[Easy Guide] SEO for Local Businesses

Lesson 4: Off-Page Optimization - Link Building Blueprint - How to Get More Links to Local Business Website

website links

Off-page optimization refers to a link building process to get more site links to your website. The more high-quality links you have, the higher ranking your website will be.

As you know, On-Page optimization is the SEO process that focuses on making changes on your website. And everyone can apply easily with the right guidance. What separates the top winner and the loser will be the off-page optimization.

I have to be honest. Getting links for a website is a long term process and often involve a lot of expenses.

Google always tell us to write useful & engaging content; others will link to you naturally. This is not all true, especially for local business website which often has standard (or boring) website content.

For example, if you are a blogger, will you write an article out of nowhere and link to a plumber’s website home page? Or will you link to a dentist’s website home page?

In fact, you will either need to spend time or money to promote your website to get links.

In this SEO guide, we will share the link building blueprint for a local business website. What type of links, how to get it, and when to get it. The same SEO services we did for our clients.

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What is Backlink & Link’s Anchor Text?

A backlink in the SEO world means a link from a website to another website. E.g. If you have 10 other sites link to you, you will have 10 backlinks.

Next, we will also put some kind of text in the link while linking to another website. The text in the link refers to “anchor text”. The quality of the backlinks and anchor text will impact the ranking position of your website.

What is The Best Links To Rank a Website?

Today, Google is brilliant in identifying spammy or good backlinks.

Firstly, a good backlink consists of relevancy, trust and power.

Best Links

Relevancy is easy. The link should come from the related topic article or use keywords as part of the link’s anchor text. For example, if you have a dentist website, getting links from dental-related magazine or association website will increase the relevancy of your website link profiles (link profiles refer to overall links collections pointing to one website)

Trust related to getting a link from or close to the high authority website or we called it the seed site. E.g. Getting links from Wikipedia, Forbes & social media site like Facebook will contribute the trust signal. These sites might not be relevant to your industry, but there are well trusted in Google eyes.

Most of the trust links from high authority site doesn’t contain the power, or we called it “link juice”. This is because these inner pages usually don’t have backlinks which suppose to provide the link juice and power on the page.

Power refers to a link page that contains a lot of good quality backlinks pointing to that page.

E.g. https://www.thestar.com.my consists of 16,300++ referring domains which should be more powerful than any local business website. If you can get a dofollow link (more on this later) from it homepage, it will help your website ranking a lot.

ahref site explorer for thestar.com.my

In short, we need all 3 types of links (Relevancy, Trust, Power) in our link profiles to rank well. This doesn’t mean that you only want links which contain these 3 elements.

You can get a set of links for trust signal, another set of links for power signal and so. By combining different type of links in your website link profiles, it will rank eventually.

Link Building Process Consideration

Before you get started, there are few more important considerations:

Dofollow & Nofollow Links

Nofollow links indicate the links doesn’t pass any power to the target URL. This type of links often uses in online news website or press release.

Technically, you should always try to get dofollow links so that you can receive the benefits. But, don’t worry too much about this factor as it is still good even you get a nofollow link.

dofollow and nofollow links metrics

Anchor Text Ratio

The anchor text ratio refers to the number of occurrences of the anchor text over the entire link profiles.

For example, thestar.com.my homepage contains anchor text “the star” at 34%. About 5,500 links are using “the star” as the link anchor text.

anchor text ratio in ahref

Thus, when it comes to link building, it is essential to make sure you have a natural anchor text ratio.

Firstly, using the keyword as the link anchor text will help to increase more ranking position compare to not using the keyword as the anchor text.

But, if you overuse the keywords as the anchor text in almost all your links, it will trigger Google algorithm which may penalize your website.

For example, if you would like to rank “dentist KL”. You have 30 backlinks where 15 links’ anchor texts are “dentist KL”. That is 50% anchor text ratio. This doesn’t look natural as it is rare for a website to receive same non-branded anchor text at a 50% ratio.

But if your website is receiving 50% branded anchor text, it is totally fine because most people will link a site with the brand name (see the example of thestar.com.my above).

Here are the important notes when planning the anchor text:

  • Use more variances of keywords, synonyms, partial keywords and long-tail keywords (long keywords related to your main keywords).
  • Dentist in KL, dentist in Kuala Lumpur, KL dentist, dental clinic in KL, KL dental clinic, best dentist in KL, friendly dentist in KL, etc.
  • Try not to repeat the same anchor text unless you have acquired many links.
  • Use more generic anchor text like URL, brand name, “click here”, “find out more” in less authoritative sites. We often call these as pillow links.
  • Only use the exact match keywords in high-quality or trustworthy web sites.

