Writing for local optimization is a different animal.
In addition to providing the same level of detail to the same target demographics, you also have to find a way to include local-specific keywords into the bin of your articles naturally.
It’s a tricky line to walk since any indication of over-optimization could turn off your visitors and invoke the wrath of a Google penalty.
At the same time, if you don’t write locally optimized content, you could leave yourself to the mercy of your local competitors.
Instead of trying to jam local keywords, like your city or neighborhood, into your traditional content strategy, generating topic ideas for a local audience is better. This might seem harsh, especially if you aren’t used to writing locally optimized content. Still, if you break it down into different categories, you should have no trouble coming up with a sizeable list of potential subjects to explore.
Local SEO can be the driving force behind most of a company’s online traffic and visibility. But if you want to be successful with local SEO, you must put several foundational pillars in place.
In this article, we’ll explore the importance of local SEO and where to share your content to get maximum results – meaning more traffic, prospects, and (ultimately) sales.
Table of Contents
Why Local SEO Matters
As a small business owner, you must have a solid online presence to attract and retain customers.
Local SEO is highly relevant:
There are, quite literally, thousands of ways to build an online presence. (And you can use any number of ‘on ramps’ to attract clicks and traffic.) However, local SEO is one of the most effective.
As a refresher: Local SEO is optimizing your website and online profiles to rank higher in search engine results for specific geographic locations. Typically, this targets particular cities and towns, though it can also extend to the state and regional levels.
Here are some primary reasons why local SEO matters (and why you should prioritize sharing content for local SEO).
1. Local SEO helps you reach your target audience.
One of the most significant benefits of local SEO is that it helps you reach your target audience. Optimizing your website and online profiles for specific geographic locations can ensure that your business is visible to people searching for products or services in your area. This is especially important for small businesses relying on foot traffic or local customers for revenue. Restaurants and service businesses are primarily reliant on good local SEO strategies.
2. Local SEO helps you stand out from the competition
Another benefit of local SEO is that it helps you stand out from the competition. With so many businesses competing for the same customers, it can be challenging to get noticed. However, by optimizing your website and online profiles for local search, you can ensure that your business is visible to potential customers looking for products or services in your area. This can give you a significant advantage over your competitors.
3. Local SEO can improve your online visibility
Local SEO can also improve your online visibility. When your business is listed on local directories, such as Yelp and Google Business Profile, it can help your brand appear in the top search results when people are looking for products or services in your area. This increases the chances of potential customers finding your business and visiting your website.
4. Local SEO can help you track your progress.
Local SEO can also help you track your progress. Using tools like Google Analytics, you can monitor your website’s traffic and see how many people visit your website from specific geographic locations. This helps you identify areas where your business is doing well and areas you need to improve.
5 Places to Share Content or Local SEO
There are several places where you can share content for local SEO. Let’s go ahead and explore some of the top ones:
1. Google Business Profile
This free listing service provided by Google allows companies and brands to manage and oversee their online presence across Google platforms, including Maps and Search.
Setting up a profile is a simple process:
- Go to the Google My Business website and click “rt Now.”
- Sign in to your Google account or create a new one if you don’t have one.
- Enter your business name and address. You can also add a phone number, website, and other details about your business.
- Google will send you a verification code by mail, phone, or email. Once you receive the code, enter it on the Google My Business website to verify your business.
- Add photos and other information to your profile. You can add pictures of your business, products, and services, a business description, hours of operation, and additional relevant information.
- Once you have completed your profile, review it to ensure that all the information is accurate and complete. Then, click on “Publish” to make your profile live.
It’s important to note that your Google Business Profile will allow you to manage your business information across Google, including Search and Maps. It also enables you to respond to customer reviews and see insights into how customers interact with your business listing.
2. Bing Places for Business
Similar to Google Business, this is a free listing service provided by Bing for businesses to manage their online presence on Bing.
Setting up a Bing Places for Business profile is a straightforward process. Here are the steps you can follow:
- Go to the Bing Places for Business website and click “Get started.”
