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Nov 01, 2023

Written by Casey Bjorkdahl

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Casey Bjorkdahl is one of the pioneering thought leaders in the SEO community. In 2010, Casey co-founded Vazoola after working for a Digital Marketing Agency for five years in New York City. Vazoola is now one of the fastest growing and most widely recognized SEO marketing firms in the country.

Local Link Building To Improve Your Local Search Rankings

Local link building serves as a cornerstone for businesses aiming to establish a strong online presence in specific geographic locations.

At Vazoola, we've seen firsthand how local link building strategies can significantly impact local SEO efforts.

By focusing on local backlinks, companies can enhance their visibility in local search results, thereby attracting a more targeted customer base.


Key Takeaways:

  • Local link building is an essential component of a successful local SEO strategy, enhancing your online presence in specific geographic locations.

  • Local link building focuses on acquiring a link to your website from sites that are in your geographic area, effectively serving as local endorsements for your business.

  • Multiple local link building tactics are available, from leveraging local online business directories to engaging with community events, each offering unique benefits for improving local search rankings.

  • A well-optimized Google Business Profile is a critical component for local rankings, providing essential information about your business and significantly impacting local search results.

  • Understanding your local competition through the lens of backlinks and domain authority can offer valuable insights into your local link building strategies, helping you identify easier targets to outrank.

Table of Contents:

What Is Local Link Building?

Local link building refers to the practice of acquiring backlinks from websites that are relevant to a specific geographic area.

These links serve as local endorsements, signaling to search engines that your local business is a trusted entity within the community.

Local link building involves more than getting your name out there; it's about establishing a strong local presence that search engines can't ignore.

By obtaining links from local newspapers, blogs, local directories, and other local publications, you're essentially vouching for your business's credibility and relevance in your community.

Our team at Vazoola knows just how effective local link building can be in boosting a business's local search rankings and driving more foot traffic to physical locations.

Pro Tip:

leverage GEO specific UTM parameters

Leverage geo-specific UTM parameters when building local links to track the effectiveness of your local link-building campaigns. By analyzing this data, you can understand which local backlinks are driving the most traffic and conversions, allowing you to focus your efforts more effectively.

What Is a Local Backlink?

A local backlink is a link from a website that is geographically relevant to your business.

For example, if you run a bakery in Chicago, a backlink from a Chicago food blog would be considered a local backlink. These types of links are valuable because they are highly targeted and often result in increased local traffic.

However, a local backlink's value isn't merely about the link itself; the context in which the link appears also matters.

A local backlink embedded in a well-written article about the "Top 10 Bakeries in Chicago," will likely carry more weight than a link listed in a generic business directory.

Our recommendation: Focus on acquiring backlinks from relevant local websites that not only boost your SEO but also offer additional benefits like brand exposure and customer engagement.


what is local link building


Why Do We Use Local Links?

Local links are essential for businesses that operate in specific geographic areas. They help improve local search rankings and drive relevant referral traffic to your website.

Our experience has shown that local links are particularly effective for businesses like restaurants, service providers, and brick-and-mortar stores.

The reason is simple: People searching for services in a specific location are more likely to convert into customers.

For example, someone searching for "best Italian restaurant in Boston" is likely looking to dine in Boston soon.

A local backlink from a reputable Boston food blog to your Italian restaurant's business website could be the final nudge toward choosing your establishment.

Likewise, local links can help you stand out in local search features like Google's Local Pack, a set of three highlighted Maps-based results featuring the most relevant local businesses.

We've found that businesses with a strong local link profile are more likely to appear in this coveted spot, which significantly enhances visibility and attracts more clicks.

Pro Tip:

Pro Tip rocket icon Local SEO A/B Testing

Experiment with local SEO A/B testing to measure the impact of your local backlinks. Change one variable at a time, like the anchor text or the page being linked to, and monitor how it affects your local rankings. This advanced technique can provide valuable insights into the specific factors that are most beneficial for your local SEO.

What is a Local Citation?

A local citation is a mention of your business name, address and phone number, even without a backlink.

Citations come in various forms, including business directories, websites, and social platforms.

