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James Perrin

How Content Marketing Can Help Local SEO

27th Sep 2013 SEO, Content Marketing | No Comments


Locally MadeLocal SEO should be a major part of any brand’s online marketing arsenal, but did you know that Content Marketing can facilitate your efforts significantly? Here are some content marketing tips and ideas to help with your local SEO campaign.

With 40% of local searches having local intent (Google’s Mobile Search Moments Study) and 70% of customers preferring to get information about a company via content rather than adverts (Content+ 2013) this signals the importance of content marketing for local SEO.

Now, there are some fantastic blogs out there covering all you need to know about local SEO, and whilst this post is similar, it will cover more Content Marketing related tips. With this in mind, some key areas such as rich snippets and other more SEO related areas will not be covered. For more information on a complete guide to local SEO, check out Andy’s latest offering which he spoke about at #EdgeBristol [See: Mastering Local SEO – A Complete Guide].

Small Is Beautiful

For any small to medium sized business, local Content Marketing is much easier. Being smaller means you can be more flexible to engage with a local community a great deal more than larger businesses. This does not mean to say that larger sized companies can’t get their local on; they can, especially if they have a dedicated in-house digital team with local as part of their on-going strategy. For example, large businesses with multiple locations across the country should create a local presence for each of their locations. But for any small to medium sized business who thinks they can’t compete because of budget constraints, you just need to remember that you have a huge advantage – by being flexible.

Where To Start?

Use analytics to discover geographical and regional details on your visitors.

Location Breakdown

Visitor location data tells you where your visitors are coming from the most. This will also help you to identify where you may have a presence, but also where you have less local search traffic.

Then you need to find your local keywords to target. Keyword Planner allows you to do this and is additionally beneficial as localised terms will be less competitive than core terms.

Use Google Trends to find rising regional searches. In the example below I have used the term bicycles to show you not only where these are most searched for, but also what rising searches you can capitalise on and create content around.

Google Local Rising Searches

How To Get More Local Ideas

Make sure you’re on-top of your local news – subscribe to local media outlets or set up Google Alerts for local terms. This gives you insights to what’s happening in your area so you can react on the information quickly and create content surrounding that issue or topic.

Twitter is also an excellent tool for local information. Search for local organisations and keep up to date with their Tweets. Local Twitter chats can give you insights into the current local issues, and regional trending topics will also help to give you an idea of the types of content to create.

What are local businesses in your area talking about? Visit local forums and online groups on Google+ and LinkedIn. This could be extended offline as well such as by attending Chamber of Commerce meetings and events to get the views of local people. Meetup is a great way to find these.

meetup_logo

If you’re only able to find a broader issue relating to your industry or national issues, you can still use this to your advantage. Create a local angle by creating content around the issue, but from a local customer’s point of view.

For example, whilst many local high streets are currently feeling the effects of the recession, if your business still has a local presence why not create localised content reminding customers where you’re located, as well as other businesses around you; and if you still have a high street presence you may want to entice customers to your store by offering them an exclusive discount code only found on a particular piece of content.

So What Content Should You Have?

Once you have your keywords as well as your ideas, now you can think about the best type of content you need.

Locally optimised pages

Have you thought about location specific pages? Or perhaps you just want to target you home page with local terms? Whatever the case, be sure to add your local terms to your on-page copy. Ensure you add local modifiers to the following (it’s important these are natural and used sparingly, not stuffed):

  • Headers
  • Meta Titles
  • Meta Descriptions

It’s important if you do create pages for locations that they are unique and not just the same copy with the location changed. They should focus on what you offer in that area and your involvement in the local community.

Creating location specific pages takes us nicely onto landing pages for paid search campaigns.

Paid Search Landing Pages

For companies hoping to target an extensive range of keywords it is advisable to use PPC on some scale. Paid Search campaigns are a great way for your brand to appear for the terms you want in the SERPS, especially if they are local. This is something that any local business should be taking advantage of, especially as more people are searching on-the-go.

For more information on using AdWords for local SEO, check out Tara’s presentation write-up from this year’s Brighton SEO conference [See: AdWords Tactics for Local Businesses]; but how can we use this information to help with local Content Marketing? Well you just need to take it a step further.

