Blogging for Local Search Results

Your blog is one of the key elements of your local search strategy. Here’s how to create and optimize blog posts to stand out to stand out in search results.

It’s important for websites to create unique pages for different topics, but sometimes the content you’re creating doesn’t quite fit in with the other stuff you’ve published on your website. That’s why a blog can be such an essential tool in your search engine optimization (SEO) playbook. You’re the expert, and a blog gives you a single location where you can share helpful information with your existing—and potential—customers.

For example, car dealers have websites packed with details about the cars they sell and the services they provide. All of their core web content is meant to encourage potential customers to buy a car or come and get their vehicle serviced.

On their blog, however, they might share tips about changing a flat tire, hooking up jumper cables, or do-it-yourself oil changes. These are all topics that wouldn’t have a home on the main website, but they’re still important pieces of content to share. Not only is it useful information for the local community, but it also helps establish that the folks at the dealership are experts about automotive-related subjects.

Don’t post for the sake of posting

Like your site content, your blog content needs to serve a purpose. Instead of just publishing a bunch of shorter posts, slow things down a bit and make sure that you’re publishing high-quality content that’s going to be useful to your audience. Adding a few exceptional posts to your blog each month is better than forcing yourself to create weekly (or daily) posts, and having the quality suffer as a result.

Create a schedule and stick to it. If you know that you’re going to be posting regularly, you’ll be more likely to hold yourself accountable. A quality post takes time to research, write, edit, publish, and optimize; if you don’t have a schedule, you’re more likely to throw something together at the last minute—or worse, skip the post entirely.

Anyone can write great blog content

Many business owners aren’t writers, and that’s OK. You don’t have to be a trained writer to create useful, informative content. Blog posts tend to be more conversational than the content found on standard web pages anyway, so don’t worry about your writing style.

And if you’re worried that your business is “too boring” to write about, don’t be! You’re an expert in what you do, and anyone else who’s interested in your profession or business will be intrigued by the stuff you share on your blog.

Accountants, for example, could post helpful do-it-yourself budgeting tips or stories about interesting clients. Carpenters or contractors, on the other hand, might publish before-and-after photos to show off their handiwork or stories about the projects they’ve taken on in the past. Take what you do, put an interesting spin on it, and write about it!

It helps to have a plan

When you’re starting a blog, there are 4 essential steps to follow in order to establish a strong foundation. They can help you plan the initial concept of your blog and set a direction for a successful future.

  1. Discover and define your audience. You should never write content just for Google. If you want to be successful, you should be sharing helpful information for actual people. Your audience doesn’t solely consist of local customers who are ready to buy right this minute, either. If you’ve got a longer sales cycle (like a car dealer), you could share content that people will find useful no matter where they are in their customer journey. If you’re a business that offers very a specific service (like a plumber or electrician, for instance), your audience might consist of customers who have a more immediate need—and your content should reflect that. When you determine who your audience is, it’ll be easier to come up with blog posts that will resonate with them.

  2. Decide who’s responsible for writing your posts. No matter who you determine will write your blog posts—owners, managers, employees, or someone else entirely—it’s important to establish responsibility and hold the authors accountable. And if time and staffing constraints result in the outsourcing of some copywriting work, be sure that you’re using a reputable company that will provide unique, well-written posts.

  3. Determine what type of content you want to publish. Once you know who your audience is and who will be doing most of the writing, you’re ready to think about the content itself. Will you primarily be focusing on how-to posts, or do you want to share stories, checklists, case studies, and industry news as well? Will you only be sharing written posts, or would you like to create videos—and maybe even podcasts—from time to time, too? Do you plan on using your own photos in your posts or will you choose stock images instead? As you’re making your decisions, keep your personal bandwidth in mind, and remember to play to your strengths.

  4. Set a schedule (and stick to it). If you want to be successful, you’ll need to post on a regular basis. If you know that you’ll be publishing a post every other Wednesday, for example, it’s easier to create a schedule and set aside the time for the research, writing, editing, and anything else you’ll need to do for each post. If you know your deadlines, you’ll stay on track and be much less likely to fall behind and skip posts.

How often should you post?

The ideal posting frequency will vary for every business, but experts agree that you should generally try to produce at least 2 posts per month. Consistency is key, and the quality of your posts is much more important than the quantity. Figure out what you’re able to handle based on the time your authors have available and the subjects you’ll be covering. You don’t want to overwhelm yourself or your writers.

Create a must-click destination for the locals

Your blog doesn’t always have to be about your business or the products and services that you provide. You’re blogging as a part of your local SEO strategy, so you should also use your posts to help build local relevance, too.

If you exclusively write posts about your business or the stuff you sell, your content will only be relevant for a narrow portion of the local audience. If your blog has content that’s useful and written (at least in part) for a wider audience, there’s a good chance you’ll get more visitors to your site and more eyes on your content. That person who’s not ready to make a purchase today will be more likely to buy from you later if they’re already familiar with your business and have been coming to your site on a regular basis.

Need some content ideas?

If you’re struggling with writer’s block and need a few ideas for local posts, think about what’s unique about your community or upcoming events. What role does your business play in the community? What would visitors or tourists find interesting? Here are some ideas to help inspire you as you’re considering the content you’d like to share on your blog.

  1. Talk about local events. From fireworks to parades to concerts, every city holds special events for its residents to enjoy. Think about all the events happening in your area and post about the ways they impact your business or customers. Or, write an informative recap of a recent event you attended.
  2. Create lists. Share a list of your favorite local restaurants, your favorite stores, or your favorite spots to visit. It might encourage tourists to visit your town and help your neighbors find a hidden gem they hadn’t discovered yet.
  3. Discuss local news. What’s going on in the local community? What would people want to know? Share your opinion about the things going on in your area and the impact they’ll have on your audience.
  4. Sponsor local organizations or events. Sponsoring events can provide exciting blog content opportunities as well. Write about upcoming events you’re sponsoring or share photos and a recap of the event afterward.
  5. Publish event guides. If there’s a big annual event in the area, like a festival or a marathon, an event guide can be great blog content. Help all the folks coming to town by putting together a list of local restaurants to visit, hotels to stay at, or sights to see while they’re in town.
  6. Share a local resource directory. Share a list of locally owned businesses and service providers that your audience can refer back to at any time.
  7. Answer FAQs. No matter what type of business you operate, there’s a good chance that your local customers have asked you many of the same questions over the years. Create a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) post and provide answers to those common questions all in one convenient place. As voice-assisted search increases in popularity, search queries are now more often phrased as questions. Therefore, question-and-answer blog posts are much more likely to be served as a search result.

Don’t forget to optimize

You might be writing for a local audience, but you still need to make sure that you optimize your posts for Google. Concentrate on your title tags and H1 headings, but make sure you’re optimizing the other elements on the page, too.

Make your blog your own

Above all, the most important thing is to make your blog your own. Write in your own voice and share content that’s interesting and useful for your local clients. Don’t merely copy what other people are doing; be unique, and you’ll stand out to customers and search engines.

Written by Greg Gifford for Mailchimp. Greg is an expert in local SEO.