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Chapter Five:Content Creation for Local SEO

“Content is king.” It’s a wonderful saying that has ruled the digital marketing industry for what feels like ages now. And there’s a reason for that—content is king. However, this doesn’t mean slapping words on a page and calling it a day.

Content is an opportunity to: educate and entertain your readers; prove yourself as an expert in your industry; establish an online presence for your offline business; essentially, be found. And with the rising popularity of local search comes the need for valuable localized content.

The key word there is “valuable”.

In general, the best way to establish your online presence and assert yourself as an authority in your industry is by curating informative and unique content that adds value.

That being said, every local SEO strategy should start with a strong foundation of great content. And when it comes to optimizing for local intent, you will need your keywords in hand, knowledge of your target audience at the ready, and a strategy that will get you ranking in the local pack.

Incorporating Keywords

Keywords are ultimately what help search engines understand who you are as a business and what you have to offer, connecting you with customers searching for the like. That’s why Google interprets content with a slight bias towards keywords: to provide the searcher with the results that will best answer their search query.

However, there’s a common misunderstanding when it comes to incorporating keywords on your site: many will write the content and then sprinkle in the keywords after the fact. Instead, your content should be built around your keywords. This not only helps your content feel natural, but it also keeps your content focused.

When writing with local intent in mind, use a local modifier that connects your keywords with a specific area. Ex: “Italian restaurant” and “Italian restaurant in Buffalo, NY.”

So it’s no secret that keywords are an essential part of your content strategy, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to go overboard with them. We get it—keyword stuffing was the name of the game back in the 90’s. But we’re well into the 21st century now. Your content should be so good that there’s no need to stuff your keywords.

Overstuffing is overwhelming—don’t do it.

Localizing Titles and Meta Descriptions

It’s a digital marketing best practice to include the local keywords in your web page and blog post titles as well as their meta descriptions. Not only will Google index your content for that specific area, but your audience will recognize that you are a local business right from the SERPs.

Note: include the local modifier towards the beginning of your titles and meta descriptions to ensure that the location tag does not get cut off on the search results page.

Category Keywords from GMB

In chapter 6, we will cover how to optimize your GMB listing. Part of the process is choosing a primary category, along with additional categories, that describe your business both to Google and your potential customers.

Google will use the primary category you choose to connect with people searching for that type of business in the area, therefore this category keyword should be included throughout your content.

Call to Actions

A call to action (CTA) is a truly powerful element in your overall marketing strategy. Your website should feature CTAs, guiding users to whatever you want their next step to be.

From buttons to buy a product and newsletter signups, to social media widgets and the prompt to “read more,” CTAs are converting users into customers, followers, and brand advocates.

The searcher has found your blog post, landing page, video, etc. Now what?

Planning for Local Content

Localizing your content is, of course, easier said than done. Here are a few ways to get started:

Write for Your Target Audience

Understanding who you’re writing for will help you figure out what you should be writing about. So, utilize social media insights, Google Analytics and the face-to-face interactions you have with customers at your brick-and-mortar to determine the demographics and interests of your audience.

Once you’ve found your target audience, cater your content to what will appeal to them.

Answer User Intent

What is your target audience searching for? What are their most commonly asked questions?

Your content should have the answers. That’s what Google is crawling for after all: websites that offer valuable information that will fulfill the searcher’s query.

As of recent, mobile searches have skyrocketed. Along with it are long-tail key phrases that have become popular with the help of Siri and Alexa. There are a lot more “How to” and “Can I” searches than ever before and your content should reflect that.

Now some people will search using the local modifier: “coffee shop in Buffalo.” Of course, Google responds with coffee shops located around Buffalo.

In the case that the local term is left out and the query is just, “coffee shop,” Google will still recognize the local search intent and offer results that are in the area, but not the same results as when the modifier was included.

Figure 5.1 - “Coffee shop in Buffalo” search results page.
Figure 5.2 - “Coffee shop” search results page.

Use Keyword Research to Generate Content

Your keyword research will not only help you focus your content to attract search engines and readers alike, but it will also help to generate ideas for your local content i.e. blog posts, videos, graphics, and even eBooks!

When it comes to keyword research, there are plenty of tools at your disposal.

First, take advantage of Google Autocomplete, the “People also ask,” and the “Searches related to” sections to get an idea of what people are searching for surrounding that keyword or phrase.

You can use Google Trends to gain a little more insight on the search volume for each of your targeted keywords and see some of the most popular search phrases in your geographic area. This platform will even suggest additional key phrases that would be great to cover as hot topics in your area.

Keywords Everywhere is another tool that could offer useful insight into the questions your audience is asking. After searching for a keyword or phrase, this free extension will populate the search volume per month, cost per click, and competitor’s data from multiple websites, as well as related long-tail phrases surrounding the topic.

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again (because it’s that important): your content should answer the questions your audience is asking. So, as you conduct your research, do yourself a favor and don’t ignore the related search queries and long-tail key phrases being handed to you on a silver platter.

Showcase Your Case Studies

Feature the projects you’ve worked on in your local market. Showcase the services or products you were able to provide and what it was like working in the community.

This is an incredible opportunity to tell a story with a little local flavor, appealing to potential customers that will not only be familiar with the project you worked on, but hopefully might find the story relatable.

Local Landing Pages

A landing page made specifically for your local customers, bursting with localized content and images.

This type of page should include your physical address, mentions of well-known local landmarks, your contact information, and unique, localized content, of course. This could be anything from content that strictly focuses on your business in that area, or coverage of local events and news.

If you have just one physical location, a local landing page will still prove beneficial, holding more relevance in a local search than any other page on your site.

If you have multiple locations, then create a landing page for each location, curating content that is specific to each respective area.

Local Content Pillars

A pillar page is a substantive page of content that covers a core topic of your business. You are basically building the mother of all content pages.

Whether it is a core service or product you’d like to focus on, this pillar page will act as an authority on the matter, covering everything from general inquiries to small details.

Your pillar page should focus on a topic that is expansive, leaving just enough room to dive more in-depth with supporting materials.

These supporting materials, or topic clusters, are created to do just that: support your pillar page.

Figure 5.3 - Content pillar linking.

A cluster provides the opportunity to expand on what you’ve highlighted on your pillar page, allowing you to address some aspects more thoroughly.

As much as your pillar page is the main hub of information, it’s your topic clusters that are attracting the users.

It’s true!

These cluster pieces are becoming favored by popular search engines due to the rise in value of topic-based content and long tail key phrases.

Summary

Remember, you can’t rank in the local pack without strong, locally focused content. Incorporate your keywords, learn more about your target audience, and develop a content strategy with local intent in mind.

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