Link Velocity

Link velocity refers to the timing you build your backlinks to your website.

It doesn’t look natural if you receive 500 backlinks in a single day from different blogs.

But, if you are sending out a press release, it makes sense you receive 200-300 links within few days.

 Thus, when building links to your website, you will need to plan out the timing as well.
link velocity in ahref

Link Building Blueprint

Now, you should get the necessary fundamental notes about link building.

Here is the high-level link building blueprint I use for local business websites.

link building blueprint

Now, let’s go into each of them.

Step 1 – Register Google My Business page

Have you registered Google My Business page for your business? If not, register and claim your page right now at https://www.google.com/business/.

GMB Registration screenshot

Google My Business (GMB) page brings a lot of benefits and potential free traffic to local businesses. In addition, the website link in your verified GMB page provides a strong trust signal to your website.

We tested and saw significant ranking improvement by adding a backlink from a GMB page.

Important Note:

  • During GMB registration, you can use “Brand name” + primary keyword or primary keyword + “Brand name”.
    E.g. ABC Renovation Contractor KL, Florist KL - XYZ, Ah Beng Electrician, Janice Hair Salon, etc.
  • There is a loophole in Google GMB ranking algorithm. Your GMB page can rank easily in Google map if there is keyword exists in the business name.
  • But, I don’t recommend to put all keywords into the business name. It looks weird, and the user doesn’t like it.
  • Google will send a postcard for the GMB verification, which take about 2 weeks.

Checkout the sample below. The top 3 results contain all keywords.

gmb showing keyword in name

Step 2 – Create Social Media Profiles

Next, start creating social media profiles around your business.

Ask yourself, once you have a new website, what you will do next?

I guess the majority will create a new Facebook page? Or a new LinkedIn page? Depends on the type of businesses, everyone still starts to create or register various type social media profiles which represent their businesses.

This is what you should do as well even though you don’t plan to be active on the social media sites.

It will be weird for a new website that doesn’t associate to any social media sites but start receiving new links from another website.

Thus, go ahead to register the social media profiles: Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, Gravatar, Pinterest, Diigo, Reddit, About.me, LinkedIn and SoundCloud.

social media sites words

Important notes when creating social media profiles:

  • Fill in all the necessary information, logo and background images to make it look good.
  • Fill in contact information, business name, phone & address same as GMB page.
  • Add website link back to your main website.
  • Add a summary of your business, what you do, etc. It is ok to be same for all social media profiles. 
  • Interlink each social media profile together. E.g. If you have a Facebook page, you can schedule link post to each of your other social media profiles. You can tweet your Facebook page URL in Twitter, share tweets on a LinkedIn page, etc. Do it randomly try to interlink each of your social media profiles.

You can also register more web 2.0 accounts such as Tumblr.com, Medium.com, Blogger.com and WordPress.com. But we recommend having at least one unique article in each of the web 2.0 above to make it looks like high-quality sites.

This task should keep you busy for 1-2 weeks. Let it sit there for 1-2 weeks before you do the next step.

Step 3 – Send Social Signals

Next, you will need some social signals to get started.

Social signals refer to links, comments, shares, views, pins on social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Youtube, or other social media sites that filter out to the various search engines

You can check the social signal counts at http://socialsignalscheck.com/ or https://www.sharedcount.com/.

share count screenshot

However, adding social signals alone will not increase your website ranking.

The social signal serves as a supplement or pre-event before you start adding the primary links.

Let’s think about it in real-world scenarios.

When or how will someone link to your site if your site is new and not found in search engine?

It should be someone to share your website on social media sites; others find it interesting and click on the link to visit the websites. If your website is good, others will consider sharing it in their blog, magazines sites, etc.

Thus, a social signal is the justification for the links acquires by your website. Without the social signal, Google will sense it weird and devalue the new backlinks to your site.

In short, adding social signals will make your backlinks become more effective.

How to build social signals? 

To build social signals, you can share your site on Facebook or ask your friends to help share your sites. The alternative ways are to buy social signals. Simply search “Buy Social Signals” in Google, and you will get a bunch of options.

(Note: I prefer not to share publicly exact provider I used here. I only shared within my internal group members) 

hand on tablet showing floating icons

How many social signals do you need?

In average, 30-40 signals may contribute to one backlink. If you plan to build 4-5 backlinks, you can add around 150-200 social signals as one batch. Again, you don’t need the exact numbers as long Google receive the social signals. Adding more social signals won’t get your site to penalize too.

