Any company that plans on being in business 5 years from now has a responsibility to start building their SEO now. 

SEO tends to be shrouded in mystery, but it really comes down to two simple concepts: content and backlinks. 

This comprehensive guide will walk you through what backlinks are, why they’re important, and how to effectively obtain them for your local business.



What Are Backlinks?


Backlinks, also known as inbound or incoming links, are links from one website to a page on YOUR website. They act as votes of confidence for your content, helping your site rank higher on search engine results pages (SERPs). 

When reputable sites link to your content, search engines like Google view this as a signal of your site’s authority and relevance.


The Importance of Backlinks in SEO


Backlinks play a crucial role in SEO for several reasons:

  1. Authority Building: Backlinks from high-authority sites enhance your site’s credibility.
  2. Referral Traffic: Visitors from other websites clicking on your backlink drive direct traffic.
  3. Faster Indexing: Search engines discover new pages by following backlinks, speeding up indexing.
  4. Improved Rankings: High-quality backlinks contribute to better rankings on SERPs.


For more on what backlinks are and why they are important for your SEO, you can checkout this detailed article from semrush


Understanding “Google Penguin” and Backlink Quality


In 2012, Google introduced the “Penguin” update to penalize websites using spammy tactics to gain backlinks. As a result, bad backlinks from low-quality, irrelevant sites can harm your SEO efforts.


Domain Authority


Google calling out spammy tactics and punishing sites for using them, is one of the big reasons that you want to pay attention to the Domain Authority of any site that you’re getting a backlink from. 

Domain Authority (DA) is a metric created by Moz to predict how well a site will rank on SERPs. The score ranges from 1 to 100, with higher scores being better.

The higher the DA, the more authoritative the site is perceived. 

Backlinks from sites with higher DA are more beneficial for your SEO. Tools like MozBar can help you check the DA of websites.

ProTip: Don’t accept backlinks from websites with a DA of less than 20

Benefits of Backlinks for Local Businesses


  1. Enhanced Visibility: Backlinks improve your chances of appearing in local searches.
  2. Increased Traffic: Quality backlinks can drive targeted traffic to your site.
  3. Brand Authority: Being linked by reputable sites builds your brand’s authority and trustworthiness.
  4. Local Relevance: Backlinks from local sites increase your relevance in local search results.

Factors That Make a Good Backlink


  1. Quantity: More backlinks generally indicate higher popularity.
  2. Relevance: Links from sites related to your industry are more valuable.
  3. Authority and Popularity: Backlinks from high-authority sites carry more weight.
  4. Diversity: A variety of sources linking to your site is better than many links from one site. (it’s better to get 1 link each from 100 sites, then to get 100 links from 1 site… this metric, however, is secondary to DA and relevance)
  5. Anchor Text: The clickable text in a hyperlink should be relevant and varied to avoid penalties.

Types of Anchor Text


  1. Exact Match: The exact keyword you’re targeting. (only allow 5-10% of backlinks to be the exact keyword)
  2. Partial Match: Variations that include your keyword.(only allow 10-20% of backlinks to be a partial match)
  3. Branded: Your brand name. (you want more branded anchor texts than anything else, 30-40%)
  4. Generic: Common phrases like “click here.” (20-30% of backlinks can be generic phrases)
  5. Naked URLs: The plain URL. (10-20% can be naked URLs)


Note: These percentages are guidelines, and not explicit rules. Nobody fully knows how Google’s algorithm works (it’s not public), so these are the ratios that have been found to yield the best results by third parties.


Now let’s answer the million-dollar question: How do you get backlinks? 


Strategies to Obtain Backlinks for Your Local Business


1. Create High-Quality Listicles

Writing high-quality listicles relevant to your niche can naturally attract backlinks. Listicles are popular because they are easy to read and share. Ensure your listicle is thorough and well-researched, and don’t forget to include your sources.


2. Guest Blogging

Guest blogging involves writing articles for other websites in exchange for a backlink. This method not only provides a direct backlink but also exposes your brand to a new audience. Look for reputable sites in your niche that accept guest posts and pitch relevant topics.

How to Pitch a Guest Post


  1. Research the website and understand their content style.
  2. Develop unique content ideas that would appeal to their audience.
  3. Write a personalized email explaining who you are, your content idea, and how it will benefit their readers.
  4. Include links to your previous work to demonstrate your writing quality.

3. Answer Questions on Quora

While Quora links are no-follow (they don’t pass SEO value), answering questions relevant to your industry can drive traffic to your site. Provide valuable, informative answers and include a link to a relevant post on your website.


