Need Traffic from your local area?
If you have a business that serves the local community then you will no doubt have an interest in driving people to your website that are within your area. They are far more likely to be interested in your products and/or services and therefore considered valuable targeted traffic. One way to achieve this is with traditional paid advertising campaigns such as Google Ads. PPC networks like this allow you to target specific regions so that your ads are only shown to people located in (or interested in) that that area. But there are other ways to get that traffic.
If you have a website, Google My Business listing or even just a social media profile in some cases, then gearing your content towards your local market is a great way to drive more traffic from Google. With some smart (but not too difficult) local SEO work you could find yourself ranking for keywords in your local area.
This is precisely what we do at WDM when targeting local phrases. For example, 2 of our main services are web design and SEO. Although we have clients as far as the highlands we focus on local terms to get the most benefit from out location. If we target people looking for ‘SEO services in Suffolk‘ or even Bury St Edmunds we have a much greater chance of getting traffic from our local community.
But how can you gear your content towards local search and still stay on topic?
Emil Kristenen from Brightlocal has written a detailed article titled 12 content marketing tips to improve local SEO. The first 6 are shown below.
Content marketing presents a fantastic opportunity for local businesses to properly compete with their big brand competitors. With these tips from Emil Kristensen, on everything from ideation and implementation to setup and promotion, you’ll find creating content for local businesses a joy, not a struggle.
Run the site of a local business? Looking to grow SEO and bring in local customers?
You might not have considered it, but content marketing might actually be the missing piece in your promotion puzzle.
Many SEOs who working with local businesses overlook content marketing as a viable strategy, believing it’s only suitable for major brands with national or international reach, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
While these “big fish in a big pond” brands can do well with content marketing, the “small pond” of local search is usually easier to master and can mean big changes for your local business.
Today, you’ll learn exactly which types of topics will resonate well with your audience. Next, we’ll cover how to set up your content for SEO success and conclude with ways you can expand your reach around the web and grow your email list.
Let’s get started!
What to Write About for Local Content
We’ll begin with the biggest question most local SEO users ask: what can I write about for a local audience?
The answer may surprise you. There are thousands of topics your audience would love to hear about—as many, if not more, than you could write for a global brand.
Any topic of general interest can be tailored for your community. In addition, there are community-specific topics you can communicate to readers as well.
Here’s how to find a winner every time.
1. Follow What’s Hot in Your Area
The first and most flexible source is to use topics that are already popular in your area. You know they’ll succeed because they’ve already succeeded!
One of the best tools to use for this is Google Trends. If you’ve never used Google Trends before, it’s essentially a tool to track the popularity of search terms and topics.
But the beauty of Google Trends is that not only can you look up terms by time, you can also search for each region. This lets you see what your or your client’s specific local audience is interested in.
Let’s use a classic local business as an example: a florist
(You’ll notice “florist” as a search term and “Florist” as a topic are separate options. The first is a direct phrase typed into Google, and the second includes multiple phrases. Both can be useful, but we’ll use the topic in this example.)
Here, you can see the history of this term for the past 12 months. This is a great way to see trends you might not have thought of before. For example, you may know that Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day are busy times for florists.
But did you know those times get four times the number of searches than usual?
Now, let’s break down this data by location. In the upper-left corner, you can select a specific area. We’ll choose the US.
Now, we can find a state. Let’s use Texas for this example.
And finally, we can select a specific city or zone. We’ll use El Paso.
And now, we can see the popularity of “florist” searches just in the El Paso area. The graph is similar, but not identical, with smaller peaks throughout the year.
You can use this data to guide your content strategy. Noticing a dip in the summer, a florist might write a guide for creative Fourth of July decor in El Paso—including flowers, of course.
Another huge area for content ideas is the “related queries” box, below the graph. Here you’ll find similar searches from people in your area, which you can leverage to create some amazing pieces of content.
For example, if you offer pest control services in Colorado, a lot of the search queries are asking for reviews of local companies.
A content page reviewing the top pest control companies (including yours, of course!) would do quite well for local SEO.
2. Expand FAQs into Content Pieces
This is usually one of the simplest ways to create content, and it can be some of the best information readers are looking for. The technique is simple: expand FAQs into blogs, videos, or other content.
If you install inground pools, for example, you probably get the same questions over and over. What do they cost? What types are best? How long will they take to install?
Sure, you can answer this on an FAQ page (and might already have). But consumers are likely searching for these questions, and you could find new prospects by expanding a two-line answer to a full blog post.
Virginia-based River Pools does this perfectly, with an in-depth buying guide for inground pools.
They go all out, too—the guide includes multiple videos, a pricing calculator, an infographic, and even a downloadable PDF eBook.
3. Write up Customer Case Studies and Interviews
Another simple content type that can do very well is customer stories. If you already have testimonials on your site, flesh out the story with details and statistics proving your product’s success. (If you don’t have the data on hand, reach out to the customers again for a follow-up interview.)
As you write, remember a few pointers. First, find a unique angle that keeps it interesting. And second, make it about the customer. Yes, they used your product or service, but focus on how they achieved success.
The best case studies typically start off by introducing a likeable person or brand, present a challenge, show the solution, and wrap it up with the success he or she achieved.
As an example, here’s a case study from Facebook Ads for eCommerce retailer Netshoes.
They start by explaining Netshoes, providing the backstory, and building up the characters of the founders.
Next, they show the challenge—Netshoes wanted to increase conversions for Black Friday and beyond.
The solution was a creative campaign using Facebook Ads and memes.
Their campaign was a success—and Facebook has the data to prove it.
