Whenever you produce content for online marketing purposes, you should have one question in mind – where are your customers? After all, the internet is a global platform, accessed by users all around the world.
Today, it’s just as important to know where your target audience are as it is to know who they are. Whether you have a small business or a larger company with several locations, you need to have a specific local content marketing strategy to address this.
Tailoring your content to a local audience enables customers to find you more easily and improves your ranking and visibility on search engines.
Most of us search for local information daily. Google favours local search results over national ones because of the way that we use their phones on the move, to search for information about traffic, directions, and (most relevantly) local businesses on our phones.
That means if you’re not creating or writing content with your local audience in mind, you are missing out on business. While content designed specifically for a local market may have a limited reach, it serves to generate stronger leads.
From targeted pages on your website to regular blog and social media content, here are some examples of things to do within your local marketing content strategy, and how they will help you to attract and maintain local customers.
Relevance and Visibility
In general, you should want to make your site and your content easy for your customers to find. If you want to achieve this on a local level, it’s a matter of being specific and relevant. You already know what your customers want, but you also need to know how they look for it.
Whatever business you’re in, keyword research is an essential component of your local marketing strategy. There are several free keyword research tools online – most notably, Googles Keyword Planner – which will enable you to look up commonly searched keywords in a specific location, in addition to associated data like traffic and competition.
Ideally, you are looking for keywords with a high level of interest and a low level of competition, but don’t worry if you’re in a competitive business. Once you’ve found your keywords, it’s more about how you use them.
Recent developments in search engines mean that we no longer need to painstakingly load our copy with keywords in order to make our sites more visible. Moreover, location data means that search results are localised automatically, meaning it’s crucial for copywriters to target places specifically.
One highly effective way of attracting local searchers is to create GEO-targeted landing pages. As part of a clear marketing strategy, you can feature a page which focuses on a specific location in your service area, thus distinguishing what you do and where you do it.
For instance, if you offer home renovation services throughout Essex, but specifically want to target clients who are looking for kitchen fitters in Romford, a GEO page for “Kitchen Renovations in Romford” will be more visible to these local searchers.
Or, rather than offering one specific service, a landing page might detail all of the services you provide in that area. A “Romford” page would detail all the services you offer in the area, not only attracting searchers but clarifying what’s available.
GEO pages are a great way to scale up visibility, but some sites exploit this tactic. Search engines have recently implemented new guidelines to prevent these content creators from funnelling browsers to their site, which is why it’s vital to create unique and valuable copy.
For instance, if you have pages for “Kitchen Renovations in Romford” and “Kitchen Renovations in Chelmsford”, these must be distinct from one another. They may use the same keywords, but it’s not a find-and-replace job between locations.
Search engines now recognise when pages have near-identical content. These pages will be flagged as unhelpful and delisted in search results, which defeats the object of creating GEO pages in the first place.
Here at Web.com UK, our copywriters create distinctive and professional content for targeted landing pages every day. Tailoring all information to your chosen areas, we ensure that your GEO page functions as a part of your site, rather than as an annexe or a funnel.
Coupled with good navigation, locally focused content will boost your site’s search rankings. As well as making you more visible to local searchers, it will encourage visitors to spend more time on your site, creating a stronger rate of conversion.
Once you have your site set up, you can continually add value to it by updating with regular content that appeals to local visitors. Not only will this boost your SEO and search rankings, but it also provides a useful opportunity to engage new and existing customers by developing your brand identity.
A major part of this identity is your own local knowledge. Perhaps you are in competition with a larger company, or a corporation operating on a national level. In these cases, your advantage is that you know your customers personally.
So, when you’re targeting local customers, use what you already know, and you’ll find that you learn even more as you go. It’s a handy way of personalising your brand identity, giving your visitors more of an idea of who you are and what your vision is.
Local Blog Posts
The simplest, most inexpensive way of adding content to your site on a regular basis is to start a local blog. Writers are often advised to write what they know, but when applied to your blog posts, this old maxim makes all the difference.
Blogging may not cost you anything, but that’s not to say it doesn’t have inherent value. Indeed, as an opportunity to engage with your potential customers, it should be a central part of your strategy.
In addition to reinforcing your brand in the community, creating posts that start a conversation will enable you to convert readers into followers, and then into customers.
Possible subjects for posts may range from an announcement about an upcoming event or special offer to a reaction to a relevant news story. Write about how these subjects affect your customers. As with your site pages, blogging is not about loading your copy with keywords as much as it is about speaking to your customers’ concerns and interests.
You can strengthen this connection by starting a conversation. Create a blog post that poses a question or call to action, inviting your readers to participate rather than merely receive. When you connect with your local audience, your online brand gets stronger, especially when your readers share your content on their own social media platforms.
Likes and Shares
Your local content marketing strategy is about connecting with your customers. When it comes to social media, it must be seen that people have more social connections than brands.
