So let's assume you've mastered the basics of link building. You've tangoed with content, danced the lambada with paid links, and become the Casanova of wooing webmasters.
So, what's next to dominate? Look straight up my friends, because it's time to go vertical.
Universal search is the next great frontier like California is the "The Wild Wild West." It's not really all that new.
Google has become increasingly specialized over the last few years. Yet it seems like most people are content to let others conquer the unfamiliar territory. Imagine the Space Race if the U.S. and Russia had danced around each other politely insisting, "No, you go first."
Google has shown more and more their ambition to deliver personalized results. What's more personal than where you live and work?
While most verticals should be on your long-term to-do list, local is a solid area to start. Searchers are getting better all the time at incorporating specific locations into their queries. Ignoring that fact is just fatal.
If local search is important, then by design, geo-localized link building is important, too. Fortunately, that doesn't mean you have to re-vamp your entire link building campaign. There are a few simple things you can do to amp up the geo-targeting as you build links.
Using geographically specific language on-site is critical. Having a physical address, large city names, and state locations on-page remains vital and valuable, but it also matters in link building.
Sure, having a good geographical title tag may be enough to get you to rank somewhere near the top, but if you back that up with some off-site work you may get the extra boost to push you forward.
It's fairly common knowledge that backlink anchor text is one of the most important factors when it comes to ranking. We use that power often enough when it comes to ranking for major keywords, but it can also be a useful ally in getting to the top of location-based searches.
When we can affect the anchor text being used to link to our sites it's easy enough to add a state or city name in conjunction with a target keyword or phrase. But we don't live in an ideal link world. Often we can't control what words are used to link to us, so we sometimes need to incorporate geographically themed goals into the planning process.
Creating content that centers on a particular area may appeal to a more a limited market, but it can be useful in obtaining links from websites dedicated to that specific region. While the audience is smaller, the chances of the location you want to rank for being incorporated into your anchor text is much higher.
Another commonly acknowledged factor of ranking is related to the context of the link. In this case it has less to do with the placement or formatting of a link on a page and more to do with the language that surrounds it.
Aside from the anchor text, the words and topics on the linking page send strong messages about the topic of the site being linked to. Use web pages that are dedicated to a specific place to your advantage.
Whether it's a single page or an entire site devoted to a particular locale, if it's your locale, it's a good place for a link. The indicators on the linking page or site that are geographical can help enforce your local relevance.
That's why articles in local papers, local directories and review sites can be effective. Sure, a mention in the Hometown Daily Herald isn't a citation from the New York Times, but it's certainly valuable in its own right.
If a physical address on your site is influential, imagine the geographical relevance that you can get by acquiring links on other websites with similar addresses? OK, maybe the businesses in your neighborhood aren't directly related to your business, but their addresses are definitely related to your local goals.
And the fact that you probably aren't a competitor of everyone in your business district is also helpful. In fact, it creates opportunities to can work out partnerships, and mutually beneficial agreements.
Perhaps the best part is that you can physically walk in and meet with a business owner face to face. E-mail requests are easily ignored. It's much harder to delete someone who is standing in front of you.
It's not just other local businesses that offer opportunities either. Communities are filled with institutions that are looking to build relationships. From a chamber of commerce to community groups, there is potential for symbiosis all around you.
Whether it's getting a link for sponsoring a local charity walk, or getting a bio link as a member of a not-for-profit theater board, a link is a link.
Another good way to find local citation opportunities is with tools like this one, which can help you identify key contacts in your area. By going the extra mile to get links in these places, the location-based indicators surrounding your link can add crucial support to your geo-targeting efforts.
TLDs and Servers
From an international perspective, there's something to be said for getting links with country specific top-level domains (TLDs) and server locations.
When it comes to on-site geo-targeting, most SEOs believe that a country specific domain is one of the strongest ways to target that particular country. If it's true for building your own site, it seems logical that it would be at least somewhat true for building links.
You may not always get all of your links on sites which also target your primary region, but it may be worth putting some effort into. Certainly, a link on a strong .com can be as useful or more so, than a .uk or a .ca in terms of raw power.
There are strong geographical benefits to going after a link on a site with a TLD that matches your target country. If you want to dig really deep for the ultimate geo-targeting factor, have a quick look at where a site's domain is hosted. Getting links from websites hosted on servers and IP addresses in the location you're targeting can add additional power to your geographically focused efforts.
Yes, building links is hard and sometimes it's a challenge to earn good, honest citations at all, without shooting for location specific goals.
We often treat link building with an over-burdened mother's approach to dinner -- "You'll get what I give you and you'll like it."
Sometimes we should be happy we get fed at all, but that doesn't mean we can't get what we really want once in a while.
In this case, it's additional support for geo-targeting efforts. It may be difficult, sure, and it certainly isn't an every link endeavor. But when the opportunities arise or when they can be created, there is a lot value in ranking well for searches that are close to home.
Meet Your Favorite Search Engine Watch Contributors
Many of SEW's leading expert contributors will be at ClickZ Live, the new online and digital marketing event kicking off in New York (March 31-April 3). Hear from the likes of: Thom Craver, Josh Braaten, Lisa Barone, Simon Heseltine, Josh McCoy, Lisa Raehsler, Greg Jarboe, Dan Cristo, Joseph Kerschbaum, John Gagnon, Eric Enge and more!