- Sign into your Microsoft account or create a new one if you don’t have one.
- Enter your business name and address. You can also add a phone number, website, and other details about your business.
- Bing will send you a verification code by mail, phone, or email. Once you receive the code, enter it on the Bing Places for Business website to verify your business.
- Much like Google Business, you can add photos of your business, products, and services, as well as a business description, hours of operation, and other relevant information.
- After completing your profile, review it to ensure that all the information is accurate and complete. Then, click on “Publish” to make your profile live.
It’s worth pointing out that Bing Places for Business will allow you to manage your business information across Bing and other Microsoft platforms. And like Google, you can respond to customer reviews and see insights about how customers interact with your business listing.
3. Social Media
Technically, there’s very little evidence (if any) to indicate that social media impacts local SEO efforts. Studies have been conducted trying to identify the impact of social media on search rankings, and there aren’t many concrete results.
The reason search engines don’t mess with social media posts is a numbers game. With roughly 61,000 social posts made every second, reaching over 5 billion daily posts at this rate, Google keeps up.
We’re not going to say social media isn’t necessary. It indirectly impacts your content creation and local marketing efforts by driving traffic to your website and other key search pages (which can indirectly affect your search rankings).
Here are some pointers for creating local content for social media:
- Optimize your social profiles: Make sure your profiles include your business name, address, phone number, and website. Use keywords in your bio, and ensure your profile contains images and videos showcasing your products and services.
- Use location tags: Use location tags when you post on social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. This helps your posts show up in search results for people looking for businesses in your area.
- Create local-themed content: Create content relevant to your local audience. Share information about local events, promotions, and news that would be of interest to your followers. This helps to build trust and engagement with your audience.
- Use local hashtags: Use relevant hashtags when you post on social media. This helps your posts appear in search results for those hashtags, increasing your visibility to potential customers.
- Encourage reviews: Encourage your customers to leave reviews on your social media profiles and other review sites. Positive reviews can help boost your visibility and credibility.
- Interact with your local community: Engage with other local businesses and organizations on social media. Share their posts and collaborate with them on events or promotions. This helps to build relationships and increase your visibility in the local community.
This isn’t an article about how to win with social media, but hopefully, this gives you some pointers as you think about tackling social from a local SEO standpoint.
4. Local Directories
We’ve already discussed two of the most important online directories, Google and Bing, but hundreds of other directories exist for link building.
You don’t necessarily need to be on every directory, but a few can be helpful depending on the type of business and industry you’re in, such as Yelp, Yellow Pages, and Angie’s List.
Directories like these can help boost your visibility for local searches.
Here are some tips for using local citation directories for local SEO:
- Claim your listing: Search for your business on popular local directories such as Google My Business, Bing Places for Business, and Yelp, and claim your listing if it already exists. If not, create a new listing and include all your business details and contact information.
- Optimize your listing: Ensure your listing includes your business name, address, phone number, website, and other relevant information. Use keywords in your business description and add high-quality images and videos to showcase your products and services.
- Encourage your customers to leave reviews on your local directory listings. Positive reviews can help boost your visibility and credibility.
- Use categories: Choose the most relevant categories for your business when creating or editing your listing. This helps to increase your visibility in search results.
- Keep your information consistent: Ensure your business information is consistent across all local directories. This includes your name, address, phone number, and website.
- Use other local directories: Many other local guides are available, including Yellow Pages, CitySearch, and Local.com. Make sure to claim your listing on these sites as well.
- Monitor your listing: Monitor your local directory listings regularly to ensure that the information is up-to-date and accurate. This will help you keep your visibility and ranking.
Adding your business to a bunch of different directories can be a time-consuming task. You might want to hire a virtual assistant or outsource this task to a contractor.
5. Local News and Event Websites
Publishing content on local news and event websites is another way to boost your visibility and drive more traffic to your business.
