It’s time to explore your neighbourhood. Going local is the latest trend in search engine optimisation strategy, but that’s not to say it’s a passing fad. Think about it: have you ever googled a restaurant, pub or shop to find one near you? If you did, you probably typed something like: ‘cocktail bar near me’. This kind of ‘near me’ search, or ‘micro moment’, is on the rise, growing 2X in 2015 alone.
And with nearly two-thirds of smartphone users more likely to purchase from companies with mobile sites that customise information to their location, local SEO emerges a fantastic way to reach more customers by offering them relevant content and, through a well executed local search campaign, ensure your web pages enjoy good visibility online. Our guide to local content strategy offers a series of tips for getting it right.
5 steps to setting up a local content strategy
1. Begin with search
You will no doubt already have a fully fledged SEO campaign and a list of keywords you need to target through your content. But these are likely to be overarching and general. For example, ‘cheap laptops’ would be a highly competitive keyword that would be difficult to rank for. To reduce the level of competition and target your market more effectively, you need to localise your keywords.
If you have a chain of laptop stores in Idaho, keyword chains like ‘laptop repair Idaho’ and ‘cheap laptops Idaho’ will be simple to implement and much easier to be visible for. A free tool like Google’s Keyword Planner is an excellent place to gain local SEO insights.
2. Figure out your audience
If you don’t understand your local audience then you’ll struggle to create content that’s relevant to them. There are a host of tools out there to give you insight into the makeup of your local customers - everything from their age, to their marital status, to how much money they earn. To start, take a look at platforms like Think With Google (customer insights and data) and Google Analytics (find out your audience’s age, gender, geographic location and more).
You can then build a set of audience personas - two or three profiles that really nail down who you customers are and what makes them tick. You’re then in a strong position to create relevant local content that they’ll actually want to read. Which leads us to our next point...
3. What does local content look like?
Broadly speaking, there are two types of local content:
- On-site local content - like landing pages;
- Off-site content - like interesting articles, images, content published on third-party websites and entertaining social posts.
You should definitely invest in on-site local content if you haven’t already. Let’s say you manage a chain of hotels. Setting up bespoke landing pages for each of the hotel locations and making good use of local SEO services is a win-win.
Populate each one with practical, useful information - such as when the hotel is open, what time customers can check in, where they can park and how they can contact you. And fill it with rich local content too - like local imagery and tips for things to see and do in the area.
Off-site content marketing is also a must. The key to coming up with good ideas for this type of local content is to really get to know your audience and the area they live in. For example:
- What do the locals know but no-one else does?
- What gets everyone’s backs up around town?
- What are they proud of?
- Where are the hidden gems?
Doing your research will give you a rich stream of local content ideas you can execute.
4. Connect with your community
Another type of local content is PR-related. Getting coverage like a mention in a local newspaper or a write-up on a community forum is another valuable content stream. As well as the potential for a backlink, or external link, pointing to your website (which Google values), it will also result in some old-fashioned traditional PR and word of mouth. Do your research and draw up a list of the main media outlets, broadcasters, websites, forums etc that focus on each local area, then get in touch to see if you can work together.
5. Encourage and respond to local feedback
Sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor are excellent listing resources. They function as online directories and help customers find restaurants, pubs, services and much more. But they are also a place where reputations can be built and destroyed.
TripAdvisor, in particular, has made the management of online reviews extremely important. As a brand, you must monitor and respond to feedback - whether it’s good, bad or indifferent. This helps you work out what you’re doing well and what you’re struggling with, but it also shows the local community that you’re listening and responsive.
With the marketplace more crowded than ever and with 82 per cent of smartphone users using search to find a local business, local SEO is emerging as a new way to stand out online and get all your local services the visibility they deserve. If you haven’t yet embarked on a local content strategy, now is the time.
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