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Step 4 – Business Citation Links

business citations sites

A business citation is an online reference to your business name, address, and phone number (NAP). These citations don’t need to be linked back to your website, as long as they’re referencing your business NAP consistently.

Ideally, you should:

  • Claimed or created multiple listings from other local websites that are relevant to your business
  • Claimed or created multiple listings from local directory websites.
  • Claimed or created multiple listings from international directory websites.
  • Research your competitors’ citations and create similar citations.

Where to find the citations for your website?

Yes. It is tedious to submit and get approval to earn each citation.

Alternately, you can get someone to build the citation for you.  Simply search “buy local citations” in Google, and you will get a bunch of options. (Note: I prefer not to share publicly exact provider I used here. I only shared within my internal group members)

For business citations, it is ok to build all the links at once as it is naturally making sense a business owner submit their business information to all local directory websites.

Step 5 – Premium Press Release

The press release is another option to create the buzz signal before you add primary links. It also can work as part of the pillow links to create generic anchor text back to your website.

However, I only recommend the premium press release such as prweb.com and prnewswire.com, which result in a better impact on the ranking.

press release on tablet with coffee on right

For other free or cheap press release distributors, it makes no impact as it being heavily spammed by most SEO consultants and companies.

Important note:

  • Never use keywords as the anchor text link back to your website.
  • Only use brand name or URL as part of the anchor text.
  • Include a link to your social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter.
  • Add your GMB business name, address and phone number (NAP). It will help to create business citations for your GMB.
  • Include optimizing images with NAP within the images’ comment.
  • If you have a video on YouTube, embed it in the press release.

FYI, most press releases in their partner sites will only last for 3-4 months. Thus, you may see a good result for 3-4 months but slowly lose the ranking if you don’t continue to build other links.

Again, this is optional as a premium release often cost $200 onwards.

Google Sandbox

If your website is new, Google will put your site in to “sandbox”. During the sandbox period, it will not rank well despite you have added many good quality links. And the sandbox usually will be released within 2-4 months.

If you didn’t see any improvement of your website ranking, don’t give up. Just continue on the link building blueprint.

If your website is out of the sandbox, your website should be ranking in at least page 3 or page 4 by now. We see some low competition website even can rank on page 1 with all the works done from step 1 to step 4.

Step 6 – Send Social Signals

Once you have done step 1 to step 5/6, your website should have a perfect link profile with a lot of pillow links with generic anchor text.

By this time, you should be in 2-3 months since you start your SEO journey. And your website probably already releases from Google Sandbox.

So, this is the right time to hit your site with primary links which will boost your website ranking.

Now, you can send another a batch of social signal to your websites to prepare for the primary links.

Step 7 – Send Primary Links

This is the step where you should start pushing harder in your link building journey. I suggest you build 1 or 2 links per weeks for at least a month in this step before move on to step 8.

There are 4 strategies to gather primary links. You either have to pay money or spent your time to gather these links.

Guest Posting

Guest posting refers to writing and publishing a relevant article to your business on someone’s else blog. In return, you include a link back to your website.

guest blogging words

Guest posting is tiring process as below:

  1. Search for the relevant blog that opens for guest posting.
  2. Contact the site owner and indicate you would like to write a guest post for their blog.
  3. The site owner may reject or accept your guest posting request.
  4. Once accepted, discuss and agree on the topic of the guest post.
  5. You write and prepare the article to let the website owner review and publish.
  6. If the quality is not meet to standard, you may need to revise again.

The process often takes 1-2 weeks to complete. Also, it is not easy to find the right site owner that accept guest posting.

With this method, you get a free link but will require your time and effort to manage it. You will not be able to scale up to manage many guests posting a request at the same time.

Links Insertion

Link insertion is slightly different from Guest Posting. You still get a link from someone’s else blog but not on a new article. You get the site owner to add your links into their existing relevant articles. In return, the site owner receives a small fee from you to add your link.

hand on laptop keyboard

Here are the benefits of link insertions over guest posting:

  • No need to write a new article which is time-consuming.
  • If the existing article already has backlinks, it will give “power” to your website. Compare to new guest post which doesn’t have any backlinks.
  • Cheaper compare to paid guest posting

However, link insertion is rare in the real blogging world. There will be not many bloggers will edit their old articles to include a new link. Ideally, you should do more guest posting compare to link insertion.

Again, there are companies that offer link insertion services which often start from $30 onwards per link.

(Note: I prefer not to share publicly exact provider I used here. I only shared within my internal group members)

Blogger Outreach Services

If paid guest posting and link insertion is not an option due to budget issue, you can try out blogger outreach services. The most painful process for guest posting and link insertion is to find the right blogger.

blogger outreach word

Blogger outreach services come in to fill in the gap to help you connect the right blogger hassle-free by paying a small cost. You still have to manage the rest of the process but with lesser cost or shorter time to complete the task.

