Before we dive into the deep sea of local link building, let’s have a quick precap of what is “link building”.
Link building has no single technical definition. If you ask me, I would say link building is doing your best to get high quality websites to link to you. However, a more standardized definition would go like this: Link Building involves acquiring hyperlinks from reputed and high quality websites.
If you are just starting out with link building, you can see detailed step by step instructions, various strategies and techniques on RankWatch Learn Section.
Let’s face it: Link building is a lengthy and difficult process. With all the resources and budget, it still takes time to get results. But once it works, a strong link profile always contributes to your website’s performance on SERPs.
A good link building campaign involves a variety of strategies with diverse objectives. Your focus should not be on the number of backlinks you can bag, but their quality. Link building should be seen as a sustainable activity that will give you good quality links which actually make sense in the context of your website.
Local Link Building
Generally, we associate link building with traditional SEO. Local link building is an untapped resource which is not commonly talked about and is often omitted within link building campaigns.
Local businesses have innumerous opportunities to attract local attention. This means links, press mentions, increased word of mouth and more targeted customers. Engaging with the local community opens up an opportunity to build and develop relationships and thus, links.
Why local link building?
As we know Google’s algorithm updates primarily focus on devaluing links that aren’t relevant. The added advantage to local link building is that these kind of links are almost always relevant.
The SERP is occupied with features like local listings, advertisements, the knowledge graph, rich snippets, etc. To put it simply, “Google is evolving”. They are continuously moving towards providing more relevant results and becoming a better information and social tool. Local link building is an easy way to tap into Google’s effort to provide better information.
As per the law of localization in SERPs, any website which has local content has greater chances of showing up in search results. Therefore, it is surely worth to invest your time and resources into local link building.
Let’s sum up the benefits of local link building:
- More Targeted And Relevant Traffic
As mentioned above, local links help you gather local attention. For example, if you own a salon in Minnesota, it is safe to assume your customers majorly reside in Minnesota. In this case, getting local links from city magazines would help drive more relevant and targeted traffic to your business.
- Higher Search Engine Rankings
Link building has always been an important aspect of local SEO. It is only through links that search engines crawl your website. Getting links from authoritative domains and local resources (local newspapers, publications, magazines etc) would work wonders for your business.
They conventionally develop amazing content and have a good pagerank and domain authority. If these publications write about you, they’d naturally link to you, passing some of their link juice to your website with a dofollow link. This will enhance your value and trust in the eyes of search engines as the ranking algorithm largely depends upon the quality and number of backlinks to your website.
- Building Relationships With Authoritative Local Sources
Link building always paves the way for effective relationship building. Whenever any local publication writes about you (and of course, link back to you), you can establish a relationship with the author as well as the organization. It might lead to getting great results as you never know who that author is connected to.
So how do we go about building local links?
Local Link Building Strategies
To begin with, you should create a local mindset. Establishing a local mindset is the first step towards launching a local link building campaign. These links should come from sites which are relevant (in your industry) and have a measure of authority. Before starting your campaign, ask yourself the following questions:
- Which are the most authoritative domains in your industry?
- Have you engaged or interacted with any local businesses, service providers, charities, media organizations, social events, high schools, colleges, universities, groups, societies etc.?
Truly, that should be enough to get a local link building campaign off the ground and open up creative opportunities for you to tap into.
1. Get into Local Directories/Local Resource Lists/Review Sites
Local directories are specific to both your location and niche. Being listed on them increases your chances of being discovered online. Supposedly, you are a restaurant owner and are listed in Yelp. When a user runs a near me query for “seafood restaurant” on yelp, your website’s link/information is more likely to appear in the results.
Here are a few local directories you can start with:
- Yahoo Local
- Bing Local
- Google Places
- Angie’s List
Getting your business included in local resource lists is an indicator to Google about your authority. All you have to do is locate authoritative websites within your industry/community that also host a couple of local resources. If you have already worked to establish your business as an effective local authority, all you need to do is reach out.
