Local Link Building: Building Your Brand and Improve your SEO at the Same Time

Complete local backlink guide with easy tactics you can use...
Published on 
April 24, 2024
Updated on 
April 24, 2024

Local SEO refers to optimizing both your on-page and off-page SEO and you do it so that people looking for local businesses on search engines see yours first.

A large part of that optimization involves local link building. 

It is common for businesses in this day and age (a global market with global consumers) to question local link building.

Why limit yourself to local websites in a single market when you could be targeting much larger, globally-focused websites with more authority, more visitors and better PR value? 

A simple answer to that question that doesn’t have anything to do with SEO, but which, nevertheless, makes local link building worth spending some time on, is brand awareness. 

Local links can be a great way to not only increase domain authority over time, but a source of referral traffic, even if they don’t immediately result in domain authority and ranking boosts. 

This is because when people in a specific region or locale start looking for information about a product or service in their area, they probably start by reading leading local sources. Earning backlinks from these places can be a great way to, if anything, get on the local radar. 

A person or small business contemplating hiring a local accounting firm, for instance, might be much more likely to choose a particular firm if that firm has a backlink coming from an article on the local chamber of commerce’s website. 

The chamber of commerce website confers trust here, as well as a direct route for their traffic to reach your website. It also just gets your name out there. 

Similar links from local business directories and review sites can provide the same exposure and referral traffic. 

For example, let’s say you’re someone looking for custom audio installation in Kansas City, Missouri. 

Notice how one of the top results is the Yelp directory? If you were a local custom audio business in Kansas City that had your website listed on this directory page, you would likely enjoy not only a big boost in referral traffic but, over time, an SEO boost as well.

What exactly is local link building? 

Local link building is, in its simplest form, getting backlinks from places like local newspapers, other local businesses, and local directories. 

The most important aspect of a local link is that it comes from a website that is location-specific to you. 

A restaurant in Melbourne, Australia, that has received a backlink from a respected Melbourne-centric food blog has gotten itself a good local backlink.

This is a site whose pages will almost certainly have a good local search ranking, consistently showing up near the top of the local search results. 

How to do local link building?

Incorporating local links into your backlink profile is actually quite straightforward when you know where the opportunities lie. 

Directories and review sites

Your bread and butter when it comes to local link building will be business directories and review sites. 

There are usually a lot of directory options out there, and it can be difficult to know where to start. 

A good rule of thumb is to start by targeting those directories that appear at the top of the search engine results page for queries and keywords you are trying to target. 

These directories will likely include a mix of major citation sites like Yelp and niche-specific listing sites (e.g., a legal directory such as FindLaw). 

Other options

Directories and listing sites certainly aren’t your only options, however. 

There are also places like: 

  • Local news pages
  • Local blogs
  • Local community forums

If your hypothetical customer isn’t quite ready to buy anything if you have links from the above source, it not only promotes brand awareness, but it connotes trust–prominent local business and institutions are mentioning your name and linking to you.

Local news pages

Local news pages can be a great local link building strategy and a fantastic way to get your name out there. 

If you are a local business with a special offer, you might consider reaching out to the local news website and either placing a classified (or a banner) ad with that offer and a link back to your website. 

You might write a press release and send it to editors and site masters at your local news site letting them know that you have decided to sponsor a local sports team or event. 

Local blogs

If you’re a local business owner or service provider, chances are you have something worth saying in your niche, and you can reach out to local blogs and offer up your expertise. 

For instance, if you are a local accountant and you have an opinion on a new piece of legislation or policy, you might consider writing a guest blog post on local finance or money blog. 

If you were an accountant in Calgary, for instance, you might consider submitting an article idea to a place like the below: 

This would not only mean a relevant link in your backlink profile but, overtime, would contribute positively to your ranking and SEO, but you would be getting your name out there as well. 