4. Press Releases

Press releases are an indirect method to gain backlinks. Although Google doesn’t reward backlinks from press releases directly, they can generate media attention, leading to organic backlinks from news articles and blogs.


5. Become a Source for Reporters and Bloggers

Services like Help a Reporter Out (HARO) (Now called Connectively) connect journalists with experts. By providing insights and information, you can earn high-quality backlinks from reputable sites. This method requires you to respond quickly to queries and provide valuable input.

6. Utilize Social Media Platforms

Active participation in social media can indirectly generate backlinks. Share your content on various platforms, engage with your audience, and join relevant groups and communities. While social media links are no-follow, they can drive traffic and increase the chances of your content being shared on other websites.

Best Practices for Building Backlinks


  1. Focus on Quality: Prioritize backlinks from high-authority, relevant sites.
  2. Natural Link Building: Avoid buying backlinks or using black-hat tactics.
  3. Content Marketing: Create valuable, shareable content that naturally attracts backlinks.
  4. Monitor Your Backlink Profile: Use tools like Ahrefs or Moz to track your backlinks and disavow any low-quality links.
  5. Diverse Link Profile: Ensure a mix of different types of backlinks (e.g., guest posts, directory listings, social mentions).
  6. Consistent Effort: Building a strong backlink profile takes time. Be patient and persistent.


Building backlinks for your local business requires a strategic approach focused on quality and relevance. By understanding what makes a good backlink and implementing the strategies outlined above, you can enhance your site’s SEO, drive more traffic, and ultimately grow your business. 

Remember, patience and persistence are key, as building a strong backlink profile takes time and consistent effort.

And if you’d rather hire a professional to do this for you (so you can focus on what you do best, and we can focus on what we do best) then go ahead and book a call with us through our calendar link on our home page




Are Backlinks Important for local SEO?


Yes, backlinks are important for local SEO. They play a crucial role in improving the visibility and ranking of your website in local search results. Here’s why:

  1. Authority and Trustworthiness: Backlinks from reputable and relevant local websites signal to search engines that your business is trustworthy and authoritative within your local area. This can improve your website’s domain authority.
  2. Local Relevance: Backlinks from local sources, such as local news sites, business directories, and community blogs, help search engines understand that your business is relevant to a specific geographic area. This can enhance your visibility for local searches.
  3. Organic Traffic: Quality backlinks can drive organic traffic to your website from users in your local area. Increased traffic from local sources can further indicate to search engines that your business is popular and relevant locally.
  4. Citations: Backlinks often come from citations, which are mentions of your business name, address, and phone number (NAP) on other websites. Consistent citations across various local directories and websites help boost local SEO.
  5. Competitive Edge: Having a strong backlink profile can give you a competitive edge over other local businesses. If your competitors have few or low-quality backlinks, a robust backlink strategy can help you outrank them in local search results.
  6. Improved Crawling and Indexing: Backlinks help search engine bots discover and index your website’s pages more efficiently. This can be particularly beneficial for local businesses that might have fewer pages or less frequent content updates.


Can you get traffic without backlinks?


Yes, it’s possible to get traffic without backlinks, although backlinks are an important factor for improving search engine rankings and driving traffic. Here are some alternative methods to attract traffic without relying on backlinks:

  1. Content Quality: Create high-quality, valuable, and engaging content that addresses the needs and interests of your target audience. Well-optimized content can attract organic traffic directly from search engines. (I always say that there are Two MAJOR components of SEO: Backlinks and Content. If you’re only focusing on the content, that can still go a long way).
  2. Keyword Optimization: Conduct thorough keyword research and optimize your content for relevant keywords. Use long-tail keywords that have less competition but are highly relevant to your audience.
  3. Local SEO: Optimize your Google My Business (GMB) listing and ensure your business information is accurate and complete. Encourage satisfied customers to leave positive reviews, which can improve your visibility in local searches. (If you’d like us to do this for you, it is by far our most affordable SEO service. Book a call with us to talk more)
  4. Social Media Marketing: Leverage social media platforms to promote your content, engage with your audience, and drive traffic to your website. Share blog posts, special offers, and updates to keep your audience engaged.
  5. Online Communities and Forums: Participate in online communities, forums, and discussion groups related to your industry. Provide valuable insights and link to your website where relevant.
  6. Paid Advertising: Use paid advertising methods such as Google Ads, Facebook Ads, or other social media ads to drive targeted traffic to your website.
  7. Online Directories and Listings: Ensure your business is listed in relevant online directories and industry-specific listings. These can drive direct traffic even without backlinks.


While backlinks significantly boost your website’s SEO and traffic potential, these strategies can help you attract traffic and grow your online presence without relying solely on backlinks.


Do Local Businesses Need SEO?