Here are some options to start with:
- Local chamber of commerce
- Your business online directory
- Local newspapers and magazines
- City specific directory
Getting endorsed by these sites would really give you an edge. It’s pretty simple to get included in these resources provided you concisely explain why you should be on their list.
Review sites should also be considered in link building campaigns. These are the sites where your customers write about their experience with your products/services. For example, a customer visits your restaurant and he really enjoys the Italian food there. Impressed by the service and taste, he goes to Yelp (or any other review sites) and writes, “<your business name>(linking back to you) the best italian food I’ve ever had. Thus, apart from helping with local SEO, review sites also help in gathering valuable links. You can begin with the following:
2. Local Partnerships And Sponsorships
Building local partnerships is another good way to acquire local links.
One approach of acquiring local partnerships is through contacting local companies which offer products/services that are complementary to your business. For example, you are an event planner; you can partner with Hair/Makeup Artists or Disc Jockeys and leverage these partnerships for a link.
You can also utilize your relations with local suppliers (which is another good option for potential partnerships) for some worthwhile links.
You can also connect with any local online publication specific to your niche, partner with them to contribute a particular column and ask for a link on their site.
Local sponsorships can be another course of action for building local links. You can sponsor or donate to any local club/organization or society. Also, you can choose to sponsor a meetup group. You can search for a local meetup group that might appeal to your buisiness on Meetup.com (which is the world’s largest network of local groups), show up at the next scheduled local meetup group, negotiate with the group owner if they are seeking sponsorships and get your business mentioned on their ads.
Local Sponsorships along with offering valuable links, also contributes towards building brand recognition. The most common and best source for local sponsorships comes from local events. Here are a few other options:
- Trade shows
- Talk shows
- Award functions
3. Hold Contests/Giveaways
Hosting a contest or a giveaway is an effective link building strategy. You will need to reach out to local community/associations websites to let them know that you are running the event. This way you can ensure you are promoting the contest/giveaway to your target audience.
For giveaways, ask the participants to link back to you. If you are running a contest, post an announcement along with the winners – giving them something to link to.
4. Create Local Resources
Creating Local resources offers a plethora of link building opportunities. It is also an easy option for those businesses that don’t have a strong local presence or haven’t interacted much locally. Creating these resources is relatively easy but extreme care should be taken that only well-researched content goes into them. Here are some examples of local resources:
- A local map to tourist attractions, pet friendly places, free wifi spots, etc.
- A local guide to the best food joints, bars/pubs, libraries, must do things in the city, cultural attractions in the city etc.
- A local event calendar including local sports events, activities, festivals, etc.
Just make sure whatever you create is of public interest and does not exist currently. Refer to the resources of local governmental sites, schools, colleges, libraries to get some ideas.
5. Leverage Your Local Relationships Within The Community
If you are a local business, you should have some great relationships within your community. This does not include building any new relations, instead it implies taking advantage of your existing local relations.
One way to acquire links by this method is by providing testimonials.
If you truly loved the service of any local buisiness you interacted with, appreciate it. Write a testimonial for them and earn their love (actually, link!) back. You can do this with:
- Local Service Providers
- Local Restaurants
- Local Charities
- Local NGO’s
- Local Vendor
You can also earn a link by participating in their events.
Another way of getting worthwhile links is by reaching out to your existing loyal customers (who might have their own website) and ask them if they would like to include your business in their local resource page (if they have any).
If you are a member of any local business associations/groups or regular meetup groups, you can leverage these relationships for a link by interviewing a prominent group member or writing about any significant group event.
Local Link Building is often overlooked within the link building campaign. It certainly holds a lot of potential in shooting your website up on the SERPs for regional and local searches.
For small businesses, local link building can be a terrifying endeavour. But with all the knowledge and resources, you can find the right direction.
If you have any other insights or strategies for local link building, feel free to share them with us in the comments.