It makes sense that if a local business wants to dominate locally, then they need to create a localized strategy. A broad online campaign won’t deliver the same results on a local level. You need to get hyper-focused on your digital marketing strategy for local SEO.
Now more than ever, consumers and clients – your target audience – are turning to the web over other mediums in order to obtain information on local businesses and sales. According to TMP and ComScore a massive 83% of local search users contacted businesses offline, with 46% of consumers making contacts over the phone and 37% visiting the businesses in person, and half of all local business searchers eventually made purchases as a result of their searches.
When you’re involved in search marketing and local SEO as long as I have been, you start to notice trends and patterns. I’ve read a lot of content, I’ve attended trade shows and conferences, seminars, and workshops that buzz about how to write great articles. They push trends in content marketing and deliver on endless strategies for creating “headlines” that people will click through.
A lot of it is pretty tired, and dated, but some of it still works for the most part.
When you’re creating content, you can draw on those swipe files and tried-and-true practices that work but the key is to be different. To do something innovative, because too much of anything is never good. When it comes to business blogging and local SEO, success is going to depend on you and your audience – not how well you reused old ideas.
Here are some tips to boost your business blogging efforts in 2012 and get some results.
Avoid Regurgitating Old Content
When you recycle stuff that’s already been done and said, it gets old. There are two ways to look at this though; on one hand you have content that is relevant to your audience which should be shared. How to info, guides, walkthroughs, tips and industry advice that is always useful to someone entering your market for the first time.
Then there’s the content that’s already been written over and over. There difference between the two is subtle. Essentially, it boils down to whether or not you mimic someone and regurgitate the content or if you take the concept and turn it into something with your own style, your own face and your own message. Fit it to your audience.
If you’re a business in Mobile, figure out how a core concept would adapt to your local seo efforts and your customer. Find ways to expand on the idea in order to improve your fan base. Repurposing and regurgitation are two different things. Remember that.
Why Giving Gifts is Important
The old adage of giving in order to receive applies to your local SEO efforts. If you merely post content, you might hit on something of value to someone but the takeaways are usually pretty slim. It doesn’t really inspire engagement or return visits. Instead, think of each piece of content you share on your business blog like an opportunity to give something to the reader.
- Tips are easy to give away, especially when related to personal experience (use storytelling) where you can drive the benefit home through a real story and outcome
- Reviews that help people make a decision
- Creating a path to a solution in order to solve a common problem
- Links! Links to great resources like other sites, white papers, images, free trials, etc. as long as its relevant to your target audience, there will be people who will appreciate it.
Remember that if people are going to give you some of their time, and read what you’ve written, then you need to give something in return and try to make it worth their while.
Business Blogging that’s Readable
One of the worst mistakes you can make blogging with corporate gobbledegook and industry jargon. I could talk to the ends of the earth using big words and SEO banter, but a lot of my audience wouldn’t necessarily understand it. You have to appeal to a wide audience of people with different levels of reading and comprehension.
Write too much “101” material and you lose the mid to advanced readers. Write too much advanced material and it goes right over the heads of your basic, entry level audience or customers.
Stop Talking About Yourself
Your customer is a unique individual, and they’re also extremely self-centered. They really don’t care about you, or your product, or your company. The only thing about “you” that might resonate with them is a personal experience or story, but even then it better be a good one they can relate to.
If you want to talk about you, then go start a Blogger blog and talk about you. When it comes to business blogging, keep it relevant to the interests of your customers and your audience.
Lastly, do your research. The knowledge you have a particular subject in your industry is only your side of it. See it from different perspectives, with different facts to back those, and you’ll be able to not only expand your own knowledge on key issues but you’ll provide more relevant information to your audience.
Last March, the Federal Trade Commission reported that they had levied a fine of $250,000 against the Legacy Learning and Smith company. The fine originated due to their use of online bloggers who were paid to produce reviews and endorsements for the products. The intent was to stimulate credibility among readers in order to generate purchases and clicks for the Legacy Learning and Smith company.
Since 2009, the FTC has been ramping up its efforts to put an end to this kind of paid endorsement. They explicitly underscore that this sort of back-scratching between paid reviewers (“critics”) and companies selling products and services is far from okay.
Being caught by the FTC and getting a heavy slap on the wrist (and the wallet) isn’t the only reason you should avoid this kind of blatant disregard for authenticity. You’re also lying to your customers.
Search marketing and local SEO in Alabama isn’t just about visibility, it’s about building real credibility. That comes from establishing and working on relationships founded in trust. When you sponsor reviews and pay for “critics” to talk up your products and services in local SEO boosting sites like Google Places and Yelp, you’re risking serious harm to your credibility.
Here are 3 Reasons Paid Reviews Are Bad for Local SEO (and your business…)
Consumer Savvy Continues to Grow
It’s easy for some business owners to think of their consumers as simple-minded people browsing, but the majority of your target audience is anything but a bunch of rubes. The more time people spend online, the more they’re able to sniff out disingenuous content. Start using paid reviews to bolster your local SEO and watch how quickly red flags go up. Your audience will avoid you like the plague.
Those who do business with based on those reviews, who then have a different experience, are going to feel extremely cheated. Thus begins the negative word of mouth and even more harm to your brand.
Associating your brand and your business with this kind of deceptive local SEO marketing might net you a short term profit, but it decreases your long-term visibility, return customer base and consumer loyalty.
If you’ve got a great product or service, you shouldn’t have to rely on local SEO based in fake reviews to market yourself
Dishonest Local SEO Marketing is a Gateway Drug
If you can’t see the ethical issues that reveal themselves in paying someone to deliberately mislead your consumers, then you’re leaving yourself wide open to utilizing more devious (and deceptive) marketing gimmicks.
You might think “this is OK, but I would never do X”, you’re lying to yourself. When it comes to business ethics, you’re either honest, or you’re not.
The Staggering Risk of Viral Negativity
Remember how quickly the videos spread that showed a FedEx driver throwing a television over a fence during one delivery? How far did that message reach? You might think that your average consumer won’t notice or care about your little local SEO dishonesty with some paid reviews, and you might not worry at all about the ethical implications, but you should know there are some savvy people out there who know how to get the word out.
And they’re connected in all the right ways, and can get the word out in just the right time that you could wind up with a viral backlash.
It might start with a simple blog post, but what if that blog is read by another more influential blogger who decides to name your business as a stark example on how NOT to approach local SEO marketing? What if that “how not to do this” goes viral across the web? You got the exposure you wanted, but not in the right way. Now no one will touch your brand.
If you want to focus on a Local SEO strategy, focus on quality content. Don’t pay for bad, biased reviews. That’s bad business, period.