Yes, local businesses definitely need SEO. Local SEO is crucial for small and medium-sized businesses that operate on a regional level, as opposed to a national level. Here are several reasons why local businesses need SEO:


  1. Increased Online Visibility: Local SEO helps businesses appear in local search results, increasing their visibility to potential customers who are searching for services or products in their area.
  2. Targeted Traffic: By optimizing for local search terms, businesses attract more relevant traffic—people who are actually in the area and looking for what they offer. This leads to higher conversion rates.
  3. Google My Business (GMB): A well-optimized GMB profile helps businesses appear in local map listings, which are prominently displayed in search results. This can drive significant traffic and foot traffic to your business.
  4. Competitive Advantage: Many local businesses still underutilize SEO. By investing in local SEO, businesses can gain a competitive edge over those that are not optimizing their online presence.
  5. Reputation Management: Local SEO includes managing online reviews and ratings, which are crucial for building trust and credibility with potential customers. Positive reviews and high ratings can significantly impact a business’s reputation and attract more customers.
  6. Cost-Effective Marketing: Compared to traditional advertising methods, local SEO is cost-effective and offers a high return on investment. It focuses on organic traffic, reducing the need for paid advertising.


If you’re planning on being in business in the next 5 to 10 years, as a local business owner you need to be investing in your SEO today. On the other hand, if you don’t plan on being around for the long term, then SEO isn’t going to be an important strategy for you.

Does Google Care About backlinks?


Yes, Google cares about backlinks, and they remain a crucial factor in its search ranking algorithms. Here’s why backlinks are important for Google and how they influence SEO:


  1. Authority and Trustworthiness: Backlinks from high-quality, authoritative sites signal to Google that your site is a trustworthy and credible source of information. This helps improve your site’s domain authority.
  2. Relevance: Backlinks from websites that are relevant to your industry or niche help Google understand the context of your content. This can improve your rankings for related search terms.
  3. Ranking Signals: Backlinks are one of Google’s primary ranking signals. Sites with more high-quality backlinks generally rank higher in search results compared to those with fewer or lower-quality backlinks.
  4. Organic Traffic: Quality backlinks can drive referral traffic to your site. Visitors from these backlinks are often highly targeted and interested in your content, products, or services.
  5. Crawling and Indexing: Backlinks help Google’s bots discover and index your site’s pages more efficiently. When authoritative sites link to your pages, it increases the likelihood that Google will find and index them.


While backlinks are just one aspect of SEO, they remain a critical component for improving your site’s search engine ranking and overall visibility.


Is it ok to pay for backlinks?


Paying for backlinks is generally not something that we recommend. Here’s why:


  1. Violation of Google’s Guidelines: Google explicitly states that buying or selling links that pass PageRank violates their guidelines. This includes exchanging money for links, providing goods or services for links, or sending someone a “free” product in exchange for them writing about it and including a link.
  2. Risk of Penalties: If Google detects that you are buying backlinks, your site can be penalized. This can result in a significant drop in search rankings or even complete removal from Google’s index.
  3. Quality Concerns: Purchased backlinks are often from low-quality or spammy websites that do not add value to your site’s authority. These links can harm your site’s reputation and SEO performance.
  4. Lack of Relevance: Paid links might not come from relevant sources. Google values links from sites that are contextually related to your content. Irrelevant links are less valuable and can appear manipulative.
  5. Short-Term Gains, Long-Term Losses: While you might see a short-term boost in rankings from purchased links, the long-term risks outweigh the benefits. Google’s algorithms are constantly improving at detecting unnatural link patterns, so the likelihood of getting caught increases over time.


Instead of paying for backlinks, focus on ethical and effective link-building strategies:


  1. Create High-Quality Content: Develop content that is valuable, informative, and engaging. High-quality content is more likely to attract natural backlinks from other reputable websites.
  2. Guest Blogging: Write high-quality guest posts for reputable websites in your industry. Ensure the content is relevant and provides value to the audience.
  3. Local Business Directories: Get listed in relevant local business directories and ensure your information is consistent across all listings. This helps with local SEO and can provide quality backlinks.
  4. Engage in Community Forums: Participate in industry forums and communities. Share your expertise and link back to your website when relevant. Ensure that your contributions add value to the conversation.
  5. Content Promotion: Use social media, email marketing, and outreach campaigns to promote your content. When more people see your content, there is a higher chance of earning natural backlinks.
  6. Build Relationships: Network with other website owners and bloggers in your industry. Building genuine relationships can lead to opportunities for natural backlinks and collaborations.


By focusing on ethical link-building strategies, you can improve your website’s SEO and avoid the risks associated with paying for backlinks.