Editor’s Note: This article was originally published by Web Marketing Today. Practical Ecommerce acquired Web Marketing Today in 2012. In 2016, we merged the two sites, leaving Practical Ecommerce as the successor.
Local SEO isn’t just about optimizing your business website any longer. It’s about maintaining a healthy presence online within the community and engaging with your customers and prospects through your site and on social media.
One of the newer search engine ranking factors that I predicted will become more popular this year is “overall visitor engagement,” particularly through social media. In fact, Google admitted that, in 2009, it embarked on a 10-year plan to integrate social media data into its organic search algorithm.
Therefore, combining content updates on your website with social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram can lead to greater engagement and more site visits, resulting in higher search ranking.
This is particularly true for a local business. You should keep everything, from location details to hours of operation to prices, up to date.
But what about other types of content? What else should you be posting to your website and social media accounts on a regular basis? Let’s look at four options and discuss the benefits of each.
1. Add a Blog to Your Website
A blog is ideal for regularly posting updates about your products, services, customers, and the local community. Consider these ideas, for blog posts:
- Take a photo of customers who visit your store or business frequently and post their story. Conduct an interview where you ask customers questions about themselves and get their recommendations on ways to make your business better at serving them. Then, publish the interview and photos to your blog, with their permission. Follow up with a post on Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, and Instagram, with a link back to your blog post. Regular postings like this will keep your fans and followers engaged. They will see that yours is a business that cares about its customers.
- Take pictures of your business at different times of year — even one per week (or day). Update the blog with the latest photos, describing each one. Also, post the photos to your social media accounts with a link back to your site, and update your local listings on sites such as Google My Business, Bing Places, and Yahoo Local with the photos.
- Feature a particular product, service, or even an entrée (if you’re a restaurant) on a regular basis.
- Find “horror stories” related to your business, and include photos. If you’re a dry cleaner, for instance, post about a really dirty wedding dress that you cleaned. Find out about the bride and how the dress got so dirty. Regardless of the nature of your business or industry, I’m sure there’s a “horror story” you could write about, post on the blog, and share on social media.
2. Connect with Community Influencers
Use social media to connect with influential people in your community, such as a local television personality, radio DJ, the mayor, or another prominent figure. And don’t just follow them, but react to their posts and tweets with likes, shares, and comments.
I happen to live in a large television market, Dallas, and connect with many local television personalities regularly via Twitter. You may be surprised to know that they will respond and have conversations with you, even when they’re on the air. (During commercial breaks at least.)
Connecting with local personalities will help you in the long run because, whenever you have a story to tell, they are more apt to listen and will help you promote it through social media if you connected with them previously.
3. Take Something Viral
Even though yours is a local small business, that doesn’t mean that you cannot do something that will go viral.
When something “goes viral” on social media, people will start engaging with your business and will search for your brand or company name — and search engines will take notice as a result.
For example, a local hair salon I worked with on website optimization was doing something that I thought worth promoting. If you were unemployed and going on a job interview, you could come to the hair salon, and a member of the staff would do your hair for free.
[T]he hair salon received some outstanding local news coverage, which we leveraged by creating fresh content.
I mentioned this to some local news personalities with whom I was connected on social media, and also wrote and distributed a press release to local news outlets. As a result, the hair salon received outstanding local news coverage, which we leveraged by creating fresh content.
We added a blog post and an article on the website and posted photos of the news media that showed up to report on the story to the salon’s website and social media channels.
4. Connect with Your Local Community
Your business is a big part of the community. One way to connect with it is through local events.
When an event is taking place, take some photos and post them to your website and social media accounts. It’s possible that your fans and followers will share them, and others in the community will be made aware of your business.
It’s also a good idea to add a local event calendar to your website and update it on a routine basis. If there are events that occur annually — festivals and fairs, for example — mention last year’s event and post about it on your site and through social media, to build buzz for the upcoming event.
When it comes to local SEO, you first need to optimize your website so that it is search engine friendly and contains no errors. Beyond that, focus your time on updating your site and social accounts with fresh content.
Search engines, particularly Google, are clued into what’s going on when it comes to website traffic, social media, and what people are doing on the web.
Keeping your content fresh, combined with interaction with fans, followers, customers, and prospects via social media, holds great appeal and will inevitably help increase your site’s search engine rankings over time.