Local Blogging & Marketing Tips

Local Blogging And Marketing Tips For Getting Found

This post is here to help local business and local bloggers get found within their local market. I’ve outlined a few simple local blogging and local marketing techniques and tools based on my own personal experience.

There are MANY other things local bloggers and businesses can do as far as SEO, content creation, and other inbound marketing solutions but, for this post, I want to keep it simple. My goal is to help you get started and perhaps we’ll take a deeper dive in followup posts. For now, here are some of the basics…

Blogging Posts -vs- Pages

Typically, blog posts should be a flow of content and pages are for important content that should always be just a click away, usually as a menu option.

Now I’m not referring to anything like a “sticky” blog post that you’ll want featured for a certain length of time, I’m talking about things like an “About Page” or “Contact Page“. You already knew that, didn’t you? I thought you might so lets move on to the bigger question…

Should Local Businesses Blog?

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post outlining when a business should NOT blog (When Brands Should NOT Start A Blog) and it all boils down to commitment. While a blog can almost always offer value to both the reader and your brand, it only works with consistent quality content.

So, the answer is blog if you can commit to consistent content that will help your customer (audience) but a “dead blog” can do more harm than good. Hey, that’s not the end of the world. You can always add a blog later, right? Absolutly! Especially if you build your website on WordPress to begin with.

Quick Story –

Exactly 10 years ago, I built and hosted a website for my daughter’s local (SE Michigan) house cleaning business. We’re talking June of 2005 so it shouldn’t be surprising that I used static HTML and CSS for the entire website. WordPress, after all, was just an infant at the time.

So it only took me ten years of blogging with WordPress to get around to updating my daughter’s website to WordPress. Why WordPress? While content management systems (CMS) have been around since the 90s, WordPress is by far the best – in my personal opinion.

In fact, W3Techs says,

WordPress is used by 60.4% of all the websites whose content management system we know. This is 24.0% of all websites.

I was super proud of building that website a decade ago, playing with html, CCS, and some pretty cool JavaScript at the time. Today it looked plain, was less secure, was difficult to update, and was seriously lacking of functionality. Now, WordPress gives it a new life in a World of possibilities – even though there’s no blog.

Clean Encounters Before and After

That’s right, millions of websites built on the WordPress platform have no blog. My daughter may decide to add a blog later, that is a simple task, but she doesn’t need to in order to benefit from the miracle of WordPress.

K, back on track…

 

Now that we understand the platform, let’s look at some of the differences we need to consider for a local blog as compared to a traditional blog that is designed for a wider audience.

On Page Optimization For Local Search Ranking

On Page Optimization, often called “on-page SEO“, is just a fancy way of saying, “put the best information on your pages/website for the best possible results in organic search results. In this case, organic local search results.

I’m not going to focus too much on this because the typical keyword placement and keyword density discussion is a little over saturated at this point.

Local Pack Listings

Local Pack listings

When we search Google for a product or service, since Google knows where we are, we’re often served with local search results even if we don’t include the location.

One way Google does this is with local search results in the form of Local Pack listings. Local Pack listings replaced the Google Carousel (That ugly dark frame or band above the SERPs) late last year (See: Goodbye Google Carousel, Hello Local Pack by Screen Pilot).

Google knows where most of your market is. They need to know where you are and what areas you serve. 

One of the easiest ways to get started with your local search optimization (local SEO) is to include your location, e.g. city and state, where it makes sense on each page or blog post. Include your location or the location you serve on:

✔ Page or post title (H1 heading – Only one instant per page or post – your title)
✔ Sub-headings (H2/3 tags)
✔ Content (keywords – not useless meta keywords)
✔ Image tags (alt text)

Mobile Responsive

You’ve experienced this before; you grab your smartphone and visit a local website and they haven’t figured out the importance of a responsive design. You feel your blood pressure rise a little when you realize you’re dealing with amateurs that don’t seem serious about a very important part of their business.

You have to continuously pinch and pan and then, BAM, a popup covers everything and the exit link is just out of reach. Stupid! Don’t be that company. Be sure your website design is completely responsive so mobile users have a great experience too.

Off Page Optimization For Local Search Ranking

The opposite of “On Page Optimization“, “Off Page Optimization” are things you can do to help influence off-site content to help your organic search results such as inbound links and reviews.

Recommended reading for this section: What is NAP Consistency? And why is it good for SEO? (St. Louis Digital Media, LLC – June 17, 2013)

Local Directories

Local companies have a nice opportunity when it comes to local business directories. There are far too many to list here but I will list some of the most popular. Most offer a free or basic listing.

✔ Yelp
✔ Yellow Pages
✔ Superpages
✔ DexKnows
✔ Yellowbook

Inbound Linking

Guest blogging and article publication has to be one of the fastest methods of building legitimate incoming links.

Before I go into either, however, I need to caution you of the many online scams lurking in the shadows disguised as SEO or marketing services waiting to rob you of your money and reputation.

As a general rule, I would highly recommend you avoid the following at all costs, at least until you have a little experience.

✔ Link building services
✔ Blog commenting plans
✔ Social media following/likes/etc.
✔ Paid inbound links
✔ Sponsored posts
✔ Third-party content providers

NOTE: There are legitimate services like content creators that will offer both quality and unique articles or social media management companies but they’re not cheap and often tough to find in the cesspool of scams out there.

Guest Posting – A while back Google’s Matt Cutts announced Guest Blogging was basically dead. Nonsense. Even Matt Cutts stepped back on that statement and re-named the post and added a little clarification.

