How to Make Local Content Truly Local

One of the most common pieces of advice for local SEO is to create localized content. It sounds simple enough, but it’s actually quite difficult to execute well. Most marketers will just add a few cities into their copy or metadata, clap their hands, and say that they’ve localized their content. Not only is this a lazy way to localize your content, but customers will read your copy and think it’s clunky and spammy, and will potentially not trust that your business is truly local. 

Depending on the industry you’re in and the number of locations you have, developing local content is going to play a vital role in your search visibility, how Google perceives your business, and how your business resonates with your customers. By creating a local SEO strategy, conducting actual localized keyword research, and optimizing your location pages, you will be well on your way to making local content that is truly local.

Create a Local SEO Strategy Based on Your Business Type

Depending on the type of local business you have, you’re going to need to create different types of local content. Generally speaking, there are four types of local businesses. 

  1. Storefront business with one location
  2. Storefront business with multiple locations
  3. Service area business that covers one area
  4. Service area business that covers multiple areas

The reason you need different strategies for each type of business is that you will want to highlight your locality on different parts of your website. Take a storefront business with one location as an example. They won’t need location pages because there’s only one location, so they need to drive traffic to their homepage or their products and services. Service area businesses with multiple areas are going to have to put emphasis on location pages because it would be impossible to target all of their locations from their service pages or homepage.

Knowing the type of business you have will dictate the direction of your strategy. This will help you determine whether you should focus on location pages or other parts of the site. But once that decision is made, how do you target and differentiate these pages so that they rank for local queries? The way to do this is through local keyword research.   

Local Keyword Research

The most annoying piece of advice in local SEO is when someone says to do local keyword research and then displays a screenshot from their favorite SEO tool with a big list of keyword + city queries. They might claim that their keyword research is done. Upon further review, most of the queries that are listed are not grammatically correct and wouldn’t work in content anyways. This is not effective local keyword research. 

The reason this happens is that most keyword research tools are national in scope. As a result, the only way to target locally is to add the city with the keyword. News flash: Google is smart. Google knows where you’re located when you search and tailors its results based on your location.

The best way to do local keyword research (and really any keyword research) is to use Google Ads’ Keyword Planner tool. When you’re searching for keyword volume, you can update your location to either the city or service area that you need. This will give you adjusted keyword demand for your products or services based on your location, both with and without city names. 

For example, if I’m in Chicago, I might search for “Chicago plumber.” More likely, though, I’ll just search for “plumber” or “plumber near me.” Keyword Planner will give you truly local data for each of those phrases — with and without the location in the keyword — rather than just a nationalized count of searches per month.

Along with your generic products and services by city, you’ll also want to gather keyword research around common questions the business receives about your specific area. A good example of this is for businesses that work in multiple cities where there are city ordinances that could affect how they do their work. During the research phase, a customer will want to know if they need permits or if there are city laws they need to consider. If the company addresses those on their website, they are paving the way as experts in their area.

Localized Content for Products and Services

Once you’ve gathered your keyword research, the next step is to update your website with localized information. You’ll want to optimize and localize your title tags, meta descriptions, and headers according to SEO best practices, but you’ll want your content to actually tell potential customers how your business relates to where you’re located. 

For example, if you are a local pizza place in a specific town and you only have one location, listing your address is the bare minimum. You’ll want to mention your location within your SEO metadata (title tags, meta description, etc.), but you should also talk about major local factors that your customers will want to know in your copy. Do you deliver? Mention your delivery areas. Do you provide pizzas for big events in your town? Talk about it. Have you won local awards? You get the idea.

For companies that provide multiple services, it might be a good idea to detail how prevalent certain services are at certain times of the year. For example, a company that does heating and cooling services will do heating during the winter and cooling during the summer. What are those specific times of the year? Are there common repairs that happen more than others that you see in a specific area at specific times?

Really addressing why you’re a local expert is key. Just writing that you exist in a location and that you know about it is one thing, but can you truly prove it? 

If you have multiple locations, this task becomes even more difficult. The best way to prove locality in multiple locations is through truly localized location pages.    

Location Pages

If you’re a multi-location business, you’re going to want to have location pages. Ideally, you have a location page for each location, but some businesses will take it a step further and create pages for service areas. Often times these pages become really repetitive.

A lot of companies will use some kind of paragraph at the beginning of their content that they think is specific to their locale, but it reads really weirdly: “Located in this county, this town is the 5th largest city in this state, which means there are a lot of people that need our service in this city.” My personal favorite is referring to a city by its nickname and thinking that will resonate as local expertise. “We offer the best service in the Big Apple!”

How are these sentences helpful in proving you are local? The reader knows where they’re located and doesn’t need to know specifics about your town. They need to know about your business.

Your location pages should have common themes (name, address, phone number, service areas, store hours, list of services, etc.) but should also be unique. One question your location pages should answer is: What do your customers need to know about this location that is different than the other locations? 

What does your location look like? What are the cross streets where it’s located or local landmarks nearby to help them orient as they’re driving? What can you expect to see when you go inside your store? Who can you expect to talk to? Do some locations provide goods and services that other locations don’t provide? These are all valid questions that you can speak to on a location page. It’s often best to talk to store managers or employees and learn about frequently asked questions specific locations receive. There will be some overlap, but you will find there are often several differences that can help these pages stand out.

If you have multiple locations, use these location pages to link to your Google Business Profile. This is essential in helping your customers and helping Google differentiate your locations from each other, particularly if Google Maps is the way that a customer will interact with your business.

The last thing you can add is what other customers have to say about this location, specifically when it comes to reviews. Testimonials and reviews are super important to local SEO, and adding positive reviews to your site is vital. If you have the ability to highlight reviews that either talk about something specific to your location, or reviews that mention specific members of your team, that’s going to go a long way in showing your local expertise. Using the town where the reviewer is located can also show where you’re serving your customers.

Ultimately, having truly local content is hard to do, particularly if you have a lot of locations. It requires a lot of research and insights into what your customers value. Creating a lot of content that’s truly unique and also solves customer pain points is a challenge. 

But if you focus on providing value with content that shows your local expertise, you will be able to rank without having to stuff city keywords all over your website. In addition, you’ll be providing the best experience for your customers. 

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