Link Building for Small and Local Businesses

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If you read a blog post about link building recently, the odds are pretty good you’ve read about content marketing, info-graphics, or RCS. These are all great. They work. They bring more traffic and links to your site and can help build your brand. For those you who run or market small and local businesses, odds are these strategies are not within reach. Either there are no resources or time.

Where does this leave you then? Though it seems like your options are big expensive content based strategies or low value (at best) strategies like directories, blog comments, and link networks, there are other options. Below are 7 tactics that don’t require extensive resources to implement.

Local Newspapers

Everyone wants a link from the New York Times or the Huffington Post right? If you’re a local business, you really don’t need that strong of links. A couple links from your local newspaper will usually provide significant value. There are a couple ways you can do this. The first is to do a press release. Often times local newspapers will run press releases for local businesses online. Write up a press release the next time you offer a new service, move, get a new product line, hire a new manager, sponsor an event, and, well you get the idea.

Link Building 1

A second tactic you can use is to be featured as an expert in a story – it will be easier to connect with a local journalist than someone writing for a national paper. Reach out to them with a story idea that they can cover or let them know if they ever need a source for a story in your market that you’d be happy to help. Remember, you want to make their life easier, not harder, so what can you do to get a link and make their life easier?

Search for Mentions

If people are talking about you, hopefully they are linking to your site. If they aren’t email them, or better give them a call, and ask if they would mind linking to you with your name (or business name) in the post or article.

There are a couple ways to go about this. The old way is to create a Google Alert for your name. Once you set this up, you will get emails whenever your name is mentioned. There can be significant lag time though.


Remember when you set it up to put your name in quotes, this will search for your name exactly.

The new way is to monitor for mention with SEOmoz’s new Fresh Web Explorer. This is a great new tool that scans the web for mentions of your brand and name. While this only recently came out there are a lot of great resources on this. Below are some blog posts that should get you started to finding brand mentions to turn into links:

SEOmoz’s Announcement of Fresh Web Explorer
How to Use Fresh Web Explorer
Using Fresh Web Explorer for Brand Management
Get Low Hanging Fruit With Fresh Web Explorer
Bookmarklets for Fresh Web Explorer

Local Maps

You can use Google Maps to build links really easily. Simply create a custom map with points of interest on it. Then grab the embed code. Now edit the embed code and remove the link to Google maps and replace it with a link to your site. Below is an example from my site – I made a map of ski resorts in Colorado while planning a ski trip.

View Map of Ski Resorts in Colorado by Geoff Kenyon

What’s really great about this tactic is that you can do it for just about anything. If there is a conference coming to town, make a map of restaurants and coffee shops near the event venue and hotels. You can also do this for local points of interest related to your industry such as bike trails, running routes, breweries, historic landmarks, or simply a collection of local points of interest for tourists.

To do this simply grab embed code from Google Maps.

Youtube embed

Once you copy the code, edit it as shown below:

Original Embed Code

<iframe src=”;msid=201486542107329287915.0004d466f9bf25fe2bf4d&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;ll=38.86715,-106.870533&amp;spn=3.232341,2.578086&amp;t=m&amp;output=embed” height=”350″ width=”425″ frameborder=”0″ marginwidth=”0″ marginheight=”0″ scrolling=”no”></iframe>
<small>View <a style=”color: #0000ff; text-align: left;” href=”;msid=201486542107329287915.0004d466f9bf25fe2bf4d&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;ll=38.86715,-106.870533&amp;spn=3.232341,2.578086&amp;t=m&amp;source=embed”>Colorado Ski Resorts</a> in a larger map</small>

Edited Embed Code

<iframe src=”;msid=201486542107329287915.0004d466f9bf25fe2bf4d&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;ll=38.86715,-106.870533&amp;spn=3.232341,2.578086&amp;t=m&amp;output=embed” height=”350″ width=”425″ frameborder=”0″ marginwidth=”0″ marginheight=”0″ scrolling=”no”></iframe>
<small>View <a href=””>Colorado Ski Resorts</a> by <a href=”“””>Your Site</a></small>

Note, in the above code that is edited, we have added attribution to your homepage.

Once you have your map and embed code, reach out to local blogs and organizations that would be interested in the info and give them the embed code. Remember, you need to tell them what benefit this map provides for their readers or members.

YouTube Videos

Like the map tactic above, you can shoot a quick video to help people with something – either explain a topic, provide a review, or show someone how to do something. Then grab the YouTube embed code and make it link back to your site.


Below is an example of this tactic.

Video via Van Wickle Chiropractic

The code for the above video was originally:

This code was modified to include attribution (bolded):

Video via Van Wickle Chiropractic

To do this yourself, simply append your homepage attribution and link to the page on your site the video appears on.

