Think about the important things you consider when purchasing a new home.
The number of bedrooms, size of the garden and whether the kitchen is furnished are all important aspects… But so is the selection of local amenities.
We love local businesses, and the fact that we don’t have to drive 20 minutes for a pint of milk.
The fact that there’s a convenience store just a two-minute walk away is a great selling point for a house.
But how do these home buyers find the local businesses in their area, or even become aware of the fact that they exist?
A small portion will jump in their car to do a manual look around the neighborhood.
The majority will head to Google.
That, my friend, is where we jump into the world of local SEO.
What Is Local SEO?
Ever Googled the name of your local take-out, for the sole reason of checking if your 2am curry craving was able to be relieved?
That’s a local search; defined as searching for something that’s near your location.
A searcher who conducts this type of search is usually looking for:
- The opening hours of a nearby store
- The phone number of a nearby store
- A business offering a certain service, such as “cleaners in Michigan”
Used by businesses to target customers in the area, you may forget about this type of SEO when looking to boost your dominance in the SERPs.
But, it does exactly that—if it’s done correctly.
However, building your presence in the SERPs to attract and convert local searchers can be a tricky task.
That task can be made easier by using two things: landing pages, and of course, backlinks.
Creating a Local SEO Landing Page
In order to rank for local searches, you need something that can rank in Google.
Enter: the use of local SEO landing pages.
(They’re just a fancier-named version of pages optimized for local keywords!)
Speaking of optimization, local SEO landing pages should be focused on a handful of local keywords—instead of generalized ones.
Start by picking out the keyword you think best suits your local page.
Then, use Google’s Keyword Planner to find keyword suggestions to target, and focus on those with the highest search volumes.
Let’s use an example.
In my previous life, I like to think that I was a pretty kick-ass singer, who could belt out a Whitney Houston song effortlessly.
Although that couldn’t be further from the real truth, I’d create a local landing page to show that I’m available to hire for weddings and other private events.
Here’s what I might optimize my page for:
Now that my keywords are picked and I know there’s a substantial volume of people searching for them, it’s time to move onto creating the page… AKA the fun part!
Start by creating a meta title and description that’s optimized for local searches by including your local keywords.
Here’s a great example of this being done on Skecher’s local landing page, displayed when I search for “shoe stores in Michigan”:
Then, start to build out the content on your landing page by using the appropriate heading hierarchy.
Wherever possible, drop your chosen keywords into the content, but be aware that you don’t want to be stuffing them too much that it sounds unnatural.
Local landing pages should include key business information for your premises. After all, 50% of local searchers are looking for business information—so make it easy for them!
In the case of a brick and mortar store, that information typically includes:
- Opening hours
- Telephone number
- Items you stock
Once you’ve done your magic with words, there’s one tiny thing left to optimize—the URL of your local landing page!
Generally, there are two types of URL structures that you can use for local pages:
This option is more readable and to the point. It’s ideal if your URL already has the keyword in it, for example:
If your URL doesn’t contain one of your keywords, this option could boost the ranking power of your local page. For example:
Go Local: 5 Ways to Gain Backlinks to Local SEO Landing Pages
Now that we’ve created our local landing page and are beginning to rank in local searches, you’ll want to ensure that you’re shown in one of the coveted spots on Page One.
Unfortunately, just writing and publishing a local landing page won’t do that.
At least not on its own.
You need backlinks, my friend!
Backlinks tell search engines that you’re a reputable and trustworthy site. If they see that you’re recommended by other sites and are managing to make some form of presence online, you must be doing something right!
Let’s face it: We both would rather click on a site that has a proven (good) reputation, rather than one that has an army of ghosts behind it.
However, when it comes to gaining backlinks to local landing pages, it’s one of the toughest forms of link building.
It’s difficult because you’ll need to ensure that the site itself is local, and that the bulk of their audience is actually located in the area you’re optimizing for.
But it is possible—and there are a few approaches you can take.
1. Google My Business Listing
Before we start with this point, let’s do a mini experiment.
Open up a new tab in your internet browser and do a search for a service near you.
I’m going to use “Michigan cleaners,” purely because my home office is a mess and I’d love to pay someone to tidy it for me!
Here are my results:
Did you spot that your local search looks something like this? Completely different from a regular search, with three businesses listed before the ranked pages are even shown.
This is referred to as “the 3-pack,” and you should recognize that a spot on here is nirvana for your local landing page.
After all, they do dominate the search results page—even more so than the number one search result—and are more visible to your target customer.
Businesses can be in with a chance of inclusion in the 3-pack by creating a Google My Business listing.
Listings are totally free to create, and help you to be shown on other types of Google searches as well—including Maps, where users can simply type in “Food” (or “Cleaners” or “Doctor” or whatever else they’re looking for) and hit “Search This Area.”
Every relevant business with a GMB listing will be shown in the results, along with their business information and a link to the website’s local landing page.
Why wouldn’t you want to be shown there?
Creating a GMB listing is awesome because you gain a backlink to your local landing page, from the modern leader of the internet: Google.
