If you want to rank your or your client’s local business higher in Google, then you are going to need backlinks. In fact, a 2018 study by Moz showed that backlinks are an important ranking factor for both Map Pack and localized organic rankings. But unlike general link building tactics where location is not always hugely important, links from local sites seem to have more impact when it comes to link building for local SEO. So in this article, I am going to teach you 6 ways to find solid local prospects that will help you rank your local business higher in Google.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LOCAL SEO AND GENERAL LINK BUILDING
Now before we get into the actual tactics, it’s important we differentiate between local link building and just link building in general. Link building is the process of getting contextually relevant websites to link to a page on your websites. And local link building is basically the same thing, but with one additional but very important layer. Ideally, you want to get backlinks from pages that are both contextually and locally relevant to your website. For example, let’s say you are a photographer in Toronto and want to get backlinks to your site. Getting a link from a page on how to take good pictures would certainly be contextually relevant, but this site lacks locational relevance. It’s a blog that targets a global audience. Now, there is nothing wrong with these links but it is ideal if you can get links from a page like this. I also provide affordable local SEO services.
Where there is contextual relevance and it is on a locally relevant website. And if we add in authority to our Venn diagram which is authority, then the ideal backlink would land somewhere in this sweet spot. But finding an “ideal” link is not always possible so it is perfectly fine to get contextual or locally relevant links too. Now, while the difference does not sound that big, your approach to finding, qualifying, and pitching link prospects will be different from most link-building tactics that are usually talked about in a global context. Now, the good thing about local SEO when it comes to backlinks is that there will not be as much competition because you are competing with local players. But the downside is that you may need to get more creative in finding link prospects because there will likely be fewer compared to a site doing global SEO. To continue with some easy local link-building tactics.
Tip #1 JOIN YOUR LOCAL CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
The first way to join your local chamber of commerce. A chamber of commerce is simply a business network for local organizations. And most major cities and even smaller suburban towns will have chambers of commerce. And these kinds of links would fall right into this section in our Venn diagram.
Chamber of commerce websites often have high authority and local relevance but are not the strongest in terms of contextual relevance because they are usually just directory links. Nevertheless, they are easy to get and not bad at all. So to get started, just search for “ chamber of commerce” and your city name.
Then go to one of the sites that is ranking on Google and you should be able to easily sign up for a membership.
After you have paid for your membership, you should be added to their direction with your business’s name, address, phone number, and website URL. Now, in addition to becoming a member at your local chamber or commerce, you may want to consider providing member discounts as it can lead to new business as well as a link back to your site.
Tip #2 JOIN NICHE-RELEVANT BUSINESS ASSOCIATIONS
The next way is to join niche-relevant business associations. These types of links are much like chamber commerce links. For legitimate business associations, the authority will be high and local relevance will be there too. So the find niche-relevant business associations, you can search in Google for any of these search queries. With Ahrefs’ SEO toolbar enabled, I will search for “Toronto photographers association,” which is my city + my hypothetical niche + association. And right within the SERP, you will see SEO metrics for each domain and page. Web development is also a relevant topic that can also help you to optimize your site in a proper way.
Now, if we visit this page, and go to their member directory, you will see that indeed, they do have indexed URLs with outbound links to their members’ websites. Now, you might consider the two types of links that we have discussed so far as glorified citations because they don’t carry much weight in terms of topical or contextual relevance. So it is important that we also talk about getting backlinks with content. These are typically harder to get, but generally speaking, the tougher it is to acquire a link, the more valuable it will be.
Tip #3 BUILD LINKS FROM LOCAL RESOURCE PAGES
So let’s move on to the next topic which is local resources page link building. Resource page link building is where you get backlinks from web pages that curate and link out to useful industry resources. And it works really well because the purpose of the pages is to literally link to relevant and helpful resources. Now, in the below Venn diagram, resource page links will usually fall around here, where contextual and locational relevance are decent. But on occasion, you will be able to find some websites that have domain-level authority.
So let’s assume that we are building source page links for a plumber in the UK.
To get started, I will go to Google and search ‘Below,’ and then I will add a word like “plumbing” since it’s relevant to my niche.
And now you can see sites that contain resources .html in the URL, are on co . uk domain and include the word “plumbing: on the page.
Again, you can enable Ahrefs SEO toolbar to get domain and page-level metrics for each of these results. From here, you will want to do two things.
