Link Building For Local Businesses

Pro-active link building is a technique we use to help our local clients build domain authority, which is ranked as the 7th most important Google Business Page ranking factor by local SEO experts.

Links back to your site from other sites also help strengthen relationships and gain referral traffic. The best links are the ones you attract naturally by creating outstanding content, but this guide is about the strategies we use to go after some of the low hanging fruit to help you gain new links back to your website.

Link Building

#1 Link Building 101

Many businesses invest marketing dollars in getting people to “Like” their Facebook Page. I’d argue that gaining links is far more important and they’re a lot harder to come by.

For a local business, the first thing to do is begin thinking about your website in terms of “Who can link to me?” This simple shift in the way you do business is essential to getting more links and is explained in the “Using Your Leverage” section of this page.

Why Are Links Important?

Links are important because: Websites that have a high PageRank will generally outrank websites that have lower PageRank because Google trusts them more.

In real world terms, who would you trust more to teach you how to cook a gourmet meal? Emeril Lagasse, who’s been an executive chef nominated for Chef of The Year and who’s hosted several TV shows on cooking? Or your next door neighbor who’s specialty is tuna casserole?

If you’re searching for information about preparing a gourmet meal, you’re more likely to see Google return search results from authoritative, trusted sites like Emeril’s – assuming the content is similar.

Another Benefit of Long-Term Link Building

Aged sites with higher Domain Authority are usually going to be worth more on the open market than sites with a lower DA. If you ever go to sell your business, your website is going to be a key piece to the puzzle.

Your authoritative website with lots of good links pointing to it is going to be a better lead generating tool than your competitor who doesn’t do any link building. To coin a popular slogan, “Link Building – it does a website good!”

#2 Directories

Listing your business name, address, phone number and website in quality internet business directories and local and niche directories helps you make gains in 9 of the top 20 most important local search ranking factors as ranked by Google Business Page experts.

I explain the importance of directory submissions in more detail in this post+video.

Some People Search Local Directories Instead Of Google

Since late 2013, directories like Yelp, Angie’s List, your local news media, and others are appearing more often when you search for something like “plumber + your city.” Without hard data to back this up, I have to believe these directories are being searched more often now that they are ranking higher.

So, if you search Google for “plumber + your city,” Yelp might be the 1st result you see. You click it and then perform your search there. Thus, it’s one more reason to make sure your business listings are up to date in the most important internet directories in your market.

When I searched “Plumber Portland” on January 28, 2014, these directories were among the top 10 results were:

    • (ranked #1)
    • (a local Portland news station with business listings, ranked #3)
    • (ranked #5)

The #2 listing was for a plumbing company’s website – on yelp!

Of course, mixed in with the results were 7 Google Business Page listings, just one more reason to claim and optimize your business in Google.

getlisted citations plumber

A nice tool for finding out which directories carry the most weight in your industry comes from’s Best Citations By Category. Quickly find the top 10 directories where to list your business.

Search GetListed For Missing Directories

You can also use their main portal at to see a quick inventory of which directories to list and update your business. Enter your business name and zip code and you’ll see a report like the one below, advising you (or us) where to begin work.


getlisted citations my plumber

After you’ve exhausted all of the most important internet business directories, it’s time to move on to the local and niche directories because the Quantity of Citations is the 6th most important ranking factor in local search.

#3 Using Your Leverage

Every person or company you spend money with is an opportunity to gain links. This gets back to changing your mindset about the way you go about doing business – always consider your website as part of the equation in any business deal.

If you’re spending money with your local newspaper, insist on a link to your site as part of the deal. If you’re donating to a charity, ask for a link from the charity’s website back to yours. The opportunities go on and on and they’re explained in more detail in this step-by-step guide to using leverage to build links.

#4 Using Existing Name/Brand Mentions

Sometimes, people will mention you and forget to link to you. Find mentions of yourself or your business in Google by entering your name or business name with quotes around it. You can use Google’s -site: to preclude results from your own websites and others. The query below returned over 3,700 possibilities.

brand mentions in google

You’ll have to go through these by hand to find the ones that don’t include links. When you open a site, use “Ctrl-F” to quickly search for your name or brand on the web page. Then you can see if there is a link and email the webmaster asking them to add it.

Granted, this is a time consuming process, but the advantage is that the content is already published, so getting someone to add a link is easy – if you can reach them. My greatest success story using this method thus far is for my fertility client. She had gotten some research published on a powerful .gov site (PageRank 8), but the link was not present. After we contacted them, they added a link, helping to boost my client’s authority.

#5 Using Google Alerts

With Google Alerts, you can “set it and forget it.” This way you can capture new mentions of your name as they happen. This helps cut out a lot of the research time you spend in the section above.

Click here for a comprehensive guide to using Google Alerts for link building.


You’ve made it through the final lesson in our Guide To Ranking Your Business In Google.

If you have questions about any of the topics, please call us at 503-890-6663. We specialize in helping small businesses rank better in Google and are happy to handle your internet marketing, so you can focus on operating your business.