What is a local link and how to find more local link opportunities

Link building is a fundamental element of any local SEO strategy and whether you are a business or a service area business, link building can help you improve your rankings.

Finding relevant, high-quality links for local SEO will also be one of your biggest challenges.

So here you’ll find all kinds of helpful tips to help you identify potential customers, put the tools to work for you, and find more success in your link building awareness tactics.

What is a local link?

The traditional thinking process when we think about linking is that we want highly authoritative domains to link to our websites and we want as many of them as possible.

However, earning backlinks for smaller organizations can be incredibly difficult, especially if no one has heard of you.

If you’re tasked with building links for a physical store or local service area, it’s important to understand the relevance of links.

Local links are made with the intention of showing that others with relevance to the local area trust or support your business.

Local SEO professionals usually focus on:

  • Correction of NAP information (name, address, telephone number).
  • Build a list of quotes.
  • Hyper-local content creation.
  • Creating links from websites in the local area.

These activities are all done for the purpose of establishing a presence within the SERPs for local terms in the local map pack with Google business profiles and organic search results for localized keywords.

When earning local links, try to focus on:

  • Link to your location page or the most relevant page corresponding to the backlink.
  • Ensure there is some sort of CTA on the linked page.

Websites in your specific local area may not command a highly authoritative site. They could be small themselves.

Don’t focus on link metrics like DA for localized sites.

Even if a website has a low DA, getting a link from them might be more valuable than from Forbes, Huffington Post, or The New York Times simply because they have influence and are relevant to your small market,.

While it’s always nice to get great links from highly authoritative sites, it’s important to understand the limitations local businesses face and, more often than not, the lack of budget to produce the kind of content these great publishers are looking for.

It’s great to set big goals, but we need to understand the parameters we’re working with.

A local company will only do business in the confines of the local space it is in, so doing business in San Francisco and getting traffic from New York may prove useless in the end.

Start with building quotes

Creating citations, searching for general directories, niche directories, and correcting the information you are currently in will help you get started.

Quotes are great because they allow you to link to some pretty decent websites where your key business information might even be seen by some searchers, if the query is low enough compared to the competition.

Services to help you deal with creating quotes include:

These are all great platforms I’ve used for citation and auditing.

When starting with any of these tools, pay attention to the niche directories in their database. Niche directories will carry more weight than general directories.

Where are the opportunities? Wherever you can find them!

“Who would you connect to a sandwich shop?” – Anonymous SEO specialist

There is a common idea that building local links may not be beneficial, may not be natural, or (in some cases) may seem impossible.

But this is why those doing local SEO may need to be more creative than those doing SEO for a giant brand.

Local link opportunities may not have the same variety as national or global link options. You’re struggling to rank for hyper-local keywords that tend not to have a lot of search volume, and you’ll be working with low-authority websites to get started.

To answer the anonymous quote above, here are some types of local links you can create for a sandwich shop:

  • Local newspapers or news outlets that publish articles on local foods.
  • Local bloggers who have a small following but the entire following is within your target area.
  • Local event pages that write content about what to do in an area: tourist sites, downtown listings, Chambers of Commerce, etc.
  • Other local businesses that also have websites and are open to having a “Local Partners” page or a “Companies We Love” page.
  • Local charities that the business owner might sponsor or volunteer to offer a featured volunteers page.
  • Tourism websites.
  • Local organizations and group sites.

If you are doing SEO for a local space, it is important to understand where the boundaries of that local space are and to make that space your new land.

Everything you do to promote this business exists within the confines of the radius you have established.

Understanding your limitations will allow you to think more creatively and effectively find opportunities in that space, which will ultimately lead to maximum value for the business website you are working on.

Open a linking tool and start finding potential customers

For as long as I can remember, Ahrefs and Majestic have been the standard for link research.

However, it’s worth noting that Semrush has come a long way with updating their database and now claims to have the largest backlink database. Sometimes it’s a good idea to use multiple tools!

To start building your prospect list, you first need to understand where the company is within its space and how competitive it will rank for going forward.

Start with the terms that you believe will offer the most value to your business. So see which companies currently rank on the first page of the SERPs.

Collect the list of websites and see which links they have acquired in the past.

Compare the mutual bonds between them and the different bonds they have acquired.

These are direct competitors, so most of the links will be related to the specific business you are working on.

Compare the lists you have collected with the link profile of the site you are currently working on and see where you are missing.

If you are able to acquire all the links that the competition has acquired, then you are able to be on a fairer playing field when it comes to links.

How to find more hookup opportunities

If you are involved in your supposed competition for your search space over links, the next natural step for you is to get more links than your competition.

Explore other local businesses and where they’ve gained press coverage.

This will help you understand how other companies not in our industry have built connections in the same local space.

By looking at popular businesses in general within our local space, we can begin to find some low impact fruit of opportunity to link and find local writers, local blogs, and sites in general who want (or have supported) local businesses in the past.

Another method I have used is to find companies with a lot of traction and putting their website through a link analysis tool.

One way to find a high-traction business is through review sites like Yelp.

Go to Yelp and search within your city and filter by the most reviewed business.

These businesses may not be related to your value proposition at all, but they do offer a wealth of information about promotional opportunities for your site in the local space.

Screenshot by the author, December 2018

The most reviewed activity for San Francisco, for example, was for Tartine Bakery.

If you enter this site into a backlink analysis tool, you may be surprised at the results you find.

According to Ahrefs, this site has more than 3,000 connections. I’m more than willing to bet that not all of these are related to food.

If you’re working with a small restaurant, you now have a goldmine of potential local hookups to your space, even if you’re not providing the same type of food.

An example from a backlink analysis tool.Screenshot from Ahrefs, December 2018

Use this method with businesses that have gotten the most reviews and businesses within a handful of different verticals to get a variety of potential links.

When you peruse these lists, you will find links that are completely unrelated or unobtainable. But it’s fine.

The whole point of this exercise is to find the few diamonds in the rough and build connections with those in the local area who have some influence whenever possible.

For more tips and tricks on linking, be sure to check out these expert resources:

Featured Image: Paulo Bobita / Search Engine Magazine

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