Local internet marketing is a dirty business, especially if you’re in a competitive niche. Many local companies do everything right – practice good organic SEO, have a well-organized and optimized Google Place page, have updated profiles on Yahoo, Yelp, YP, Foursquare, etc. And yet…these same local businesses don’t rank well for local keywords.
So what’s going wrong?
If you’re a local business trying to maneuver this landscape, you’re probably fed up. If you take your website to 10 different SEO professionals, you’ll probably get 10 different suggested solutions from improving your local rankings. The process is enough to make you want to pack up your toys and head out of the Google sandbox, right back into print and broadcast advertising.
But before you throw in the towel on local internet marketing, there is one way that you can improve your local SEO, and it’s a concept that even the most SEO-illiterate people can understand.
This doesn’t mean you should start a blog that talks about your personal life or your feelings or only announces new products or services. We’re talking a real blog. One that is located right on your company website. A blog that gets updated regularly with useful information that your customers and website visitors can use. A blog that can establish you as a resource and thought leader in your industry. And one that helps you to achieve and maintain rankings and traffic.
I’ve Tried Blogging Before. It Didn’t Work.
Lots of local businesses have tried blogging. And lots of local businesses failed at blogging. If you have tried blogging in the past and it didn’t help you, there’s a reason.
Answer the following questions:
- Were you blogging with SEO in mind?
- Were you blogging to answer your customers’ questions and solve their problems?
- Were you blogging at least once per week?
- Did you give blogging at least a year’s worth of serious effort?
If you can’t answer yes to these questions, it’s no wonder your blogging efforts didn’t work. In order to a blog to be useful and effective it has to provide visitors with useful and effective information. It has to be consistent. And you have to give it time to work.
Why Targeted Blogging is Useful
Traditional local internet marketing efforts for businesses don’t work because everyone is doing the exact same thing. Everyone in your niche is listing the exact same keywords on their Google Places pages. Everyone is optimizing their hope page for the same things. You’re all doing everything exactly the same and hoping to get plucked out of the pack and bestowed the honor of top rankings by Google. Unfortunately, in most cases, the guy with the biggest budget is the one who wins this battle.
But targeted, purposeful blogging can help you level the local internet marketing playing field. Most local businesses aren’t blogging, and if they are, they aren’t doing it effectively. With a little bit of planning and a lot of elbow grease, you can improve your local rankings and even “back door” a bit of traffic for yourself, as well.
Local Blogging, Local Internet Marketing
In order to make your blog work for your business, you have to plan. You can’t just plop down in front of the computer once a week and bang something out, hoping it will work. A little bit of advanced effort can help save you time and can increase your odds of success.
- Create an Editorial Calendar: At the beginning of each month, choose the topics you want to cover in your blog, and decide when you’re going to publish. This exercise is useful to help you create new topics for your blog posts, and keeps you on track throughout the month. You can also quickly reference past months’ calendars to see which topics you’ve already covered and expand on the popular topics, or rethink the duds.
- Write: The biggest barrier to blogging for local business is time. Carving out the time to write blog posts can seem impossible when you’ re running a business. But once you have your editorial calendar in place, you can set aside one full day to write your posts, or you can assign the titles to someone in your office. If you’re updating the blog just once per week, that’s only four blog posts a month, which could be written in just one day.
- Blog For Your Customers, Not Yourself: Don’t create blog posts that talk about yourself. Your posts should NEVER contain the words, “I” or “We.” Nobody is reading your blog to find out who the employee of the month is. Your blog should be a place where you provide useful information and solve your customers’ problems. Make a list of the questions your customers ask over and over and over again. Every question is a possible blog post. Scan online forums and Q&A boards related to your industry. See what people are talking about and you’ll find even more topics to blog about.
- Don’t Forget Keywords: Be sure that as you create blogs posts, you’re incorporating your keywords into your planning. Incorporating your keyword themes into your blog posts will help boost your other internet marketing efforts.
- Keep it Local: There are creative ways to localize your blog. For example, let us pretend you own an HVAC company. And let us further pretend that your city is experiencing record high temperatures during the summer. You can update your blog with news on the heat wave and tie that into a series about staying safe and healthy during extreme temperature swings. Tie the posts in with other local businesses and you’ve got yourself some great local flavor, with natural, local references. The posts are actually useful to people, and they can easily be shared among your readers and social network
- Promote, Promote, Promote: You will have to actively promote your new posts so that people will see them. Be sure to push out every new blog post on your Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus pages. You can automate this step, but sometimes it helps to add your own intro to the links rather than just publish the titles. And you have to do it more than once. One Tweet isn’t going to bring people to you. You have to push, push, and re-push a post every so often so that your blog can get in front of the most eyes as possible. But this is a fine line. Don’t post the same thing every hour for three weeks. Promote the day you post goes live. Then again later in the week. And schedule a few more posts once or twice a week for the next month or so. Do this for every post to be sure you’re connecting with lots of people.
Blogging Isn’t a Guaranteed Path to the Top
Locally focused blogging isn’t guaranteed to push you up to the top of search rankings, but it will certainly give you an edge if your competitors aren’t doing it, or if they’re doing a poor job. Your blog posts will rank in Google Blog Search, which is a far less competitive area to crack, and as you push your content out to your social networks, your fans and followers will see them. They can read, share and respond, which can open access doors to new customers and visitors you wouldn’t have reached if you weren’t blogging.
As your website establishes relevancy and authority, your local rankings will eventually increase. But blogging as a local internet marketing strategy is a marathon, not a sprint. You have to do it purposefully and then you have to give it time to work.