Local SEO is one of the most important online marketing strategies available to businesses today; like national SEO, it’s a cost-effective way to generate more brand visibility and greater traffic to your website, but because it operates on a local foundation, you’ll be dealing with far less competition. Plus, some local SEO strategies (like online review cultivation) are completely hands-off, giving you more flexibility to focus on the strategies that really matter.
Writing content for SEO is relatively straightforward. Like with any content marketing strategy, you’ll need to create content that’s well-written, appealing to a given audience, and high in quality; the only additional consideration is that you’ll also need to include some geographically specific language as indicators of your business’s location.
Because Google’s search ranking algorithm is sophisticated enough to detect the use of “keyword stuffing,” or deliberately placing a word or phrase in order to send a ranking signal, this poses a difficult problem. Geographic language isn’t easy to naturally inject, so how can you write content for local SEO without triggering Google’s keyword stuffing penalty?
Fortunately, there are a few strategies you can use.
If you choose topics that are specific to your location, you’ll never have to worry about injecting local keywords into your article unnecessarily. They’ll come up naturally, and you won’t have to think twice about it.
Local event coverage
One of the easiest sources of local content is in local events. Attend a community festival, a tradeshow, or some other organized event and publish an article detailing the results. Not only will this type of article give you greater local relevance in Google’s index, it will also be more appealing to local fans of your brand. If you want to make the most of this type of content, be sure to take lots of pictures, and consider making live updates—especially if it’s a multi-day event.
Local competitor analysis
Mentioning your competitors by name might seem like a bad idea—if your customers see your competition directly, they may leave and seek them out instead. But creating an article that lists and analyzes all the businesses like yours (including yours) in the area will be far more valuable than damaging—and it carries a huge local context. People often search for businesses with phrase like “plumbers in Minneapolis,” looking for a broad analysis of the industry with multiple companies to compare. If your article gets in front of this type of query, you’ll have full control over what your visitor reads. Keep it accurate and balanced if you want to keep your quality scores up.
Last but not least, company news can be a great excuse to mention your city or community by name. After all, you are an integral part of the community. Keep these types of articles to once a month or less frequently—your readers want valuable information, not a running stream of self-interest stories.
If you want to step up the local relevance of your material without stuffing it full of more local-specific keywords, one of the best strategies is to submit it to local publications. Rather than identifying your own work with the name of your city, you can submit it to your city’s local newspaper, or to a forum that operates exclusively within your city. Google will use these as contextual clues to categorize your content as specific to your region, and will, by extension, increase the local relevance of your business. Fortunately, because local publications tend to be smaller and hungrier for any type of content they can get their hands on, getting yourself published in them is a relatively easy process. Start building relationships with your target publishers to make the process easier on an ongoing basis.
Long geographic references will get you red flagged more often than basic references. For example, if you try to stuff the phrase “Tremont neighborhood of Cleveland Ohio” multiple times into the body of your article, you’ll probably suffer a lower quality rating. In this example, it would be fine to call out “Cleveland” alone, or even “Tremont.” Google knows where these places are, so a single reference is more than ample to convey your meaning sufficiently.
When Google scans an article to determine what its main function is, it doesn’t weigh the entire article equally. In other words, Google favors the indicators in the title of an article far more than it favors the actual body. Therefore, including a local-specific keyword in the title of your article is more valuable than multiple in-body references. This is almost ironic, because most keyword stuffing offenses come from people trying to fit as many iterations of keywords as possible in the body of their articles. Instead of resorting to this tactic, simply include a local keyword once—in the title of the article—and avoid over-referencing the location unnecessarily in the body.
As long as you aren’t stuffing more than one or two location-based words into a given article, chances are you’ll be okay regardless. But if you want to write the best possible content for your audience and make sure Google stays happy with you, use these strategies regularly. Over time, you’ll develop a nice rhythm for generating new local topics and crafting well-balanced content that also helps you rise in search ranks.