Local marketing is insanely competitive. Business owners and marketing managers agonize over the best places to spend their advertising dollars. In recent years, everyone from the Yellow Pages to your sister’s boyfriend’s cousin has tried their hand at offering local SEO services. You may have happily jumped on that bandwagon – you may have even given yourself a gold star for being one of the first in your industry to do so.
But things have changed quite a bit in the last 3 years.
You can’t spend your way to great local rankings anymore. There’s no magic bullet you can buy to maintain the top spot in your niche. Some of you keep throwing money after it. Others have just given up completely and gone back to advertising on the radio or in the newspaper.
There is a way you can rise to the top without putting a huge dent in your budget.
Wait! Before you roll your eyes and say you don’t have time for blogging or you don’t care about blogging, take a second and think about it. If YOU don’t have time for it or care about it, what are the odds your competitors do?
Most local businesses are not blogging. And if they are, they’re not doing a great job. Blogs not only keep your content fresh and updated for Google’s sake, they are a great way to establish yourself as an authority in your niche. You can answer questions, offer advice, teach, and even sell through your blog. And it truly doesn’t have to be a time consuming or expensive venture.
Why Blogging Makes You Stand Out
The reason local internet marketing tactics don’t work is because everyone is doing the exact same thing. You and your competitors are chasing the same keywords, optimizing your sites in the same way, fixing up your Google Plus pages, getting the same types of customer reviews, etc., etc. When everyone is doing the exact same thing, it’s nearly impossible to stand out.
But blogging can be your way to break free from the pack. Here’s why:
- Your audience will engage with you: When you create timely, interesting, and useful blog posts, you’ll develop actual readers. These readers will be more likely to engage with you on social media and on your blog. They’ll share your information, and help you develop natural links and shares.
- Your blog posts will be ranked in Google Blog search: This is a less crowded and often easier place to rank for your keywords.
- Blogging helps you establish your online voice: This is critical for maintaining your online reputation. Through your blog, you can show your “true self.”
- Keeps your content fresh: Freshness is an important ranking factor. Regular, weekly blog posts will keep your freshness factor in the green.
Blog The Right Way
Many businesses have blogs, but they don’t utilize them properly. Either they never update them, they update them with useless information, or they copy and paste posts from other blogs. If you’re going to add blogging to your local marketing arsenal, it’s important to do it correctly.
- Develop an Editorial Calendar: Planning is crucial and can save you a lot of time and energy down the line. Take one day a month and plan out your blog posts. Decide what you’re going to write about and schedule those titles on a calendar.
- Write: Many businesses without blogs cite “no time” as the reason they can’t keep up with posts. Block out one day to write all of your posts. That way they are all complete for the month and you don’t have to worry about it. If you’re posting one time per week, that’s only four posts you have to write. That should be doabale in one day.
- Write For Your Customers: Don’t get hung up on keywords and SEO-ing your blog. Instead, focus on your customers. What are common questions they have? Common issues? Why do your customers come to you? If you focus on their needs, keywords will naturally fall into your blog posts. It’s crucial to write for humans, not algorithms. Writing for people will lead to more engagement, which will help you with your rankings.
- Always Use Tags: Every time you post a piece, be sure to add relevant tags. This will help users navigate your blog and will also give important keyword cues to search engines.
- Create a Local Flavor: Let’s pretend for a moment that you own an HVAC company and your city is experiencing power outages due to summer storms. You can update your blog with news on the outages, and tie that in to a series on what to do when your power goes out. How to keep cool, keep your food fresh, etc. Tie the posts in with other local businesses and you’ve got yourself some great local flavor, with natural, local references.
Outsourcing Your Blog Writing
If you truly don’t have the time or inclination to maintain your blog, you can outsource it. Just be sure you make an effort to hire the right blogger. You want someone who is interested in learning about your business, not someone who says they can slap some keyword-riddled posts on your blog every now and again. You want to find a writer who understands local marketing and can help you turn your blog into your new local marketing secret weapon.
Typically, you can get this type of service for $100 – $500 per month, depending on the writer’s experience and menu of services. That’s not bad considering you can spend upwards of $10,000 per month on SEO and one ad in your local newspaper probably costs more than $500.
Arm yourself with a well-planned blog, and you’re sure to see real results over time.
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