When it comes to SEO, there is literally nothing that beats a series of high quality inbound links. Usually, you are working to attract inbound links through various link-baiting strategies, mainly being that you have something of interest or value to a portion of the internet public at large. You work to attract them to your content of value. If they like it, they reward you with the placement and/or distribution of an inbound link. The more quality links, the more SERP visibility and stability your site can expect to enjoy.

Its a pretty simple equation. Quality Content = Value to others (that whole currency thing we’re always talking). Value to others = Sharing with their peers. Sharing = Other sites saying your’s is a creditable source for such content, Others saying your site is awesome = better Search Engine Visibility. You know the drill…

While this is all fine and good, and rather common knowledge, what happens when your client is 100% local, proudly serving about 3 or 4 counties? And not at all interesting to high value/high PageRank sites like mashable.com or CNN.com?

Don’t fret, all hope is not lost – you just have to be aware of a few of the Realities of Hyper Local Search.

5 Realities of Hyper Local Link Building

1) Query Volume is Lower for Hyper Local Search

  • The traffic and new opportunity volume at the hyper local level is MUCH lower. It does not take an astrophysicist to deduce that if across the nation the traffic volume is 100,000 for a valued keyword and your client’s reach is about 100 miles, the less of that keyword’s potential you can attract and subsequently services. No amount of linking can change that. 

    Use this understanding to help manage your client’s expectations. Since they are servicing a small area, the ROI from your services is a lot tighter. Your goals should be more around long term, sustained Search Engine Visibility instead of a million leads today. The million leads today is a lie and is basically an impossible expectation to make good on. You want to keep the client, so, manage this portion of the conversation appropriately.

2) Competitive Research and Monitoring is More Critical

  • There is lower competitive density in hyper localized areas for many business domains. Because of this, effective on-page and code-level optimization, tucked in as part of a stated content strategy, can accomplish a lot in managing a local site’s Search Engine Visibility.

    Additionally, what these competitors decide to do with their online strategy is going to be one of the main factors producing negative movement in your listings. Monitor them closely. If you move down, check to see if they moved up? If so, what did they change? Reverse engineer it. You should literally plan to know the competitive sites as well as the site you are contracted to optimize. Tools like Raven Internet Marketing Tools make this kind of monitoring way easier.

3) Get the Business Listing Information Right

  • In case you missed it, we wrote about getting Citations for Local Search a little while back. Take some time to understand the concepts of Citations for Hyper Local Search. Those little map packs are not going away anytime soon. To boot, when a potential visitor is using a location modified query, they are more likely to click through to your brand via the maps listing than the SERPs or the Paid Search ads. (data on this later…)

    The fact is, there are a lot of business listing aggregators, like Internet Yellow Pages and OpenList, that the Search Engines use to help validate your business identity. This is part of how the online world helps the brick and mortar world. The more of these Citations you have the better. Claim every business listing that you can, and take some time to make sure that the listing being aggregated is correct. Accuracy matters.

4) Leverage Community Involvement

  • One of the first questions WGH ask during the discovery phase with a hyper local client is around community involvement. What do they support? 5k fun runs? The high school baseball team? Room at the Inn, Meals on Wheels, etc… check to make sure these community partners have sites and if so, request getting a link. Being local, be sure that you return the favor.

    The local Chamber of Commerce is a great source for a high quality inbound link that is often overlooked. Yes, it does cost a few (hundred) dollars normally to be a member of the local Chamber of Commerce, but its money well spent. We’ve also found that having a listing with the local Chamber of Commerce goes a long way in helping establish deep credibility for a local business. (as well as attracting more business!)

5) Borrow Some Brand Equity

  • Don’t be to proud to ride a coat tail. If your business is the local reseller of another brand’s product, make sure you have a link from them. It is going to serve two purposes. One, it will pass a little link juice. And second, it will serve as a way for a potential visitor/customer in your area to connect with your business from the Brand’s site.

Feel free to chime in if there are additional realities that you’ve come to live by when optimizing for hyper local clients.