By Ann Smarty published March 15, 2021 Est Read Time: 7 min

How to Create an Effective SEO Strategy for Your Local Business

To survive the pandemic, research reveals, most small businesses were forced to change their operations or find new sources of revenue.

Lots of businesses that historically relied on local foot traffic were forced to completely or partially digitize their operations to allow online booking, buying, and even services.

That digital transformation brought a new challenge – how to get found online. The first fundamental step is verifying the business with Google Local as well as other local discovery platforms like Yelp and Tripadvisor. But then what?

This is when localized content marketing comes into play. Similar to what foot traffic was doing for your business, content marketing can attract people who never knew they were looking for you.

Similar to foot traffic, #ContentMarketing can attract people who never knew they were looking for you, says @SEOSmarty via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Come up with localized content ideas

Here’s what most local businesses do when it comes to content creation:

  • Create generic content on their business topic. For example, a hair salon in Seattle publishes a blog article on how to create spiral curls.
  • Create generic content about their neighborhood. For example, a bakery in Albany, New York, writes about what people can do in Albany.

Neither option yields great results. Firstly, competition is generally high for this type of content. Secondly, neither angle brings in people ready to buy.

Here’s what most local businesses should do when it comes to content creation:

  • Create content related to your business and. For example, a hair salon in Seattle publishes a blog article about hairstyles that work best in the rainy climate.
  • Solve problems of the customers in your locale. For example, the Albany bakery writes an article about the best pastries to bring home before a snowstorm hits.

It limits the pool of content ideas but is more effective in bringing high-qualified leads. Other locally focused content, depending on your business, might include:

  • Local events and how your business could help to prepare
  • Ideas for local staycations and how your business can make them better
  • New local partnerships (to bring awareness for your brand through known brands’ associations.)

It always comes down to how specific you can create content that’s relevant to local searchers.

Local businesses should create #content relevant to their business AND their locale, says @SEOSmarty via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

For example, if you sell sightseeing tours in Central Park, answer exacting questions in your content, like “what is the name of the famous dog statue in New York City’s Central Park?” It makes total sense that some of the people asking that question may be interested in a tour that stops at the Balto statue.

A screenshot showing search results for the question “What is the name of the famous dog statue in New York city’s Central Park?”

Note: This search query has a surprisingly high search volume and few local businesses ranking for it.

However, if you own a beauty salon or even a small restaurant near Central Park, I don’t see how Balto content may bring potential customers. Explore other Central Park questions that may get you some meaningful visibility.

For example, search queries exploring “how far is Central Park from Times Square” open many opportunities for local business. People asking this question may be interested in a place to stay that would give easy access to both the destinations or places to eat if they are heading from one to the other.

A screenshot showing search results for the question “How far is Central Park from Times Square?”

Note: I wasn’t physically in New York City when I got these results. Your local clients may not yet be in the area. That is why ranking beyond Google Maps may be helpful.

Here are a few resources to help create a list of localized ideas:

 TIP: If you are looking for a place to start, I usually search for questions in Text Optimizer. It gives a clear overview of searching patterns, which provides a good topic perspective:

A screenshot of Text Optimizer’s results for search questions related to Central Park.

Integrate your CTAs into content

This is a somewhat obvious but often missed step.

To make your content even more effective, integrate your calls to action into it. The CTAs will encourage more readers to take action and check out what you are doing.

A helpful CTA could be as subtle as mentioning your business as an option to “get there” or “spend a good time there”:

An image showing a CTA that’s a link to a private Midtown Highlights Tour from City Rover. It is in the last sentence of the copy.

Or the CTA could be as direct as your promotional offer:

A screenshot showing an example of a CTA that’s a promotional offer. One CTA is in a black box on the bottom left side of the site and the other is in a brown box on the right side of the site. Whatever the CTA, your content needs to make it clear that your business is there to help.

  • This guide details how to add all kinds of CTAs inside your content without messing with any code.
  • Here are more ideas on types of CTAs to create. To sum up:
    • Lead-generating forms help capture your readers’ emails. You can use them to reach out with your promotional offers.
    • Sales-generating and interactive “buy now” CTAs allow readers to make a purchase right away.
Sales-generating and interactive “buy now” CTAs allow readers to make a purchase right away, says @SEOSmarty via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

TIP: Service-oriented local businesses can use sales-generating CTAs to allow readers to book an appointment. This is especially useful if you are operating on an appointment-only basis to comply with COVID requirements.

This is an example of an easily implemented “book now” CTA from Appointfix:

Another good idea is to add a store locator to your blog so readers immediately recognize you as a business in the area they are reading about.

Monitor your organic rankings and traffic

While Google My Business provides a somewhat detailed dashboard on how your local business is discovered through Google Maps, monitoring your organic visibility is not an easy task these days, especially for local businesses.

Monitoring organic visibility is hard for local businesses because results often differ based on the searcher’s location, says @SEOSmarty via @CMIContent. #SEO Click To Tweet

First, search results are extremely localized: The results I see searching in upstate New York may be different from the results people in Florida see. For some businesses, only hyper-local searchers matter (e.g., professional services that don’t normally target travelers). In these cases, tracking your rankings through using local filters would do. Site Checker allows hyper-local position monitoring by a city:

(I am sure there are many more rank tracking tools that allow local monitoring. If you have a suggestion, add it in the comments.)

If your business targets travelers, especially those making their plans from home, localized monitoring is not as helpful because you want your content to appear all over the country. This is where you combine your web analytics data (Google Analytics, Google’s Search Console, etc.) with your country-wide position tracking.

Finteza allows you to easily filter all your web reports (traffic sources, search queries, etc.) by location. To access your local data:

  • Go Audience -> Geography.
  • Click the location to analyze.

Now proceed to any other report to see web analytics data pertaining to that location. For example, here are Google search queries that bring clicks to my website when people search from Chicago:

Note: This is a great way to identify locations that work best to get your business found from search.

TIP: Save all your filters to access them more easily in the future. Then, you can see if any of those clicks tend to convert:

Note: Most of that Chicago traffic is not proceeding through the sales funnel because the business is not really in Chicago, so it’s a long shot. Yet, if two people from Chicago end up discovering my business through content marketing, I’ll take it. These are free leads.

Go local

My favorite thing about well-planned content marketing is that it offers accumulative growth – the longer you do it, the better are results in the long run. If you keep adding content your customers want to interact with, your rankings gradually grow, and your business gets found more and more.

A final suggestion: To amplify that growth, you may want to use Facebook pixel. It tracks all the visitors whoever came to your site. That invaluable data enables you to serve your ads to those people who interacted with (particular) pages of your site.

All tools mentioned in this article come from the author. If you have a tool to suggest, please add in the comments.

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 Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

Author: Ann Smarty

Ann Smarty is the brand and community manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas, founder of MyBlogU.com and co-founder of Viral Content Buzz . Ann is the regular contributor at Entrepreneur, Small Biz Trends, and other huge publications. Ann blogs about search and social media industry trends and content marketing tools. Please follow Ann on Twitter @seosmarty.

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