Local community forums

Local community forums are places where local people gather to discuss local events. It might be niche specific (as in a local car group or a local fishing forum) or it might be where people in a given municipality can gather to talk about anything they like. 

A place like one of the city or town-specific Reddit forums, for instance. 

This is the subreddit for the city of Sacramento in California: 

The group has 153,000 members, with hundreds of people active on the forum at a given time. 

While you definitely can’t just come in spamming your website’s links in places like this, if you do it tactfully and you are posting about something that is going to benefit the group (and local community)--a giveaway, a deal, etc.--the moderators of these forums will sometimes let you post about your business. 

Keep in mind that links from these places are always going to be nofollow by default, but it can be a great way to get your name out there. 

Reddit is also a powerful search engine in its own right–one that a lot of people turn to over Google

Branded mentions and nofollow links

One thing to bear in mind while doing local link building is that sometimes it’s not possible to get a backlink from a certain place. 

They either don’t provide backlinks to the businesses they cite, or they don’t provide dofollow links. 

If you find yourself getting this type of digital PR, don’t despair.

Branded mentions (where your business name is mentioned, not linked to) and nofollow links (links that do not pass on any link juice) are still good ways to get your name out there and, in the case of nofollow links, they can still bring in traffic and even result in conversions. 

Local sponsorships

Local sponsorships also offer great local link building opportunities. 

It’s common for a local business to sponsor local events and activities.

Often there are local websites that aggregate local sponsorship opportunities for people looking for funding for this or that (e.g., a local basketball team). 

The way local link building works when it comes to sponsorships is pretty straightforward. 

There are some handy search strings you can plug into the Google search bar that will bring up sponsorship link building opportunities for you. 

Here’s an example:

Find local events

Local businesses are often partners and contributors to local events. 

If you can find popular existing local events–a drive, a run, etc.--you can often build local links to the sites promoting them. 

These include Facebook groups and government sites. If you reach out and offer to help with something (it doesn’t even have to be financial), you can land local backlinks. 

You might even find that local bloggers and local influencers covering the events then mention you and your website in their articles. 

Offer scholarships

Offering a scholarship (what is often referred to as edu link building) can be among the most effective local link building tactics. 

Colleges and universities are always looking for opportunities to help their students fund their educations and will usually have a specific scholarship page. 

A search for something like “financial aid” +  [name of institution] on Google and the first hit will probably be the precise page you’re trying to target. 

If you’re a Los Angeles-based business, for example, and you wanted to offer a scholarship to UCLA students, you would search something like the following: 

A backlink from a large, prestigious institution like UCLA would be a massive local link building win for any business. 

Community sites

Community sites include places like not-for-profit sites, local job boards, community groups, community newspapers, TV channels and radio stations, churches and the like. 

All of these places are viable options in a local SEO strategy and suitable for building local links. 

Ways to secure links on community sites include providing a helpful resource for community members, contributing a news article to local media, hosting a community day, or even offering up your business as a fundraising site. 

A lot of community organizations tend to be starved for funding and partnerships and will eagerly welcome the opportunity to work with you, providing you with publicity and a backlink in the process. 

Work with local charities

Local charities are another important local link building opportunity. 

If you are a local business owner, you probably have something of value that you can offer to a local charity. 

It might be simply your time. It might be a physical good or a service you offer. It might be an area of expertise you have that could help make people’s lives better that you could consider offering up pro bono. 

Most charities are going to have, at the very least, a social media page, and probably a website with a media page where they share updates–like charitable donations and partnerships. 

This is a great way to build local links while doing something good for the community and establishing positive brand awareness as a philanthropic company that gives back. 

Join up with local creatives and influencers

If you can establish yourself as someone worth reading and listening to in your field, it can do wonders for your link building efforts–local or otherwise. 

It might give you the opportunity to promote your business on local podcasts, radio shows, or participate in written Q and A blog posts. 

There is always a need for experienced, authoritative professionals to speak on matters, especially when it comes to SEO, because Google is so adamant about authority and trust when it comes to top-ranking content. 

