Writing for local optimization is a different animal. In addition to providing the same level of detail to the same target demographics, you also have to find a way to naturally include local-specific keywords into the body of your articles. It’s a tough line to walk, since any indication of over-optimization could potentially turn off your visitors and invoke the wrath of a Google penalty. At the same time, if you don’t write locally optimized content, you could leave yourself to the mercy of your competitors.
Instead of trying to jam local keywords, like your city or local neighborhood, into your traditional content strategy, it’s better to generate topic ideas purely for a local audience. This might seem tough, especially if you aren’t used to writing locally optimized content, but if you break it down into different categories, you should have no trouble coming up with a sizeable list of potential subjects to explore.
One of the best things you can do is get involved with your community by providing extra services or making an effort to make your neighborhood a better place to live, shop, or work. Have your CEO volunteer some extra time to a community improvement project, and take pictures of the event. Then, write up a post detailing the nature of the event and why your company chose to get involved, including a quote from your CEO directly. It will improve your brand’s reputation in the community and simultaneously give you a launching point for locally optimized content. You can also take independent efforts to improve the community and blog about it, such as eliminating roadside litter or starting a new work program.
If there’s a fair, cook-off, concert, or other local happening, get involved. Send a handful of your company’s employees or representatives and attend. Set up a booth or just walk around and take pictures and talk to people. You can increase brand awareness onsite, and use an event-specific hashtag to improve your visibility to others who are attending the same event. Then, when the event is over (or as a build-up to the event in question), you can create a blog post that details the event and acknowledges your company’s attendance. You’ll have ample opportunities to naturally use location-specific keywords, and you’ll build your company’s reputation as being involved and current in the community.
This idea doesn’t require you to attend any specific event—or even get out of your seat! Keep a running list of all the major news sources in your city and community, and check them daily to find out what’s happening in your neighborhood. Whenever you see a news article that catches your attention, take advantage of it. Cover the event or news item on your own blog—credit the original source, but reword the incident or happening in your own words, and express your own opinion on the matter. Use local keywords however they are relevant to the story, and open up the article for discussion at the end by encouraging your users to comment.
It’s also possible to use your blog as a platform for your company. In this way, your company blog becomes something a little closer to a personal blog. It’s not a good idea to stick with this type of content all the time (or you run the risk of losing credibility), but as an occasional post, it can do wonders for your brand personality and your local SEO. Choose an employee and do a brief spotlight on him/her, highlighting his/her role in your organization. Or post pictures of your office and detail something significant that has changed there in the past few weeks. Whatever you do, you’ll have the opportunity to show off your personality and include local keywords.
This short content post could be highly advantageous for your brand’s reputation. If you’ve come out with a new product, or if you’re simply interested in how your company has been performing, push a request for feedback. Use a survey or ask for reviews in the comments of your blog, encouraging your users to let you know what their experience with your company has been like. You can even ask them to post video reviews or post reviews on their own sites, pointing back to yours. It will increase your perceived credibility, give you a chance to directly engage your local community, and even give you a chance to build some natural external links.
Phrase your titles in a way mirroring the search queries of your customers. For example, if you own a hardware store in Atlanta, Georgia, you could write a blog entitled “What is the best hardware store in Atlanta?” You’ll have the opportunity to optimize for local keywords in a natural way, and you’ll claim territory on some common (yet non-competitive) long-tail keyword phrases. Work these into rotation, and vary your subjects as much as possible to avoid over-optimization.
This angle will work for some companies, but may not be relevant for everyone. It’s valuable to write about local laws, ordinances, or other local-specific information that people need. For example, a law firm could easily cover dozens of topics on seldom-acknowledged but frequently searched local ordinances such as “is it legal to _____ in Atlanta?” Or, an electric supplier could post about local usage information. The key here is to provide niche local information based on your field of expertise.
You might be reluctant to mention your competitors by name, but in a content marketing strategy, you aren’t making a sales pitch: you’re providing objective information. For example, if you own a hardware store in Atlanta, you could write a post about the “biggest hardware stores in Atlanta.” Cover the advantages and disadvantages of your competitors in the body of the article, and at the end—throw your own hat into the ring. Don’t make it a sales piece; just provide the real information to the people who are searching for it.
In addition to writing posts and articles on your main site, it’s a good idea to extend these potential subjects to your social media profiles. Over time, you’ll build a loyal audience who will come to expect local updates from you, and you’ll build a reputation of being an active member of your community. It’s also a good idea to syndicate these posts on local forums or other community organizations, in order to build natural backlinks pointing back to your site and get some extra attention for your effort.
Like with any content marketing or SEO campaign, this local SEO strategy will take time to develop. Eventually, you’ll find a pace and a range of subjects that work for your business, and you’ll enjoy the rewards as your reputation and your influence begin to grow. If you need some help getting started in your local SEO campaign, be sure to check out our resource center, or contact us to see how we can help!