Private Blog Network

This is the most popular method use by many SEO companies, especially in Malaysia. This is more cost-effective and manageable when managing multiple SEO campaigns.

A private blog network (PBN) refers to acquire an expired or auction domain, setup like typical blog website and link it back to the target website. In short, you own the blog website, and you write an article to link back to your target website.

human network links

These domains usually come with a lot of backlinks gather over time. It will provide a lot of power factor on your websites. This is a grey hat SEO technic where you need to use it wisely. It won’t easily get your site penalized. If it is, we can always put some PBN links to our competitor to hurt their ranking.

In the old-time, we can find powerful domains with just $10 domain registration fee. For now, PBN has been widely used and no longer able to crawl and find a good expired domain easily.

Also, an expired domain can now become a toxic domain where Google already place a certain filter to tackle this SEO technic. As of now, most SEO companies focus on auction domains (non-expired), but the cost is often sky-high. A domain name with 100 reference backlinks usually sells at $100 onwards. A domain name with 300++ references backlinks sells at $300-$400.

For a local business owner, I don’t recommend to set up your own PBN as it involves a lot of costs, technic to set up and do the final testing (make sure not a toxic domain) before using it to your target URL. My SOP to setup a PBN domain usually takes about 2 months before it is ready to use.

Alternately, there are many PBN link providers offer links as one-time off or on rental basis. We had tested multiple PBN links providers:

  • Not all providers provide quality links. Many of them don’t show any impact on ranking.
  • There are no high-quality & cheap PBN links.
  • Most PBN links selling at one-time off doesn’t help much.
  • Monthly rental PBN links work well but will incur high cost in the long run.

If you are planning to use PBN links:

  • Go for monthly rental PBN links.
  • The starting cost is low at $5 per link/month.
  • There is more powerful link selling at $30-$40 per month. But you may not need it if targeting Malaysia market.
  • Add maximum 1-2 links per week and monitor the progress.
  • If the thing doesn’t go well, you can cancel all the rental links.

PBN links often provide a faster-ranking improvement over other primary links.

(Note: I prefer not to share publicly exact provider I used here. I only shared within my internal group members)

What Type of Primary Links Should I Use?

Guest posting & links insertions are considered white hat links. PBN is a grey hat technic. There is also black hat technic where hacking other people website and placing a link. We strongly against using any black hat technic.

man looking at question marks

To get started, if budget is not an issue, use paid link insertion and paid guest posting to build all your links. It may take longer time and more cost to get started. But it is hassle-free and easy to manage.

If you have limited budget, you can go for PBN monthly rental services. Start at small. Once you are ranking well, you can slowly replace the PBN links with guest post links.

By the time you are ranking well, your business revenue should increase and have a more available budget. You can slowly cancel 1-2 PBN rental links and replace with 4-6 guest post links. As long as the ranking stable, you can remove more PBN links slowly over time.

If you have no budget at all, the last option is to spend time to do guest posting. But this will be a slow and tiring process.

Step 8 – Monitor & Continue Build Links

Link building is a long term process. If you are in high competition industry, your website may not reach the top position yet after you complete step 7.

time for review word

You will need to repeat step 6 & 7 to add another batch of links until your website reaches the top position.

To monitor your website ranking, you can use “online rank tracker” tools. It will track your keywords ranking on a daily basis. Some of them offer free tracking for a small number of keywords. Personally, I use serpbook.com and accuranker.com.

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Key Takeaways

Now, you have gone through the fundamentals of how to launch an effective SEO campaign. It’s doesn’t involve much technical skill.

There is no magic pill but a series of process and strategies to rank a website. It is POSSIBLE for anyone to rank his/her own website.

And this is the same SEO strategies I use to rank many of our clients’ websites.

Now, it is your turn to start your SEO campaign.


What is the best links to rank a website?

The best backlink consists of relevancy, trust and power element. Find out more here.

How many links do I need to rank in top positions?

The standard answer: It depends on your keyword competition, how good your on-page optimization, website speed, etc. Personally, I often found 5-10 primary links can help to rank a local keyword in Malaysia for local businesses.

How long does it take to see the ranking movement after added a backlink?

It depends on the type of primary links and how soon the new links get indexed by Google. We usually see move between 1-4 weeks.

What is Google Sandbox?

Google will put every new website into Sandbox, which will hold your ranking movement despite you have added many good quality links. And the Sandbox usually will be released within 2-4 months.

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