Local link building is all about influencing how Google perceives you. You want Google to know that your website can answer the search intent for local queries.
(Or in non-SEO speak: Your website has what the local Google searcher is looking for).
Backlinks are one of the biggest pillars of how Google determines where you should rank for all queries. That includes local queries.
Plain and simple: Google wants to serve up websites that answer the question and have relevance for the searcher. To find those websites on a local level, Google looks for relevance, proximity, and quality.
And local backlinks to your website can send positive signals about ALL THREE of those factors.
Now, backlinks aren’t the only thing that matters for local SEO. Much of local SEO happens on your Google Business Profile (GBP).
But the fact remains: You NEED a website, and the backlinks to your website are going to help you rank higher.
Enter local link building. Let’s explore the best local link building methods available today.
I like to group local link building methods into two main categories:
Let’s start with the basics:
If you’re trying to get local backlinks, your website’s content should be local. It seems simple, but I can’t tell you how many businesses I’ve seen fail at that.
Your “local content” is going to be dependent on your niche.
For car accident law firms, that may look like blogging about the most dangerous intersections in your county. Or blogging about a recent 10-car pile up.
So, what makes it local? Does it need to be about news events? Not necessarily. Local is pretty straightforward.
If you run a family law firm, you may be interested in blogging about the recent U.S. Supreme Court precedent regarding the Indian Child Welfare Act.
That’s probably not going to get you local backlinks.
Why would a local site link to you versus a well-known national legal nonprofit covering the case?
But that doesn’t mean you can’t put a local spin on nationwide legal developments.
Talk about what that means for YOURcounty, YOURstate, YOUR clients. That’s what will catch the attention of local sites.
Now, on its own, local content isn’t always going to improve your SEO. But you’re also increasing your chances of getting other local sites to link to your content.
A local blogger or news publication might want to cite your blog if it’s unique and compelling. Because they want to link to a local resource — you.
One of the best link building services for local businesses is to create a reliable resource that will answer peoples’ questions.
So, what type of resource are we talking about? Depends on the industry. But make sure the resource you’re providing:
Here’s a law firm example:
Say you run a personal injury law firm. People coming to your site are obviously interested in things like finding a lawyer and getting more information on the law. But there are other resources that could help them, too.
For example, they might need some financial help after their injury. You can do the work of compiling a list of all the local nonprofits that offer financial assistance for medical bills after an injury.
Check out this example from CR Legal Team:
That type of resource is likely to get you links from other local websites. That’s the definition of a local backlink.
It’s the standard advice for a reason:
Fill out your business profile on local directories. Quick and easy. Just find the local directories for your business (for law firms, think Avvo, FindLaw, Serve the Injured, etc.).
Many of these directories are going to let you fill out the profile for free. But they’ll make you pay to put a link to your site. This is a Nike situation — just do it.
Now, this isn’t always going to be an SEO silver bullet. But there are two big reasons to do it.
First, if you don’t have a ton of competition, a directory backlink alone can get you ranking. Second, if you do have competitors, they are already building out local directory backlinks. Don’t leave a gap when it’s this easy to do.
This is all about using your expertise to bring value to another website.
If you’re a social butterfly and plenty of friends with local sites related to your industry, this one could be a breeze. If not, you might have a little bit of work to do.
You want to reach out to other websites and pitch what you could offer. For any industry, there are going to be plenty of intersections with other businesses that aren’t your direct competitors.
For example, a chiropractor wanting a backlink might offer to do a guest blog post about wellness and chiro work on a local wellness blogger’s site.
If you’re a lawyer, high authority guest post would be writing a blog for your state’s bar association. And each state has plenty of law-related blogs that aren’t run by law firms where you could pitch a blog about a new legal development.
You’re in a 3 p.m. slump. Coffee has worn off. Why not do a little Googling for link insertion opportunities? This one is all about looking at already-published content and seeing if you can get the content owner to add in your link.
It’s fairly straightforward, if not time-consuming.
Basically, you look for opportunities to convince other website owners to add links to your website in their existing content.
