Any major local SEO Studies and surveys on organic and card packages show links as one of the most important ranking factors. So if you want to get your local business or your client’s local business higher on Google, you need backlinks.
I’ll show you nine ways to create local backlinks in this guide, but let’s get to the basics first …
Local link building is the process of building contextual and / or locally relevant links to a company website. The goal is to drive traffic and users to the website and to help those websites rank better in local searches and in relevant map packages.
Most local businesses don’t need many links to rank in local search. Check the SERP Overview for every local search query in the Keywords Explorer and you will rarely see companies with more than 150 referring domains on the first page:
You can use Keyword Explorer to get a sense of the competition for the keywords you are targeting. Just scroll to the SERP Overview to see how many links the top ranking pages have.
As with any link building, local link building requires research, hard work, perseverance, and creativity. Here are nine local link building tactics to get you started:
- Get links from other ranking sites
- Get links that your competitors have
- Reclaim lost links
- Create locally relevant content
- Get local quotes
- Keep track of other local link opportunities
- Claim unlinked mentions
- Buy companies or at least their websites
- Add internal links
This is a tactic sometimes called a barnacle SEO. You just search for some of your relevant terms on google and try to get links from websites that show up in the results.
You probably won’t get any links from your competitors, but look for aggregator or directory websites. When people shop for a company they tend to use these types of websites. They can usually be listed there by simply signing up and adding your company. This is a quick and easy way to ensure you get into the recital and get direct business value.
When you look at the intersection of links to your competitors’ websites, there are likely many contextual and locally relevant link options. You can easily check this with Link Intersect. Just add your site and your competitors to the tool and you’ll see which sites are linking to your competitors (but not you).
What you are likely to find are many links specific to your niche and many directories. Many of these directories are known as local quotes and contain business information such as your name, address, and phone number.
Websites change over the years, so often you will have links to pages that no longer exist. By redirecting the old versions of your pages to the current versions, you will restore those lost links and their value. That’s how it’s done:
- Add your domain to Site Explorer
- Go to The best way to do this is through links report
- Add “404 not found” HTTP Response filter
I usually sort this by “Referring Domains”.
4. Create locally relevant content
Content creation is the process of finding topics that appeal to your target audience, and then planning, creating, and posting content on those topics. When it comes to local content, think of content that is relevant to your business and useful to your audience.
You might think of topics like “What is the best grass variety for your region”, “Which pests are most common” or just the prices for services in your region.
While this type of content is pretty unlikely to naturally attract tons of links, it is usually easier to create links using email requests.
5. Get local quotes
We have already seen some of these possibilities when using Link Intersect. There are many different citation services out there, but aside from websites that ranked in your market, these are the ones you might want to get started with US. Many of them share their data with other websites and are generally considered to be the most important quotes.
Mainly US Aggregators:
Other big players:
- Google My Business
- Apple cards
- Yellow Pages
- no idea & Bradstreet
These are all links from other websites related to your region. There are a lot of different options if you are looking for them, and I’ll be writing a follow-up article with a process to find them.
For now, I’ll list a few options:
- Colleges or universities (e.g. job advertisements, scholarships, club sponsorships, discounts, alumni links)
- City-specific sites and directories
- Local news, magazines and podcasts
- Some websites focus on the state or the surrounding areas
- Local community groups (e.g. Reddit, Facebook groups, Nextdoor, etc.)
- Sponsorship in general (e.g. sports leagues, races, meetings, charities, etc.)
- Local awards
You can also use existing relationships. This can include things like testimonials or case studies for suppliers or connections. It can also be connections through churches, business groups, or even people. Ego baits work well at the local level when you want to do things like expert roundups.
Unlinked brand mentions are where other websites talk about your company or your employees, however not Link back to your website. You will be most lucky with this tactic if you are in a niche that is reported like lawyers or your company and / or people are already active in the community.
We have a complete guide on how to find unlinked mentions to help you with this process.
8. Buy companies or at least their websites
While this is rarer and more situational, mergers and acquisitions take place at the local level. Occasionally, you will even find a company that sells their existing website or expires one of their domains. When you purchase these, you have the option of having two ranking sites or a better ranking site. These opportunities are quite rare at the local level and I’ve only been able to do this a few times in my career, but if you manage to find an opportunity like this, it’s extremely valuable.
Your site is also a local site and you control it. Internal links are a powerful link building tactic. Check out our guide on how to find these link options.
In my experience, people want to skip these basic link building tactics and go straight to trending or fun tactics, but that’s a lot riskier and rarely pays off. Do the basics, then move on to the more creative and fun tactics as the business grows.
Any questions? Ping me on twitter.