- Visit the pages to see if they actually link out to external websites. (if they don’t, then it is probably not worth your time to ask for one.
- Use some common sense. If you are a plumber and you are asking another plumber company down the road to link to you, then it’s probably not going to happen.
Now, you can alter your search a bit because there could be tons of locally relevant websites using a generic top-level domain like dot com. So let’s search on Google the below, your city and state, and then your niche-relevant keyword.
Filter through the list and then send your link pitches where appropriate. But you should not stop here. You can also search for tangential businesses in the same location. For example, if you are a wedding photographer in Toronto, you might want to look for the flower shops, event venues, cake shops, etc. So might search for.
Click on the results and see if there are any appropriate places for you to ask to be considered as a resource. We have a full
Tip #4 GUEST POST ON LOCAL WEBSITES
Alright, the next tactic is to guest post on local websites. Guest posting is when you write content on someone else’s website. And this tactic falls smack dab in the middle of our Venn diagram because when you guest blog, you can handpick the sites you want to write for. To get started, you can use Ahrefs’ content explorer to search through billions of pages of content and filter prospects by their SEO metrics. So let’s say you are a photographer in Australia. I will search for it.
This will narrow down results to pages that mention photography in the title and live on a dot au domain. Next, let’s hit the one page per domain filter since we do not need to pitch the same site multiple times. I will exclude the homepage since we are looking for local websites that have blog posts. And they do likely be more receptive to a guest post pitch. Now, since we are searching for guest blogging opportunities, let’s set a word count filter to show pages with at least 500 pages words in content which will exclude gallery, contact, and other thin pages. Finally, we will set a domain rating filter with a minimum value of 30 and a maximum value of 60. And this will show us websites that have decent website authority. And now we have a very manageable list of blogs we could pitch for a guest writing opportunity.
Again, you can alter the search and replace the “site” part of the query with your city name to find potential local opportunities too.
Tip #5 GET FEATURED ON LOCAL LIST POSTS
Alright, the next tactic is to get featured on local list posts. For almost any product or service, there is likely going to be same “best of” lists.
For example, “best Mexican restaurants in Seattle,” best helicopter tour NY,” etc. Plus, there is going to be variations like “fun things to do in London” and “child-friendly activity in Chicago.” Bottom line: people are always looking for options and there will almost always be blog posts to serve their needs. You just need to become one of these options. These links are great because not only do they fall right in the middle of the Venn diagram, but they are also a great way to get customers through your doors.
So to get started, just search for a query that’s likely to bring up list in your area.
And since I have Ahrefs SEO toolbar enabled. We can see both pages and domain level metrics for the search results
Now, when we are looking through the list, you will want to pay attention to pages that are likely blog posts and ignore directories like Trip Advisor and Yelp. So this one from Toronto life seems to make a whole lot of sense. From here, take a look through other restaurants they have mentioned and if you feel food or whatever it is that you offer is comparable or better than the rest., then consider pitching yourself as a potential candidate. Now it is just a matter of rinsing and repeating and trying to get on every list in the top 10 if possible.
Tip #6 LOOK AT YOUR TOP ORGANIC COMPETITORS’ BACKLINKS
The last tactic is to look at your top organic competitor’s backlinks. The logic behind this tactics is then if your competitors are ranking at the top of Google, then they likely have backlinks that are moving the needle. So its worth finding common backlinks between your competitors and then reaching out to these sites to try and get them for yourself.
To get started, go to Google and search for something like your “niche + city.” So I will search for “Mexican restaurant Toronot.”
From here, you will want to gather a list of your competitor domains using the Map Pack and organic results.
And we want to avoid sites like directories as well as blogs because we are looking for real business competitors here. So now, I have made my list of around 8 to 10 competing restaurants. Now we need to find common backlinks between these sites. So I will go to Ahrefs link intersect tool and in the top section, I will enter all of my competitor’s domains. And in the bottom section, I will add my hypothetical Mexican restaurant domain. And then, run the search. And there you can see the websites that are linking to your competitors, but not you. As a general rule of thumb, the more competitors that a website links to, the more relevant the referring domain will be to your site.
For example, if we click the link from Narcity to this competitor, you will see the link comes from a post on Toronto’s best taco restaurant a perfectly good page to get a link from. Just make your way through the list and you should be able to find more than enough link-building opportunities for your site.
Now, these are just a few ways to get backlinks to your local business’s website.