Link building serves many purposes. Most of the time when marketers and link builders talk about the practice of link building, they are referring to global link building, linking to sites all over the web in order to build brand recognition, generate more content, increase page rank, and increase domain authority.
While all of these things certainly apply, local link building is more specific in that it is focused on building links that are related to local search results, those “roofer near me” queries that are made all the type. For most businesses, especially brick and mortar or service-based businesses, the majority of their traffic comes from the local community.
Knowing how to optimize for local link building is crucial to getting traffic through the doors and for cashing in on the local customer base you have. While the principle is the same, there are a few key differences between link building on a global scale and local link building.
The primary focus of link building is on finding industry-specific links through finding relevant and trustworthy content to link to or to form link exchanges with other businesses. The problem with this for local businesses is that these types of links do not drive the type of traffic that they need.
So then, the question becomes, what types of Links are best for local link building? To help you understand building links for local search, we’ll break down why local link building is different and how it works, as well as how to actually go about building said links.
We all already understand what link building is and what search engine optimization is for, helping you rank higher in search results. Like we said in the beginning, the focus is not on global search results or even Google specifically, but rather on local business search results.
Many of the same rules apply as far as being relevant and trustworthy. In other words, you’re still looking at building backlinks with businesses that are relevant to your own and provide useful information to your users, while having a good domain authority (relative to local search).
The difference is that you’re not looking for just any sites with relevant information and good domain authority, your search for links should be focused on those businesses in your local search area, the area that you cover with your services.
To conceptualize it, picture this, you are a tire salesman in Atlanta, you want to improve your local search ranking by building links with businesses that are also in Atlanta and that are in a related field. By following this logic, you may try to reach out to local tire change shops, that don’t sell their own tires, or mechanic shops that buy tires from you, or even paint and dent repair shops that service automobiles, all in Atlanta.
With this example, you can see how all of these businesses are related and add some form of value to your users and your business. Getting backlinks with local businesses is the key point of local SEO link building but is not the only part of it.
The next part of local SEO link building is linking to content that is relevant to your users. This is about what your backlinks are linked to as well as the types of content you create on your own website as well as what pages you backlink to.
Your own content is a major part of your SEO, content that is keyword rich is not the only goal. You want content that is on topic, relevant, fresh, and of value to your users. This also improves your chances of building links with other businesses, after all in terms of link exchanges, both parties have to offer something of value. To that point, the businesses that host your links should also have relevant content that is high quality. This is part of the whole, highly reputable, and relevant link building that is at the core of all link-building strategies, but for local businesses, it is even more important to keep users engaged and build brand trust.
If you have a lot of backlinks from disreputable or untrustworthy sites, this will only hurt your business in the end. It also hurts your search results ranking since domain authority is still a part of the local search ranking.
The content you create also needs to be local. Referencing local businesses, talking about area-specific problems, issues that customers in your area face, providing solutions to common problems, all of these types of things are all relevant and local, improving your ranking in local search by being as relevant and impactful as possible. Writing broad or overarching posts and blogs may be useful on the global market, but local residents want content that matters to them specifically.
Always keep in mind the audience you’re trying to target and the information that they will find important.
You should always consult with a professional link-building service to help build out links to your business, but focusing on the right information is important for the purpose of building your ranking in Google’s local SERP.
The first thing to focus on is making sure that the information on your site is up to date and listed properly, this means your location (physical address, ) the name of your business, and contact details are as up to date as possible (as a side note, this information should be on every page and should be easy to find) and that Google has this information listed in its index of businesses.
The second thing is a bit more complicated and sometimes takes an SEO expert’s help. Once you know your information is up-to-date, you should focus on building local citations for your business. Local citations are basically online mentions of the location and contact info of your business from local business directories. Google Business is an example as is Yelp and many others. The important point is to build a list of as many as possible so that your business is more likely to show up in search results.
You can look at this as a sort of list of people who know who you are on the internet, after all, it’s basically a popularity contest and you’re aiming to be Homecoming King (or Queen).
Once you’ve done these two things, then you can build links with local businesses and generate local content. You need to establish that initial presence in order to build out from there.
Now that we’ve talked enough about what you’re looking to do with link building and Local SEO, now we’ll provide some tips on how to go about doing it. You may not be able to take advantage of all of these tips but they offer a great jumping-off point for getting your local SEO link building on track.
This sounds simple, but in practice, it is different from standard landing page SEO. This is a page that people in your area specifically will land on when they click on a listing for your business. As such, you want it to have all your keywords and meta description, and other relevant information, but you also want a few other things to make it rank locally.
The first thing to include is your exact location. You can add it as a footer to your landing page but it should look something like this
“Link Building Services
1234 Hollywood Blvd #29
Ojai, California 93032”
Of course, this is just an example but the components are your entire business name, the street address, and the city, state, and zip. This is the key information to get your page ranked in local search. Google sees this and goes “ok this business is from here, let’s put them in the list.”