The best strategy to get this data is to conduct live interviews. This way, you’ll get a more natural conversation with interesting anecdotes and quotes. You can then trim the conversation down and pull out the best pieces to use in the case study.
Transcribing a lot of interviews can be tedious, though. If you just want a tool that will help you, check out oTranscribe. It won’t transcribe the audio automatically, but it makes manual transcription a much faster process with keyboard shortcuts and an intuitive interface.
4. Write About Local Events and Activities
One of the best solutions for local content is the most obvious: get involved in the community. Attend local events and activities, and write about them on your blog.
This is a strategy that requires consistency. As you get more involved in your area, you’ll become something of a local expert, and your pieces will have more weight.
5. Target Related but Non-Competitive Niches
At a certain point, you’ll hit a wall. It will feel like there’s nothing left to say about your topic!
If you’re struggling to think of something new to say, the answer might just be to expand your reach. One of the best ways to do this is with a related niche that doesn’t compete with you—also known as a shoulder niche.
A great tool for this is RelatedWords.org. It’s a simple site with lots of possibilities. You’ll get a huge selection of related concepts based on the words you type in.
For example, let’s try “beauty salon.”
In addition to synonyms like “beauty parlor,” you can find shoulder niches like personal stylists, lingerie shops, and art galleries.
You might not have thought of these before, but you can easily combine them into your content strategy—and attract a whole new audience.
For example, interview a local personal stylist for the best outfits to go with a retro hairstyle, or feature an “on the town” list of spas, cafes, or art galleries to explore after the perfect cut.
6. Explain What’s Unique About Your Area and Services
Chances are, you know more about your local area than the average resident—and certainly more than visitors or those who have just relocated. Use that expertise!
Explain what’s special about your area, and tie it into your services. For example, Kansas City HVAC company A.B. May published an article about the coldest cities in the U.S., a list that includes Kansas City.
It’s interesting, relevant to the HVAC industry, and puts Kansas City front and center.
Another way to directly target your local audience with content is by utilising your ‘Google My Business’ listing. We’ve talked a lot recently about GMB’s as it’s become a fantastic way to generate local traffic and is a big part of our own marketing strategy (we add a new post to our own GMB listing every working week day).
The way Google handles and prioritises GMB listings is a little different to traditional SEO and you do need to keep your finger on the pulse. We cover this in more detail in our GMB Ranking Guidelines. Just a few days ago (at the time of writing this) a display change was made that shows GMB post content within the result.
One of our favourite local SEO authors Jamie Pitman writes about it here…
Google Posts might have recently been relegated by Google to the bottom of the knowledge panel, but a discovery this week shows that this definitely doesn’t mean Google is dismissing this valuable element of Google My Business.
Across the Local SEO community, people have started seeing the truncated text of Google Posts in businesses’ Local Finder and Local 3-pack listings. Dave DiGregorio first spotted it in a search for ‘chicago foreclosure lawyer’ and from there it’s developed into a fascinating and ongoing thread over at Local Search Forum.
At first it seemed others were unable to replicate the appearance of Google Post information in the Local Finder, but soon Joy Hawkins discovered a raft of instances using BrightLocal’s screenshot feature of its Local Search Rank Checker tool. Others have since chimed in, seeing instances live and for several industries, including medical and law.
Can I influence what appears in the Local Pack?
Google uses the Local 3-pack and Local Finder to present the business information that most closely matches the search term or search intent, as well as critical details such as address (if applicable), opening hours, review rating and count, and contact info.
This is why there’s no hard and fast rule about what will appear in these already very crowded boxes. Google has the user in mind, and so it will show everything it can to prove that the business it’s listed in the top 3 has a right to be there, based on the search term. You can’t influence the extra elements that appear in the Local Pack but you can make sure your GMB strategy is broad enough to encompass everything from subjective attributes to Google Q&As.
Why is Google doing this?
While there has been the customary lack of official word from Google on this, I would assume that they are starting to use Google Posts as another way to recognize entity attributes and more easily surface relevant businesses for the search term.
Other entity recognition elements that we’ve seen appear in Local Finder results include:
Google Review content
Google My Business description
Categories and sub-categories
‘From the website’ (website-scraping)
Some potential entity recognition elements that we’ve seen in some places in which results are surfaced (e.g. the Google Maps app) but not yet the Local Finder include:
Google My Business Q&As
Subjective and objective attributes
With so many different sources of information vying for attention, instances in which Google Posts rise to the surface in the Local Finder and 3-pack could be resulting from some of the others having a little less weight in Google’s eyes or less relevance to the search term.
For instance, if a bridal outfitting business only has a few reviews, and none mention ‘bridesmaid’s dresses’, a reasonably recent Google Post talking about a new stock of bridesmaid’s dresses might be enough to push the listing into the 3-pack for a bridesmaid-related search term (perhaps provided there isn’t a great deal of info on this on the website, either).
One other theory I have, that was also touched upon in the thread resulting from Dave DiGregorio’s original tweet, is that wider use of Google Posts is part of Google’s post-Google+ plan*. If Google My Business is becoming more of a way for businesses to interact with their audiences (as seen with last year’s addition of a ‘follow’ button), there’s every chance this use of Google Posts in the 3-pack is an indicator of even bigger plans for GMB as a social network for business.
If you really want to see how your content can effect you local SEO positioning then here’s a great (just over 20 minute) video on how it works:
In short, if you’re not producing content for your business on a regular basis then you’re most likely losing customers. If you’re writing yourself then build some time in to your daily schedule. If you’re outsourcing then get on a regular content production schedule with your writer. You won’t see results immediately but in most cases your will start to see a benefit within 3-6 months.