For big brands with deep pockets, content marketing can be as simple as asking the marketing team to churn out content that’ll rank easily on highly competitive keywords and phrases. But for a small business or startup, achieving this same success can be tough.
There is, however, a way to give a very strong showing in organic Google search results even when you’re not the biggest name around.
It’s thinking local. Hyperlocal.
Structuring your content for local searches and signalling to Google that you’re meeting searchers’ expectations will make you more likely to rank in search results.
How and where your customer is engaging with the internet will determine their search results: 73% of Google searches show different results on mobile devices compared to desktop and laptop. This information is crucial when you consider that 82% of people with smartphones use their mobiles to research online before making purchases.
The key for a small business or startup is to provide the right kind of value to that locality.
So how do you set up for hyperlocal content marketing? Let’s start from the top:
1- Answer questions better than anyone else.
The stuff that keeps turning up in search results, called evergreen content, is there because people link, share, or return to it again and again. Google responds by increasing its rank. The same situation holds true in local content marketing.
Knowing exactly who your audience are, and finding out what they want solutions to, allows you to provide answers to their specific questions. Take a look at my post on creating brilliant Buyer Personas here to define exactly who you’re targeting and why.
When you know the who, what, where, why and how of a target customer’s needs. You can be precise in the value you give them..
My decision to give my nephew a Boeing 747 flying simulation experience for his 21st birthday wasn’t a random one. I gave him that specific present because I understood his desire to do something a little different. The more complete the picture you have of someone, the more the things you give them will resonate.
Without this understanding of your target audience, you’ll stumble around in the dark, and only strike it lucky when you randomly bump into good ideas. That’s not an ideal situation for anyone.
2 – Seek out interesting topics.
Once you know your audience, you’ll be able to find out what questions they’re asking. This can be done a variety of ways: through Facebook groups, Twitter keyword searches, or search queries directly through your mobile.
Through searching keyword phrases in your space, Facebook will offer you a host of relevant groups that you can look to join. Some of the better groups may be closed groups, in which case you’ll need the administrator of that group to accept your request to join.
This extra step is a good thing, as it keeps the bar high on the quality of the people inside this group. Once you’re a member, don’t flout the rules (or worse, self-promote straight off the bat) as most will cancel your access.
It’ll now be possible to dive into the conversations and see what the group is talking about. Keep an eye out for problems or issues that come up regularly.
Twitter is a wild beast these days, but still a wealth of good conversations if you know how to locate them. By searching using keywords or topics in your industry, Twitter will provide you with a smorgasbord of questions, links, answers and rubbish. You need to take the time to sift through it to retrieve the specks of gold.
For example, using Twitter’s advanced search options to enter the keywords relevant to your customers or competitors will show you the tweets, profiles and conversations that are utilising them.
Say you’re a new florist wanting to grow business in providing for wedding ceremonies and receptions in the surrounding region. ‘Wedding florist’ is a broad search term, but by adding a location filter to the search, you can refine Twitter’s search results.
The tweets that show up will either have your keywords within their text or are similar in context. A decent collection of topics and ideas related to planning a wedding should appear, which you can then write content about which relates back to floristry.
3 – Ask Google, through your mobile.
Enter same keywords or topic phrases you used on Twitter into Google on your mobile, especially when you’re in the area where your business is located. This gives you results related to both value and location. It is important to remember that a desktop and mobile will give slightly different results based on the device being used.
For example, if you’re a landscape design firm and want to find out what key topics are coming up with your target customer, start by searching through your mobile.
If you go down to the bottom of the search results page, you’ll find more valuable information. Related search queries highlight other search terms people have used regarding the topic, and give you topic opportunities to write about.
With landscape design, a variety of spin-off queries such as ‘landscape design ideas on a shoestring budget’ and ‘garden design ideas’ turn up. You can mine those keywords to produce good blog posts/articles relating to them and answering the questions posed by your target community.
4 – Increase local Search Engine Optimisation.
Structuring your website and its content for local search potential helps Google make decisions on how much you’re serving local users. This also means you need to signal to the search engine what makes you stand out.
First, register your place of business through Google My Business. By verifying where your business is actually based through Google, confirming an address, phone number, contact details, website links and social media profiles, its algorithms will lean towards what you publish, especially when you consistently generate new blog posts.