For example, if you’ve written a blog post about local car accident statistics, you might look for articles discussing traffic, accidents, or auto injuries in your area. Then, you’d reach out to the writers with a pitch that looks a little bit like this:
I loved your article on [SUBJECT]. But I noticed you didn’t really cite any compelling stats on car accidents in our area.
I think it would be helpful for your readers to be able to see that information. I actually wrote an article about local car accident statistics: [LINK]
Would you consider linking to my article in your article? I think it would add a lot of value.
Will many of these emails go unanswered? Definitely. But this is a low-investment strategy that WILL get you backlinks eventually.
Digital PR is the new kid on the block for local link building.
Like the other methods listed, it’s an online marketing strategy used to boost your site’s local credibility with Google.
Here’s the best way to think about digital PR:
It’s really about creating something newsworthy on your site.
For example, imagine you’re link building for a local law firm:
You’re a car accident lawyer in Louisiana. So, you have some level of expertise when it comes to auto accidents in your area. If you wanted to do some digital PR, you might look into recent changes in car accident data in your area. Try to stir up some news.
You (or, let’s be real — the clerk doing your research) might find that as Louisiana’s investment in road infrastructure went down during the last decade, car accidents went up.
That’s compelling. And it might catch the eye of a journalist.
Your path forward will likely start with a press release or an article about your findings that you publish on your website. Your marketing folks craft a compelling press release with quotes from you.
Once your press release is done, you pitch it. You tell the story and send the link to relevant journalists and publications. In this case, that’s probably the local news publications.
Ultimately, you’re wanting them to use the press release from your website or quote you with links to your firm’s website.
If you get the result you’re after, that’s a great local backlink that signals to Google that you’re not only local, but newsworthy.
That’s local SEO gold.
This is a newer technique, and it’s not always going to work. The risk of investing a bunch of time in digital PR is that there’s no guarantee.
You may spend weeks tracking down data and putting together a compelling story, only for all the relevant publications to reject your story.
But, if you are successful, you get powerful, numerous local backlinks.
If you want to improve your rankings and up your karma, your business can look into some charitable work to generate backlinks.
Some law firms, for example, sponsor local sports teams, support local nonprofits, or back environmental initiatives. And those causes will often have a website with “thank you to our supporters” type of webpage.
If you’re a sponsor, you get a nice little hat tip on that page with your logo and a healthy local backlink.
Take a look at the Grandma’s Marathon supporter page, for example:
Nice big logos with backlinks.
And if you’re been in the SEO game for a while, you’ve heard of scholarship link building.
If you’ve got the means to do it, you can establish a scholarship fund for a cause that you care about. Sometimes, lawyers might offer a scholarship for a local university law student. That can get you a coveted backlink from local .edu websites.
Ultimately, you’re telling Google that you are a real business, with real local ties, and that other established websites trust you. (And you might just help someone along the way).
Now, this isn’t complicated stuff. So why is it “in the weeds”? It’s not technical. It’s more logistically complicated in some cases.
Becoming a sponsor for a marathon is going to be pretty simple — just give them a chunk of change.
But setting up a scholarship fund? That’s going to mean building a relationship with a local university, figuring out any equal opportunity legal restrictions, choosing a candidate, etc. A bit of an HR obstacle course.
Still, it’s worth looking into if your local link building basics are already working well.
This one is a little more involved.
You want local sites to link to your site. But you don’t really want to keep pitching to local bloggers and getting ghosted. Here’s what you can try:
And what’s the point? Someone searching “Car Accident Statistics in Sarasota FL” isn’t looking for a personal injury lawyer, right?
Right. But they are looking for something that often gets “cited” — linked to, in other words — in other articles on the internet.
A journalist writing for a local online magazine might search “Sarasota car accident statistics” to find a source to link to in their article, see your PPC ad pointing to your new stats page (right at the top of the search engine results because it’s a PPC ad), and link to it in their article.
That’s a local backlink.
Local link building is absolutely critical for local businesses that rely on SEO to keep the revenue coming in.
Don’t fool yourself into ignoring that fact. You NEED local backlinks.
And if you need help getting them, you’re in the right place.