Local SEO

Local SEO backlinks: How to build them and why they matter

Discover the techniques you need to build local SEO backlinks and boost your search visibility

Quick summary
  • Backlinks are important for local SEO because they increase website traffic and improve search rankings.
  • Local SEO backlinks might seem hard to come by, but building them isn’t as difficult as it might seem.
  • Semrush’s Listing Management is a powerful tool to help small businesses build directory backlinks fast.

Local SEO backlinks are the rank-boosting, traffic-driving assets your small business needs.

It’s easy to assume local sites would be unwilling to give you a link. But there are actually a lot of reasons why local websites would be happy to send their audience your way.

Once you realize how many ways there are to build local SEO backlinks, you’ll soon come up with several specific ideas for your own strategy.

Let's start by breaking down the basics of local SEO backlinks before moving on to proven techniques you can start using today.

What is local SEO backlink building?

Local SEO backlink building is the practice of actively acquiring links from local websites in order to boost your search visibility.

While it’s not as difficult as a lot of small business owners think, it is a long game that requires patience and consistency.

You don’t need to build hundreds of local SEO backlinks to start seeing results, a handful of quality links should do the trick.

And fortunately, there are plenty of useful link building tools available to help you achieve a stronger backlink profile.

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With the right tools, local SEO backlinks can be some of the easiest to obtain due to the value of directory listings.

If you're not careful, your website could be penalized for using black hat link building techniques.

Missing links: There’s no need to rack your brain looking for local SEO backlink opportunities. Semrush’s Listing Management quickly pulls up listing opportunities for your small business for some fast local SEO backlink success.

What local SEO backlinks do for your business

When you manage to score a local SEO backlink, one of the most obvious benefits is that it drives users from the linking website to yours.

This is great news for small businesses specifically targeting people in their location, because local traffic is more likely to convert.

Local SEO backlinks are also used by Google to determine your Page Rank. Each local SEO backlink is like a little vote from the community suggesting you’re a reliable resource.

Some local SEO backlinks are more valuable than others. For example, an established .org or .edu website is likely to pass better link juice to your website than a new local Wordpress blog.

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But while general link building focuses on websites with high AS (Authority Scores), local SEO backlinks don’t necessarily need to be rated so highly. The simple fact that they’re local sends a strong enough signal for the purposes of local SEO link building.

As long as you avoid spammy links (like bombarding forums with backlinks), link swapping and shady link building services, lower AS domains are still valid.

How to build local SEO backlinks

The best places for small businesses to start building local SEO backlinks are directories.

Google Business Profile (GBP) is the most important place to list your business and offers multiple local SEO backlink building opportunities.

Of course, your GBP should include your main website address (or location landing page if you service multiple areas), but you can also include links to booking pages, products and services, as well as add links to posts.

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Next, earn more local SEO backlinks by building out your business listings. This can be done manually, or you can leverage a local listings tool to speed things up.

Build a list of other local websites you think are worth pursuing for a link, for example:

  • Local news websites
  • Local community forums
  • Local charity websites
  • Local school and education websites
  • Local business groups
  • Local blogs and influencers
  • Local tourism websites
  • Local supplier websites

Don’t be tempted to send out blanket emails simply asking for a link. Instead, consider each opportunity individually and send a thoughtful pitch.

For example, think of something newsworthy your company could do, like a special event or fundraiser for a local charity. Perhaps someone on your team has a good human interest story to share, like having rescued an animal at the workplace.

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Donating money to a community cause can also earn you local press coverage and a backlink.

If you’re a new business, you can ask the local press to cover your opening. Try to focus on what makes you different so it’s easier to write an article that stands out.

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Send a press release with all the information the journalist might need, including photos and quotes from anyone involved, as well as a link to your website.

Sponsoring local teams builds brand awareness and should also land you a local backlink on the team’s website.

Reach out to suppliers offering a review for their website in exchange for a backlink. Outreach like this can also build stronger bonds with the people you work with.

Search the web for mentions of your brand that don’t include a backlink and ask if the webmaster could add one.

You can use Semrush’s Link Building tool to find local SEO backlink opportunities based on your keywords, lost backlinks and links competitors already have.

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Research successful local businesses in other niches for link building ideas.

Ideally, links will appear in anchor text relevant to the keyword targeted on the page, but “visit website” or “click here” links are also valuable.

Not worth it: Be skeptical of local SEO backlink agencies that promise a high number of links every month. Quality link building is a slow process, so results that sound too good to be true probably are. Spammy links can actually harm your local SEO.

Attracting local SEO backlinks with great content

One of the best ways to attract quality backlinks is by having content that’s so great, local websites will be inspired to link to it.

Content should include local keywords and demonstrate your expertise and authority in what you do. This builds trust with other local websites and makes them more confident to link to you.

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Local competitions and free giveaways are another great way to get websites linking to your content and sharing on social media.

Once you have some content that you know users love, pitch it to local websites as a valuable resource for their audience.

Remember to include internal links on your website's pages to connect your content and make it more accessible.

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Build more local SEO backlinks with Semrush .Local

When you’ve got a small business to run, it can be hard to find the time to build quality local SEO backlinks.

That’s why Semrush .Local developed Listing Management, which can quickly publish 70+ backlinks with minimal input on your part.

Fast local SEO backlinks from listings

Finding directories, creating profiles and submitting listings to build local SEO backlinks is a seriously time-consuming task.

But with Semrush’s powerful tools on your side, you can build a strong profile of backlinks in next to no time.

Simply search for your business in Listing Management and let the tool create a report of the backlink opportunities you’re missing out on.
Successful listings with backlinks published by Listing Management

Track the impact of your local link building

Before you start building backlinks, you should get a clear picture of your local rankings.

Invest in your growth with a Premium Location subscription, which gives you access to Semrush .Local’s Heatmap tool.

Heatmap breaks down your positions across different sections of your target area, so you can track your new backlinks’ impact on your rankings.
Listing Management’s Heatmap tool

Manage reviews from your new directory listings

Building local SEO backlinks on directories also opens up new platforms for your customers to leave you reviews.

Unfortunately, managing reviews across multiple directories can quickly become unwieldy, risking customer feedback going without a response.

With Semrush’s Review Management, you can get back to reviews in your own time and easily track your reply rate.
Review Management’s simple reply feature

Guarantee local SEO backlinks are accurate

Once you’ve got a good number of local SEO backlinks, you’ll need to keep an eye on them to make sure they’re accurate and not broken.

But who has time to constantly scan the web to make sure all their links are working?

Leave it to Listing Management to flag up any errors in your local citations so you can keep your local SEO backlinks intact.
Possible duplicate profiles in Listing Management
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