Search engine optimization is powered by links, but not all links are the same. Greg Boser coined the phrase “link juice” to refer to the amount of credibility your site gains by being linked to from another site. This credibility is not necessarily acknowledged and evaluated by end users, but rather by Google’s search engine algorithm, which determines which pages to display first in search results.
Two particular subsets of links are local and social links, both of which can impart link juice and be a great boon to your search engine marketing strategy when leveraged correctly.
Social Links Explained
Social links impart the credibility of the masses to your site. Google’s algorithm makes the assumption that if a lot of people know about your business or brand and are linking back to your site, you must be a legitimate business. Your site can be boosted up through the search engine rankings with a healthy dose of social link juice.
Maintaining company-run profiles on sites like Facebook or Twitter allows you to generate some of this link juice yourself. By posting a link on your own profile, you create an opportunity for your followers or fans to share or retweet the post. The more the link is shared, the louder the social signal that is sent out to the Google search engine algorithm.
On the other hand, from a link building perspective, sites like Instagram are a little more difficult to leverage since there is no option to directly share another user’s content onto your own feed. This means that any links you place under company images can’t easily be replicated out into the Instagram universe.
Then again, there are sites like Quora or Reddit that you can leverage with a little bit of strategy. Answering industry-related questions on these sites and placing links to your company website when relevant is one way to boost your company’s social signal and benefit from social links.
Local Links Explained
Local links help to reiterate your business’s location. Let’s say you have a pet grooming business located in St. Louis. Google knows that your business is located here because of several different reasons, such as:
- the company address located in the site footer
- the address is also associated with the company on various directories
- other websites that are also associated with St. Louis link to your website
Why do local links matter for SEO? Well, Google not only knows where your business is located, but also the general location from which someone is searching. Whether the searcher types in a specific location along with their keyword becomes irrelevant. Google understands the user’s location and wants to pair the user with the most relevant website.
What could be better than a website that ranks highly for a keyword such as “pet grooming”? A website that also matches the user’s location, of course! Now your pet grooming business in St. Louis is displayed to precisely the right people. This is advantageous from a general marketing standpoint because you don’t have to worry about being the first-ranking webpage in the world for the keyword “pet grooming”; now you just need to rank highly among competitor sites in your specific location.
Local Link Juice for a Virtual Business
What can you do if you run a business virtually, without office space, a storefront or a warehouse and the accompanying physical address?
Some company founders are comfortable using their home address as a business address, but others aren’t. Sometimes you may even wish to generate local links for an area where you don’t live, which further complicates matters.
A P.O. Box is impersonal and is easily recognized by Google as such. A business is never operated out of a P.O. Box, so displaying a P.O. Box address on your website tells visitors (and Google) that you either don’t have a physical office space or you don’t care to have anyone dropping by for a visit. Either way, don’t count on a P.O. Box to give your business local link juice.
One option is to buy a mailbox at your local UPS store. These addresses appear just like suite or office addresses, thus blurring the line for your site visitors and Google crawlers alike.
Another possibility is to rent shared office workspace on an as-needed basis. Your mail can be sent there and kept safely until you pick it up, just like at the post office or UPS Store. The address is perfectly official in the eyes of customers, clients and search engines. As an added bonus, no one can really call your bluff. For example, if you need to arrange an important meeting with a local client, simply invite them to come down to your office! Shared workspaces are available when you need them, and you don’t have to spend money on all the overhead costs for a space that you don’t really use.
Social and Local Links Are Easy But Important
Don’t let the relative simplicity of establishing social and local links distract you from their importance. Actively incorporate local and social links into your overall link building strategy for best results.