Local SEO is a frequently overlooked strategy for many businesses due to a misconception that it can only be useful for small, mom-and-pop style local businesses. In reality, local SEO is significant for practically any business with a physical location, and it’s becoming more important to get involved with it. The strategy is relatively easy and straightforward to adopt—especially if you’re already familiar with the basics of national SEO—so there’s no reason why you shouldn’t start immediately if you haven’t already.
Local SEO is just like traditional, national SEO, except your focus shifts to optimizing your site for local-specific keywords. For example, if you operate a café in Sacramento, you would focus on optimizing for search terms related to California, Sacramento, or other neighborhood-specific terms. This is advantageous for a number of reasons, each of which has heightened in importance over the past few years:
With that understanding, there are five types of content you’ll need in order to rank for your local keywords effectively:
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 campaign—while all press releases typically feature the city and state where the news is taking place, if your event is related to a 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 completely in context. Plus, you’ll stand to gain some peripheral traffic from people searching for the official name of the event.
With most press release distribution systems, you’ll have the ability 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.
These types of articles can typically be posted on your blog, as long as they don’t interfere with your main line of content marketing. 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 out the 10 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 articles are clearly written as sales pieces, briefly acknowledging their competitors, then explaining how clearly superior they are. Instead, focus on the informative quality of your piece—showcase your own advantages, but be honest and give each entry equal weight. If your content skews too heavily toward yourself, you won’t gain much authority, but 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.
Your social updates are also going to play a heavy role in how your business is seen by search engines. 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 important 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 businesses involved with your social activities, you’ll establish yourself in a network of local businesses, and it will be that much easier for you to rank locally.
Local forums can be hard to find at times, but they’re definitely out there. You may not be able to find a geographically relevant forum in your specific industry, but you’ll easily be able to find general forums about the state of your town or the progress of your community.
Get involved on these forums as much as possible, making posts of your own and engaging with your fellow citizens. Not only with the external links and frequent brand mentions establish you as a greater local authority in the eyes of Google, you’ll also stand to gain additional traffic from locals who have grown to respect you as a contributor. Just be sure your posts remain focused on bringing value to the community rather than solely increasing your rank.
Interviews are great pieces of content in general, but especially when performed in a local context. Find a local personality to interview—it could be a politician, a business owner, or anyone else in some kind of position of status—and make a video or audio recording with an accompanying written transcript. The interview should catch the attention of local publications and local citizens. Plus, your interviewee will likely link to and share the interview, thereby doubling your potential audience.
Throughout your interview, be sure to include specific questions about your neighborhood or area in general—it’s a perfect opportunity to optimize your content for your geographic area 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, it’s important to 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.