I’m not trying to throw the baby out with the bath water. There are still many good reasons to do some guest blogging (exposure, branding, increased reach, community, etc.). Those reasons existed way before Google and they’ll continue into the future. And there are absolutely some fantastic, high-quality guest bloggers out there. I changed the title of this post to make it more clear that I’m talking about guest blogging for search engine optimization (SEO) purposes. ~ Matt Cutts

Legitimate guest blogging may or may not help your website as far as SEO but it can certainly work for traffic, reputation, and networking.

As an example, I’ll use my daughter’s local website again. As I mentioned, she probably won’t start a local blog on her website BUT she can still take advantage of guest blogging. Many website owners without blogs see the value of linking back to their sites from related content they create for others.

Getting started in guest blogging – Find other local businesses related to your niche or industry that run local blogs and ask to contribute. So, a house cleaning or local maid service might seek out local cleaning supply blogs, local education/college blogs, real-estate blogs, and any other blog with an audience of potential clients.

Every guest post should be high value content serving that reader in a non-promotional way. So my daughter might write a guest post on how to get tough stains out of carpet and offer that to a local blog interested in that content. Or perhaps she might write an article on effective strategy for getting family members to pick up after themselves.

At first glance, this type of content might seem like it would be cutting your own profit stream by “teaching” others how to live without your service but we need to get over that old school thinking. In today’s world of business, the one that is crushing almost every traditional business model, earning trust and influence while giving great value is the only path worth taking.

Each guest post or article should include a guest post author bio. Try to include a link to your website or blog and any other contact information that makes sense. You will, obviously, need to check each blog’s guest post guidelines.

Recommended reading for this section as well: What is NAP Consistency? And why is it good for SEO? (St. Louis Digital Media, LLC – June 17, 2013)

Articles – Almost everything I mentioned above for guest blogging applies to writing articles.

Many local print newspapers offer their content both in print and online and if you can write impressive articles for them, you’re probably going to get noticed.

Non Local – I’ve been mentioning local this and local that throughout this post but I wouldn’t recommend ignoring other opportunities with wider reach either. I mean, if my daughter can get published in popular parenting or family magazine or blog, that is certainly worth striving for.

Social Media

Social media seems like a no-brainer but MANY local websites don’t bother. I’ll be the first to admit that the social aspect of any business can be pretty demanding when it comes to time.

Facebook – Facebook is probably the most popular place for business promotion when it comes to social media. The problem, as many of us see it, with Facebook is the reach of a free business page has drastically decreased. If you’re willing to pay for exposure, and I’d certainly recommend looking into it, Facebook would be a fantastic place to start.

Twitter – Twitter is about as simple as it gets when it comes to social media. So simple, in fact, many people have a tough time understanding it at first. I recommend businesses have and use Twitter for a number of reasons but at the very least, to have a presence for social sharing and interaction.

In other words, when you’re tagged in a share, you want to be present to that or acknowledge the gesture. There’s much more to learn about Twitter – far too much for this post.

LinkedIn – LinkedIn is often looked at like the Facebook for business. The site is loaded with millions of business professionals.

Remember the “article publishing” tip above? LinkedIn is one platform worth looking into publishing on. Medium is another.

Google Plus – Google Plus is Google. The majority of online searches happen on Google and allow me to explain one simple way how Google Plus plays a huge role in those searches.

A Little Story –
I recently heard a friend mention he only had a few local Google Plus friends (in his circles) because he dropped those that weren’t active. In my opinion, this is a mistake. The more connections you have on Google, the more your Google Plus posts are going to be served up in related searches. This is because of Google’s “personalized search” feature.

Google Personalized Search (Filter bubble) is applied to all users of Google Search, whether logged into Google or not. If Google sees a connection between a searcher and your Google Plus page/profile, relevant G+ posts may display very high in the search results.

Think about it. If you’re a pet groomer in my local area and also connected with me on Google, your relevant posts may show up in my search results when I’m searching for that type of topic.

Pinterest – Some of the most shared content online is visual and Pinterest has mastered shared images. Pinterest is social but it’s really closer to a massive search engine for images. A business page on Pinterest is worth looking into. Images can be linked directly back to your website, blog, or any page within. Many websites find Pinterest one of their highest sources of social referral traffic.

Instagram – Instagram is like a cross between Pinterest and Twitter. It’s all visual but it’s tough to gain a lot of traffic from it initially. Many sites do very well with Instagram but it takes a little bit of practice and know-how.

Video

If video is a nice match for your brand, you have many options including YouTube (Of course), Facebook loves video, Vine, and now Periscope.

Just as any content, use video to connect with your audience by telling the story that they can relate to and identify with. We’re solving solutions here and video is a great place to prove it.

Wrapping Up

Those are just some of the basics when it comes to local business marketing to help get you started. I’ll probably post on more advanced local marketing tactics and resources like rich snippets/Google review summaries, consistent NAP, ratings/reviews, hyperlocal SEO, and paid advertising.

Related Articles Worth Checking Out:
The 2014 Local Search Ranking Factors (Moz – Oct 13, 2014)
Facebook Makes Retail Beacons Available for Free (Mike Blumenthal – June 9, 2015)
How to do SEO for Local Business, WITHOUT Content Marketing (Search Engine Watch – Mar 21, 2014)
Moz Local SEO (Moz – Various posts)
Get Your Business To 100% In Google My Business (Search Engine Land – June 23, 2014)

I hope this simple local blogging and marketing post helps get you started. While I write about online techniques and resources, I encourage you to recognize the value in local networking and partnering. Work with your vendors, customers, and supporting businesses to help one another. Identify your brand advocates and help them help you.

Don’t forget to subscribe and if you found this helpful, I’d appreciate you sharing it. Brian 🙂

 

About Brian Hawkins

Blogging superhero by day and internet super villain by night. Blogger, future online millionaire and all around great guy. Subscribe to our
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