On February 12th we hosted another InsideLocal webinar with 4 local SEO experts to discuss Powerful Content Creation Ideas for Local Businesses.
The InsideLocal expert webinar series returned with a focus on content, specifically for local or multi-location businesses. It’s no secret that content is important for local search – but how should local businesses leverage it for success?
Watch Webinar Recording:
Our Expert Panelists
Don is President of Expand2Web, a company that offers tools & training to help small businesses succeed online. Founded in 2008, Expand2Web helps thousands of small businesses create websites & position themselves for top local search results. Prior to this, Don was a Technology Evangelist for Microsoft, and in his latest project, Don helps small business owners encourage online review atGetFiveStars. Follow Don on Twitter & G+.
Greg is the Director of Search and Social at AutoRevo, a software company which helps car dealers with websites and online marketing. Greg also provides freelance web design and SEO for local businesses. In addition to being a contributor to the Local Ranking Factors study, Greg is a member of the Board of Directors for the DFWSEM, which promotes SEM through best practices. Follow Greg on Twitter & G+.
Susan is a recognised leader in the field of Internet marketing and an expert speaker at industry conferences including SMX. Susan is a regular contributor to sites like Moz, the BBC, and other traditional press, and as well as being a contributor to the Local Ranking Factors study, Susan runs the successful digital marketing agency Hallam Internet which was established in 1999. Follow Susan on Twitter & G+.
Dave Oremland has been practicing local SEO since 2003 & has been a frequent commentator in local media, blogs, and forums since then. Dave, with a team operates a variety of businesses, applying web marketing, general & local SEO. He has been a contributor to the Local Search Ranking Factors since they began and occasionally practices third party LOCAL on behalf of a variety of outside clients. The one business on which he has published information and data is the Professional Bartending School in Washington DC. Follow Dave on Twitter.
About this Webinar
- True Objectives of Online Content
- Content Creation Process
- Common Problems & Solutions
- Sources of Content Inspiration
- Extreme Localisation
- Resources & Tools for Content Creation
- Thursday 12 February 2015
- 70 mins
The true objectives of online content
Susan Hallam started proceedings by stating that the true objective should be to create content that is trusted by customers, other content publishers, and indeed Google. It was a statement our whole panel agreed with.
“The true objective of content is trust and quality” – Susan Hallam
Greg Gifford added that if content is not useful however, then there’s going to be no trust associated with it. And it’ just as important to have authenticity.
“The content needs to serve a purpose when it’s on your site” – Greg Gifford
So what gives content trust & authenticity? – “Corporate responsibility, participating in the local community, and being aware of these kind of true local issues is going to give you those kind of quality signals”, confirmed Susan.
Don Campbell entered the discussion with a clear warning to SEOs, content marketers & local business owners;
“There are no shortcuts… it’s worth it to take the time and money to invest in good content”.
Don echoed the opening statements, by saying that it was important to create trust with people, because they’re essentially learning from you. He added that one common problem with local business websites is that so many websites are generic, and “what they’re missing is the personal touch that comes from quality content… essentially:
“Who are you?, why did you start this business?, what’s unique about it?” – Don Campbell
Online Content KPI’s
Susan gave us some insight into thee KPI’s that her team typically measure:
- Inbound links – reporting back to clients on what links the content is getting
- Amplification – are people sharing it? – good content will be shareable
- Conversation – are people replying to it / commenting on it? is there engagement?
- Applause – are they liking it?
Dave Oremland, who throughout the webinar reminded us about looking at content from a client’s perspective, stated that we need to keep in mind user intent;
“where are the buyers coming from, what are their motivations?” – Dave oremland
Dave also stated that conversion was always close to the forefront of his thoughts, on both an immediate term basis AND a long-term basis. However, it’s important not to try and convert on every page of a website, as other pages will be there for other reasons.
The content creation process
Susan mentioned BuzzSumo as a great tool for analyzing your own content, but confirmed that the best bench mark for most businesses both small and large, is your own performance; “are you improving your own performance over time?”.
Another important KPI for local is rankings, Susan reminded us. “Acquisition is key – people need to discover you before you can convert”. Susan added that we should all try to find out what kind of pages are driving traffic, and what kind of pages are generating the conversions.
“For content marketing… test, learn, test.” – Susan Hallam
Greg offered 3 types of content that he typically looks at for his clients in the auto-industry:
- DIY tips – content that is useful for a client’s customers, eg. ‘where to’, ‘how to’ content.
- Localized content – the best ‘x’ in your city, things going on in your local area, etc.
- Specific company events – What’s going on in the company?
Don suggested that when attempting to create compelling content for a local business, you should try to come up with a series of ideas that would be engaging, intriguing, and generally expand on the ‘humdrumness’ of a local business. And how do we do this? – “Read, read, read, talk, talk, talk”, replied Don.
Susan gave us an insight into the content creation process at her agency y stressing the importance of starting with a persona. Consider to whom are you speaking to and what do they want.
