Creating a fantastic website for your small business is only the beginning; once you’ve got it live, you need to get it ranking for your target keywords.
If you’re planning on marketing your business to local customers, then you need to focus on local SEO.
Local SEO involves getting your website ranking for terms that relate to location. It’s not just about the town or city you’re based in; terms such as ‘x business near me’ also fall under local SEO.
As with your site’s overall rankings, local SEO revolves around backlinks. Backlinks indicate that your website is a trusted source for other content creators, as Google’s guidelines indicate:
For a typical query, there are thousands, even millions, of web pages with potentially relevant information. So to help rank the best pages first, we also write algorithms to evaluate how useful these web pages are.
These algorithms analyse hundreds of different factors to try to surface the best information the web can offer, from the freshness of the content, to the number of times your search terms appear and whether the page has a good user experience. In order to assess trustworthiness and authority on its subject matter, we look for sites that many users seem to value for similar queries. If other prominent websites on the subject link to the page, that’s a good sign that the information is of high quality.
Assessing a website’s relevance for link building and earning quality backlinks takes time and effort, which is why reputable SEOs and link building agencies charge a lot of money for their services.
If you’re running a small local business, and don’t have the money to spend on outsourced service providers, then you need to use your resources wisely.
One resource that, in my opinion, is underused by in-house marketers and small businesses is local Publications. When most people think of local publications, they probably think about the junk fliers and free papers that get shoved through their letterbox every few weeks.
Times have changed, and today’s local newspapers have invested heavily in their online presence. As such, they can offer valuable link building and local SEO opportunities for local businesses willing to explore the possibilities.
If you’re unsure about how to use local publications to your advantage, then check out these ideas to make the most out of the opportunities you have in your local area.
Send Out Or Publish Regular Press Releases
One great strategy that can boost your overall SEO and your local rankings is to share regular Press releases. Use press releases to update your website visitors, customers and, most importantly, journalists and content creators, on the latest developments in your company.
Press releases are basically a blog post, but they are for general release, meaning that journalists can use the information in their content.
There’s a specific format for a press release, so learn how to write a press release and then create a template. You can then insert the information that you want into it and share it.
Your press release content can also be repurposed to save you time and effort. You can use it as the basis of a blog post, or as the bulk of your email newsletter.
Local newspapers will pick up on the mention of your local area, so be sure to mention where your company is based.
You can write press releases yourself for free, but releasing them can incur some costs. While there are free press release platforms out there, they don’t always give you the features and visibility that you need.
If you want to get your press release noticed by local and, potentially, national journalists, then you need to use a quality press release service. Companies like ResponseSource or Cision’s PR Newswire can help you to get your press release noticed and maximise its potential.
These platforms charge to share your release, so consider only releasing press releases on significant developments.
For smaller events and updates, consider just sharing your press release on your company’s website. You can create a separate resources page for press releases, or share it on your blog. By marketing it as a press release and including local-focused phrases, such as ‘x-based business’ and ‘local x team’, you’ll boost your chances of ranking your press release for local searches.
Sponsor A Contest
Press releases help with your SEO and could earn you quality backlinks, but they can be hit and miss. Some press releases might not work as well as you expected, and it might take some trial and error to create the perfect releases that catch the eye of journalists and content creators.
One technique that will earn you a guaranteed backlink from a local publication, and which will improve your business’s visibility, is to sponsor a contest.
Many local newspapers host events and give away prizes, but right now, most of their contests will be online. That makes your job even easier; you won’t have to go through the hassle of setting up a booth or attending an event.
All you need to do is offer a product or service for the prize for a contest and liaise with the publication about promoting it. In return, the publication will share a backlink to your site on their press releases and content about the contest.
If you don’t offer a product or service that’s suitable for a prize in a contest, then offer to pay for the prize. Many companies do this, and include branded items, such as keyrings and pens, in the prize to show their affiliation.
Often, local publications also offer additional benefits for companies that sponsor contests, such as free advertising on their website. They will also promote the contest on their social media and will usually include your logo or company name on any images that they release.
As such, you’ll get increased visibility, which will improve your website traffic and brand recognition, as well as those coveted backlinks. Most local publications are named after the area that they’re based in, such as the Burton Mail or The Bridport News, so you can improve your website’s association with the local area.
Become An Regular Online Commentator
If you’ve ever read a local newspaper, you’ll notice that many stories include comments from local business owners.
These comments are a win-win for both parties. They give the local publication gravitas and make their stories look well-researched. For local businesses, they provide an opportunity to earn free publicity and, potentially, a quality backlink for their website.
While local newspapers sometimes use commenting platforms, such as HARO, to get quotes, they often use the resources they have at their disposal. These include the comments they get on their online articles and the publication’s social media pages.
As such, the best way to get yourself noticed and create a relationship with local journalists is to become a vocal commentator on local issues.
Consider voicing your opinion on relevant and interesting local news stories that appear in your social media feeds, and commenting on articles that you enjoyed reading online. You should also follow local forums and dedicated social media pages for your local area, and share your opinions and on there.
Make sure that your opinions aren’t too diverse; try to be neutral and polite. In some cases, you might have an interesting opinion, but if it comes across in an offensive way or seems to be badmouthing another organisation, then you could incur negative publicity and face a backlash from your customers.
Consider sharing more positive stories than negative; for example, if you notice someone doing something kind, or your business is giving back to the local community, then share the news. This approach will create a positive association with your business in the minds of local residents.
Consider Investing In Advertising With Local Platforms
For businesses that offer physical services, such as carpet fitters, plumbers, couriers and many others, local advertising is more important than national reach.
That’s because if your company relies on local custom, then you need to invest the bulk of your marketing and advertising budget on local adverts.
One of the best platforms for return on investment on your advert spend is local newspapers and blogs. They’re explicitly marketed at residents of your local area, and as such, they can help you to get noticed by your target audience.
So, when you’re allocating your digital marketing and advertising spend, consider investing in local publications.
Check out the publications that your competitors are advertising in, and then consider using them to get noticed by your target market and show your company to be as dedicated to supporting local people as other businesses in your sector.
Earning quality backlinks is essential for any business that wants to get noticed online. For small businesses, who are often competing against conglomerates with sky-high marketing budgets, it can feel impossible to achieve the reach you want.
Just because you don’t have thousands to spend on marketing and SEO, doesn’t mean that you can’t rank for your target keywords and get noticed by your audience. You just need to make the most of your budget and use your time and resources wisely.
This guide should help you to understand how to use local publications and websites to boost your local SEO and overall online reach. Happy link building!