If you’re bidding for localised words, ensure the user experience is entirely local by driving them to a localised landing page. Not only is this ideal to enhance their user-experience but a localised landing page can be optimise from an organic perspective to rank for local terms as well. This will not only further increase your visibility on page one, but also help to drive local traffic into converting thanks to the use of a locally optimised landing page. As well as standard landing page design tips, such as clear CTAs, clear benefits, fewer navigational options, some things to consider when creating such landing pages include:

  • Only use a local modifier in key areas (do not stuff this into every line)
  • Mention localised areas and events
  • Use dialect / regional vocabulary
  • Have iconic local images and colours, if appropriate
  • Use a localised offer in combination with another local business

To make your landing page even more effective you can also quote reviews:

Online Reviews

According to The Local Consumer Review (2012), 72% of those surveyed trusted online reviews as much as personal recommendations [Source: Brafton].

All brands should embrace online reviews. Whether you have a strategy offline to do this, or follow up purchases with an email asking for a review. One way could be to incentivise your audience or customers by asking for reviews. This could form part of your own strategy in itself. Create a microsite, or incorporate a review section where appropriate. Kia is a great example whereby they have utilised online user reviews to help sell their cars in their own showrooms [See: How Kia used consumer reviews online and offline].

Additionally, you should embrace negative reviews and constructive criticism. If all of your reviews are 5 stars, left by anonymous people, it would look incredibly spammy. Don’t be afraid to ask your customers to leave genuine reviews and always respond to negative ones in a timely and well-mannered fashion.

Google+ is a great place to ask for local reviews. Google+ Local is a way to link your social media profile to your very own local business listing. With this in mind it is also worth considering profiles on other sites social media profiles / apps.

Social Media / Local Listings

Be sure to claim your profile on as many social media sites and apps as possible. For example if you’re in the hospitality industry, it’s essential to be found whilst your customers are on-the-go. Integrate this into your own content marketing / social media campaigns, and consider using multiple channels (not just Facebook for example).

YelpLogo1

Some apps and profiles to claim:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • Foursquare
  • Yelp
  • Trip Advisor
  • Yell

On Google+ you can influence local search results by ensuring your circles are engaging and interacting with your brand. This will significantly help thanks to intiatives like Google Plus Your World – creating purely localised and personalised search results.

Testimonials

Having these from local businesses will only serve your local efforts well. Gone are the days of having a page scattered with links to local businesses for the sake of it. If you’re going to link out to a business, make sure there’s a reason and some context surrounding its inclusion. Testimonials are a great example here.

User Generated Content

Running competitions for local events and asking your audience to supply user generated content such as videos, pictures or blog posts is a great way for more local engagement. It’s worth considering that your competition is still in some way related to your industry and not too off-kilter. But by incorporating a local element you will reap the rewards of building your brand and engaging with local customers.

For example, why not run a competition whereby your customers can take pictures of one of products, or your brand logo in the most well-known local place? Alternatively you could run a blog post campaign asking your customers to tell you what they love about the local area so much. Ask for additional coverage with the local council or local organisations as well.

Sponsoring Local Events

This is actually another really good way to entice reviews, by giving away free products or services at local events to local people. Not only will this help to grow your brand at a local level, but you can also leverage your efforts by creating online content. This could be a preview and review of the local event itself, or as mentioned, a way of getting more local people talking about you online.

Local Mobile

This could be an entire blog post in itself – in fact Distilled have covered this in great detail quite recently, well worth checking out [See: Optimizing Your Local Presence for Mobile Search]; nevertheless, Local Content Marketing on mobile is something that must be leveraged. The main reason for this is user-experience. When you are on-the-go you want to ensure your experience is a quick and hassle free as possible. In this regard, ensure you’re doing the following:

  • Optimise location pages – to appear when local searches are made on mobile
  • Use local images and optimise these with local keywords
  • Claim local profiles and have a presence on local apps
  • Incorporate a responsive design

Next we need to measure how we got on.

Measure Your Efforts

To understand whether you’ve been successful or not you need to use the most appropriate metric to measure the success of your campaign. For example, when running a localised landing page, split test this against a national one and compare CTR and Conversions. Also check analytics to see if you’re getting more website traffic from your targeted regions. When it comes to social media related campaigns, be sure to check comments and interactions as well as data relating to localised habits and behaviour.

Naturally local SEO will increasingly turn to content marketing and social media regardless, but hopefully you’ll have some insight into what local Content Marketing is, and how you can use it for your own campaigns. If you’re running a local SEO campaign, don’t forget to create localised content to help your efforts.

Have you got an idea you’d like to share, or perhaps you’d like to discuss something further? Please leave a comment below.

Image Sources:

Locally Made Rubber Stamp via BigStock

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About the author

James Perrin

Content Marketing Manager, James Perrin is a regular contributor to the Koozai blog. Well experienced in sales and marketing, James also has a passion for journalism and media, especially new media. From the latest industry related new stories to copywriting advice, James will provide you with plenty of digital marketing information.

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