In the days before the internet, local marketing was simple. You paid for a listing in your local Yellow Pages, printed flyers, and maybe took out an ad in the local paper. People knew who you were and where you were.
Then web marketing came along and changed everything. At first, the recommendation was to focus on general keywords. But over the years, Google and other search engines have changed their algorithms. Now, they prioritize local search over everything else.
What does that mean? In short, it means that creating compelling local content isn’t optional. It’s as necessary as oxygen. You’ve got to show potential customers that you’re part of a community – and that means that you’ve got to think about more than giving out your address.
The Basics of Local Marketing
I’ve already written a lot about local marketing, but I think it’s important to include a summary of how to optimize your website and content for local search. Keep these pointers in mind:
- Choose local keywords that are highly relevant to your business and have a high search volume. The best local search words include the name of your city, state or neighborhood as well as keywords that are relevant to your business.
- Optimize for local voice search and “near me” searches.
- Optimize for mobile search and make sure your site looks great on mobile devices.
- Use your local keywords in important places on your website, including in title tags, image tags, meta descriptions, anchor text for links, H1 tags, and in your content.
- Use rich snippets to add essential geographical information to your Google search results.
- Get important local sites to link back to your site. Remember, when it comes to building links, quality is more important than quantity. Focus on local business guides, the Chamber of Commerce, and related local businesses to build your local SEO “cred.”
- Encourage your customers to leave reviews and link your site to your review pages. Customer testimonials, which go into a bit more depth than reviews, are also essential.
Following these tips will set you up for success – but you’ve still got to create the kind of compelling local content that will attract customers.
Tips for Creating Local Content
Once your site is optimized for local searches, it’s time to focus on creating local content. That means more than simply putting your local keywords into general content. You’ll need to show casual visitors to your site that you’re a part of a local community.
Here are some pointers to get you started.
- Blog about local events. Every community, from small rural towns to huge cities, has local events that are a big deal. As a business owner, you should be aware of these events and find a way to write about them that ties back to your business. It’ll be easy if you’re planning to sponsor a booth at your local street fair. But local charity events and holiday celebrations offer the opportunity for you to talk about your community and why you love it.
- Talk about local news. Did your local Little League team make the playoffs? Did a high school student win a contest? Is there a new business coming to town? Any of these things could be turned into blog posts and they’re especially effective if you can find an organic way to relate the story to your business.
- Develop case studies that are relevant to local prospects. You might serve a variety of neighborhoods or more than one town in your area. If that’s the case, it’s your job to show that you care about all the places in your service area. One way to do it is to develop case studies that demonstrate your knowledge of the area and of any special circumstances that might be unique to where you are. For example, a landscaper in Southern California might talk about the risk of wildfires or offer tips on how to get rid of black widow spiders.
- Find out what your audience is interested in and then write about it. Of course, you don’t want to stray too far from your business, but there’s nothing wrong with getting excited about the things your audience cares about. For example, you might write about an upcoming holiday or the year’s first big storm.
A good way to get ideas for your local content is to stay plugged into your community online. You might follow your local Chamber of Commerce on Facebook, subscribe to your local paper, and stop into the library to see what new flyers have been added to the bulletin board.
What is the Intent of Your Content?
One of the most important things to remember when you’re creating local content is that every blog post or social media update you write should have a clear intention that’s related to your business.
What do I mean by that? Simply that you can’t waste time blogging about things if you don’t understand why you’re writing about them. Sometimes the intent will be clear. You own a hardware store and blogging about predicted winter snowfall might help you sell some shovels and snowblowers, or at least some Ice Melt.
At other times, though, the intention may be a bit harder to pin down. There’s nothing wrong with that but make sure you don’t skip this step. If you’re creative enough, you should be able to find a way to tie any piece of content you create back to your business.
For example, say you want to blog about a local charity event, but you can’t figure out a way to connect it to your business organically. Instead of giving up, you might consider donating a portion of your sales to the charity or collaborating with other local business owners on a fundraising effort.
The key here is to make your local content relevant to your business and to your target audience. You can still share general content, too, but local content is a must if you want your business to grow.