BrightLocal reached out to 20 local search industry experts to get their opinion on the impact of link building to increase search visibility for local businesses. The findings highlight insights from experts like Andrew Shotland from Local SEO Guide, Mary Bowling from Ignitor Digital, and Mike Ramsey from Nifty Marketing. Topics range from link building in 2018 to the most effective processes.
The biggest misconception about the value of links in local SEO, Shotland believes, is that "all you need are local citations and you're good to go." He also points to challenges such as the riskiest tactics having the biggest payoff, but too many businesses still don't get it "when they get slammed, and many SEO vendors are not transparent" about the risk factors.
Overall, local SEO experts say link building is effective for boosting local businesses search rankings, but 35% believe it will become more difficult in 2018 compared with the prior year. About 55% say the strategy is "very effective" and 45% say it's "fairly effective."
Only 11% think link building remains the most important task, but 72% admit it's "very important," and 17% think it's more important than other optimization tasks.
A little more than half, at 55%, think link building is easier for multi-location businesses than for single businesses, and 65% view a short personal email as the best outreach method to ask for permission.
Participants in the study say local community websites are the most valuable link sources for boosting local business search rankings, followed by local news and content sites, and sites with high domain authority.
The quality and authority of links are the most important traits in search rankings. Quantity of links is least important.
The most valuable strategies for building new backlinks to local business sites include sponsoring charities and organizations, requesting links from existing brand mentions, creating resources with a local focus, forging relationships with local influencers and businesses, and creating research-based content.
The least valued strategies are commenting in blogs and forums, links in social media profiles, creating infographics, webinars, and sharing on social media.