Google My Business (now known as Google Business Profile) and other online business listings are essential aspects of your local SEO strategy – but they’re not the only game in town.
Although the MapPack results are prominent when Google perceives local intent behind the query (especially on mobile), you can’t ignore those traditional ten blue links. Links are still an important ranking factor in Google’s organic search results. That makes having a link building strategy for your brand a must.
In this article, you’ll learn up-to-date local link building tactics and best practices to help increase your local search visibility and give you a boost in the rankings via high-quality backlinks from local sources. But first, let’s define what a local link and link building is.
What is a Local Link?
Local links point from one site to another and serve as an endorsement for the piece of content they’re linking to. Google uses inbound links as a trust signal in its search ranking algorithm.
In simple terms, local links are different from regular links because they link to local sources, usually from specific towns or cities. When a user is looking for a particular business, organic search results will populate from that specific area (in addition to Map Pack results).
What Are Examples of Local Link Building?
For example, if someone searches for “San Diego Dentists,” Google algorithms will rely on trust and other signals to help rank the results. Local links help Google understand which web pages are most trustworthy and therefore the best answer for that person searching for a dentist in San Diego.
Local links come from individuals, businesses, and organizations of all kinds in a local community – service groups, small businesses, sports teams, schools, religious groups, news media, and much more.
While it’s valuable to gather links within your specific industry, it’s even more important to get links in your business’s geographical location and within the communities where your customers are, especially for small businesses. This is why local links are paramount to marketing a local business.
What is Local Link Building?
Local link building efforts are an essential part of any local SEO strategy. You want to get locally relevant links to help Google and others understand that you are a part of the local community.
This practice of soliciting and encouraging local links uses a variety of tactics. Local link building targets the relevant audience that will return customers from your community. It’s also a great way to connect your business to your local community while increasing brand awareness and acquiring new customers.
Additionally, building links will help you build presence and authority for your brand in your industry. It might seem overwhelming at first to figure out all the ways to get links back to your local business, so we’ll outline different ideas and tips to begin your local link building journey.
Tips for Creating a Successful Local Link Building Campaign
Below, we will share tips for creating a successful link building campaign and different avenues to consider.
Enter Your Business in Local Awards
Check the local newspaper and community websites for upcoming award competitions and enter the ones that are best suited to promote your business.
Join Local Business and Industry Associations
Search online and find relevant local business and industry associations, such as the Chamber of Commerce, to collaborate on content or promotions.
Partner With Complementary Businesses
For example, if you’re a local pet supply store, you might choose to offer a packaged gift set for the holidays to customers of local vets in the area. In turn, you might display the vet’s contact cards at the registers in your store. You’ll gain exposure to one another’s audiences through this cross-promotion.
Find Opportunities to Appear on Local Resource Pages
This can be a valuable opportunity for some industries. For example, it makes sense for a realtor to have a page of recommended contractors, home inspectors, and mortgage lenders. Do your research, see who has resource pages, and then reach out and see if they’d add you.
Search For Online Mentions
Find places people are already talking about your company or brand and ask them to link your business. Some sites may have misspelled your business or quoted it but haven’t linked it yet.
Sponsor Teams & Events
Many teams and events link to their sponsors, which is a great way not just to get a link but build brand awareness and loyalty in the community.
Create an E-book
While this may seem time-consuming at first, you likely have enough content and information to fill an e-book. In addition to using this content asset to get others to link to your site, you’re also building brand authority and generating customer leads.
Leverage Facebook Ads
Facebook Ads can be a great way to promote the products or services you offer while building a social media presence to attract links to your site. Facebook analytics and tools can help you market with targeted Facebook Ads to your audience.
You can get links back to your website by creating discount campaigns on your products or services based on your community’s needed. Wherever associations and organizations offer discounts, try to add your business as a contributor.
Find local events within your community and see if you can set up a booth. You can also host your own event altogether. You can get links back to your website by promoting your event or adding the ones on the content after the event.
Find Local Blogs and Websites
Whether you’re guest posting on a blog or providing an interview about important people in your community for a local news site, your community sites need content. You can insert relevant embedded links into your content that link back to your website.
Local Link Building Best Practices
While local link building may seem time-consuming at first, there is a significant return on investment when done correctly. With this in mind, here are best practices that will help improve any local link building strategy.
Understand Your Inbound Link Profile
One helpful tool is Google Search Console, where you can see your link history and evaluate which ones are most beneficial for your local market and which ones aren’t as helpful. After reviewing your backlink profile, you can refocus on the links that provide the best marketing insight and have the most relevance for your customers. This tool will give you insight into where you should focus your link building and give you an opportunity to evaluate the quality of your current local links.
Disavow Links Only When Necessary
Google offers its Disavow Tool as a way to let the search engine know when you do not want your website associated with an incoming link. When the tool first launched, there was a flurry of activity as SEO experts raced to disavow spammy links and those from websites with lower Domain Authority.
However, the best practice today is to only disavow links when there is a solid indication that the links in question are harming your SEO. If Google believes you may have purchased links, for example, you may end up on the receiving end of a manual penalty. In that case, you would certainly want to disavow any links that may have led to that misperception of your website.
Other than those limited cases, Google is likely to simply ignore links it doesn’t believe add value to its ranking decisions. Disavowing links is then a waste of your time.
Avoid Spammy Link Building Practices
It’s crucial to avoid reciprocal linking, buying links, and other types of link manipulation that Google can sniff out. Instead, local link building should always focus on the value you can offer another site’s audience.
It’s also valuable to see where your competitors are linked and what type of content is performing well. You can gain valuable information on your community and what they are looking for based on competitors’ links. You can see where you and your competitors sit on the search engine results page to assess how many local links you need and focus on getting links from sites that are ranking higher.
Research Linking Opportunities in the Same Way Real People Search
Another simple opportunity is to go into the Google search bar and add your location and the type of content you are looking to create. For example, you can enter “Scranton + blogs” to see the opportunities in your area. This will give you a list of results to reach out to and see if they are interested in collaborations such as blog exchanges or promotions or if you can guest post on their blog.
Suppose you’re thinking about utilizing blogs in your marketing campaign. In that case, it’s essential to consider topics related to what your target market might be interested in or answer questions they may have about a service or product and answer that within your blog.
Local link building supports all of your other SEO efforts, enabling you to rank on Google naturally and in a sustainable way over time. What’s more, it provides you an opportunity to better connect with your local community while getting in front of prospective customers in various places.
Local link building could be that missing link to take your business to the next level and have your business listings rank higher in search. Following the aforementioned tips will help you to get started incorporating local link building into your marketing strategy and start driving more qualified, localized traffic.
As always, if your business needs support getting your local link building efforts off the ground, Rio SEO is here to help.