With a Page Authority of 97, a Domain Authority of 100 and a PageRank of 9, you’d struggle not to get a backlink from any other site with those incredible SEO metrics!
In fact, such amazing metrics could help to boost your own—especially when considering that the only way to increase these metrics is through backlinks with a high scoring.
Optimizing Your Listing
Similar to with a typical page that you’d like to rank well in a search engine, you’ll need to put some thought into the optimization of your listing.
Include key information, including opening hours and addresses, and add images with keyword-rich alt text.
Don’t forget that your listing name should include the location and the services you offer, to make sure you show up when people are searching.
Reviews should also be included in your Google My Business listing. It’s the most obvious way of showing Google that you’re a reputable company, and it helps to boost customer conversions, too.
A whopping 92% of consumers now read online views, which is up from 88% in 2014.
That’s a massive amount of people you could be turning away if you don’t have some form of encouraging testimonial tied to your brand name!
Ask customers to leave a review on your receipts, or offer a special discount for those who rate your service.
Whichever option you take, make it a priority to show customers—and Google—that your local business deserves the top spot!
2. Local Press
Think about the last time you heard about an event happening locally to you. Where did you see it?
There’s a high chance that your answer is “the news.”
In fact, 67% of people rely on their local paper for local news, and we trust it more than what we see on Facebook. Why not take advantage of that and use these local publications to showcase your business?
Start by researching the local newspapers in your area, and think about the type of local content that they cover.
Do you have any company news that could slot in their content calendar? A new store opening or sponsorship of a local business would be ideal, or you could host a local event to make a bigger mark.
Whatever you’re pitching to the editor of your local paper, make sure that it’s relevant—and more importantly, local!
Local Press Backlinks
Gaining backlinks from local online news publications is a great way to build the backlink profile of your local landing page.
Why? Because the site you’re gaining a link from is already locally-optimized, and has an established audience of local people.
Plus, if they’re well-established and have been around for a long time, there’s a good chance that the site has great SEO metrics.
That’s like hitting the SEO jackpot.
The easiest way to yield a number of these backlinks is to write a press release about your local news. Include a link to your landing page already optimized for local SEO, and send it to the editors of your nearby newspapers.
Chances are, the editor will copy and paste the press release onto their site. That means you get a backlink—and can tailor how you get it!
Optimizing a Local Publication Backlink
When we talk about optimizing a backlink from your local publication, we’re not just talking about the type of coverage that you get.
Granted, gaining a link from the homepage of a high-DA local site would be awesome, but don’t forget about small changes that can supercharge your efforts.
One of those small changes is anchor text: the text used over your backlink.
You might be fooled into thinking that your anchor text should be your brand name. It’s an easy mistake to make. You’re the company, right?
Instead of having your brand name as anchor text, consider using another form, such as phrases or exact match.
The phrase option would be something like “We are an SEO agency based in Michigan,” with the anchor text in bold.
This option helps Google—and a user—to understand exactly what the link is pointing to. It improves user experience, which is what we’re always looking to conquer, and helps search engine spiders to understand a page.
Plus, varying your anchor text and straying from the abundance of branded backlinks could help you to avoid a Google penalty through over-optimization!
3. Sponsoring Local Business
Remember how in the previous point, I touched on sponsoring local businesses?
Considering that there are almost 28 million small businesses in the USA, there’s more than one way to leverage that—while also creating a backlink to your local landing page.
Now, when I say sponsorships, I don’t mean giving away a ton of your profit to help a start-up (even though that would give you some awesome street cred!).
Sponsorship could be as simple as displaying ads on a local business’s site, or being mentioned in a “We work with…” section.
Show your support, and prove that your business cares about the local economy!
Local Business Backlinks
Although the backlinks you may gain from a local business’s site may not have the best SEO metrics tied to them, they’re still worth having.
That’s because a natural backlink profile has a range of entries with varying scores; not tons of backlinks from the best sites on the web.
That’d look a bit fishy.
Local business’ sites tend to have lower Domain Authorities because they’re smaller sites. They might not operate outside of their location, which makes their chances of becoming an SEO powerhouse slightly more challenging.
When choosing a business to sponsor, aim for those with sites with a DA scoring of 30+.
That way, the backlink is still valuable and not just another pithy link that has no effect on your SERP performance.
Optimizing Local Sponsorships
If you’re working with a local supplier, think about partnering and showing your relationship online.
If you’re not working locally but have a ton of local businesses in a similar industry, could you sponsor them?
Don’t feel like you have to partner with a competitor. That probably won’t give you the best results.
For example, a Michigan cleaning company could sponsor a local cleaning product manufacturer—not another company that offers the same services.
Once you’ve sponsored the business or proven that you’re there for support, consider writing a press release around it. People want to know about their local economy, so it’d be a great way to get in with your local publications while getting a backlink at the same time.
4. Business Directories
If you ask any SEO expert about the value of a directory backlink, they might give a few “they’re good, but…”s.
That’s because directory links are the dinosaur version of link building, and are only successful if done in a specific way.
The golden rule with directory backlinks is that you need a variety, from different types of sites.