They play a crucial role in local search rankings, as search engines use them to gather information about your business and determine its legitimacy.

For example, a local bakery might be cited in an online food blog discussing the best bakeries in the area, or it could be listed in a local business directory.

The quality and consistency of these citations directly impact your local SEO. Inconsistent citations can confuse both search engines and potential customers alike.

If your business is listed as "John's Bakery," in one directory, for instance, and "John’s Bakery & Café" in another, search engines might view these listings as two separate businesses, diluting the authority of each.


what is a local citation


How to Find Local Citations

Identifying existing local citations is a foundational local link building tactic.

Knowing where your business is already listed allows you to correct inaccuracies, update information, and even discover new platforms to target for future citations.

You might be wondering how you can identify your local citations, especially if there are no links attached to them.

Fortunately, there are both tools and strategies for building local links to assist you win your efforts:

  1. Start with Google Search: Input your business name along with your location in quotes to find where your business is cited.

  2. Use Specialized Tools: SEO tools like Moz Local or BrightLocal specialize in finding local citations.

  3. Check Competitor Citations: By searching for your local competitors, you can discover where they are cited, which could reveal undiscovered citations for your own business.

  4. Search in Local Online Communities: Websites like local forums, community boards, and even local subreddits can be good places to find citations of your business.

  5. Review Past Local Press Releases or Local News Mentions: If your business has ever issued local press releases or been covered in local news, go back and review these sources.

  6. Utilize Advanced Search Queries: Use advanced Google search queries to narrow down the results. For example, you can exclude your own website in the search by using the "-" symbol followed by your website URL.

  7. Check Aggregator Websites: Websites that aggregate information about businesses, such as Foursquare or YellowBot, often distribute this data to other platforms.


    process to discover local citations


Why Is Local Link Building Important?

Local SEO aims to optimize a business's online presence for a specific geographic location. Local link building fits seamlessly into this strategy by enhancing the local relevance of your website.

Our recommendation: Focus on local link building as part of your comprehensive local SEO plan. Local link building not only improves your visibility in local search results but also drives targeted traffic to your website.

Businesses with strong local link-building strategies often see an increase in customer engagement and, ultimately, sales.

Yes, local link building is about getting your business listed in local directories, but it's also about building a web of local citations and backlinks that collectively boost your local search rankings.


Benefits of local link building


Looking for specific reasons why building links matters to your overall local SEO strategy? Consider the following:

  • Higher Local Rankings: When you build local links, it directly impacts your rankings in local search results.

  • Targeted Traffic: Local links drive targeted traffic to your website.

  • Credibility: Acquiring backlinks from reputable local websites enhances your business's credibility.

  • Community Engagement: Local link building often involves community engagement, such as sponsoring local events or partnering with local charities.

  • Competitive Advantage: If your local competitors aren't focusing on local link building, they're missing out.

  • Enhanced Mobile Experience: Local searches often occur on mobile devices. Effective local link building optimizes your site for local search, providing a better mobile experience for users.

  • Cost-Effective: Compared to broader link-building strategies, local link building can be more cost-effective. It reaches a target audience, reducing wasted resources on less relevant demographics.

How a Google Business Profile Impacts Local Rankings

A Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business) is a critical component of local rankings.

It provides essential information about your business, such as location, hours, and customer reviews.

We've seen how a well-optimized Google Business Profile can significantly impact local search rankings.


Local Rankings Map


Beyond the basics, adding posts, placing images, and responding to reviews can further optimize your profile.

Google also considers the proximity of your business to the searcher's location, so it's crucial to ensure your address is accurate.

A complete and active Google Business Profile not only enhances your online presence but also improves the user experience by providing all the necessary information a potential customer might seek in one place.

Pro Tip:

Pro tip rocket icon GBM profile

Use Google's API to integrate your Google Business Profile with your CRM or customer database. This allows you to automate updates and posts based on real-time events, such as new product launches or positive customer reviews, keeping your profile consistently active and up-to-date.

How Google Maps Drives Website Traffic and Sales

Google Maps serves as more than just a navigational tool; it's a powerful driver for website traffic and sales.

When your business appears in local searches on Google Maps, it not only boosts your visibility but also encourages potential customers to visit your website or physical location.

