In today’s blog post, we will be talking about a topic that many SEOs have a real love-hate relationship with, which is link building. Link building does not have to be a fool’s errand, especially when building local links.
We will cover, what is essential when it comes to building local links and walk through some low-effort, high-impact tactics that anyone can start using to build relevant and valuable local links. So, let’s get to it.
Link building is one of the parts of SEO that are somewhat a necessity but is highly unreliable in delivering success. It is an aspect of SEO that you have to do but you don’t really look forward to doing it much.
It takes time. You have to do a lot of manual tedious labor to build links and you don’t necessarily know if it is going to pay off. Are you going to actually get the link and on top of that is it going to help the site perform better organically? So there is a definite love-hate going on there.
Building links for local search vs national SEO links
For local SEO you definitely want to build topically relevant links just like you want to do for national SEO link-building campaigns. But, you also want to build links to locally relevant sites. So, it is even a bonus if a site is topically and locally relevant, super important for local businesses.
Do non-local links have no weightage in local search?
Non-local links do have some weight in local search although it is not necessarily the best fit for the local business. You should focus and think about the audience that is going to be referred on to the site.
You want to increase signals about the locality and the niche of the site with search engines. For example, let’s say you have an air conditioning company in Florida, and you are going to create a filter change guide on their blog.
Which do you think will reinforce the “Florida” signal for the search engines for that page – a link from Forbes or a link from a local Florida website that is near the business? Additionally, would a reader from Forbes California coming onto your website have a better chance to convert vs a visitor from a local website? That is why it is important to think about the audience that is likely to come to your site from the local link you create.
Should you quantify the traffic of the website on which you want to build backlinks?
Yes, you should take into account the traffic of the website from which you want to build local links. If your link is placed on a website that is relevant to your niche and has high traffic that means, you are likely to get more referral traffic from that website.
Additionally, if the referring website has a high traffic volume and links to your domain then it is considered a more authoritative website and thereby positively impacts your website rankings in search engines.
Can you get away without link building?
Yes, you can get away with little to no link building in some cases. The important part is to make sure your content is on point if you are not going to be building links. But the results (to increase organic traffic and rankings) are much slower without link building.
Are paid local link-building services worth investing in?
All the services that build links, that I have tried, claim to do natural links via outreach. However, most of them have been made using a database of links. These services are generally, more useful at the national level but you need to be watchful. Local links require personalized outreach for link acquisition.
Link building stages
- Prospecting – Where you want to look for the right types of sites that you want to build links on based on the client’s website and needs.
- Outreach – Generally, via email or social media platforms.
- Negotiation – When you start a conversation through outreach, there could be a negotiation factor involved for link acquisition.
Common mistakes to avoid
- Large-scale non-personalized outreach email: Build local links via email outreach. However, rather than adopting a spray and pray approach, focus on websites that are related to your niche and have an audience that matches your target audience buyer persona. Receiving links in large numbers from irrelevant websites may bring inbound traffic but has a negative impact on the conversion/sales funnel.
- Bulk links at once: For instance if your website is relatively new and builds on an avg. 20 links a month you should not opt to scale building 100 links a month directly. The links should be gradually built and appear natural. You should aim to steadily increase the number of backlinks acquired over time.
- Exact match anchor text links: Avoid excessive exact match anchor text links as that can appear suspicious to search engines. Focus on anchor texts that induce an action, preferably towards the end of the post, rather than keyword-stuffed anchor texts.
- Building links only on the homepage: While a majority of local backlinks will point to the homepage, it is essential to build backlinks to inner pages, especially that are in your main navigation menu or are accessible within one to two clicks.
How to build local links
Search operators – Using google search operators is a manual process but you can find different types of links e.g. directories, sponsorships, and local organizations is a great place to start.
For example, for one of my clients whose business was in the landscaping space, our team reached out to real estate companies as real estate companies constantly need landscaping upkeep as a successful tactic we used to create local links that are related to the business niche.
Local neighborhood SERPs emulator – These tools emulate what people are likely to see in their local region. Although it may not be 100% accurate, it still gets you approx. 85-90% of the way there. You can give SE Ranking Geolocation tool a try.
Disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated or have any personal/monetary benefit-sharing the tool. This is just one of the tools that I have used personally for my projects and thus came to mind. You may find an alternate tool of your choice.
Low-effort ways to build local links
Assuming low-effort means no outreach required some of your other options to build local backlinks are:
- Directories: These should be local and niche-specific to derive value.
- Joining organizations e.g. chamber of commerce
- Press releases
- Competitor links: By reviewing the backlink profile of your competitor you can harvest links.
The caveat is that while these are easy to do and have a high success rate, your competitors are also likely to adopt a similar approach and therefore, you have no competitive advantage.
Creative ways to build links
- Leverage google search operators.
- Reach out to business partners or associations you/your business are a part of.
- Review competitor’s backlink profiles for ideas. Use ahrefs link intersect tool feature to save time.
- Audit competitor’s google my business profiles.
- Leverage offline relationships with friends, and past customers for reviews/testimonials.
- Participate in local events – other sites will pick this up and it is a way to generate links without you not having to manually build links.
- Job openings – one job opening can be picked up by multiple job opening sites and give you backlinks.
- Expos – If you join an expo and promote a booth these tend to be picked up by local media.