In order to get the most out of your social media marketing, you should aim to create shareable content that is relevant to your local connections. You shouldn’t rely on “going viral”, but instead provide value for local followers.
From sharing a link to your website or a blog post to uploading original videos and photos that relate to your business, your posts should be regular and purposeful and use your local keywords wherever possible.
That isn’t to say posts should always be promotional. Engaging your audience in a thoughtful and responsive way is a far more effective method of reaching new customers than bombarding them with adverts.
For instance, it’s especially common for restaurants to give away free meals to a random user who likes, comments, and/or shares the competition post on their feed. If this is taken up by a decent number of followers, this results in massive exposure, engaging users on multiple levels. Competition and discount posts don’t suit everyone, but they make a perfect example of the kind of response you want.
Put simply, links and shares on other locally focused sites and social media platforms will boost the visibility of these posts, your site, and your business. Whatever you choose to do in order to harness social media, creating popular posts will increase your link equity and drive more conversions.
Social Media Advertising
Many platforms like Facebook and Twitter now sell advertising to businesses. As has been noted in recent years, these sites have introduced algorithms that affect how much organic traffic businesses can receive, which means their marketing plans can get expensive quickly.
Happily, if you do choose to invest in advertising, a little research goes a long way. For instance, Facebook’s marketing analytics system will show you users who have seen and engaged with your content. This enables you to re-target certain users who may be potential customers, rather than sinking lots of money into less specific campaigns.
The same applies if you’re more interested in organic views. Once again, it’s a matter of making sure your content is relevant so that it will garner conversions when it is visible. Hashtags are a great way of achieving this when used correctly.
It’s helpful to research which hashtags are currently gaining traction locally and write relevant posts accordingly, but when you’re targeting a more specific area, you’ll be able to make up your own too. Fostering conversation under a distinctive hashtag is a great way to grow your visibility without splashing out on boosting or promoting your posts.
Like your blog, your social media presence shows that you are open and accessible, and therefore, more trustworthy. Only you know whether your audience will appreciate content that is fun or content that is informative, but this approach will enable you to experiment with different types of post and find out more.
Getting Good Reviews
Customers won’t always type “best” in front of their search terms, but it’s implied that they’re looking for the best solution for their needs. Just think about how often you have looked up online reviews as a customer, before deciding to use a product or service.
From cafés to construction companies, all businesses can benefit from a public thumbs-up from a satisfied customer. Nowadays, sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and even Google Maps aggregate reviews and feedback from your customers for easy browsing.
On a local level, you should encourage your customers to review your services, whether on your site and social media platforms or on a relevant aggregator site like those mentioned above.
If you respond correctly, even negative reviews can be used to support your online brand. If it’s fair criticism and you can verify that it’s not malicious or inaccurate, then take steps to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
Find out why the customer had a bad experience, deal with any problems that emerge, and wherever possible, write a polite reply that addresses both the reviewer’s concerns and reassures them and any other readers that it won’t happen again.
In the main, reviews provide you with an incentive to ensure that every customer is satisfied. If you’re careful to observe this, then the majority of your reviews should be positive, and you should be confident in encouraging your customers to contribute them.
Above all else, there’s no better way to counter the odd negative review than to gain a wide range of positive feedback from the local community. If your customers are happy with your products or services, your increased profile is just a bonus.
As well as courting customers for reviews, you should seek recommendations from those who hold influence both locally and in the online community. This can range from other authoritative figures and businesses in the community, to locals with a large number of followers.
Popular platforms such as YouTube and Instagram have boosted “influencers” to where they can make a living from recommending brands to their followers. But as you’re unlikely to pay for a celebrity endorsement for your local business, there are plenty of other ways to use this approach.
In local terms, an influencer can be anyone from a fellow business owner to a customer who has lots of social connections. Like any customer, if they have a good experience with you, they may well already be inclined to recommend you to their followers.
Whether they want to make a video or write a whole blog post for you, working with influencers enables you to reach a wider audience. Furthermore, their posts will not get flagged by ad-blocking applications, allowing you to reach a large base of browsers who have a common interest without investing cash in blanket marketing campaigns.
Refine and Repeat
To conclude, you know your local audience better than most. If you aim to maximise conversions with your local content marketing strategy, you must be prepared to refine and repeat your tactics based on what else you learn.
In all the examples we’ve discussed, local content marketing is a reciprocal process in which you should aim to engage visitors rather than merely inform or market to them. With your local knowledge and interests, you provide a familiar frame of reference that your customers will find reassuring.
Goals, analytics, and key performance indicators are all pivotal markers of your success, but in the real, customer-facing sense, your local identity is what should come through in all of your content.
By investing time and money in creating specifically targeted content, you’ll enhance the value of your online presence and reassure all your customers that yours is the local business that they need.