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Don't miss a chance for a local mention!

Search engines are including more and more "local" listings in their search results. That means they're including businesses related to both the search terms someone used and to that searcher's location. You can see the local businesses listed in the results page at right - they're the ones marked by red pushpins.

What does this mean for a business owner who's trying to get more people to visit his or her website? It means it's harder to rank high in search results, because local results are pushing many sites that used to rank high onto the second page or beyond.

Don't despair! More local results also offers small businesses an opportunity to rank better than they might have done a few years ago. By building more local links - that is, getting links from websites for businesses in your area - you can get a rich set of links that can help your site rise higher in search results.

How Can I Get Local Links?

Do you do business with anyone in your area? Of course you do.

Do you have an office? If so, you may have:

1) Used a real estate agency to find a rental space in a mall 2) Hired a moving company 3) Had an electrician wire your office to fit your needs 4) Bought paint and maybe hired someone to put it on the walls 5) Had the old plumbing fixed 6) Rented or bought furniture and office equipment 7) Had walls torn down 8) Hired someone to get rid of the junk left from construction 9) Bought and installed carpet or tile 10) Enjoyed a ride in a limo 11) To happy hour at the party room of your local watering hole 12) That you've had catered, to celebrate opening your new business.

Of course, you invited your:

13) Newly hired SEO (search engine optimization) firm 14) Web designer 15) Accountant 16) Business lawyer

Almost all of the companies you would use to do the things listed above have websites. Ninety-nine percent of them would love a testimonial. All you have to do is ask if they’re okay with you providing a fantastic testimonial and them providing a link to your company's site on theirs.

Below are lots of local link opportunities you can try out. Some may represent things you’ve already paid for - so make the most of them and ask for the link.

Don't forget to get your business listed in Google Places. It's free, and a listing is another place where people can write positive reviews about your company.

1. Sponsor a local animal shelter. Many of these have their location in their name and all over their websites, and will link to donors. I've seen some do this for as little as $10.

2. Sponsor a local meetup group.

Enter the term "site:meetup.com AnyCity" in a search engine, and you'll find some great community groups related to the city you entered. Most provide a link you can click to offer the group something -- a discount for their members, a place to meet, whatever.

Paid links, shmaid links -- whatever! If you offer a group your office space for meetings, I don’t see any problem with the group putting a link to your site under their "Sponsors" listing. Quid pro quo.

3. Is anyone in your company running a local race for a cause? Do they have a “Help me raise money” web page? Check whether the charity that's having the race has the city name in the URLs of its fund-raising pages, or displayed prominently on its Sponsors page. Go ahead, donate and get the link. Of course, then there's the whole racing thing…..good luck with that.

4. Speak at a local college.

Whether it’s an introductory marketing course or a senior leadership class, a speaking engagement that takes 30 minutes earns you some goodwill from the college community, gets your name out there, and most likely gets you a link from the online course syllabus, the teacher’s page, the school events page or some other page on the college website. It's likely that most of these pages have the city or state mentioned on the page and even in the URL.

5. Is your business in a corporate park, strip mall or indoor mall? Many of these commercial real estate entities have websites that could easily post a link to your business. See below how the site for King of Prussia Mall links to the site for Gertrude Hawk Chocolates. KofPMallLink.png

6. Your local community development center probably has a business directory. It’s very likely to have the name of the city or community in the title. It’s extremely likely you can get a link in that directory, like the link Ali's Wagon and Angelino's Restaurant & Pizzeria have in the business directory at FairmountCDC.org.


7. There are plenty of local forums with a city name in the title where you can post a comment and get a DoFollow link from your signature. Are you getting any value from expressing an opinion? Not much. Are you getting a free link on a city-themed web page -- for example, http://www.philadelphiaspeaks.com/forum/south-philadelphia/17387-i-95-history-lession.html -- while talking about the history of I-95? You betcha.

8. Have you purchased anything from a local artist for your business? If so, take a picture of the work of art on display in your office, email it to the artist, and tell them how much you love it. Artists enjoy seeing their work on display. You’ll probably get a link, and if not, ask for one.

Local Links from the Folks You Work With

Below you'll find suggestions for links from people you've worked with and work that's been done for your business. The main idea here is testimonials.

9. Have you recently had your business remodeled? If you provide a glowing testimonial for the remodeling firm, will they link back to you from their site? They should.

10. Did you hire a local SEO firm? Ask for a link in their client list, or ask if you can provide a testimonial in exchange for a link.

11. Do you use a local janitorial service to clean your office? If the service has a website, offer a testimonial for a link.

12. Had an event catered recently? Find the caterer's site, and let them know you'd be willing to say nice things for a link.

13. Have you rented a limo or party bus? Request a link in exchange for testimonial.

14. Hired a junk removal service? Get the link.

15. Hired a local photographer, sign maker or graffiti artist? Find site, make request.

16. Used a real estate agency to buy or find a rental? Use a title company? Find site, request.

17. Have donuts, bagels, or coffee delivered? Find site, offer a testimonial for a link.

18. Have water or groceries delivered to your business? Find site, offer testimonial for a link.

19. Had a plumber, electrician, painting or window installation company service your business? Find sites, offer testimonials for links.

20. Book a trip through a local travel agency? Get the link.

21. Leased furniture, computer, construction or any other equipment? Get the link by providing a testimonial.

22. Hired a local copywriter? Provide a testimonial. You could also just ask them to put you on their Clients page with a link, if you aren't already there.

23. Used a moving company? Find site, get link.

24. Hired a band, motivational speaker or clown? Find site, link.

25. Hired a company to train your employees in advanced Excel or other computer skills? Testimonial, link.

26. Had an inspection from an independent inspector or appraiser? Find site, ask for link.

27. Rented out a conference room or consistently renting out co-working space? Get the link.

28. Hired a masseuse, chiropractor, therapist, psychologist, grief counselor or any service specific to your employees - even a consultant to fire employees? Get the link.

29. Had carpets, tile, or general contracting work done? If you liked the work, provide the testimonial in exchange for a link.

30. Used a local promotional products company? Get the link.

31. Hired a landscaping company to make things pretty outside company headquarters? Testimonial and get the link.

32. Used a local information technology company for troubleshooting or contract IT work? Link.

33. Purchased any type of vehicle for the business? Testimonial to the local car dealership and a link for you.

34. Had a company happy hour? Get the link.

35. Hired a local design firm? Done.

You can comment on this article on Seer Interactive's blog, where an earlier version is published.

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