Having schema.org structured markup also gives Google an easier read of what your website is about. It lists categories that help the search engine quickly know if your content is relevant to a search query. These categories cover types of work, the services provided, the address, etc. You don’t even need to code, as there are website plugins that can do the same job from your website dashboard.
‘Mobile first’ is the cornerstone of hyperlocal content marketing. #hyperlocal #SEO CLICK TO TWEET
‘Mobile first’ is the cornerstone of hyperlocal content marketing and will become even more influential in coming years. The first issue to look at is page load time. 53% of website visits are abandoned if a mobile site takes longer than 3 seconds to load. Google has also stated that it favours websites with fast loading for mobiles.
Your page load time needs to be fast. Less-than-2-seconds fast. You can check how fast your website loads with Think with Google’s Test My Site tool.
Having a mobile-responsive website design is the first thing, because if you don’t have that then you can’t use hyperlocal content to engage your customers. There are plugins that can help here but I’d recommend going to a website designer or your previous website designer and asking them to make your website theme mobile-responsive.
It’s also important to see how your content looks on different mobile devices. WordPress gives you the ability to check how your website looks in a mobile layout, but it’s even better to check on different devices as well. What looks good on an iPhone may not on a Samsung or Google Pixel.
Testing how your site looks is crucial. Is it easy to read and navigate on a mobile device? Do you need more white space between text and images for better readability? Does anything interrupt the flow of the content on the website? Make sure your website is giving you good answers to all those questions.
53% of website visits are abandoned if a mobile site takes longer than 3 seconds to load. #website #hyperlocal CLICK TO TWEET
5 – Collaborate with local content influencers.
Influencers carry weight within a specific community with the consistent content they write, discuss and share online. In a local context, they’re trusted in their decisions, and that rightfully gives value to the things they promote or recommend.
When you want to gain traction in that local marketing space, reaching out to chosen influencers will benefit your small business or startup.
You can find local influencers using similar tactics to finding target customers through each relevant social media platform. There are also tools like BuzzSumo and Klear (which have free trials, but can be pricey) that can sift through the noise. For BuzzSumo, you can type in your particular keywords and click Search Influencers, and it will return the most prominent bloggers, social media accounts and businesses spinning around those keywords.
In a hyperlocal context, you can select place locations, suburbs, and surrounding regions and see what names appear. The quantity will never be great, as it’s a local focus, but the quality should be extremely good.
The Facebook Groups discussed earlier in this post can also turn up influencers you can then reach out to. This isn’t a fast process, but rather something built with an eye to long-term success.
For example, it could be worthwhile for that florist to team up with other wedding services – trading content, guest-posting on particular topics and promoting where necessary. That virtue of trust is essential for hyperlocal content to work. If that’s not available then you’re running up a mountain to survive.
It’s a slow burn relationship that benefits everyone involved if you deliver over and above what was expected. Think of it like karma: the more you look to help, the better your relationships will be.
6 – View social media as a conversation with anyone, not everyone.
The biggest numbers don’t always mean the best quality audience or potential customers. Grow a list of loyal and supportive followers who are eager to read what you’ve got to say, and ready to share it. There’s no magic bullet for this, it’s just consistency and hard work.
Entrepreneur Kevin Kelly spoke about a business needing 1,000 true fans to make a living from. These are people who will do business with you and champion your services because they believe in you. By establishing this true fan base through amazing content, the ability to grow a business becomes a reality, not just possible.
The key lies in opening up online communication channels, talking with people, being curious about things and always wanting to help out wherever possible. Does that mean helping out everyone? Hell, no. That’s impossible. It means supporting specific people whose questions you can answer.
Hyperlocal content must answer questions posed by your specific community. CLICK TO TWEET
Hyperlocal content must answer questions posed by your specific community. When you anchor your small business on a local scale, you need to gain trust by using the best marketing tool at your fingertips: content. The quality and engagement of this content will either pull Google towards it (and therefore rank it higher) or push Google away (causing a drop in result rankings).
Hyperlocal content ties these local threads together, because people like dealing with businesses they can trust. And trust only starts when others we respect give their advice to us.
Are you ready to think local?