Build Links Locally: Strategies to Improve Local SEO

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Optimization for local listings is an important way to attract business for many companies and organizations that are jumping online these days. There are plenty of blog posts outlining how to optimize your listings in the local search engines and with your chamber of commerce, but where can you turn to further build your local presence? That answer involves a degree of strategy and thought leadership.

Local Resources

A confluence of pressure from the rise in mobile and digitized urban information presents a unique opportunity for businesses looking to leverage their online presence.  Odds are, your town has a Wiki page (like my hometown ArborWiki for Ann Arbor, MI) or other versions of “community resource databases” that act like an online tour guide.  These sites typically aim to provide site visitors with one-stop listings, calendars and the like…long story short, they want content and you should give it to them.

When linkbuilding for a client, find these local websites and supply them with the info (address, pictures, phone number) and –ding ding ding– link back to your client’s website.  Links from these local sites build the coveted Domain Authority of your client’s site, while also associating the business with geographic keywords.

Branch Out

As your client’s market share continues to grow, remember to expand your targeted keywords. Let’s say your client’s store is located in downtown Chicago, but after your nifty local SEO work, the client wants to draw customers from surrounding suburbs. Use the strategy we talked about above and repeat it with towns and villages you wish to pull from.  In this example your longtail keywords will evolve from “Chicago book store” to “Naperville book store” and so on.


There’s only so many local websites you can submit to.  After awhile, you’re going to have to earn local links through some ol’ fashion Thought Leadership. Thought Leadership is the act of positioning oneself or a company as an expert on a certain topic or idea.  Many public relations campaigns center on this process.

Once your client develops into a Thought Leader, links happen organically through interviews or speaking engagements, just to name a few.  As an SEO specialist, it is your job to find these websites or marketing opportunities, and pitch your client as an expert.

Here are some examples:

  • Pitch niche writers on
  • Local online news magazines and news outlets
  • Write quality, intelligent articles yourself on sites like Associated Content

Local SEO is about more than completing your Google Local Business Listing, so stay active and keep the creativity flowing. There’s always another link to build.

Case Ernsting
Case Ernsting works as the Online Marketing Coordinator for LoSasso Advertising Inc., an interactive advertising and marketing agency in Chicago, IL. In addition to posting... Read Full Bio
Case Ernsting

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  • wilsonography

    Great post Case, as always succinct and inspiring in it's simplicity 🙂

  • Andrew

    Agree 100% with your comments re: local resources.

    If you open your eyes a little, there's usually a whole heap of resources that you can tap into and exploit.

  • miss_zed

    how true – there IS always a link to build. From working with lots of international clients – I agree the 'thought leadership' and establishing yourself as an expert within your industry is an excellent approach. with the way the internet moves forward it is becoming more important what is being said about you and your product off-site than what's on your site. Writing articles, getting press releases out – by yourself, but also getting others to write about you is not only a great brand building exercise – but if done right fantastic for gaining links 🙂 or the other way around….

  • Maciej @ SEO Noobie

    I like to search for local keyword phrases and leave comments behind on items that are available in the search results. Nice way to build a brand online locally.

  • Mike

    This is a great way to leverage linkbuilding. I agree that there are only so many “local” links you can post to. What works well with my clients is asking them to create thought leadership in their area first.Even though we do high pr linking there is tremendous value in the beginning stages, deeper linking strategies that are niche based can actually becreated and maintained using wordpress by anybody who does daily posting and blog creation

  • Craig B

    Thanks for the information. Local link building sounds important.

  • bitServe

    I totally agree. Over a year ago, we started focusing on more targeted local keywords because the pay-per-click rates on “hosting” and “web hosting” were too high, yet keyword analysis indicated that there were a lot of targeted keywords that were less competitive but with a lot of searches. Combined with locally focused press releases encouraging people to buy locally, we've focused all of our marketing to Michigan web hosting clients now. If you google for “michigan hosting”, we're now listed number one, which has been great for traffic. We've also targeted other keywords for more specific types of hosting with a lot of success. We feel it's a good idea to buy locally whenever one can, anyway.

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