Local link building should not always be about getting a link, but local link building should always be about customer acquisition and building trust for your business.
Below is one of my favorite ways to build local SEO links while growing our clients’ businesses. The added benefit is that this strategy works to build trust for their services within their communities and helps make sure their customers are excited during the onboarding process.
This strategy is to create a new customer gift bundle and make it part of your customer onboarding process. I’ll use a cat sitter or dog walker as the example, and include how this local link building tip can work for masseuses, plumbers and other local service providers.
Find at least 15 complimentary companies
Start by finding 15 complimentary companies. 3 companies in 5 niches should be enough. For dog walkers or pet sitters try veterinary practices, local pet stores vs. national chains, obedience schools, boarding homes for when the pet parents are on vacation, groomers, etc…
Plumbers can try local hardware stores (not national chains), home improvement companies, interior designers, etc…
Massage therapists can contact personal trainers, candle companies and gift shops, holistic healers, physical therapists and medical practitioners, etc….
Once you have your list you’ll want to create a spreadsheet.
The spreadsheet needs to have the following columns:
- A – Company name
- B – URL
- C – Main point of contact (owner or office admin)
- D – Resource section (Y/N)
- E – Blog (Y/N)
- F – Active on social media with an actual audience (Y/N)
- G – Has a newsletter (Y/N)
By having this we now know who is actively online and how we can work with them. If they have a resources section then we can ask to be included in exchange for inclusion in the new client gift package. Does the company have a blog which hasn’t been updated? Ask to write a new post about the topics you know like the best hidden dog trails in XY city. If the company has active social media accounts or a customer newsletter, this can be instant new clients for you so make sure to keep track of this.
Pro-tip: If you’re actively walking or sitting for their clients, you can ask the pet parents if its ok to snap a couple photos to share on social media for the gifting partners and your own company. You’re now helping your complementary business partners with content, gaining exposure for yourself, and further giving your partners a reason to promote your business.
Evaluate their web presence
If you don’t have access to fancy website evaluation tools because you focus on your furbaby clients, don’t worry. You don’t have to look at “metrics” like DA (domain authority) and toxic scores. These are not used by search engines, they are made up quality scores by SEO tools.
Instead focus on what your local community says about the company, and the company’s ability to build community trust.
Type the company name into Google and look for:
- Positive Google reviews (Facebook as well on their company page).
- Pro-tip: If the partner has an active growing audience with positive Google reviews, this gets you in front of the same audience that leaves positive Google reviews.
- What people are saying on Yelp (knowing most people on yelp go to complain).
- Do they upload photos and are people tagging them regularly, in a good way, on Google and social media.
- Does the company have features in local blogs (Here in DC we have sites like Prince of Petworth and Popville) as these can be backlinks to boost their site and yours as well.
By looking for these you can see which companies will help your brand vs. pose as a risk. And if these companies are actively growing review counts and social signals, and showing up in Google Maps with lots of fresh customer feedback, there’s a change they’re building authority within the community which can help you as well.
Our goal here is to have 5 to 6 really good partnerships to start. Then we move onto the next step, gathering the gift items.
Ask them for marketing materials
Next we want to reach out to each company and let them know that you are going to gift a package of “useful” items to your clients. This will help build the partnering company’s exposure and trust since your clients trust you with their furbaby (health if you’re a masseuse, home if you’re a plumber, etc…).
Useful marketing materials are not fridge magnets. You want collars or leashes, custom deals at a store like 25% off first purchases of pet food or a free pet toy with a first home delivery. A branded hammer or screw driver set if the company is a hardware store, or a flashlight, etc… Something your clients will actually be able to use or have a benefit from having.
Now when these companies commit to sending you a product, ask them about being included in their resources section or being allowed to create a blog post for their site. If they say no now, don’t worry, you’ll have a chance later to ask again as they begin getting new customers. Or if you have a lot of options, look for one that will let you have a link and use their marketing materials in your client gift instead of the ones that won’t.
Create the gifting experience
Think about how to best present your new customer with a gift. Don’t do something that can create stress instead of excitement. This is a gifting experience, not a sales pitch which is why fridge magnets and pamphlets are a bad idea.
If you’re a cat sitter, leaving a package with ribbons will be tempting for kitty to destroy and make a mess of the house, so go with a box that opens and no twine or bows. If you’re a masseuse and do in-studio (not in-home visits) do not do a big box, something easy to carry and that has samples like a bag.
Once you have the type of package that will work for your clients, make it personal. Thank the client for hiring you with a hand written note and for “trusting you” with their XYZ.
Let your client know that this gift is a way to welcome them to your clientele and each gift is from a local and privately owned small business to help support their local community. You can also include a note to mention you by name to the store owner if they ask how your clients found them. This way your marketing partners know you’re adding value to their businesses.
If you really want to stand out, add something personal. If you’re a pet sitter then mention something the pet did during the first visit on the card. If you’re a masseuse you’ll want to look at the new client’s social media and cater the gifts to their interests (without telling them).
i.e. if you notice they post about insomnia then include something lavender scented. If they share vegan foods make sure that none of the product samples are made from animals and are cruelty free. This builds an instant trust factor and you don’t even have to say you did your research. Let it go naturally.
Create new partnerships and do an anniversary gift
Once you have the gifting experience down to a science, look for new partners to further build out your samples and potential backlinks. There’s no reason you cannot do another gift to celebrate one year of service with clients. And don’t limit yourself to backlinks only with your business partnerships.
Once the relationship is built, ask if you can place business cards on the counter at checkout or a flyer by the front door. Local businesses tend to love supporting other local businesses and by being featured in their retail location, you build trust and gain exposure to their customers. You can even do demonstrations for their customers in store.
Bring a seated massage chair once a month or host a “how to leash train your pet” seminar. It adds value to both you and the partner while showing your expertise to their customer base. You can then advertise these events to local blogs and news sites which may lead to more backlinks for you and the store where you’re doing the demonstration.
And that’s it. You can build local links for SEO by simply using traditional marketing techniques. Partnering with other local businesses is a great way to build trust with your local community, grow your company and expand your own presence with local SEO.