People search for local businesses every day. They use relevant keywords with specific location names to find businesses close to them. In fact, Google has found that 76% of smartphone local searches end up with a store visit.
If you want to bring people to your business, you need to try to attract local searchers. You need to get ahead of your competitors and make sure people find your business when they conduct a related local search. Which means you need to increase the visibility of your website in local search results.
That’s where local SEO enters the picture.
Apply What You Learn: Download Six Free Content + SEO Templates
Creating great content that ranks for local searches is a lot easier when you have the right tools. Put the advice in this post into practice with this Local SEO Content Template Bundle, which includes:
- Local SEO Bonus Guide to walk you through the basics of local search engine optimization.
- An on-page SEO checklist to make sure every piece of content you publish is properly optimized.
- An SEO Content Strategy Template to build a complete end-to-end content strategy with SEO at its core.
- A Latent Semantic Indexing Infographic explaining how secondary keywords impact SEO.
- A Guest Blogging Target Spreadsheet Template to store important details for local sites and publications in your area who might publish your content.
- An Email Pitch Template to help you write great guest blog post pitches that editors will want to read (so your local-optimized content will get published).
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What is Local SEO?
Local SEO is similar to organic search engine optimization, except that it focuses on improving a website’s ranking in local search results. Compared to traditional SEO, local search engine optimization can be much more challenging.
But if you want to promote your business to local customers, at the exact moment they're looking for your products or services, you need to improve your local search ranking.
How to Improve Your Local Search Ranking with Content Marketing
The good news is that you can improve your local search ranking by making a few changes to your existing content marketing strategy. This post will show you five ways to optimize your content marketing for local SEO.
1. Submit Guest Posts & Publish Content on Local Websites
Your current content marketing strategy probably already includes creating blog content for your website. Blogging is an excellent way to enrich your site, and engage visitors.
For both standard and local SEO, you need to branch out a bit and start publishing content on other websites. Guest posts can help you showcase your expertise, and earn valuable backlinks.
Extensive research conducted by Local SEO Guide found that link signals play a major role in local search ranking.
Guest blogging is one of the best ways to build local links, and market your content. It can also help you drive traffic to your site, and attract potential customers.
The challenging part is finding local websites that accept guest posts. To do so, you need to use a few keyword combinations – location name + website + write for us/guest post/submit a guest post. Replace “location name” with your city or state.
For example, let’s try to find Sacramento-based sites that accept guest posts. First, we will search for, “Sacramento website write for us.” As you can see in the screenshot below, there are several local websites that offer guest posting opportunities in Sacramento.
Next, search for your location + website + guest post. Then your location + website + submit a guest post. Also try different search terms for your location, if appropriate. Such as your region, county, or nearby cities. For example, if you are in San Jose, you could also try, "Palo Alto," "Silicon Valley," "Santa Clara," or "Cupertino."
Make a list of potential websites to write for in your target location. Then visit each site to check out their guest post guidelines, as well as the type of content they publish. Determine which sites cater to the kind of audience you’re targeting.
For example, let’s check out the first website from the earlier search results, Sacramento Press, to find out what type of content they publish.
As you can see in the screenshot above Sacramento Press publishes content related to “Things to Do,” “Food & Drink,” and “Spotlights” in the Sacramento area. This site may be a good place to submit a guest post about a local restaurant, attraction, or event.
In addition to guest posting, there are other ways you can earn valuable links from high authority local sites. Some websites provide backlinking opportunities to local businesses by creating a local resource list, or by highlighting local deals.
For example, let’s search for prominent Sacramento news websites by searching for, “Sacramento news.”
As you can see in the screenshot above, publications like The Sacramento Bee and KCRA Sacramento are among the top results. If you check out some of these publications, you might be able to find an opportunity to earn links to your site.
Let’s check out The Sacramento Bee for example. If you go through the website’s menu, you’ll find “Local Deals” towards the bottom. This suggests that the website gives local businesses the opportunity to list their deals, and earn links to their sites.
2. Find Relevant, Local Keywords
You already know the importance of keywords for search engine optimization. Keywords are crucial for local SEO as well, and should be used to enrich and optimize your content.
Whether you’re publishing a blog post on your site, rewriting your site content, or submitting a guest post; using the right keywords can help you attract local searchers.
The best keywords are those that are relevant to your business, and have high search volumes in your target location. Add your location keyword to those business-specific keywords, and use that combination to optimize your content.
In order to find the best keywords, you can use tools like the Google Keyword Planner. Before you use this tool, you will need to set up your AdWords account. Once your account is setup, go to the homepage, and click on “Tools” at the top of the page. Then select the “Keyword Planner,” as shown in the screenshot below.
When you get to the Keyword Planner page, select “Search for new keywords using a phrase, website or category.”
Then begin your keyword research using phrases related to your business. As shown in the screenshot below, you will see fields to enter a relevant phrase, your landing page, and your product category. You can also select your target location.
