I agree that local businesses do take shortcuts to build links. However, Chris also mentions that the only way to build links back to your website is through social media and getting listed in your local online directories. While those are both very good strategies, there is one key strategy that he missed.
The Most Important Link Building Strategy
The most important link building strategy for your local business is to write about and share the real things your company does every day. We like to call this "good news."
Is your company involved in local charities? Do you hold public seminars, or work with local schools? Here's an example of how we promoted one client's involvement with a college internship program that gives valuable experience to students. (By the way, this story was picked up by the two national trade websites; Modern Tire Dealer and Tire Review.)
Take it even further and look to your employees or co-workers to provide content ideas. Ask around: does someone have a unique hobby, recent achievements to tout, an inspiring story to tell? Is someone on your staff serving the community in his or her spare time? (Here's a "Good News" profile on someone who does.)
These topics can be converted into content for your website and social network communities and naturally build links. Local media channels might also love to hear this information. Build a list of local contacts and submit press releases or story ideas to one of them at a time.
These strategies don't stop with just news items. Get involved with your trade organizations and industry publications to create educational content for your audience from the expert's point of view.
The options for "good news" items are unlimited. Take the time to look for them in your everyday business/personal life and share them! Your community will appreciate it, and your website marketing will reap the benefits.