Google Maps integrates seamlessly with Google Business Profile, offering users an enriched experience.

It allows users to promote their businesses with features like high-quality photos, review respsonses and comprehensive business information.

When a user searches for a local service, Google Maps displays nearby businesses along with key details like ratings, hours of operation, and even estimated wait times.

This wealth of information helps users make informed decisions, driving them not just to your Maps business listings but also to your website, where they can engage further with your business.

Our experience has shown that a well-optimized Google Maps listing can significantly contribute to increased sales, especially for local businesses.


Google Maps


How Backlinks Help Local Clients Rank

Backlinks play a crucial role in establishing the authority of a website. We've seen how backlinks, especially local ones, can improve your site's authoritativeness, which in turn boosts your local rankings.

Local links are especially helpful because they are highly targeted and relevant to your local target audience.

But it's about more than quantity; the quality of the backlinks also matters. Links from reputable, high-traffic local websites carry more weight than links from personal blogs and other lesser-known local sites.

Likewise, the anchor text used in these backlinks can influence your local SEO. For example, using localized keywords in the anchor text can further boost your local relevance.

Therefore, a strategic approach to acquiring high-quality, relevant local backlinks can significantly elevate your local SEO efforts.

Still unclear on what factors impact your local search ranking? Whitespark asked local search experts, and a few specific strategies stood out, as pictured below:


2023 local search ranking factors


What Factors Help Assess Local Competition?

Understanding your local competition is vital for effective local SEO.

Our recommendation: When assessing backlink profiles, if you find a competitor lacks local backlinks, our experience has shown that they will be easier to outrank in local search results.


Asses local competition


Domain Authority

Domain authority, a metric developed by Moz, serves as a predictive measure of a website's ability to rank in search engines.

A higher domain authority generally indicates a better chance of ranking above competitors in search results. As a result, referring domains with a higher DA also pass along more link juice.

Backlink Diversity

In addition to domain authority, we also look at the diversity and quality of referring domains' backlink profiles.

A competitor with a wide range of high-quality backlinks is likely to be a formidable opponent in local search rankings.

On the other hand, if a competitor's backlinks are mostly low-quality or irrelevant, this presents an opportunity to outperform them by building a stronger, more relevant backlink profile.


Another aspect we consider is the relevance of the competitor's backlinks.

Are they getting backlinks from local businesses, news outlets, or community websites?

If so, it indicates that they are well-entrenched in the local online ecosystem, making them tougher to outrank.

However, if their local backlink profile is weak, it could be an opportunity for your business to gain the upper hand by focusing on acquiring more relevant high-quality local backlinks.


We also recommend keeping an eye on any changes in your competitors' backlink profiles.

Sudden spikes in their number of backlinks could indicate a new link-building campaign, requiring you to reassess your own local link building strategy. Tools like Moz and Ahrefs can help you monitor these changes effectively.

By thoroughly assessing the backlink profiles and domain authority of local competitors, you can identify weaknesses to exploit and strengths to emulate.



How to Find Opportunities for Local Linking

Discovering local link-building opportunities is a crucial step in enhancing your local SEO strategy. The right local links can make a significant difference in your local search rankings.

While leveraging link building services is a direct option, identifying these local link opportunities on your own requires a multi-faceted approach. From local business directories to community events, various avenues can lead to valuable local backlinks.


local link building opportunities


Here at Vazoola, we recommend a diversified approach to maximize your chances of acquiring valuable local backlinks. Below are some effective strategies:

  • Local Business Directories: These platforms serve as a rich source for local links. Opt for directories that are well-regarded and authoritative to ensure that the backlinks you gain are of high quality.

  • Localized Blogger Outreach: Reach out to local popular bloggers in your area. Collaborating with local bloggers not only provides high-quality backlinks but also enhances your visibility within the community.

  • Competitor Analysis: Examining the backlink profiles of local competitors can reveal new avenues for building links.

  • Localized Content: Create locally relevant content that resonates with your target audience to attract valuable backlinks.

  • Free Local Tools: Providing tools that cater to the needs of your local customer base can encourage backlinks.

