Google tells us that 97 percent of Americans use search to find local businesses, and we know 21 percent of big brands are dedicating up to one-quarter of their internet marketing budgets to local targeting this year. Whether you have a B2C storefront or you’re a B2B company trying to reach key audiences in different communities, it’s time to get serious about your online local marketing strategy – take it from this San Francisco searcher!
In the first part of Your Local SEO Blueprint, I covered tips on hitting the basics of local SEO: Determining the key local ranking factors, claiming all of your business listings and optimizing your site with street addresses. (Be sure to check out the Local SEO Blueprint: Part One if you missed it.) While those are essential to local SEO, you also have to consider how you can engage local audiences.
Just as content marketing is key to SEO, local content marketing can help fuel your local SEO. With the right targeting, your website content can naturally build your local search- and social-friendliness to boost your visibility among nearby searchers.
In Part Two of this local SEO series, we’ll go over to create targeted local content to influence nearby shoppers. Brafton’s Amy Ahrens and Katherine Griwert have created a related infographic to help you through the process.
Here’s how you can get started:
Step 1: Use Analytics to discover your key demographics
Use Google Analytics to discover regional details about your site visitors. By narrowing down the state and city results under the ‘Demographic’ section, you can easily view visitor location data to see where you have the biggest audience (and how you may need to redouble your efforts to gain a following in communities that aren’t fueling much traffic).
You can incorporate local keywords into your paid search and SEO strategy. Use trusty AdWords to help you out, and then add location to standard on-page optimization best practices – title, description, relevant image names, etc.You can even get hyper local, which will help you uncover lucrative keyword opportunities. For instance, you can narrow down results to view how many page views your site pulled in from Berkeley versus Marin, and target keywords accordingly to reach clients and prospects in those places.
Step 2: Find local keywords
If you’re using AdWords to shape keywords, be sure to pay attention to local search volumes around your core terms. You may discover some geo-modifiers that can help you prioritize your keyword list. Adding hyper-local modifiers is easy, but if you’re targeting a broader region, check out 5minutesite.com for simple, but thorough, location-based modifier suggestions.
Also, check out Google Insights for Search for detailed regional info about your targeted keywords. You can create specific geographic filters, and view data from years at a time through easy to read maps and graphs. The heatmaps give you a sense of where phrases are most commonly searched.
Use local keywords and landing pages to target paid search
I know we said this was a local SEO tool, but let’s sneak in a little paid search info – because that’s another way to boost your local visibility!
On top of adding local keywords to your PPC campaigns, you can update paid search campaigns with new targeting features. Google has a fairly new zip code targeting feature, which it has said marketers have used to more easily track ROI. (At ad:tech SF, Google cited the case of one business that successfully tracked its local PPC to learn that $1 spend corresponded to $5 in sales.)
And don’t forget – your locally targeted PPC campaigns should be supported by locally optimized landing pages!
Step 3: Create local-friendly content marketing
Once you have your local keywords and you’ve used them for the purposes of on-page optimization, also think about how you can build great content around them.
Visit local forums to see what prospects in your area are talking about or asking about the most. You can address their concerns with content that has broad reach, but still take advantage of your local keywords and leverage the fact that your brand knows this is on “local shoppers’ minds.”
Consult Twitter’s trending topics tab or Insights for search to measure rising social buzz and search activity around topics in different regions. And make sure you’re on top of local news. You can subscribe to community-focused media outlets, or set up Google Alerts that deliver relevant headlines right to your inbox. (You can learn about trending topics and ‘hot searches’ through Google Trends as well.)
When it comes to creating content around these topics, think outside the box: Create an infographic that combines your business offerings with local trends. Promote it with local audiences on social to catch more links and shares from the audiences you want to be visible to.
Finally, add rich snippets (information-rich microdata!) that disclose your location.
Another thing to consider: Cultivate reviews, testimonials and user-generated content
Reviews are huge in local search. The extent to which they impact a Google Places page’s rank is debated, but they certainly encourage click-throughs on Places and other business listing sites. In fact, foursquare’s Explore tool recently added more features that help users search through reviews to find businesses based on desired characteristics, like ambiance.
You can consider rewarding loyal fans for adding positive reviews and ask them to give authentic ones instead of anonymous ones (these might look spammy and you don’t want that held against you). And don’t live in fear of negative reviews – respond to them and use them to make your business better.
Step 4: Measure, modify, repeat
Do you see yourself getting more website traffic from the targeted regions after implementing these practices? (Check back in Google Analytics!) Are your keyword referrals from localized keywords rising over time?
How about foot traffic? Is it picking up? Where are customers saying they found you?
Brafton has reported that marketers expect local efforts to yield big returns. Yet, 58 percent have are not actively monitoring ROI for their localized content marketing efforts. It’s crucial to have an analytics and reporting process in place with local initiatives, as with any other content marketing campaign.
You have to update the keywords, the content types and the platforms you use to enhance local SEO on an ongoing basis. The local search market is evolving and growing and so should your strategy.