“How Do We Stand Out?”
Answering this question is one of the inherent challenges faced by any business or marketer. It inspires the quality of the products and/or services that we offer. It rests at the heart of our marketing efforts. And unlike major brands and larger corporate entities who enjoy a greater wealth of resources to help attract the attention of consumers, it’s a luxury that few small to medium businesses can claim to have.
But through digital marketing, businesses with more modest resources have more opportunities than ever before. By taking small, manageable steps it’s surprisingly easy for such businesses to stand out in local searches, rank higher than local competitors, and attract more local business. And yes, the key word here is ‘local’.
“Standing Out” in Local Search Results
When searching for a product and/or service, most Google users will type in what they’re looking for. Some may add modifiers such as the town, city, state or phrases like ‘near me’. Regardless of the approach taken, Google will tailor their results to reflect the user’s geography, in the hopes of delivering the results most pertinent to the user. This is why an electrician (for example) may want to take whatever steps are necessary to rank higher than any other local electricians when someone Googles ‘electricians’ or ‘electricians near me’.
You might remember our mention of ‘search signals’ (ie: elements of your online presence that have shown to attract Google and help you to stand out in search results). Well, local relevance plays an important role in optimizing those search signals in your geographic area. To attract the local community to your business, you need to deliver your business to the community; and one of the most effective means of doing so is to use your online presence to advertise that community to the world.
The Importance of Local Content
Local businesses have always had an active role to play in strengthening the community that they call ‘home’ and, in turn, playing that role allows their business to grow. That relationship should be echoed in digital marketing, with all kinds of businesses attracting new opportunities by helping to advertise their communities through local content.
Recently, we discussed the importance of a blog as a means of communicating the value and purpose of your business. It allows you to display your expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness while reiterating your offerings through keywords that will attract Google’s attention. Well, not all blog content needs to be centered around your business, your products or the services that you offer. By designing similar content around your community, you further improve your chances of ranking higher than local competitors.
Your Community. Your Content
In most every community, there are a wide variety of topics that could be of interest to new and existing customers. You might choose to highlight a local news story. You could help to draw attention to an upcoming community event (or choose to write about one after the fact). You could even share your thoughts on a topic that affects local businesses, or your industry in particular (although – be warned – divisive topics might deliver less than favorable results).
Thoughtful, local content can endear you to your community, increasing organic traffic to both your website and your business. It also creates linking opportunities, where other businesses, organizations or websites share and endorse your content, further validating it in the eyes of Google. Similar benefits are present on social media, creating opportunities for social sharing and helping to expand your audience.
You can even step beyond the role of community storyteller, to become that of active participant. By hosting, sponsoring or participating in a local event you create more opportunities for original content that highlights your business.The content could be your own, told from your unique perspective and in your distinctive voice; but you’ll also gain the benefit of outside endorsements and linking from other like-minded marketers. The possibilities (quite literally) are endless.
Think Locally. Win Google(y)
The relationship between Search Signals and Google are constantly evolving, as are the strategies being recommended and exacted by digital marketers around the globe. That said, investing in a relationship with the community you’re a part of just makes good sense. It just so happens that it also makes sense in the all-seeing eyes of Google and – judging by the evolution of local search – there’s little indication that’s going to change any time soon.