Pre-internet days, it didn’t take a lot for local businesses to notify a prospect that they are located in the same city. Handing them a flyer with business details and an address was pretty much a giveaway as to where you did business. Running an ad in the local daily newspaper or the Yellow Pages was how you got found in your town.
Times have changed. Search engines are one of the primary ways that people find nearby products and services. In this digital era, it’s not always so obvious where your business is located or who it is that you serve, and this can be a real challenge for local business owners.
While there is a growing list of local SEO tactics that you must implement, one that often goes unnoticed is the use of local content. You must genuinely put in the time and effort to create local content to alert website visitors where you are so that you hit your ideal clients in town, not somebody located across the world.
The problem I often see is that many local business owners either aren’t aware of how much effort goes into making content to make their business known locally online, or they’re aware, but just don’t know where to get started. So, instead of playing the guessing game, below are some helpful hints that could help to point you in the right direction.
Creating local content
I’ve said it often, and I guarantee I’ll continue to say it. . . Content is no longer king – It’s air.
Yes, it’s that important for your marketing. Without it, the ability to get discovered and rise above your competition in search engine results pages becomes significantly harder.
While the majority of your content can be general and focused on your audience and how you can solve their problems, it’s important to sprinkle in some material that also focuses on your community. When doing this, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- Embrace the community beyond what you sell – Show that you are involved and know what’s going on in your area, whether it’s supporting a local sports team or discussing neighborhood news and events. Talking about community, customer, and employee-related local news is a great way to mix up your local content in authentic ways.
- Develop case studies that address the different neighborhoods you serve. Show that you’ve had successes in the areas of people you’re trying to reach.
- Write about local things that people care about – Don’t just write about what you’re interested in. Write what your audience would be interested in.
One important thing to keep in mind throughout your content development is intent. What do you intend to accomplish with every piece of content your produce? It’s easy to get spammy if you just list a bunch of random local content, so tying it into your business is ideal. Remember, if you want to use content as a tool to drive local traffic then you have to make it useful and local.
A good example of a piece of local content done well was by my client, Jackson Tree Service. They wrote a blog post titled, St. Louis Suburbs Giving Citations for Unkept Trees. This post was educational and helpful for members of the community, but it also tied into their business effortlessly.
Now, you don’t necessarily need to develop all the content on your own. Having local guest bloggers and contributors post on your site is a great way to add content, while also expanding your audience to the contributor’s audience as well.
In addition to blogging, don’t forget to incorporate local content across the rest of your website:
- Use the names of your city and suburbs across your site pages.
- Add your NAP (name, address, and phone number) to the header or footer of your site so that it appears on all pages.
- Add a Google map so that people can see exactly where you’re located and the areas that you serve.
More than ever, your website is at the core of how you get ranked and found locally online. Make sure that your content is tailored specifically to the search results you want to show up in.
Best practices for local content
Link building and keywords
Keyword research is a huge game changer when it comes to local SEO. Be sure to add local keywords to the text used to link back to your site from places like LinkedIn or in article directories. Be sure to also add local keywords in the internal links on your pages as well.
Link building from external sites has changed over the years, and it’s now much more about quality than quantity. Getting inbound links from core businesses in your community, such as chamber directories, tourism directories, and local strategic partner pages, can be huge and a big win for your business.
Be sure to optimize your pages and posts with local keywords in the following areas:
- Title tags
- Meta description
- Body copy
- Anchor text (linking to other content)
- H1 tags (Usually your headline)
- Bold and italics tags
- Alt text in images
Use rich snippets
By using rich snippets, you can help Google find geographic information, information about people in your business and reviews of your products and services. They essentially help users find your website when it references a local place.
Don’t forget about reviews
Reviews are a form of content that many local business owners neglect. While you need positive reviews for social proof, you also need them as a pillar of your local SEO efforts.
You must put consistent effort into getting reviews. Even a business with raving fans needs to work hard to get reviews from happy customers. The key is to ask often and make it as easy as possible for happy customers to log in to the sites that matter, such as Yelp and Google, and leave a review.
You can repurpose these reviews into other forms of local content on your site as well.
Make creating local content a priority. By continuously putting time towards it and striving to make it better, you should start to see the rewards come in.