When you think of the word directory, I’ll bet that you’re thinking of something like Yell.com or the Yellow Pages. They’re the most famous and well-known directories, but might not be the best option for local SEO link building.
You see, these big directories have great SEO metrics that might draw you in.
Yell.com has a Domain Authority of 86, which would be a cracking addition to your arsenal of backlinks.
Plus, the YP.com directory has 80+ million visits per month.
The only problem is that these SEO directories are optimized, but not always locally.
Granted, they may have a section dedicated to your local area and give great brand awareness, which is why I do recommend having a portion of them populate the backlink profile of your local landing page.
But, on a whole, they won’t give you the local SEO supercharge that we’re looking for.
“Elise… What other directories could I possibly get a link from?” I hear you ask.
The answer is niche—or even better, local—directories!
Local directories are sites that share information for businesses in a specific location.
For those of you in Michigan, this could be businessfinder.mlive.com or michiganbusiness.us.
These directories are awesome for gaining backlinks to your local landing page because the site is already optimized—and ranking for—local keywords.
They have an established name and reputation in your area, which makes the backlink to your local landing page even juicier!
Optimizing a Directory Backlink
Once you’ve targeted a mix of big, niche and local directories, start to put some thought into how you can optimize them to boost their SEO power.
One way of doing that is to vary the number of backlinks that you have pointing to each local landing page.
You should have a mix of directory links, combined with several other types of backlinks.
Remember, Google rewards sites that practice natural SEO behavior.
If you’re running all over the internet and gaining backlinks from any directory you can find, it’s unlikely to give the best results!
5. Share Local Resources
Although I risk sounding super obvious by saying this, remember that local searchers aren’t always ready to buy something, visit your store or browse your products online.
I know… Shocker.
People conduct online searches for many reasons, including to get general information about a topic, or to have one of their questions about their local area answered.
However, just because you sell online products and want to drive local people to your store, it doesn’t mean that you can’t use this method to gain a backlink for local SEO!
Local Resource Backlinks
You can begin to gain backlinks by creating local resources, such as a round-up of events and things to do in your area. This can be in the form of a blog post.
In your article, share information that would be valuable to local searchers, but also ties in with what you offer.
For a cleaning business in Michigan, this could be something like “X Events for Cleaning Lovers in Michigan.”
At the end of the piece, add an internal link to your local landing page with optimized anchor text. That way, anyone reading the article has a call to action, and search engines can recognize that you’re covering the topic in-depth (making your site more valuable).
Then, make sure that your article is optimized for longtail keywords. This will help to make sure that you have some form of search engine presence, and allows people to find your content online.
Now, it’s time for a bit of research.
Can you find any bloggers in your area? How about the event co-ordinators of the events you’ve shared?
Finding local influencers can help you to promote the article, while gaining backlinks from local sites and boosting the volume of visitors to your site in the meantime!
Optimizing Local Resource Backlinks
Once you’ve got your list of influencers, don’t just fire off an email in the hopes of getting a backlink.
Bloggers and businesses treat their sites like babies; they want to look after them and make sure they’re the best they can be… Just like a proud parent!
For that reason, they may not be comfortable with handing out a backlink—especially if they get nothing in return.
When this happens, you could:
- Give a special offer to their readers which will give them a discount at your local store
- Offer to share their website on social media
- Partner with the company and sponsor them
…in return for a backlink to your local resource.
By giving your influencers an incentive to link to your article, you’re in with a better position of gaining that coveted reward: a high-DA backlink on a site with existing readers in your local area.
Keeping Track of Your Links
Once you’ve put in all that time, energy and effort (read: blood, sweat and tears) into getting those precious links to your local pages, you’re going to want to keep track of them.
I’d recommend Monitor Backlinks for this part of the job, simply because it quite literally takes care of the whole thing for you.
The tool lets you see every single link you have pointing back to your site (as well as all the links pointing to your competitors’ sites) so you can always see how your link profile is tracking.
But you don’t even have to manually check your new links yourself—if you wanted to, you could rely solely on Monitor Backlinks’ instant email notification tool which tells you as soon as a new backlink appears or disappears.
That’s the hard part taken care of for you!
Plus, for a closer look at how your local landing pages are performing, Monitor Backlinks also shows you if any of your keywords are ranking in the Google 3-pack we talked about earlier.
Under your Rank Tracker tab, you’ll see a 3-pack ranking with a map icon together with a regular ranking (if any of your pages have made the 3-pack).
You can also see if any of your competitors are ranking in the 3-pack for the keywords you’re tracking, so you always know exactly where you stand (and who you have to beat out!).
This makes it easy for you to assess whether your backlink strategy is working the way you want, and to keep improving the performance of your local pages.
Start by playing around with Monitor Backlinks for free for one month and make manual link tracking a thing of the past!
Final Words on Backlinks for Local Landing Pages
Creating a strategy to boost your presence in local SERPs takes time, I know.
But, taking the time to publish a local landing page will give a great return—especially when paired with a link building strategy that targets other nearby sites.
Remember that users should always be at the forefront of your mind.
A great local SEO strategy uses crafty techniques that please users and Google… Not just the latter!