Once you’ve got the embed code edited, you just have to reach out to local people who’d be interested, just like with the map.

Local Bloggers Love Reviews

Local Bloggers are overlooked all the time by the big companies looking to give away free stuff. Find some local bloggers in your area and ask them to review your company. If you’re a restaurant offer them a complimentary meal for two and as long as you deliver a decent meal you should get a great review and some links. If you’re a store, offer them a product to review. As long as you don’t give them something cheap (<$50), they will probably be really excited.


Testimonials help everyone, right? Who doesn’t want to appear credible? Odds are you use services all the time. Offer a testimonial to the people you’ve hired or work with. Have you moved recently? Write a testimonial for your moving company and real estate agent. Do you use an office supply company? What about a chiropractor, printer, marketing agency, or computer repair service? Write them a review.

All you have to do is write your business under your name and link your business back to your site.

FKM Survey

Local Magazines

Reach out to a local magazine in your area and ask if you can contribute a one off piece. The smaller magazines will typically welcome the added content. Write about whatever you want – either a topic you’re passionate about or teach people to do something related to your business. In your bio make sure you link back to your site!

Local MAgazine

Those are my seven link building tactics for small and local businesses, what are yours?


Geoff Kenyon
Geoff Kenyon is a veteran online marketer and focuses on driving traffic to increase revenue and grow businesses. With experience in-house and agency side, he has founded his own consultancy,
Geoff Kenyon
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  • Graham McMorris

    “Find some local bloggers in your area and ask them to review your company. If you’re a restaurant offer them a complimentary meal for two and as long as you deliver a decent meal you should get a great review and some links.”

    I’d just like to point out that if you gain any links through this method they have to be no-follow to be compliant with Google’s Webmaster guidelines –>

    As stated :
    “The following are examples of link schemes which can negatively impact a site’s ranking in search results:

    Buying or selling links that pass PageRank. This includes exchanging money for links, or posts that contain links; exchanging goods or services for links; or sending someone a “free” product in exchange for them writing about it and including a link.”

    • Brian

      I’m kind of disappointed that the author of this article responded to multiple comments but failed to address this issue.

      The advice given about offering a comp meal or giving away products to review was a clear violation of Google’s guidelines. Further more, if the fact isn’t noted that the meal or product was given for free then it could also likely be a violation of FTC guidelines in regards to endorsements.

  • Gavin

    Nice article, some very handy tips, especially like the YouTube idea, will try them all!

  • Michiel

    Thanks for the article Geoff! Small companies are often overlooked when it comes to articles on linkbuilding tactics. When you don’t have the budget or time for extensive SEO, you have to be creative and use local opportunities.

    • Geoff

      You’re right, it can be a lot harder without the big budget, but there are ways to make it work. The more creative the better.

  • Sanjog

    Great article Geoff ! You local maps and youtube tricks seems to be works great. I will use these two . These tricks may works like a big deal in search engine marketing and helpful in reducing cost of SEO and PPC.

  • Rishav

    Hi,These were Some great advice, well I shall use these tips on my clients website also and will update it to my Seo plans. Can you also share tips how can i locally promote my website.

  • Sachin Bhutani

    I like this information but some of the strategies like links from local newspaper or magazine is not an easy task. It required lots of money. Yes that youtube video concept is good. It’s not just help in linkbuilding but also helps in local area branding for for website.

    • Geoff

      I”m glad you liked the YouTube idea. The tactics I shared for getting links from newspapers and magazines don’t cost any money, you just have to put some time into writing. Many smaller websites don’t charge for press releases and many small magazines welcome quality content – you don’t have to pay unless it’s an ad.

  • Dan Leibson

    Great list of tactics! I particularly love the Google Maps one, that is particularly ingenious.

  • Vincent K

    Good article. Still in my opinion it is a lot of work for just a view links. Is the time worth it?

    • Geoff

      It really depends on the site and their competition. If it’s a small local business, you probably don’t need many links, just quality ones. If you’re targeting quality sites, I think these can provide a lot of value and I’d take a few links from these tactics/sites over a ton of low quality links.

  • Felipe Bazon

    Very interesting LB ideas for small and local business, really liked the map and video ones.

  • Saijo George

    Hey Geoff

    Thanks for sharing these tips. I was wondering what sort of success rate you have seen with the youtube tactics? I would assume most publishers would just link to the video on youtube and might not use the embed code we provide .

  • Sahil

    Great one Geoff! Creative Infographics and presentations on Slideshare are the link building tactics which work out very well for small and local businesses.

  • Adreia Rumman

    Many changes and innovations always appear.