3 practical local link building ideas that will cure your Penguinitis
Penguin caused many in the local SEO world to become wary of link building, but there are still plenty of white-hat methods to garner links to local businesses. Columnist Will Scott explores three such tactics.
I have a confession to make: Penguin scared the daylights out of me. I hope those of you who have been around the industry for as many years as I have will join me in taking the first step to recovery: admitting our problem.
In 2012, Penguin made once-easy and inexpensive link-building tactics for small businesses worthless — and in some cases, harmful. For a small handful of long-time clients, we had to undo years of work that had once supported their achievement of position one organic rankings (and more importantly, their acquisition of many, many leads).
Sadly, getting scared wasn’t the only consequence of seeing businesses that had been fully compliant with SEO best practices (of the time) get burned overnight — because those best practices had suddenly changed.
It also made us overly cautious about link building for SEO, and that caution kept us from seeing what continues to be a reality: that backlink profiles are still key factors in organic search rankings, including for searches with local intent.
How to overcome Penguinitis
Mike Ramsey, my fellow Local University faculty member and owner of Nifty Marketing in Burley, Idaho, recently presented at MozCon Local 2016. His presentation and subsequent blog post featuring tons of local link-building ideas illustrated the gravity of my confessions above. (You can check out Ramsey’s presentation slides here.)
As Ramsey rightly asserts, the Google Maps algorithm for determining relevance of businesses in the maps pack is closely tied to the Google organic algorithm. Google’s Pigeon algorithm update sought to make locally relevant results more prominent in the search engine results pages (SERPs) and affected both Google Maps results and Google organic results.
This means that quantity, quality and diversity of backlinks are among the few SEO elements that, if done well, can support both types of ranking results.
So why have we been so hesitant to focus on link building for local businesses?