If you are starting a business and you are thinking about your visibility on Google, the first thing someone has said to you is likely to be “you need to build links to your website”. True that is, but getting the right quality of links is easier said than done.

The easiest route to go down is to buy links. There are many companies and individuals that are building sites, selling links and then moving on to building another site to do the same thing. These are poor quality sites, with little usable content for consumers but solely being used to place links to manipulate Google.

Other techniques include Press Releases, directory submissions and social media. But think about it from Google’s perspective for just a minute. You have just launched a website and most likely your website is linked to a company entity of some sort. Your business is also located somewhere as the registered address for the business, or operating address.

Your website also has no backlinks to it at all from any sources so Google can’t find it (you need to have at least one link to the website before Google can crawl through to the site).

So what do you think Google would expect to see from your website first?

Well, “think local”. This is one of the messages that has come out for the last few years as a strapline, “think local”. It applies to SEO practice aswell as to Adwords practitioners.

Well there are many companies selling links and also selling directory submissions but many of these are websites hosting in foreign countries and with foreign IP addresses. Whilst some may have high Page Rank you may find that they have low Alexa Rank and recent Domain Age.

Go for local directories. If you go back 20 years before the age of the internet, what would any business do to drum up sales to start with? They would do it locally, keeping costs down and establishing a local name for themselves. Well the same applies to search engine marketing.

It would be wrong for Google to see a new website for a new business establish itself with links and directory submissions on sites that are hosted all around the world and completely forgetting local directories. That would look like a company that is “optimising” it’s site to manipulate Google as opposed to naturally improving visibility for the benefit of it’s target audience.

There are many great local directories out there regardless of your location or worldwide. Specifically in the UK we have the likes of 192.com, Applegate, 118.com etc etc all of which are great directories for pinpointing you locally.

Note that some of the local directories do not pass page rank, but that should not deter companies from submitting to local directories that will add benefit to consumers or target customers. Some directories will also not provide a link to the site, but whilst that doesn’t have a direct benefit to SEO, it does have an “indirect SEO” benefit. What I mean by that is, if you did a Google search for your brand name or website name, you are going to see results show up from other directory sources which only adds credibility to consumers searching your brand name. It shows that you are getting your company name out there, and not just optimising your site for Google’s algorithmic benefit.

Some of the metrics to look for include good Page Rank, good domain age, good domain authority and good Alexa rank. Focus on getting links on domains that are hosted in your target country like the UK, but don’t be too put off where they are not. For example some of the top 10 local directories in the UK are hosted in India or the US.

It ultimately comes down to improving the user experience aswell as having a duel benefit of improving visibility in the Google SERPs. Local directories definitely do that so have a look at your visibility in local directories and see where improvements can be made, even if you are a well established business.