How to Build Local Links

This post was written by our Search and Social Team Manager, Steve Shackelford. To hear his recent webinar, “SEO for Noobs,” click this link.

So, you’ve decided to start building local links. Welcome to the wide, wonderful world of competitive link building. The good news: your dealership is probably already doing a lot of great things that are helping your link signals, but we want to start building up more relevant links. So let’s get started.

Before we get to the easy ways to grab more links, you need to identify your existing links. I recommend using Moz’s Open Site Explorer, Majestic, or Ahrefs to export your links. Each site will pull slightly different results, so if you have a subscription to all three, use them all.

After you export your links, just drop them all into an Excel spreadsheet and remove any duplicate linking domains. Now, you have a pretty good idea of all the sites linking back to your dealership.

Use your Competitors’ Links to Identify Opportunities and Patterns

You know which sites are linking to yours, which is great, but now you can start looking at which sites are linking to all your competitors. Pull your competitors’ links and then start evaluating. Here’s what to look for:

  1. Low-hanging fruit that you’ve missed; e.g., Chamber of Commerce, Better Business Bureau, a local newspaper listing for car dealers.
  2. Organizational partnership patterns; e.g., your competitors have a lot of links from golf tournaments, food banks, adoption centers, etc…

The low-hanging fruit links are easy, just go get them! For the patterns you’ve identified, get your wheels turning and move on to the next section for advice on how to acquire those links.

Figure Out Where You Can Provide Value to Local Organizations

The links in your competitors’ link profiles were full of juicy golf tournaments, school carnivals, churches, food banks, car clubs, and pet adoption websites — so how do you get them? Easy. All you have to do is figure out where you can provide value.

Here are a couple of quick ideas:

  • If you’re a Chevy dealer, there’s probably a local Corvette club that could use a meeting space, Corvette swag, or refreshments for their meeting.
  • Local neighborhood watch groups often launch their own sites, which are a great place to get a local link. If you’re able to provide a free oil change to the neighborhood watch drivers once every 6 months or so, that’s a great way to grab a link. Those drivers also appreciate any extra seat padding or air fresheners you have — these are small ways to provide value to these drivers.
  • Elementary schools, private schools, and churches often offer sponsorship opportunities for individual carnival games; e.g.,  a putting game, pull the duck, or ring toss. These game sponsorships don’t cost an arm and a leg, and usually result in a nice local link.
  • If you’re willing to allow organizations to include a drop-off box at the dealership, this a low-friction way to grab local links from an organization. Toys for Tots is one of the more well-known groups, but there are drop-offs for coat drives, food shelters, etc… These drop-off boxes don’t take up much space, but can generate links from the organization and other news sites — even links from local blogs that post lists of donation centers.

Routine Link Checks on Partner Organizations

How to Build Local LinksNow, comes the time-consuming part: you have to go make sure that all the organizations you work with are actually linking back to you. You’d be amazed how many times an organization just drops the name of a dealership or a logo on a page without a link — or they just don’t mention you at all!

Simply refer back to your existing link profile. Compare your link profile to your dealership’s list of partner organizations, then look for any organizations that don’t show up in your link exports. Once you know which ones aren’t linking back to you, reach out to your contact at the organization and see what you need to do to remedy the situation.

Remember, you’re not selling them anything, you already work with these organizations to provide value, so link acquisition is not the sole purpose of the partnership — you just want a little link love!

You see, that wasn’t so hard at all. Now, go get some links!

While my post here is most certainly focused on the automotive vertical, it’s certainly applicable to all kinds of businesses. Every website can benefit from having quality local links pointing back at them because it’s an essential part of your SEO strategy.