Every Thursday around noon I get excited because it means #SEOchat is only 1 hour away. Why do I get so excited about a Twitter chat? Because for one hour every week I get to nerd out on a plethora of different SEO-related topics, with a bunch of other knowledgeable people who are there to do the same. Inevitably I have an ah-ha moment every week.

This week our Director of SEO, Jason White, hosted a discussion on local link building when you’re not a local, which spurred some brilliant ideas and the exact kind of creativity that I attend these chats to learn from. Local link building is inherently more difficult when you’re not in the area, but through authenticity and shared value, it’s far from impossible. Here you’ll find some of my favorite selected responses from this week’s chat.

Q1: Deciding on a starting point can be the hardest part – where do you start your search for geo-centric link gold?

@lancemoore22: First I’ll find what work has been done in the past.

@MatthewAYoung: I’ll bite…Start by defining an audience for content, looking at successful local competitors in the linking space.

@Tony_DWM: Offline. Biz owners can find gold-dust thru partners, manufacturers, events, networking, study groups & trade assoc’s.

@jacquesbouchard: Obvious answer, but I’d start with local listings on Bing, Yahoo, Google, Yelp – easy wins before you get your hands dirty.

@CaitlinBoroden: Backlink analysis of other local competitors. Check out their links should be a good jumping off point.

@KG7MAJ: First, look for the audience: demographics, exact communities, common characteristics between those two & your service.

A1 From personal experience, I can tell you that sometimes you literally have to “take a walk” with Google Maps to look at a place. #seochat

— Kristi Kellogg (@KristiKellogg) January 22, 2015

@GoBrandify: Research higher ranking links within that particular niche. Take reviews, social, local pages and locators into account. @Slmahnken: All of the above! @Sonray industry & client’s goals are 2 of the main factors! Then just searching that area to find secret gold!  

Q2: Do you have a process for learning more about your client? Do you try to highlight achievements or use current relationships?

@BradyDCallahan: Keep an open, two-way line of communication going with client at all times! Nothing like a good Q/A session.

@KG7MAJ: Big thing is the ultimate goal, outside of earning more money (isn’t that the ultimate goal for everyone)?

@BruceClayInc: Dig deep — your job is to know everything about that client and leverage their selling points within content.

@DragonSearch: Do a ton of Google research, not just for the good keywords, but also the bad ones.

@directom: We have a set of standard questions & always conduct a kick off call to highlight USPs, target audience, etc.

@KristiKellogg: YES know the client inside and out. Research them — and don’t trust them to know all their assets.

@ChelseaBeaAdams: High priorities: Double checking relevance, consumer overlap, and potential impact; straightforward but not to be overlooked.

@jacquesbouchard: I look to see what will garner enthusiasm – or crush it – with the client. Brand restrictions can be a big obstacle, as can PR.

a2: When we take on a client we have a 50+ questionnaire that helps us get to know the company and connection in the community. #seochat — Mike Ramsey (@MikeRamsey) January 22, 2015

@Sonray: @MikeRamsey 50 large? I need to reevaluate our questionnaire to find the gaps!

@MikeRamsey: @Sonray Works as a test to see if they are willing to work with us ;-) + it takes a lot to help create strategy.

clients that won’t spend an hour with you answering questions won’t ever be willing to do something worth doing. #seochat

— Mike Ramsey (@MikeRamsey) January 22, 2015

@BradyDCallahan: Be sure to have understanding of industry, products/services, see how competitors (from client’s mouth and top of SERP) talk  

Q3: Anchor text – are you geo-targeting your anchor text? How are you preventing over optimization? Any rules to live by?

@directom: Be natural! Use your geo keywords as naturally as possible and be sure to mix it up!

@BradyDCallahan: Prevent over-optimization by not worrying about anchor text. Rather, focus on geo-specifc domains (local news, papers, blogs)

@BruceClayInc: If there is a geotargeted category, then geotargeted anchor text makes sense. 1 or 2 times is sufficient on a page.

@KristiKellogg: As to the over-optimization — just remember, if it looks like spam, it is spam. Don’t include your local terms 1000 times.

