If you run a small business and you’re exhausted from trying to compete with your national, big-business competitors in search engine rankings, there’s no better sanctuary than local SEO. Local SEO functions on a different algorithm from national results, identifying local queries based on context and user location to bring users the top three local results “above the fold” of traditional search engine results page (SERP) entries.
Put simply, practicing local SEO can help you get an edge over the national competition by reducing competition to only your own geographic locality. To do this, you’ll need to accomplish a number of things, including establishing “local citations” across the web, updating your site to reflect your current address and location, and of course, earning more and better reviews on third-party directories.
But in addition to those things, you’ll need a strong content marketing strategy (as with any SEO campaign), and for a bit of extra local relevance, you’ll need local-specific content on your website.
How “Local” Should Local Content Be?
There are a handful of goals to meet with local content:
· Local keyword optimization. First, including more local keywords (such as the name of your city, state, or region) could solidify Google’s understanding of your business’s relevance for its location and help you rank for a broader range of keyword queries.
· Long-tail rankings. You could also use locally relevant content to rank higher in searches below the fold of the local 3-pack. These would include posts like “The X Best Restaurants in Denver.”
· Local relevance. Finally, you can use local content to improve the loyalty and recognition of residents who already know you, serving as a peripheral means of increasing your reputation, reach and reviews.
To meet all these goals, your content should focus in some way on the region in which you operate, but there’s flexibility in how you can accomplish this.
What Not to Do
It’s easier to explain what not to do with local content. Even though it’s important to include keywords relevant to your geographic location, you can’t just shoehorn keywords into your content and expect to see good results. For example, writing a post titled, “How to Buy a Bike Orlando Florida” will not only alienate your users, but likely not do any good from an SEO perspective, either.
Instead, make sure your keywords fit naturally and are relevant to the content you’re producing.
At this point, you may be confused about what could qualify as “locally relevant” content, or be short on ideas of how to produce this content consistently. That’s why I’ve come up with this list to inspire your brainstorming process:
· Local events. Your first option is to take advantage of local events — and of course, there are multiple ways to do this. As an easy start, you could use a newsjacking strategy to simply report on the news that a local event exists, and help to promote it. Doing this helps show your commitment to the local population, and your involvement in the community, but you can go a step further by actually getting involved in the event itself. You could sponsor the event, set up a tent, or have one of your team members attend a seminar and report on it. The more immersed you are in the event, the better it will look — and you might even get multiple posts out of it (reporting on the upcoming event, then doing a retrospective on it).
· Company announcements. You could also use company announcements as a way to create local content, especially if this is your headquarters or your only location in operation. Ideally, you’d frame this as a press release, announcing the introduction of a new product or new service, or reaching some milestone. When you do this, frame it in the context of how it improves the community — does this create more economic opportunities for the area? Does this improve the quality of life for your neighbors? You could also host your own local event, such as a workshop or a “family fun night,” depending on the nature of your business.
· Location-specific specials. You could also use posts to advertise local specials, which is helpful if you’re running a chain with multiple different locations. Here, you can use a local keyword set to explain what that particular location is doing differently, and incentivize people to attend. Be careful to keep this informative, rather than advertising, if you want to keep your strategy in the realm of content marketing.
· Business comparisons. You could also use business comparison content to attract more local visitors to your site. These are comparative posts that examine multiple competing businesses in a given industry (including yours), such as the “best sandwich shops in Orlando.” Don’t be overtly promotional when describing your own business or you’ll turn people away. Instead, be as objective as possible. These posts are extremely popular for local residents trying to make a purchasing decision, so don’t miss this opportunity to appeal to them.
· Local considerations. Finally, you could use local news and considerations to make minor posts that captivate the interest of your local residents. For example, are there major problems with traffic, some unusual weather, or new construction that you can talk about? Again, frame it in a way that’s relevant to your local readers.
Local content is important for local SEO, but don’t get carried away. It’s not the only factor for determining your presence or position within the local 3-pack, and it certainly shouldn’t be the exclusive focus of your content strategy.
Depending on your goals and how frequently you produce new content, local-specific content should probably represent less than half of your overall blog posts — and make sure to diversify the keywords and phrases you’re using.