Building a solid link foundation is critical for SEO.

There are a variety of creative, more advanced tactics to build backlinks, which can be helpful for a website that already has an established SEO strategy. However, without a solid foundation, you’ll struggle to rise up in the rankings. Plus, building the foundation is pretty straightforward.

That’s why when we start working on a client’s SEO campaign, we focus on using the tactics below to set link building up for success.


1. Business Directories

Relevant, high-quality online business directories are a safe and effective option for building your link foundation.

To get started, have someone on your team to research industry-specific and local directories that list other businesses where you’re located.  Not only are these good links for SEO, but anyone searching or browsing in those directories is a good prospect for your business. Plus, these business listings act as citations (mentions of your business Name, Address, and Phone number), which help boost your rankings in the local “map” results in Google.

Before you get started, it’s a good idea to have all the information that you’ll typically need to submit handy. Have a document that lists your business name, address, phone number, website URL, social profile links, and a brief description of your products and services. That way, once you start submitting to directories the process will be as simple as copy and paste.

Once you’ve found directories that you want to submit to, it’s important to choose the correct category and sub-categories for your company’s submission, that way you don’t risk being marked as irrelevant and removed from the directory listing.

2. Competitor Research

Analyzing what your competitors are doing is important in any type of marketing you do for your business. Competitor research teaches you more about the industry your working in and how other businesses are achieving success. The same goes for link building.

It’s important to clarify that when I say “competitors” with regard to link building, I’m talking about SEO competition — the top-ranking businesses in Google for your priority keywords. For local businesses, you may feel like your top competitor is just down the street, but if they’re not ranking on Google, then they’re not your top “SEO competitor”. That’s why it’s important to take the time to research and establish who are the highly ranking businesses in your industry.

Once you determine your SEO competitors, you’ll want to start researching their link profile. We recommend using Ahrefs, which allows you to do research on your competitor’s URL and see where all of their backlinks are coming from.

After establishing a list of the sites your competitors are being linked from, you can see how you could also get those same websites to link to your website.

3. Press Releases

The good news about writing and submitting press releases is that they are a great way for local businesses to build citations.  Again, having your business’s name, address,  and phone number listed across high quality sources will help boost your local “map” rankings.

The bad news is the links in the press releases are typically “nofollow” so they do not directly improve your SEO.  However, a popular press release could spawn articles written about your business with “follow” links.  For that reason and the direct benefit from citations, we recommend incorporating press releases into your SEO plan.

The challenge with press releases is that they’ve become an extremely popular promotion technique for businesses which means news sources are inundated with them. The key is to make sure the press release you’re submitting is actually newsworthy and not just self-promotional. By doing so, you’re more likely to get more online pickups from higher quality news outlets.


Of course there are other creative ways you can build your link profile including guest blogging, “linkbait” and broken link building.

However, we recommend all businesses start with the fundamentals listed above before moving on to more advanced link building tactics.  Think of your link foundation like a strong core for an athlete.  Sure, you can build up huge biceps and pecs, but if you have a weak core (abs and lower back) then you’ll always struggle to compete against athletes that have strong cores, even if they appear to look smaller/weaker.

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