Let’s search for keywords related to, “car dealership,” and keep the target location as San Francisco. This will bring up a long list of potential keywords. The goal is to make a list of keywords with high average monthly searches, and low competition.
You can then combine them with your city/location, and use them to optimize your content for local search. For example, “car dealer in San Francisco,” or “San Francisco car dealer.”
3. Write Local Content
Now that you have a list of the best keywords to use, it’s time to infuse them into your website content for better local search ranking. It’s not enough to simply use these keywords in your page content.
Make the most of them by writing local content posts for your blog. You can compile local “Top 10,” and “Best Of” lists that are related to your industry or niche. Or you can write useful how-to articles or guides relevant to your industry, and target location. This will help you attract a relevant local audience.
For example, if you own a car dealership in San Francisco, you can write a list of the best cars to drive in San Francisco, or the best car washes in San Francisco. You could also write an article with tips for San Francisco car owners, with location-specific advice, such as traffic-related or maintenance-related tips.
Cowden Automotive, for example, writes useful car care and maintenance tips for local customers. Their service area includes San Francisco, Oakland, and San Mateo, as well as the surrounding areas.
As you can see in the screenshot below, they provide readers with tire care tips, and mentioned their service areas in the blog post.
4. Cross-Promote on Social Media Platforms
According to Statista, the number of worldwide social media users will increase from 2.34 billion in 2016 to 2.51 billion in 2017. With those kinds of numbers, it’s highly likely that many of your target consumers are already using social media.
If you’re not already doing so, it’s time to start promoting your blog posts and guest posts on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Social media can be a great way to engage your followers, and drive traffic to your website.
To further engage local audiences, and grow your follower base, join relevant local groups on social media platforms. Then share your location-specific content in those groups. You can also reach out to relevant, local Facebook pages for help promoting your content.
Let’s say you’re a restaurateur, or your business is related to the food industry, and you’re based in San Francisco. You can write a blog post that lists the best places to get fresh organic ingredients locally.
To find relevant groups and pages on Facebook, search for, “San Francisco food.” You can then sort the search results for “Pages” or “Groups.”
For public Facebook groups, all you have to do is join. For closed groups, you will have to ask to join, or be added by a member. For Facebook pages, you will need to contact the page owners, and request that they share your content.
To contact page owners, and admins for Facebook pages, go to their page. As shown in the screenshot below, you will see an option to “Message” the page. Send them a short, friendly message with a description of your content, and why you think it would be useful or interesting to their fans. Then politely ask them to share it on their page.
Similarly, you can also join relevant LinkedIn groups to promote your content. Just select “Groups” from the drop-down menu in the search bar, as shown in the screenshot below.
In the search bar, enter a relevant search term with the location name to specifically target local audiences.
Let’s say you’re a lawyer in San Francisco, and your firm represents businesses and corporations. You can write blog posts with useful tips and advice related to business law.
To find a LinkedIn group where local business owners network, use search terms like, “San Francisco business,” or “San Francisco entrepreneur.”
5. Participate In, and Write About, Local Activities
In the first point, we covered the important role backlinks from local websites play in your local search ranking. And you learned how to build your local link profile through guest posting.
Another way to earn local backlinks is to get involved in the community. Participate in local events, charity drives, or awards. You may be able to get a backlink from the official website of the organization or event.
If being a participant isn’t your cup of tea, you can also earn links by sponsoring local events, clubs, sports teams, and organizations. For example, the Sacramento Speakers Series has an entire page dedicated to their official sponsors, as shown in the screenshot below:
Your participation or sponsorship may be considered newsworthy by local publications, which means you could earn more links from local news sites.
Not only will getting involved in the community help you improve your local link profile, it can also help you build your brand’s reputation. According to Search Engine Journal, your real-world prominence can affect your local search rank as well.
Participating in a local event isn’t just great for earning backlinks or boosting your reputation. It also gives you an opportunity to enrich your blog with local content. You can write a post about the event, and your experience or involvement, and publish it on your blog. If possible, include photos and/or videos from the event in your post to optimize engagement.
Now, Optimize Your Content for Local Search
You’ve now learned some of the most effective ways to leverage your content marketing for local SEO.
The most important goal is to build backlinks from high-authority local websites and publications. Local links not only help drive traffic to your site and improve your page authority, they can also help you build a good brand reputation.
Another important goal is to enrich your website with high-quality local content to attract and engage a local audience.
Make sure that you optimize all of your website content, blog posts, and guest posts with location-specific keywords.
With the local SEO tips and strategies above, all that’s left to do is for you to get to work on boosting your local search ranking.
Which of these tips will you try out first? Do you have any additional advice for using content marketing for local SEO? Share your thoughts in the comments below. And if you have any questions related to local search ranking, or the local SEO tips above, feel free to ask them in the comments section, or to reach out to me personally.