Links are one of the most important ranking signals for Google’s algorithm. But what exactly are links? How do you get them? Why do they matter?
There are two types of links: internal and external. Internal links point to other pages on your own website.
External links are earned when an outside website links to your website. Think of an external link like a vote of confidence that your content is high-quality and deserving to rank on relevance for your target keyword.
Every site has a backlink profile that measures the number of backlinks and the authority those links are providing to your domain.
The truth is that 94% of internet content will never earn a backlink in the traditional SEO model. (source: SocialMedia Today)
That’s why savvy small business owners should focus their link building efforts on securing quality local links.
Understanding how to seek out and make the right connections to build quality local links is as much an art as it is a science.
Local link building can be a time-intensive activity but it’s also one of the most effective ways to rapidly improve local ranking, making it a perfect strategy for small businesses and local professional service providers.
Using Google’s Local SEO Ranking Signals to Find Quality Local Links
Google uses three metrics to return results for local queries: relevance, distance, and prominence. A solid local linking strategy will be mindful of these ranking signals when searching for potential local linking opportunities. By focusing on these three measures, you increase the chance your business will appear in the coveted “local 3-pack” position.
Looking at affiliated businesses can be a smart place to start your local linking efforts. The relevance of their service offerings to yours helps send the right traffic your way.
Prospecting for links based on relevance typically lands you in a keyword rich environment and sends Google in the right direction – right to your virtual front door.
Local links are most effective when they come from inside your service area. Geographical proximity – the “near me” qualifier that drives most local searches – works best within a stated radius.
In fact, hyper-local link building is a serious power play for promoting your business.
Satisfying the prominence standard can be the most challenging, especially in industries like legal, healthcare, and financial services. It can take a lot of quality links to close the gap between you and your competitors. But when you start to see yourself beginning to rise in the SERP, the effort is worth it.
How to Develop a Highly Effective Local Link Strategy
This 3-step process identifies whether a local linking strategy can grow your organic local traffic:
Comprehensive Audit of Your Website: Analyze your current website to establish your current backlink profile. Determine if current links are optimized to increase traffic to both your broad target and local keywords.
Competitive Analysis: With your backlink profile in hand, compare your competitor’s profiles to gain a complete picture of the competitive landscape, including likelihood of being displayed in the local 3-pack.
Identify Link Gaps: Focusing on your biggest opportunities, identify how many links you’ll need to close gaps and outrank your competitors in local search results.
What About Local Links and My Google My Business Page?
Your Google My Business (GMB) listing does rely on linking as well as:
- Accuracy and consistency of your NAP. Use the same name, address, and phone number everywhere it appears online.
- Ensure your GMB profile links the most relevant local page of your website
- Google looks to see if you have any backlinks to that relevant local page. Linking directly to your GMB may also give a little “link juice” to your site.
- Volume of online reviews and overall star rating which opens the opportunity to be featured in the superlative searches like “best” and “top” + “near me”.
How Soon Can You Expect to See Improvement in Your Local Rankings?
The magic of local SEO is that you can see results very quickly when you target the right local link opportunities.
As you begin earning high-quality local links, you’ll see that focusing on relevance and geography has the quickest impact on rankings.
Even as you enjoy the spike in organic traffic from your local backlink building strategy, staying the course consistency contributes to long term, steady growth.
When you take advantage of opportunities for local link building, you’ll begin to see increased website and foot traffic that result in higher sales or client acquisition.