forums / Boards – search your keywords within the forum and reply to questions with quality info and a link back to your related content. DO NOT SPAM. Be respectful. Provide quality answers and content and include links to other sites as well as your own where appropriate.
To find niche forums in your industry Google search in quotes “keyword forum”, example “nutrition forum” with the quotes.
6. Broken Links – find well-established sites in your niche. Download the free Google Chrome extension called “Check My Links.” It will install a little checkmark box to the right of the address bar.
Go to a webpage on a well-established site in your niche. Click on the “Check My Links” checkbox near the address bar in your browser. It will scan the page for broken links and turn them red. Manually click on them to make sure they’re not working.
If that link is supposed to go out to content that’s similar to yours, then contact the website owner by email. Tell them you really like something about their article on _________, and noticed that a link was broken. Let them know you have similar content they might want to consider as a replacement. Provide a link to your content for them to check out.
7. Social bookmarking sites
8. Social networking sites
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