Link building can be a rather daunting task.
The rules of the link building game have changed so dramatically over the years that it can be tough to figure out how to approach the concept.
On top of how much it has changed, it’s a time-consuming task with the potential to yield few results.
This is especially true when looking for new opportunities at a local level.
One way I have addressed this difficulty in the past is by making local charities a large part of my link building strategy for the sites I’ve worked with.
Benefits of Local Charities & Events
Local charities allow you to put on your traditional marketing hat and think outside the box a bit.
The reason why link building with local charities is such a valid strategy is that it works from multiple perspectives of marketing.
For example, let’s say you are a business working to fundraise with a local charity. These types of charities are always looking to get as much exposure as possible to help attract more donations for their cause.
At one of the previous agencies I worked at, we would partner every year with Extra Life to raise money for a local children’s hospital through a 24-hour video game marathon.
The hospital then did a large write-up on our efforts that got covered by a few different local news outlets, which included links to our site.
This approach works almost like more traditional PR. A good deed that was meant to help a cause we believed in also yielded a lot of exposure to our business.
Another option for this type of link building comes in the form of local sponsorship.
For example, let’s say a local children’s hospital in your community hosts an annual marathon to raise money.
By sponsoring an event like this, not only do you have the potential to get a relevant link to your site but you also have the secondary value of having your business’ name on promotional materials related to the marathon.
In both of the previously mentioned scenarios, one of the biggest goals is to help build awareness for your business within your community.
The links you build through these efforts will send signals to search engines about your attachment to the community you are working in. You are also putting your name in front of potential future customers.
Prospecting Local Charities
The process of prospecting these types of links can be incredibly time-consuming – especially if you live in a larger metro area.
Not only will there be a lot of information to sort through but not every opportunity you find will have options that work for you.
To make things a little easier and more efficient, I highly recommend actively using search operators when looking for these types of opportunities.
Search operators will allow you to narrow your search results – increasing your odds of finding something that works best for your needs.
I always like to begin my prospecting with the city I am working in and specifying what exactly I’m looking for.
If I was working with a client in my hometown and wanted to find them sponsorship opportunities, my search would look something like [austin events “sponsors”].
This will display any sites in the Austin area that are holding events that actively highlight sponsors. You could modify this to show “sponsorships” or event.
Use the inurl operator to find a specific page that houses the sponsors of the event.
When using these search operators, I knew that I wasn’t wasting time as I worked to qualify these sites because I knew they contained exactly what I was looking for.
When prospecting local charities and events, I highly recommend creating some sort of database for your findings.
While something you find now might not be right for your current clients, they might be perfect for a future project. This also allows you to create a quick-reference resource for future efforts.
Qualifying Potential Opportunities
The best part of these types of links is that they are hyper-relevant to a specific area.
Sometimes these domains can even contain the area’s name directly in the URL, which is incredibly valuable but usually doesn’t give very high scores in some tools. It’s because these links are much more niche.
This brings me to my next point: there is more to a link’s value than just domain authority!
DA is just one metric to look at to help determine the quality of a link. I always recommend looking at multiple metrics to determine if you want to move forward the link you are prospecting.
One of the first things I always do is put the site through a tool like SEMrush or Ahrefs to see how this site has specifically performed over time.
If you see a huge drop in the number of keywords a site has ranked for, it’s a pretty safe assumption that the site has been hit with some form of devaluation.
Due to this ranking dip on the site you are prospecting, you would probably want to disqualify this link as it will hold way less valuable link equity.
In addition to the equity flow your site will receive from this initiative, it’s also good to look into estimated visits the site you are prospecting gets.
One way that I have always qualified links is by determining if they would help drive more traffic to my site.
Through the years as I’ve taught SEO newbies about link building, I’ve always framed the concept more as relationship building, especially in the local space.
Think of it as an awareness campaign for yourself. The more people are aware of you and understand what your goals are the more likely they will be to want to work with you.
The key when building these relationships is to be genuine.
Help make a difference in your community and make more people aware of your customers.
Take the time to get to know the people you are trying to partner with. In some cases, this can lead to even more advantageous opportunities.
Making Communities Better
When you incorporate local charities and events into your link building strategy, you can take a step back and know that you are helping to make your community a better place.
Putting your time and marketing dollars towards these types of initiative doesn’t just help your site rank better, it helps make your community better.
In my book, that makes it worth it.
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