  • Local Media Outlets: Being featured on local news sites or community blogs can offer authoritative backlinks.

  • Guest Posting: Contributing articles to local blogs or news sites can yield quality backlinks and establish your authority in your industry.

  • Business Partnerships: Forming alliances with other local businesses opens the door to reciprocal link-building opportunities.

  • HARO Link Building: Utilizing Help a Reporter Out can offer backlink opportunities from reputable sources.

  • Community Events: Active participation in or sponsorship of local events can not only foster community relationships but also provide backlink opportunities.

Pro Tip:

pro tip rocket icon find local websites for backlinks

Utilize advanced link-building tactics like broken link building within the local context. Find local websites that have broken links and offer your content as a replacement. This not only earns you a backlink but also helps the local business owner fix a problem, making them more likely to collaborate with you in the future.

Local Business Directories

High-quality and authoritative directories, such as regional business directories or industry specific directories, are the best places to start your local link-building efforts.

These directories not only provide valuable backlinks but also increase your business's visibility in local search results.

Quick wins like directory business listings are easy to achieve; you can build links manually or use a service like Bright Local.

While directories are a potential source of natural and completley white hat backlinks, it's crucial to be cautious with your anchor text to avoid a spammy appearance. Over-optimizing anchor text can lead to penalties, so it's essential to maintain a natural profile.


local business directories


Localized Blogger Outreach

Partnering with local bloggers and local influencers can significantly boost your local SEO.

Our blogger outreach service at Vazoola can streamline this process for you. Otherwise, you can locate relevant bloggers and reach out directly via email or social media platforms.

This strategy not only provides high-quality backlinks but also increases your brand's visibility in the local community.

Building a network of local bloggers can offer long-term benefits, including collaborative marketing efforts.


find local bloggers with tools


Competitors' Local Backlinks

Understanding your competitors' local backlink profile can offer valuable insights into potential link-building opportunities.

The first step is identifying your local competitors. Next, analyze their backlinks to see where they are getting their local citations.

Finally, reach out to these prospects to create link-building opportunities for your own business.

A methodical approach can give you a competitive edge in local search rankings and help you identify gaps in your own strategy.

Pro Tip:

pro tip rocket icon find competitors local backlinks

Conduct a deep-dive analysis of your competitors' backlink strategies using machine learning or AI-based SEO tools. These advanced tools can predict future backlink opportunities and assess the potential impact of each link on your local rankings, allowing you to preemptively adjust your strategy.

High-Quality Localized Content

Creating localized content starts with thorough keyword research.

Use SEO tools to find keywords that are highly relevant to both your niche and your local area. Once you've identified these keywords, focus on those that are low competition but still have good search volume.

Content that answers questions or provides valuable information to your local audience can attract backlinks and improve your local SEO efforts.

Well-crafted content can also position you as a thought leader in your industry, further enhancing your credibility.


local seo content types


Free Local Tools

Offering free tools that meet the needs of your local customer base can be a powerful link-building strategy.

These tools can range from mortgage calculators for a local real estate business to a fitness tracker for a local gym.

By providing value to your local community, you encourage other local businesses and blogs to link to your website, thereby improving your local SEO.

Free tools can also serve as a gateway to your other services, encouraging potential customers to explore what else you have to offer.


free local website tools


While the types of free local tools you can offer your audience are only limited by your imagination (although they should relate to your niche), the following are effective options to boost your local visibility:

  • Local Event Calendar: Create a tool that aggregates local events in your area. This can attract backlinks from local organizations and provide valuable information to the community.

  • Local Business Directory: Develop a directory featuring local businesses, complete with reviews and ratings. This can serve as a resource for residents and attract backlinks from listed businesses.

  • Local Price Comparison Tool: For retail businesses, a tool that compares local prices for common goods can be valuable. This can attract backlinks and also drive in-store visits.

  • Local Job Board: A job board focused on local employment opportunities can attract backlinks from local businesses and educational institutions.

  • Local Real Estate Price Tracker: For areas with a hot real estate market, a tool that tracks local real estate prices can attract backlinks from real estate agencies and local news outlets.

