By Jessy Troy
Local businesses have a bit of a reputation for having awful blogs. It isn’t surprising; local companies tend to be brick and mortar, and the ever changing world of online marketing can be difficult to keep up with, even for experts. Local businesses are used to promoting on a more traditional level.
But blogging offers a cost efficient, simple and effective means of reaching your target audience. Having a good content strategy in place means getting more for less, and competing with those local companies that have managed to figure out a good social angle.
Here are some ways that local businesses can run their company like pros.
Remember That SEO Counts, But Has To Be Modified For Location
Search engine optimization has moved leaps and bounds since the days of keyword stuffing and page spamming. Google’s shifting algorithm has made the rules a lot harder to follow, but thankfully taken some of the power from shady practices that rewarded bad, or even stolen, content.
When scaling for local content, you have to remember that location is going to be your best friend. Your industry is probably vast, so you can’t compete based on those keywords alone. But add your city and you have a much smaller pool.
For example, “Thai restaurant” is going to generate way too many leads, and Google will narrow it for the user, but maybe not narrowed enough. But “Thai restaurant San Francisco” is much better. “Thai restaurant San Francisco Hyde Street” is another one you could use, or your area code.
Not only will this narrow results, but it is what people are more likely to search for.
Make sure you submit your blog to high-quality local directories like this one. This helps you get found!
Being hosted locally increases search visibility dramatically. Here’s the list of hosting providers where you can use country filters to search. Handy!
Integrate With Social, Then Target Based On Geolocation Stats
You can integrate your blog with social networking, and start taking advantage of ads. Then use those pages to target people as they come into your area. It is one of the many benefits of mobile social use, such as through Facebook apps.
In fact, Facebook has a whole host of ways to market as a local business. Check out their page on Local Awareness Ads for more information.
Write About What People In Your Area Care About
Most of your blog’s success is going to come down to the content. While you can offer general information about your industry, including helpful how-to’s, people can get these anywhere on the web. You should be trying to exploit the fact that you are local, and so have a local touch to your business.
Write about things you know your community cares about. Follow a tone that is appropriate for the customers you know you will be looking to speak to. Are these people with large families. Young professional couples? Singles?
Advertise Your Blog On Local Media
You can make people aware of your blog by talking about it on local media. Many local news shows, radio stations, newsletters and newspapers will do features of local businesses. You can casually mention during one of these spots that you have a blog people can go to for whatever information you provide.
Of course, this should not be the primary message behind a media spot. But it is a nice aside that could help create a loyal reader base.
Find Other Blogs With A Following Locally, Then Guest Post
Are there other blogs that are locally based and get a decent amount of visitors? They might be a good place to go to look for a guest spot! Contact the blog owners and pitch a post that you think would be valuable to their readers. Tell the who you are and offer to put a link to their blog on your website.
Connections like this can be very helpful for both parties. Not to mention a good chance to begin networking offline with others in your area.
Ask Local Experts For Interviews, Advice, and Quotes
There is a local blog in my city that has an attorney on every two weeks to write a blog post answering people’s questions about accident claims and issues. The company in question is an auto shop that specializes in fixing accident damage.
Notice how they managed to expand out of their direct industry topic, while remaining relevant, and in a way that is much more helpful to their customers. After all, people are going to them to fix their car, so blog posts teaching how to do anything more than basic maintenance would be pointless. But they know their customers would be facing legal claims, and so offer help that way.
It is an ingenious idea we can all take note of.
Blog About Local Events
What local events are coming to your area? Find out, build hype, attend, and then blog about it. Write a big post showing pictures taken, telling stories, and thanking people for attending. Run a contest in the lead up to get customer participations. Set up a booth with gifts, or interactive party activities.
You can even microblog live, using the event hashtag on Twitter. This is a great way to piggy back off the popularity of, say, a festival.
Tell Local Stories
You have an entire community of people who you can introduce on your blog! Tell the stories of those around you. Do interviews, and find out the interesting details about people’s lives. Do spotlights, and show your appreciation for the people in your area that make your city a great place to live.
Small, local businesses can really get away with this tactic in a way corporations can’t. Imagine for a second that Walmart releases a campaign talking about an old woman who has saved money and lives off of her small pension shopping at Walmart. Seems exploitive, and possibly a fake story by an actor, right?
Now imagine that same situation, but on the blog of a small, local shop. The impact is much greater there, more genuine.
Take Your Local Business Blogging Level To ‘Expert’
Blogging is a great way for local businesses to get into the online marketing game. Do you have any tips? Let us know in the comments!