Google SEO Ranking Factors for Local Business – Off-page SEO or Incoming Links

Google SEO Ranking Factors for Local Business

Incoming Links

What is it?
The quality and quantity of links aimed at your entire website.

How important is it?
One of the three most important factors for local businesss websites – and one of the two most important for general SEO – the other most influential factors are on-page optimisation and Google local listing.

How do I improve it?
Gaining links from trusted and relevant websites to a variety of pages on your website.

In detail
Google has used ‘linking patterns’ to rank websites since the very beginning. It provides an external measure of a websites usefulness so that Google does not have to rely solely on on-page factors.

Google considers each link to your site as a ‘vote’ for that site. The webmaster placing the link is saying to their users “Click here and visit this site as it has some useful relevant content.”

So, the more links I have the better I will rank? You are probably thinking?

A few years ago this would have been the case, but not now! So what’s changed?

Google has made massive changes to how its algorithm handles incoming links in their ongoing war against spam and manipulation of the search results.

Golden Linking Rules;
Quality is now much more important than quantity when it comes to links

  • Link-velocity (speed at which links are created) – don’t use automation or mass linking services.
  • The actual text of the link – anchor text – is very important.
  • Having a natural looking link profile is vital to rank well in Google.

Golden Rules Detail

The websites that you get links from must be good quality sites with some relevance to your business and website – so that is industry related or location related.

Don’t build 1000’s of links using automated software or someone on Fiverr – links should be built slowly and consistently.

Link Text
Anchor text comes in three broad categories – brand, keyword and other.

  • Brand – your business name or any variation of your URL
  • Keyword – the keywords that you are targeting on your website
  • Other – generic terms like ‘click here’, ‘visit website’, ‘read more’, etc

A good ratio is something like;

  • Brand: 30%+
  • Keyword: 5%+
  • Other: 60%+

The crucial factor is the keyword ratio, if this goes too far into double figures it is highly likely your link profile will trip Google’s spam filter and you will be penalised by the Penguin algorithm and Google will deliberately make your website LESS visible for those over-optimised keywords.

Natural Link Profile
Keeping within the above rules will give you a natural looking link profile which will increase your ranking in Google.

Some more important facts about incoming links

Google counts all links from the same domain as a single ‘vote’.
So too with links from the different domains but on the same IP address.
This means that you need links from different domains on different web servers – this helps Google identify and lessen the effect of obvious manipultion.

How to get incoming links

off-page SEO incoming links

Google’s position is clear – links should be earned, not built or manufactured. Google’s advice is to “create great content and people will naturally link to you and we will rank you.”

In the real world this is often not an option for SMEs for a multitude of reasons – mostly revolving around technology and time barriers.

So, what do you do?

If your business has social media profiles you can place a link to your business site in them;

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • etc

Local business directories;

  • Thomson
  • Yell
  • Industry specific sites

Approach suppliers, manufacturers, etc, to see if they would put a link to you on appropriate pages, eg. Where to buy page, Partners, etc.

If you do business or have relationships with other local business-owners then one strategy would be to offer to write a testimonial for that business if they agree to place it on their website with a link to your site. This is a win-win for everyone!

Now that Google has really tightened up on linking just buying mass links on Fiverr or similar is certain to do more harm than good so if you are going to hire someone external you need to know that they really know what they are doing, so make sure you do your research!

If you know that your website has its on-page SEO in order then you can just hire someone to build links, but if you haven’t optimised your website’s pages then you’ll need someone to look at your website first before they create a link strategy.

Building links to un-optimised web pages is a waste of time and money!

Action Steps;
First you need to do a link audit – free trial of Majestic, or Ahrefs, or, or use Google Webmaster Tools to download links table

Once you have completed a link audit of your site do the same for your competitors and see how you stack up – you may need to do this over the course of a week as there are restrictions on free accounts

You’ll find a lot of link opportunities from researching your competitors – If you see industry directory sites in your competitors profile go and register there too!