You’ll have to research and do due diligence to find good opportunities. Look for local news and event websites that are popular in your area and relevant to your business.
Once you find good options, create and pitch relevant and exciting content to your local audience. This could be an article about an event you are hosting, a blog post about a new product or service, or a press release about a recent achievement.
Use keywords in your content that are relevant to your business and location. (Include your business name, address, phone number, and website in your content.)
Contact the website owners or editors and ask them to publish your content on their website. If posted, share your content on your social media profiles and encourage your followers to do the same.
You can even host your own event and locally network, giving you more exposure and opportunities for getting your local content recognized.
It’s something we have done regularly:
5. Get Involved in the Community—and Show It Off!
One of the best things you can do is get involved with your community by providing extra services or making an effort to make your neighborhood a better place to live, shop, or work. Have your CEO volunteer spare time for a community improvement project and take pictures of the event. Then, write up a post detailing the nature of the event and why your company chose to get involved, including a quote from your CEO directly. It will improve your brand’s reputation in the community and simultaneously give you a launching point for locally optimized content. You can also make independent efforts to improve the community and blog about it, such as eliminating roadside litter or starting a new work program.
Local articles can typically be posted on your blog as long as they don’t interfere with your main content marketing line. Essentially, they are informational posts designed to cover a specific topic of interest within your city. For example, a bed and breakfast in Sacramento could cover “the best bed and breakfast locations in Sacramento” or something similar and list the ten most popular destinations in the area.
Of course, many entrepreneurs are reluctant to write such an article because they fear naming or acknowledging their competition. As a result, many papers are noted as sales pieces, briefly buying their competitors, then explaining how superior they are. Instead, focus on the informative quality of your work—showcase your advantages, but be honest and give each entry equal weight. You won’t gain much authority if your content skews too heavily toward yourself. Still, if you write the best informational piece on this topic on the web (which is possible, considering the limited competition in local search), you’ll stand to gain enormous traffic.
6. Attend a Local Event.
Get involved if there’s a fair, cook-off, concert, or local event. Send a handful of your company’s employees or representatives and attend. Set up a booth, walk around, take pictures, and talk to people. You can increase brand awareness onsite and use an event-specific hashtag to improve your visibility to others attending the same event. Then, when the event is over (or as a build-up to the event in question), you can create a blog post that details the event and acknowledges your company’s attendance. You’ll have ample opportunities to use location-specific keywords naturally, and you’ll build your company’s reputation as being involved and current in the community.
7. Newsjack Your Local News Sources.
This idea doesn’t require you to attend any specific event or get out of your seat! Keep a running list of all the primary news sources in your city and community, and check them daily to find out what’s happening in your neighborhood. Whenever you see a news article that catches your attention, please take advantage of it. Cover the event or news item on your blog—credit the source, reword the incident or happening in your own words, and express your opinion on the matter. Use local keywords. However, they are relevant to the story and open up the article for discussion at the end by encouraging your users to comment.
Press releases are one of the most powerful forms of content available, and if done right, they can be powerhouses for your local SEO campaign. When you draft a press release with local SEO in mind, make sure your topic is in line with the geographic specificity required of a local drive—while all press releases typically feature the city and state where the news is taking place, if your event is related to community development, you’ll stand to benefit that much more.
For example, let’s say your business is attending a major trade show in your area. You’ll be able to throw in as many geographic variations as you like in the body of the article, and they’ll all be ultimately in context. Plus, you’ll gain some peripheral traffic from people searching for the event’s official name.
With most press release distribution systems, you’ll be able to select geo-targeted publication outlets. If you’re not using such a system, it’s wise to manually focus on the publications within your city, county, and possibly your state. Getting external links from such sources will do wonders for your local optimization campaign—far more than just stuffing the name of your city into your meta tags.
