For many websites, local link building is the missing puzzle piece to cultivating a comprehensive and successful SEO campaign.
Creating solid content and building a technically sound website is a fairly straightforward process for most professional SEOs and digital marketing agencies. However, designing and implementing a modern local backlinking system and profile can elude even some of the most seasoned digital marketing veterans.
What is Local Backlinking and Why Do You Need It to Compete?
Backlinking is the practice of obtaining links that point from another website to your site. Local links refer to backlinks from sites that service the same area as your campaign. They have an advantage over other links in that they target a much more specific, relevant audience and can be more likely to result in real world, tangible conversions and results.
For instance, if your campaign is for a local realtor, getting a backlink from a local real estate attorney, architect, engineer, etc will lead local businesses and clients to your site. Getting a backlink from an architect in another state is good to build site authority, but it won’t have the same potential to bring real-life clients to your site and through your doors.
Ranking on Google Maps
Backlinks are a significant factor for ranking on Google Maps in their map “3-Pack” and in the expanded list. Local backlinks can have a greater effect on these rankings, as they let Google know that other authoritative sites in the area view yours as important.
Listings from local directories have the added benefit of improving your campaign’s local citations. Local citations are when other sites list your site’s information like Name, Address and Phone Number. The more times this information is consistently displayed across quality, indexed sites, the more that Google will recognize your site as being influential in your area.
Beware Low-Quality Links
The quality of the link is essential to valuing it’s worth and impact. As in all backlinking, local backlinks should be relevant, have good domain authority and not be from spammy sources. Take care to evaluate the intent of the link, its relevance to your vertical and if the backlinking source looks spammy or is not properly indexed. Amassing too many weak, irrelevant or spammy links can result in dropped rankings or being flagged by Google with manual actions.
How to Get Local Links
Local link building combines a number of distinctive marketing strategies and skill sets. A master link builder will need to utilize psychology, networking, content creation, old fashioned marketing tactics and a healthy dose of determination to thrive in this highly competitive arena.
Backlinks will often be the difference between ranking in the top five and ranking at number one.
Competitor backlink profiles are an essential resource when evaluating your local campaign and finding new opportunities. Backlinks will often be the difference between ranking in the top five and ranking at number one. Research what kind of backlinks your competitors are targeting and if you want to pursue them. Do they have broken links that will allow you to swoop in and take over? Is there a quality local directory that you missed? Are they targeting a vertical that you hadn’t considered? The more you understand about their strategy and links, the better positioned you will be to match and overtake them.
Local Link Outreach
This strategy employs a variety of tactics that will depend on your connections in the community and/or level of agency from your client. You will want to begin your local link outreach process by researching the area, figuring out what other types of businesses might want to link to your site and how you can get in touch with them, and ultimately get them to link.
For instance, a dental office site could write a blog post about “Why it’s important to brush your dog’s teeth” or “Fun ways to get your kids to brush their teeth”. Local veterinary offices or pre-schools could be interested in linking to such resources or featuring them as a guest blog. Don’t overlook the obvious backlinking opportunities, but also don’t be afraid to get creative in your local backlinking endeavors. While a link from a local pre-school to your dental site might not be obviously relevant, it can bring real-life patients through the door.
How Do I Reach Out?
This is where things can get tricky. In-person outreach will generally be the most effective for getting local backlinks. One of the advantages of searching for links locally is that you can meet your targets face to face and create strong, tangible connections and networks. Think about who you know, who your co-workers know and who your client knows. If your campaign is for an electrician, ask your client if they work with other contractors in the area and if they might be responsive to promoting your site or a blog post on their site.
If you don’t have any avenues for an in-person proposal, phone calls or emails can be a good first step to building your network. Email a unique backlinking proposal (don’t rely on templates) to your backlink target that states who you are, why you are contacting them and how the link/article will benefit them. If you don’t hear back within a week or so, you can follow up with another email or a phone call.
Don’t get discouraged if you don’t hear back right away or at all, this method doesn’t have a high percentage of success, but when you do land a great backlink, it will feel like sweet victory. Remember that your competitors are dealing with similar levels of resistance and rejection.
Get involved in the Community
Whether it’s sponsorships, hosting events or participating in local charities, investing in the local community isn’t just a great way to help your neighbors and build your brand, it can be a steady avenue for quality local backlinks. Try sponsoring a local school sports team or hosting a charity event. Many of these sites have great domain authority and will drive solid referral traffic to your site. Work with your clients to find out what kinds of events interest them and if they have already done anything like that in the past. Capitalizing on previous charity or community work can be a great way to get local backlinks from money that was already spent.
Find Local Influencers
Local blogs and social influencers can be an efficient channel for gaining backlinks and showcasing your campaign. While they usually don’t work for free, you will have to decide if what they are offering is worth the cost. Evaluate their potential worth and work with your team and/or client to devise a reasonable offer.
Create A Strategy That Makes Sense For Your Campaign
Not every tactic will work for your campaign. Research and experiment to find out what works best for your campaign and your local area. Try to employ the scientific method where applicable and stay organized by documenting your efforts, findings, and successes. Remember to be diligent and persistent. It will take time to fine-tune your systems and strategies, and build a comprehensive local network. Good luck and happy hunting!
If you would like to learn more about local backlinking or want us to help build your local backlink campaign, please get in touch with our friendly and knowledgeable team today!