This is something that can be easily overlooked, but there is such a thing as locally relevant keywords when loading your landing pages, as well as your other content for that matter. The key to getting ranked locally is to use local keywords.
This goes hand in hand with using business-relevant keywords and should be used together with other factors, but with a focus on local service.
All of the standard SEO rules still apply but with a concentrated focus. Meta descriptions, for instance, should mention your business’s location specifically, not only for the search engine but for users who are looking for businesses in your area, they can see immediately “oh they are located here and they provide____”. Users want to know exactly what they want to know, at a glance.
Title tags and CTA’s apply the same way, you still want to use them the same way you would for a standard SEO practice, with relevant keywords, but you want to focus on the local element, like so “If you live in the Los Angeles area and need link building services, contact us today for a free estimate”.
That tells local users what to do and why and where you are located, all at once.
As we were saying in the beginning, link building is about choosing the right businesses and building positive relationships that benefit both you and the other party. Finding these types of relationships can be tricky if you don’t know what to do.
Using the local media outlets is one way to get valuable backlinks. You can do this by paying for ads or sending out a press release and getting it published. The press release should include links to your website or SEO landing page and provide valuable information for local readers to take in to build interest in your business.
We’ve talked about getting yourself mentioned on local business directories, but you can also use them to do the reverse and find local businesses to partner with or reach out to in order to establish backlinks. If you don’t have as many community relationships with other businesses as you’d like, this is a good way to find out what’s out there and get your foot in the door for possible link exchanges.
Using partner advertising is another way to get backlinks (be remember SEO isn’t always about backlinks). You can sponsor a business by providing some ad space and placing a partners section somewhere on your website and in exchange they can host links to your content. This is a mutually beneficial arrangement that many businesses employ both online and in the physical space.
Every business has some form of connection with the community they serve, whether it’s local suppliers, distributors, friends, and neighbors, or just random customers, you know people in the community and one of the best ways to build links, that are relevant and valuable is communicating with people in the community and finding out about the businesses that support your business.
You can also look into businesses that offer products that you plan to carry, services you are looking to offer, or just businesses in a similar space. Talking to local business owners is a great way to find out what’s out there in terms of content on the web and how you build your presence around that and possibly obtain links through other local businesses that want to do the same.
Community is one of the ways that local businesses can benefit. Much like word of mouth advertising is still alive and well, it also works to help promote your business on the web in the sense that local businesses and customers can support and promote each other to where they all mutually benefit.
When Google detects a local indicator (such as your inclusion of geographic keywords, location data provided by your mobile phone, or the common phrase “near me”), it calls upon this separate algorithm to produce three results deemed most relevant to your query.
Note the difference when I search for “pediatrician”:
Versus when I search for “pediatrician near me”:
Ignore the paid advertisement at the top and note the three organic entries that appear above the “standard” results. In local SEO, your goal is to be listed as one of these entries.
To do that, you need to achieve a handful of goals:
At first glance, it would seem that regular, relevant white hat link building services—the kind you follow for a national campaign—is sufficient to improve your domain authority. Hold that thought.
Now let’s think about what it would mean to have a “local link.” For this, it’s helpful to think of your geographic area as a type of industry of its own. Google looks at the strength of your reputation in a geographic area when it determines the top three results for a local query relevant to you; therefore, having more links pointing to your site from locally relevant authorities (with locally relevant content) can help you increase your local relevance. Examples of locally relevant authorities might include local news sites, neighborhood associations, or organizations exclusive to your area.
However, don’t be fooled into thinking that local links are only beneficial to local companies. This isn’t the case. Any authoritative link can be valuable in boosting your domain authority, so a business in Houston could theoretically increase in rank thanks to an inbound link from a Detroit newspaper (provided it’s relevant); Google won’t confuse you for being a Detroit business, but you won’t gain any Houston-specific relevance.
(Side note: if you live in Houston, you’ve got plenty of choices for local links, so you won’t have to go wooing the folks in Detroit to earn some extra authority):
All this is to say that yes, local link building can be distinguished from traditional link building, if you only seek out local sources. However, because all inbound links will support your domain authority and increase both your national and local ranks, it’s unwise to limit yourself to only local sources.
Instead of thinking about local link building as yet another separate strategy you must pursue to get your business visible in search engines, think about it as a niche subset of your overall link building strategy; oftentimes, local sources are easy to persuade, and if you participate actively in local events, you’ll probably earn these links naturally (and that’s never a bad thing).
If you’re looking for a concise takeaway from this analysis, it’s this: know that locally relevant links can increase your reputation in a specific geographic area, but it’s neither essential nor wise to exclusively pursue local links. Keep them as a subsection of your overall link building strategy.