8. Show Off Your Office and Employees.
Using your blog as a platform for your company is also possible. This way, your company blog becomes closer to a personal blog. It’s not a good idea to stick with this type of content all the time (or you run the risk of losing credibility), but as an occasional post, it can do wonders for your brand personality and your local SEO. Choose an employee and do a brief spotlight on him/her, highlighting his/her role in your organization. Or post pictures of your office and detail something significant that has changed there in the past few weeks. Whatever you do, you’ll have the opportunity to show off your personality and include local keywords.
9. Ask for Feedback From Your Community.
This short content post could be highly advantageous for your brand’s reputation. Request feedback if you’ve come out with a new product or are simply interested in how your company has been performing. Use a survey or ask for reviews in the comments of your blog, encouraging your users to let you know what their experience with your company has been like. You can even ask them to post video reviews or reviews on their sites, pointing back to yours. It will increase your perceived credibility, give you a chance to directly engage your local community, and even allow you to build some natural external links.
10. Answer Questions That Will Lead People to You.
Phrase your titles in a way mirroring the search queries of your customers. For example, if you own a hardware store in Atlanta, Georgia, you could write a blog entitled “What is the best hardware store in Atlanta?” You’ll have the opportunity to optimize for local keywords naturally and claim territory on some common (yet non-competitive) long-tail keyword phrases. Work these into the rotation and vary your subjects as much as possible to avoid over-optimization.
11. Cover Local-Specific Topics.
This angle will work for some companies but may not be relevant for everyone. Writing about local laws, ordinances, or other local-specific information that people need is valuable. For example, a law firm could easily cover dozens of topics on seldom acknowledged but frequently searched local ordinances such as “is it legal to _____ in Atlanta?” Or an electric supplier could post about local usage information. The key here is to provide local niche information based on your expertise.
12. Acknowledge Your Competitors.
You might be reluctant to mention your competitors by name, but in a content marketing strategy, you aren’t making a sales pitch: you’re providing objective information. For example, if you own a hardware store in Atlanta, you could write a post about the “biggest hardware stores in Atlanta.” Cover the advantages and disadvantages of your competitors in the body of the article, and at the end—throw your hat into the ring. Don’t make it a sales piece; provide accurate information to those searching for it.
In addition to writing posts and articles on your leading site, extending these potential subjects to your social media profiles is a good idea. Over time, you’ll build a loyal audience who will come to expect local updates from you, and you’ll make a reputation for being an active member of your community. It’s also a good idea to syndicate these posts on local forums or other community organizations to build natural backlinks pointing back to your site and get some extra attention for your effort.
13. Social Media Updates.
Your social updates will also significantly affect how search engines see your business. It’s not entirely clear which social signals trigger what conclusions in Google’s algorithm, but it is clear that posting frequency, audience size, and user engagement are all critical determining factors in calculating rank.
Take advantage of your social platforms whenever you do something specific to your community—such as attending a fair or having your employees volunteer for a local charity. Tag other local businesses in the body of your social posts, and of course, make sure those posts are optimized with local-specific tags and keywords. By getting other local companies involved with your social activities, you’ll establish yourself in a network of local companies, making it much easier for you to rank locally.
Interviews are great content in general, but mainly when performed in a local context. Find a local personality to interview—a politician, a business owner, or anyone else in some status position—and make a video or audio recording with an accompanying written transcript. The interview should catch the attention of local publications and local citizens. Your interviewee will likely link to and share the interview, doubling your potential audience.
Throughout your interview, include specific questions about your neighborhood or area in general—it’s a perfect opportunity to optimize your content for your geographic location and simultaneously build yourself as a leading authority in the community.
Just like traditional SEO, local SEO takes time. You can’t expect to implement these content types and see a drastic change overnight. In addition to writing and publishing locally optimized content, you must stay involved with your community by engaging in conversations on your social media pages and local directory profiles.
The more attention your business gets in the local community, the more you’ll show up in search results.
Like any content marketing or SEO campaign, this local SEO strategy will take time to develop. Eventually, you’ll find a pace and a range of subjects that work for your business, and you’ll enjoy the rewards as your reputation and influence begin to grow.