Your next steps
Using the list above (or any other acquisition ideas you’ve considered), try creating a spreadsheet of search terms that will help you find local link opportunities. Building links is an ongoing process; you don’t want to start from scratch each time you begin a new link campaign. As you come up with new ideas and strategies over time, be sure to add them to your list so you’ll be able to use them again in the future.
The inURL search operator will be one of your most useful tools as you get started. A search operator is a parameter that you add to a search query in Google to get specifically focused results. When you use inURL in your searches, you’re telling Google that you want to find sites that include a specific word or phrase within the URL.
For example, a search for “Dallas inURL:sponsorships” would give you a list of Dallas-based websites that include the word “sponsorships” in the URL.
Find out who’s already linking to your site
Before you start building links, you’ve got to know what other sites are already linking back to you. Link analysis tools that Moz, Ahrefs, or SEMrush provide, for example, make it easy to find that information. Simply search for your site’s URL in a link analysis tool, and you’ll get a list of all the other sites that link back to you.
(Note: These tools attempt to replicate Google's index, but they all crawl links a bit differently, often leading to slightly different results from each tool. If you’re working on a larger site—or you want to be thorough—you can use more than 1 tool, compile all the links in your spreadsheet, and then remove the duplicates to get the most accurate picture of your inbound links.)
Check your competitors’ links, too
Since you only need to enter a URL to get a list of that site’s inbound links, it’s easy to compare your links to those of a competitor. As you look through the data, be on the lookout for patterns. Have your competitors received links from more local businesses or organizations than you have? Have they tapped into any areas of the local market that might also be beneficial to you?
If your competitors have local links that you don’t, they’re likely seeing a visibility boost and reaching a larger audience than you are. Contact the owners of the website to see if they’ll add your link, too. While you’re at it, make sure that your site or landing page is more visually appealing, easier to navigate, and useful to outshine the competition.
Rinse and repeat
Your link profile will grow over time, which means you should never stop acquiring inbound links. That’s another benefit of the grassroots marketing strategy: Businesses that get involved in the local community often stay involved.
But you don’t have to acquire links every month. Seasonal fluctuations in inbound links are perfectly normal. Instead, consider running your link-building campaigns on a quarterly timeline; spend 6 to 8 weeks on your research, then go after your targeted links when you reach the final month of the quarter.
After each campaign, clean up your list of prospects. Remove the links you’ve already acquired or any opportunities that are no longer viable, then start your research phase again.
For more on the basics of SEO, check out our What's SEO article.