'Link building'--it's a term that you probably hear thrown around a lot, but have you ever considered how it plays into your local business? Do you shun link building because it's a foreign concept, or have you tried it in the past and failed to see results? Whatever the case is, it's time to stop looking past link building and to start investing time and energy into dominating local SEO with quality backlinks.

What is a Good Link?

The problem with all of the noise surrounding link building is that very few people understand what constitutes a good link. Despite what you may think, not all links are created equal. While a quality link can quickly enhance your brand, a poor link may appear spammy and ultimately damage your brand. What's the difference? Well, according to digital marketing expert, Eric Enge, you want to build links with the following attributes:

Cody Jensen, CEO of Searchbloom says, "When it comes to SEO and local link building, you must make sure every link strategy you target has one of these attributes in mind. In other words, link building is about driving traffic to your website and strengthening your reputation and visibility with your target readership."

3 Link Building Tips for Local SEO

Once you have an understanding of what good links are, you're ready to start link building for local SEO success. Here are some specific tips to get you pointed in the right direction:

Get Local Contest Nomination Links

One under-the-radar strategy is to get links from local organizations that run contests or give out awards. For example, your local Chamber of Commerce probably has some sort of annual "Best of" awards that recognize growing businesses in the community. If you happen to get a nomination or award from one of these groups, you'll benefit on two accounts.

First, you get the recognition and brand visibility (in front of a highly targeted audience). Second, you'll get valuable backlinks that hold significant weight in local searches. In order to find some opportunities in your area, try conducting searches for things like, "best of [insert state or city]" + "nominate," or "Nominate a business" + "[insert state or city]." Many of these awards and recognitions have nomination or application forms that you can fill out.

Get Locally Involved

This tip is a little more time consuming than the others, but the payoffs can be significant. Because so much of local SEO is natural, you can't expect to gain links without doing something in return. One of the most effective tactics is to actually get involved in your local community and build offline relationships. Once you do this, you'll automatically start developing local links as businesses recognize your involvement.

Some potential ways to get involved include hosting or sponsoring local charity events, creating a club or group that's related to your industry, starting a local scholarship for high school seniors, interviewing important members of the community, building relationships with local journalists and members of the media, and partnering with local groups to offer discounted services.

Create Controversy

As a business owner, have you ever stopped to consider how often you try to please people? This is often what drives your decisions. After all, you want people to like your brand. This isn't practical in the long-term, though. You can't please 100 percent of people 100 percent of the time. In fact, creating a little controversy can help you build links.

Here's how it works. Find an issue or topic that your target market believes in and get involved. If you get in deep enough, people will start to notice. This will eventually open up opportunities for you to speak with the media or sneak into local stories. Once your story is published in a local publication, you can then try to pitch the idea to even larger sources. From here, natural links will begin to feed off each other.

Other Link Building Strategies

These three tips by no means represent an exhaustive list of local link building strategies. There are plenty of other opportunities; you just have to be on the lookout. Check out this awesome collection of link building search queries to start finding unique opportunities in your geographical market.

Start Today, Reap the Rewards Tomorrow

Link building isn't for the faint of heart. It takes hard work, patience, and a healthy dose of trial and error. If you aren't willing to endure the work that comes along with link building, you won't succeed. However, if you understand that local link building is a process and that you won't see immediate results, you'll eventually find success. Start today--using the aforementioned tips--and you'll reap a healthy harvest in the months and years to come.

Published on: Sep 9, 2015
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.