Who’s responsibility is it to create local content?
Susan started by saying it was of course difficult to designate content responsibility to a client, but essentially, “the highest quality content by definition has to come from the client”.
Greg reiterated this, by pointing out that whilst business owners have such an intimate understanding of what they do, it makes sense that they should create their own content. To help clients plan their content, Susan directed us towards a customer focused content grid that they use at Hallam Internet.
Sources of inspiration for content
Don Campbell let us in on a very simple, yet super effective way of generating content for a local business. Don described the process whereby he may schedule a 30 minute meeting with a client, and essentially record a Q&A session with them to find out all about their business.
This recorded session would generate opportunities to create great content based on the inner-understandings of that business & its owner:
- What does your business do?
- Who is your customer?
- How long have you been in this business?
Don has kindly provided a link to a Google doc which shows more example questions to help the business owner discover their story.
How to create cost-effective content
Greg Gifford confirmed that the key to creating cost effective content is to streamline the process and be as efficient as possible.
It’s important to identify key information to help with the content creation process. For example, what needs to be done?, how much time will it take?, what assets are required?, what research needs to be done?
Of course, not all small businesses have the time to write their own content, and so Greg touched upon the outsourcing opportunities that are available to them, including services like Copypress, as just one example.
Susan then talked about what she would call “evergreen content” – suggesting that you can get a huge amount of mileage from a piece of content that has longevity, trust & usefulness.
Rich content – video, image & non-text content
Dave Oremland pointed out the merits of non-text content including video, graphics & photos; “they’re vivid, they’re livelier… they can create emotion.”
“they’re richer, they’re shareable, they’re just more interesting & compelling to readers.” – Dave Oremland
Don continued by bringing universal search results into the discussion – which of course enable first page placements in SERPS;
“With content on YouTube, image & text , you have 2-3 chances of turning up for those search terms” – Don Campbell
Dave suggested that taking advantage of the nature of universal search results can really help you out in getting more placement, better rankings and in creating content that educates in ways other than just text.
Susan agreed that you get more ‘sharing’ from these types of media, and said that creating video content for a local business “strongly assists with the conversion process”. Richer content, continued Susan, is also fantastic for those industries which can often be considered “boring”. A simple video explaining how to do something for example, can help to build trust with customers and they are more likely to use your service or product because of that.
Susan stated her belief that infographics help to drive the highest number of inbound links, but that the type of content you use, whether that be video, text, or image, should be tailored to meet your objectives.
Video content guidelines
On the subject of video content, Greg pointed towards Wistia as a video site that also provides you with some great analytics on your content.
Don suggested some guidelines for video content, including the importance of using localized information in the video description, and of course including your business name, address & phone number (NAP). From any video, you should also look to create a blog post to support it.
On the subject of location pages, Don says that smaller businesses should consider 3-5 surrounding areas that they generate customers or interest from. It’s then these 3-5 areas that should be built out into local content pages which include very specific local information such as driving directions, local info, etc.
Greg agreed with the concept & suggested that there was tons of potential blog content around each city or local area that a business operates in. Then, looking closer at these local pages, Greg stressed the importance of focused inbound links;
“When most people are doing their link building, they’re concentrating on their home pages or their product pages, and they forget to do link building towards their internal pages.”
Susan bought up ‘event hijacking’ whereby a local businesses should take advantage of local events that are happening in their immediate area and create content around it. Interviews, comment, discussion – a business should do their best to position themselves at the centre of activity.
Looking at the wider picture, Dave considered that we are perhaps moving into a world where the closest business to a location is more important than domain authority.
Resources & tools for content creation
We asked our expert panel for a selection of tools that are useful for the content creation process.
- Use Keynote (Mac) to create videos quickly from Powerpoint
- WordPress for content creation
- Use Google Analytics to see what questions people are searching for on your site (This info will show you a) where fresh content is required, and b) whether your existing content is too deeply ‘buried’.)
- Autocomplete – try Googling your own business & see what is suggested
- WordPress Open Graph – use this plugin to choose what your description & photos look like when your content is shared on social media
- The full Google suite, eg. Keyword Planner, Google Trends, etc.
- SEMrush – to spy on your competitors (free & paid versions)
- Hubspot PowerPoint templates for infographics
- Hyperlapse – for time lapse photography (to show your office / factory / workshop, etc.)
Secret gems for content creation
Susan recommended ‘listening tools’ to keep abreast of your competitors activities & what’s going on in the local area:
Don Campbell stressed the importance of essentially getting your clients into the habit of creating content:
- Perch for iPhone – monitor the stream of your competitors on social media
“Content creation is only valuable if you can do it consistently over time” – Don Campbell
Greg continued on the listening to competitors and your local area theme with the following suggestions:
- Page2rss – converts any web page into an rss feed, helping you to monitor competitors or the local area
Dave gave us some suggestions based on the perspective of what works for a small business:
- Churn ideas, take notes, try them out – simple but effective advice for any local business