  • Local Weather Updates: A weather update tool focused on your local area can attract backlinks from local media and serve as a valuable resource for the community.

  • Local Tax Calculator: Create a tool that helps residents calculate local taxes based on various factors. This can attract backlinks from financial institutions and local government sites.

Local Links from Media Websites

Local media websites offer an excellent platform for acquiring authoritative backlinks.

Consider submitting news stories or press releases about your business to these platforms.

Not only does this increase your business's local visibility, but it also provides valuable backlinks that can improve your local search rankings.

Media coverage can also attract attention from other local businesses, opening the door for additional link-building opportunities.


local backlinks from social media sites


Guest Posts on Local Websites and Blogs

Guest posting on local blogs and websites offers a two-fold benefit: It establishes you as an authority in your field, and it provides quality backlinks to improve your local SEO.

When choosing where to guest post, look for blogs that are not only relevant to your industry but also have a strong local following.

Guest posting can also serve as a platform to showcase your expertise, attracting more backlinks and business inquiries in the long run.


SEO tools to improve guest posts


Relationships with Local Businesses

Here at Vazoola, we've seen how partnerships with suppliers, local vendors, and even competitors can lead to mutually beneficial backlinking opportunities.

These relationships often extend beyond mere link exchanges, offering avenues for joint marketing efforts and community engagement.

Strong local partnerships with businesses and local organizations can also lead to customer referrals, further boosting your business.


build relationships with local businesses


HARO Link Building

Help a Reporter Out is a platform that connects journalists with industry experts.

By signing up for HARO and responding to relevant queries, you can acquire high-quality backlinks and establish your business as a local authority.

Our recommendation: Scan daily emails to find opportunities that align with your business expertise. Consistent participation in HARO can make you a go-to source for journalists, leading to more frequent and higher-quality backlinks.


HARO Link building


Live Community Events

Engaging with your local community offers unique opportunities for building links.

Our recommendation: Local sponsorships, participating in local events, and community activities, or even hosting your own events offer opportunities to get involved. These activities not only provide backlink opportunities but also strengthen your business's relationship with the local community.

Active community involvement like taking advantage of local sponsorship opportunities can also lead to word-of-mouth referrals, further amplifying your local marketing efforts.


local backlinks through community events


Top Tips for Local Link Building

Local link building is a nuanced process that requires strategic planning and execution.


local link building tips


To help you navigate the complexities of local link building, we've compiled a list of unique tips that can elevate your efforts.

  • Audit Your Existing Backlinks: Regularly auditing your existing backlinks can help you identify and disavow any low-quality or broken links that might be affecting your SEO negatively.

  • Leverage Social Media: Use your social media platforms to share your local content. While social media links are generally "nofollow," they can drive traffic and attract "dofollow" backlinks from other sites that find your content valuable.

  • Use Local Keywords in Anchor Text: When building backlinks, try to use local keywords in the anchor text where relevant, signaling to search engines that your site is a local authority.

  • Engage in Local Forums and Groups: Participating in local online forums and social media groups let you share your expertise and potentially gain backlinks.

  • Utilize Google Alerts: Set up Google Alerts for your brand name, services, and local area to monitor mentions of your business, allowing you to request backlinks where appropriate.

  • Seek Reviews from Local Customers: Encourage satisfied local customers to write reviews and testimonials.

  • Use Schema Markup for Local SEO: Implementing schema markup can help search engines better understand your business location and offerings, potentially leading to better local rankings and more opportunities for local backlinks.

  • Optimize Internal Linking for Local Relevance: Internal links can also play a role in your local SEO strategy. By linking relevant local content within your website, you create a network of pages that search engines can crawl more efficiently.

Pro Tip:

schema for local businesses

Consider implementing schema markup for local businesses on your website. This advanced SEO technique helps search engines understand specific information about your business, like location, hours, and reviews. Schema markup can enhance your visibility in local search results and can even add rich snippets to your listing, making it more clickable.

See Similar Articles:  Local SEO

Related Posts

What Is Local Citation Building and How Can it Grow Your Business?

Local SEO and it's Importance

What Are the Best Strategies for Local SEO to Improve Your Rankings?

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