Local search engine optimization is the key to attracting new customers and improving brand visibility within your local area. However, optimizing a local business website isn’t just a matter of inserting keywords, building a few backlinks, and then waiting for the customers to flood in.
If you don’t have an authentic website that offers real value to people in your local area, those visiting your site are likely to bounce away without making a purchase, or having plans to visit your premises.
So here are some key reasons why authenticity matters in local SEO, along with some tips for achieving it.
What do people want from local businesses?
Research strongly suggests that consumers expect local businesses to have websites – many young people won’t contact a business that doesn’t. Therefore, simply by having your own site, you are on the right track to attracting local customers.
Chart source: What consumers want from local business websites
An informative website
However, people want more than just a placeholder website. In this recent BrightLocal Survey, consumers said they expected a website to contain details about products, services and prices, as well as an address, map, hours of business, and driving directions.
On top of that it’s also important to include a phone number, email address and / or contact form.
Including these contact details will let consumers know that your business is well-established and welcomes interactions with its customers. Accurate data is key, as any outdated information will undermine your credibility.
A strong presence on citation sites
Don’t make the mistake of confining your local SEO strategy to your own website. When looking for local businesses, many people consult local directories, so you need to have a strong presence on them to enhance your credibility.
More importantly, the information on these sites needs to be up to date. If people try to call you using an incorrect number, or follow a broken link to your website, they may assume your business has closed down & not spend anymore time looking for you online.
Equally important is the fact that accurate citations are good for Google. In the Expert Local Citation Survey, 90% say accurate citations are critical to local search ranking.
Encourage your customers to write reviews for you on local listing sites. These can boost your local SEO and improve potential customers’ impression of you. The Local Consumer Review Survey showed that consumers of all ages use reviews to judge local businesses, with 97% of young adults (18-34) relying on reviews to decide which local businesses to use.
Reviews on listing sites are a great way of establishing your authenticity, as they prove that local people, who have plenty in common with the customers researching your brand online, trust your business.
Become a strong local voice
Customers want to know that you understand their local area, including what makes local people tick. As someone who works in the area, you should already have this knowledge. The key is getting it across in your content strategy.
How you do this depends on the type of business you run, but here are a few ideas:
- Food businesses: If you are a food retailer, you need to establish yourself as an authentic food expert. Customers who spend a lot of time browsing your site are likely to be real food lovers who care deeply about where their food comes from and are keen to try new flavors. Why not appeal to them by creating a content strategy based around exciting recipes, details of your high-quality food production processes and the cultural background of your food?
- Real estate: People who are looking to rent or buy a property need to know what each neighborhood is really like. Where do locals like to eat, drink and hang out? Is a particular neighborhood quiet and peaceful or lively and full of people who like to party? Focus your local content strategy on providing these details to your site visitors.
When to Outsource Local Content Creation
With local knowledge so important in your content strategy, can you afford to outsource your content creation? If you are planning a large-scale revamp of your content strategy, you may need to outsource, as creating content could distract your employees from their main roles. The key to success is to outsource to a content writer who can match your brand’s voice and fill the content with plenty of local details to give your brand the authenticity it needs.
It’s best to have the same content writer or content agency create all your content. This allows you to create a genuine voice that your customers can enjoy getting to know, as they follow your blog or social media updates.
Depending on the nature of your business, you may have a lot of luck with a friendly, informal voice, which can make readers feel at home.
Authenticity is key to any local content strategy. As well as inserting the right keywords and building backlinks, you also need to think about establishing authenticity in your local SEO strategy, which you can do by encouraging customers to write reviews, providing accurate information about your business and creating content that provides real value to your readers.
Ryan Buckley is Co-founder and CEO at Scripted.com. Ryan holds an MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management and an MPP from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Still and always a Cal Bear, Ryan graduated from UC Berkeley with degrees in Economics and Environmental Sciences. After several years of doing everything from dishes to prospecting campaigns and even Rails and Python coding, he’s settled into the role of Scripted’s ambassador to the marketing community.