Create local case studies

If you have worked with local charities, organizations and other businesses, it might be a good idea to try and build some local links by creating case studies. 

These can be especially powerful if you have really gone out of your way to make a difference in the lives of people in your community. 

You might have provided a favorable rate on something, assisted with something urgent, or donated goods and services. 

You can always reach out to these people and ask them if they would be willing to publishing something on their site related to your actions, including a link back to your website in the process. 

Contribute to local media

This means reaching out to local blogs, newspapers and other media and offering to contribute a story. 

If you have real, verifiable knowledge and expertise in an area (you’re a practicing lawyer, an accredited CPA, etc.), then your opinion carries weight. 

Get that opinion published on relevant, high-authority local websites, and you will do wonders for your SEO. 

What’s more, the more you get your name out there as a subject matter expert, the better for your brand. 

Apply to be a speaker at local events

You can often turbocharge your persona and business brand, as well as land some great local backlinks, by speaking at local events. 

Find out when and where business expos are being held in your area, and put your name on the list. 

You might have to prepare speeches and give talks, but the reward is a bio on the seminar or event website page with a backlink to your website. 

You might also end up in marketing materials, industry newsletters and even the local media. 

Local events are often a great way to turn one piece of PR into a major link building coup. 

Does local link building have a positive impact on SEO? 

Local SEO, which of course, include local link building, is important both for foot traffic if you are a local business with a physical location and to improve your search engine optimization. 

A local backlink profile communicates relevancy and authority, which is key to Google bumping your website and its pages up the ranking. 

Over 25 percent of searchers click on the top Google result, which means if you are able to get your business to the top, you can easily dominate the local market. 

This is especially true if you’re in a market where the competition isn’t on top of their SEO. 

That said, there are a few things to keep in mind when doing local link building.

The first is that domain metrics like DA, trust flow, etc. aren’t going to be as important as they are for non-local links because a lot of local websites aren’t going to rank highly in these departments. 

The second, and it’s something we mentioned at the outset of this article, is don’t dismiss nofollow link opportunities and branded mentions.

A nofollow link from a respected and relevant forum or citation page can be a great source of both referral traffic and brand recognition, as can a branded mention (your brand name is mentioned without a hyperlink). 

The third is that you should still do your competitor research. This means should be looking for local sites that are linking to your competition but not to you and then set out to reverse-engineer those links. 

You don’t need to try and recreate a competitor backlink profile link for link, because a bunch of them probably aren’t going to do anything for you. But if you can land good local links, you’re on the right track. 


At the end of the day, what you are after with a local link building strategy and local links are local customers. 

Local businesses, especially brick-and-mortar ones providing physical goods and services, rely on the local market more than anything else. 

Local link building strategies very often offer the highest ROI for such businesses because local backlinks double as both publicity and improved local search engine optimization. 

Whether it’s local news sites, social media, local charities, local government sites, a local business directory, or any other relevant local websites, local links can get to the relevant referral traffic and link juice you need to dominate the local search results. 

If you are new to link building and don’t know where to start, or have the budget to hire a professional and don’t have the time to undertake it yourself, reach out to a professional, experienced, link building agency to help you strategize and execute your next link building campaign. 

Why Trust Us On SEO

Eric Carrell & Sebastian Schaffer have been working in SEO for over a decade, building their own projects - understanding and testing SEO strategy, along with building hundreds of white hat links per month for our projects. They take their learnings and experience and apply them to the strategy that drives our link building strategy for our clients.

Eric & Seb have always believed in quality over quantity, doing things the right way so we future proof our client’s websites against future Google updates and the evolving industry of search.

While Seb handles the company strategy around culture, processes and structure, Eric is constantly working to improve our service offering, customer experience, and following the industry in parallel with Google’s Quality Guidelines so that we are always one step ahead of our competition and aligned with what Google wants to see for your site to rank higher.

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