Local SEO is essential for businesses trying to rank in Google map packs. It helps attract nearby customers searching for their products or services. Traditional link building focuses heavily on acquiring backlinks from authoritative sites. Local link building prioritizes relevance over domain authority.
What are Local Links?
Local links refer to backlinks originating from web directories specific to your business’ city, county, or state. Instead of national publishers, the sites linking back to you are locally-focused such as:
- City newspapers and blogs
- Tourism and Chamber of Commerce websites
- Industry associations and local chapters
- Neighborhood forums and Facebook groups
- Local service directories and business roundups
Why Local Links Matter for Ranking Locally
Google cares about how well-known and reputable a business is in its specific geographical area. Local link building indicates your business is trusted and endorsed in the local community.
While a backlink from the New York Times looks impressive, it might not help a locksmith rank in Denver. Google might value a link published on Denverlifemagazine.com higher for assessing the locksmith’s local relevance.
Having authoritative national sites link to you can still provide domain authority benefits. But for hyper-local SERP rankings, locally relevant links act as stronger signals.
The Difference Between Local Links and Citations
Local citations refer to NAP or Name, Address, and Phone number. These should be indicated across directories, review sites, and other websites. However, citations don’t involve backlinks to your actual website.
Meanwhile, local links help search engines identify reputation in the region while directing link equity and traffic to your site. Both serve separate ranking optimization functions for local SEO.
Getting Started with Local Link Building
When kickstarting your local link building efforts, begin by:
Building Local Citations First
Work on creating and verifying as many accurate local citations as possible. This establishes visibility and helps search engines validate your NAP information. Use tools like Moz Local and Whitespark that provide citation databases.
Focus on industry-specific local directories over general business listings. The former holds more SEO influence for your niche.
Identifying Local Link Building Opportunities
Brainstorm different locally relevant sites that might link to your website. Local link building can be done through local newspapers, city sites, tourism/chamber associations, local blogs, trade groups, etc.
Research which prospects cover businesses like yours or have linked to competitors. Outreach to them first before expanding to other prospects.
Using Link Analysis Tools
Link analysis tools like Ahrefs and SEMRush allow the discovery of where competitors have earned backlinks. Compare link profiles to identify additional local link prospects.
Now that you’ve assembled a solid list of potential linking sites, it’s time to research relevancy.
Finding the Most Relevant Local Link Prospects
Competitor Backlink Analysis
Start by identifying your main competitors in the local market. These businesses or websites operate in the same geographic area and target a similar audience.
Use backlink analysis tools to examine the link profile of your competitors. Tools like Ahrefs, Moz, or SEMrush can provide insights into the backlinks pointing to your competitor’s websites.
Assess the quality of the backlinks your competitors have. Look for links from authoritative and relevant websites. Quality often matters more than quantity.
Research Locally Popular Sites
Explore local news websites, as they often cover businesses and events in the community. A link from a reputable local news source can significantly boost your SEO.
Identify community websites, blogs, and popular forums in your locality. Participate in discussions and consider reaching out for potential collaboration or link opportunities.
Ensure your business is listed in local business directories. These directories can provide a valuable backlink and improve your visibility among local consumers.
Check Industry Directories and Associations
Look for directories related to your industry or niche. Being listed in these directories can provide valuable backlinks and establish your business as an authority in your field.
Joining your local Chamber of Commerce or industry associations can open up networking opportunities and potentially lead to backlinks from their websites. These organizations often have online directories where members are listed.
Winning Strategy for Earning Local Links
Creating Hyperlocal Content
Research and identify topics that are highly relevant to your local audience. This could include local events, news, trends, or even historical aspects of your community.
Optimize your content for local keywords. This helps search engines understand the geographical relevance of your content, increasing the chances of it appearing in local search results.
Reach out to local influencers, bloggers, or content creators who may be interested in your hyperlocal content. Collaborative efforts can lead to content sharing and valuable backlinks.
Volunteering for Local Causes
Actively participate in local community events and causes. Volunteering demonstrates your commitment to the community and provides opportunities to network with individuals and organizations that may later link to your business.
Partner with local nonprofit organizations for community projects. Nonprofits often appreciate support from local businesses and may reciprocate with mentions or links on their websites.
Sponsoring Local Events
Sponsorship of local events, sports teams, or community gatherings can lead to prominent mentions and backlinks. Event organizers often list sponsors on their websites or promotional materials.
Develop attractive sponsorship packages that include benefits such as logo placement, mentions in press releases, and links on event websites. This ensures visibility and a strong association with the local community.
Getting Featured on Local Media and Blogs
Establish relationships with local journalists and reporters. Provide them with interesting and newsworthy information about your business or industry that could result in a feature.
Issue press releases for significant milestones, events, or community contributions. Local media outlets may pick up these releases, providing valuable backlinks to your website.
Offer to write guest articles or contribute expert opinions to local blogs and media outlets. This showcases your expertise and earns you links back to your site.
Why Invest Efforts in Local Link Building?
Wondering whether the effort needed for local link building is justified? These are some of the payoffs that make local link building worth the time and effort.
Improved Local Rankings and Traffic
Nothing boosts local SEO metrics faster than a growing profile of local backlinks. The more relevant links you have, the better you can outrank competitors.
Increased Brand Awareness and Credibility
Earning links from trusted local entities greatly improves perception among customers. It establishes you as an authority in the neighborhood.
Higher Local SERP and Map Pack Visibility
Google factors link signals into local search algorithm calculations and map pack rankings. More locally relevant links mean elevating visibility.
More Engagement on the Website and Social Media
Higher visibility draws more local visitors to your website and social media pages over time. This gradually builds engagement and word-of-mouth.
Link Building for Ranking in Local Map Packs
Ranking among the top three local pack results delivers the highest visibility and click-through rates. Optimize these factors for your city’s Google Business Profile to boost rankings:
Complete and Verify the GBP Listing
Fill out all details like images, description, contact info, location, etc. Run regular audits fixing inconsistencies.
Build Local Citations
As covered before, set up and validate NAP citations on 50+ local directories, review sites, and listings.
Acquire Links from Locally Relevant Sites
Building region-specific links signals Google that nearby users find your business credible and popular.
I hope this guide gave you clarity on why local link building matters and how to strategize your efforts:
- Identify the right link prospects like local media, directories, and community sites
- Set priority buckets through competitor analysis
- Promote locally strong content for linkable assets
- Volunteering and sponsorships raise the visibility
- Reach out to identified prospects for link inserts