Local marketing strategy – which can include local SEO, local content strategy, direct mail and even earned media – is important for companies that have a geographically defined area that they operate in and are present in. In this article, I discuss:
- Who are local marketing strategies for?
- What is a local content strategy?
- How does local SEO work?
- The role of earned media
- Direct mail
Who are local marketing strategies for?
Local marketing strategies generally speaking are necessary for businesses like:
- Roofing contractors
- Lawn care
- And many others
And global companies operating in different areas of the world, also likely have local marketing strategies to cater better to local audiences.
Really any business that is looking for business from a geographically bound area should have a local marketing strategy. If your business needs customers from a specific area you can use local SEO strategies to show up in search when people nearby search for your services.
Read next: Google Smart Shopping Campaigns – What Is It and Where to Use Them?
What is a local content strategy?
Kate Kenyon, a content ops and localization expert, discussed this topic with me on this episode of my podcast.
How does local SEO work?
When I search for “order pizza” I certainly don’t want to get the top results for New York City when I’m currently in San Francisco. I want the best results for near me in San Francisco. According to Safari SEO Brisbane, the “near me” search prevalence grew by more than 136% between 2019 and 2020 as user demand for local, highly-relevant searches increased. Compounded with increased mobile usage and location services on these devices enabling for a specific set of results, local searches are expected to continue to grow rapidly in 2021.
There are many businesses that rely on this kind of local SEO and influence.
[Tweet “Local SEO matters to customers because of the relevance of search results. “]
Local SEO expert Greg Gifford joined me on the Business Storytelling Podcast to share an overview of what businesses need to know and how they can rank higher.
Read next: Small business marketing strategies: How to make sure customers know you are open
Keyword research for local content strategy
As you are putting your website together, consider researching what terms people use in your market or in general when they search for your services.
Tools like Ubersuggest or Google Trends can help there and give ideas. Make sure it’s clear on your website that you offer those services.
The critical part is finding a way to rank for service terms that potential customers are searching for. Greg explained that ranking for your company name usually shouldn’t take much work and can be somewhat automatic. But branded search does matter.
[Tweet “You want to rank for the services your potential customers search for.”]
Can I rank for local SEO without a website?
Communications Strategist Jason Laz and I shared on this Business Storytelling Podcast episode why businesses need websites and what should be included. While it is preferred to have a website on many levels, there are ways for local businesses to rank in local SEO even without a website.
At the very least, Greg recommends setting up a Google Business Profile (formerly called Google My Business) account and claiming your business. That allows you to add opening hours and pictures and respond to reviews. Here’s an example of a Google My Business panel of Heather Morris Realty Consulting that shows up in search:
When businesses have a claimed Google Business Profile listing but do not have a website, they can still show on the search map view, explained Greg. Here’s an example of “roofing contractors” that are returning near-me results.
Listings, in this case, are shown in this order:
- With website
- Without website
The listings do not appear to be sorted by truly closest to me. Of course, I can see who is closest to me on the map.
Read next: Seasonal Marketing: A Strategy to Boost Your Business
Can blogging help me with local SEO?
Greg says that blogging about informational and educational topics can help businesses rank higher.
Businesses don’t necessarily have to localize topics but could consider that when possible.
For example, when I published a blog post on direct mail, I could have localized it by getting local stats from the post office of the drop of marketing mail. So localization isn’t always that difficult.
Another idea could be to partner with other local businesses and maybe even quote clients and other related experts.
Related: How to maximize organic social media
Those people will often link back to your site from their site.
[Tweet “Asking others to link to your site when it makes sense can help with local SEO.”]
How often should you blog? Once a month for a small business is probably okay. You might also consider using a podcast recording as a base for a blog post.
Interview the owner or employees about a specific topic, publish that podcast – I would recommend via Anchor for free – and then turn the content into an article.
Related: How getting on a blogging schedule will help you stay on track
What are some off-site strategies to rank in local SEO?
Many local businesses have been great community builders, even before the web. They:
- sponsor little league teams
- work with local events
- sponsor and participate in Rotary, Kiwanis, etc.
- other local offline outreach
Those strategies can simply be extended into online activities that can help with your local SEO.
When you sponsor a local team, ask to be listed on their website and get a link back to your website.
The same applies to events, rotary, and really anything you participate in.
[Tweet “Offline sponsorships: Always ask for the link back to your website for local SEO.”]
Some of those organizations might quickly admit that “we can link to you, but we have little traffic. There won’t be many referrals coming your way through this.”
It’s not a direct referral, Greg explained. Small-traffic sites that are relevant and local can still help Google determine that there’s local relevance. The payoff will come later when your company shows up first when people search for your services.
Read next: The Importance of Good Content on an E-Commerce Site
Earned media as a local marketing strategy
Earned media coverage is when a news reporter quotes you in an article. Most articles – newspapers, and broadcast – now also end up on media websites. Make sure that when you get quoted, they also link to you. Those links from other local entities are helpful and signal to Google that your company has local relevance.
How do you get quoted by the media? Be involved in the community, offer your expertise when relevant, and sometimes consider reaching out to media with story ideas.
Here are two podcast episodes that discuss the topic of getting coverage in more detail.
Direct mail is also a strategy worth considering when businesses try to reach an audience in a specific locale. This podcast episode discussed how to make the most out of direct mail as a local marketing strategy.
Local marketing strategies conclusion
Running the right combination of local marketing strategies can help us win overall. The trick is figuring out how to integrate it and move it forward in concert.