@KG7MAJ: Want Google to hate you, make it obvious you’re going after a particular keyword. More human like… the better.

@jacquesbouchard: Definitely not. Even if that still flies today, I fear the day when a Google update sends us scrambling to remove the anchors.

@MatthewAYoung: For sure, let your schema and content carry a site. Don’t rely exact match anchor text. It’s soo 2009

@MikeRamsey: If you have control over anchors the key is to make every  one unique. When google looks at penalty keywords its exact match.

@Tony_DWM: If it makes (common) sense, then sure. We work in the legal ‘local’ profession (multi loc), so assoc links are fine  

Q4: Reviews, Local Sponsorships, Bloggers, Coupons can provide links – what is your ideal mix or do you focus on one bucket?

@CaitlinBoroden: Local sponsorships are a great way to draw the community in. Also, this can turn into great content for social

@directom: Not only good for links for for brand recognition, any of them are win/win situations for the client! #PR & #SEO all in one!

@KG7MAJ: That varies depending on client (what they’re willing to do & money willing to invest), business, industry & goals.

@Sonray: I like to search for ‘alumni discount’, ‘student discounts for’, etc. usually offers up some stunner .edu links

@lancemoore22: Reviews are extremely helpful.  It is increasingly important to have positive reviews and be actively communicating with all

@jacquesbouchard: @lancemoore22 I think reviews are going to become MUCH more important over the next 2-3 years.

@DragonSearch: Use social to build relationships with bloggers and local entities where you want links. Long-term benefits there.

@Sonray #seochat A4: We focus on 1) researching their indstry 2) SWOT analysis & 3) finding gaps where demand but no supply (no boilerplate) — Tony Dimmock (@Tony_DWM) January 22, 2015

@Sonray: @Tony_DWM We’ve been doing more and more SWOT analysis @DragonSearch it can be really helpful stuff!

@ChelseaBeaAdams: @Sonray @Tony_DWM @DragonSearch: The SWOT is one of my fav. tools; you learn so much about small changes that can make big impact.

@jacquesbouchard: Too many eggs in one basket sets of red flags. And remember when press release links were devalued? Keep it diverse & stay safe.

@BradyDCallahan: If budget is there, local sponsorships and blogs most ideal mix for relevant, good links. But Reviews CRUCIAL for campaign.

@GoBrandify: Its best to cover all bases. Work to make sure anything you offer online–>offline contributes to a positive experience.


Q5: Searching where others aren’t searching; do you hunt unconventional link opps? What is ‘outside the box’ these days?

@KG7MAJ: It be niche/industry related sites. Usually it’s a small audience, but it’s a dedicated crowd.

@Sonray: Corporate park, strip or actual mall have a website? Usually geo focused and an easy geo link to earn.

@DragonSearch: Always keep an ear to the streets and stay agile. Is your product/industry trending? Hashtags you can hop on?

@Sonray call me a nerd, but this is reminding me of #geocaching. #seochat

— Lance Moore (@lancemoore22) January 22, 2015

@directom: Combining KWs w/ diff search commands = quality “outside the box” links! We’ve built “unique” links = a lot of ref traffic!

@DragonSearch: Common theme in today’s ? Using Google Maps for link building. @KristiKellogg @Sonray.

@CaitlinBoroden: I’ve found great information on city specific subreddits. You never know what unique infor, sites, etc. that you can find.

@BradyDCallahan: Get unique, geo-centered content on local town/city subreddit (not for link) to get exposure/feedback & maybe someone links :)


Q6: Creating resources – what are some of the best ‘linkbait’ resources you’ve created or seen that are geo focused?

@BradyDCallahan: A visitor guide, long-form content describing city/area/things to do, timely visual-based content (for a local event, maybe).

@directom: We created a Geo based blog for a client,Use blog to feature local businesses-reach out via email/social and 9 out of 10 link back!

@jacquesbouchard: Things that double as a public service, such as local maps and current event listings. Personal photos of local events.

@Sonray: I’ll leave you with one final thought: Everyone in  today is a local resource for someone else. Use those relationships!


Follow @DragonSearch on Twitter and join #SEOchat every Thursday at 1 pm EST/ 10am PST.