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Search engines represent a major opportunity for businesses with a local content marketing strategy.

Rank for your target keywords and you can practically guarantee a steady stream of targeted traffic. Potential customers who are actively searching for products or services that your business offers. But actually achieving this goal requires massive effort as the digital landscape continues to shift dramatically. One challenge that local businesses face is heavy competition.

This is where content marketing comes in.

According to the Content Marketing Institute:

“Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

Many local businesses are turning to the potential of content marketing to

  • Increase brand awareness and reach: Quality content stands out far more than content that has simply been rehashed (e.g. article directories). It also helps out your brand name in front of potential customers.
  • Drive traffic from online channels including search: Relevant content is exactly what Google rewards in the search results. Each page created represents an opportunity to rank for more keywords.
  • Generate more shares on social networks: A comprehensive how-to post that delivers valuable insights is much more likely to get shared by followers on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus.
  • Build relevant and targeted links: Engaging content naturally attracts links from social media and industry related sites, thus further increasing their rankings in the search results.

Content marketing can achieve these objectives all at once.

A post on your own site goes viral. It gets picked up by local media and gets shared thousands of times across social media networks. Both of which attract quality links as well as targeted traffic. The end result is increased awareness for your brand and even more sales.

Your target audience is likely using search engines and social media. The right content marketing strategy essentially increases visibility to your audience, ultimately contributing to your bottom line.

Here we look at the steps involved to get started for your business.

1. Analyze and Choose Your Keywords
Keywords are a fundamental aspect of local SEO.

What differentiates local searches is that they are typically geography based. But to target local customers you need to know what they are searching for. Otherwise you may be optimizing your pages for keywords that barely get any searches.

Conducting keyword research gives your site a significant competitive advantage. Because then you know exactly what keywords to optimize your content for.

But how do you find relevant keywords to target?

Google’s Keyword Planner is a good place to start. Enter in keywords that are relevant to your business (e.g. local SEO services Austin) to discover more ideas and to see estimate traffic. You can even narrow down your search to specific cities. Here is an example of keyword ideas for “emergency dentist” in Austin:

Google Keyword Planner

These are the exact keywords that you can then use to create new landing pages and even blog posts around. This kind of research is absolutely key to connecting with local customers.

2. Publish Relevant Content
Content creation is the next step.

A standard business site typically has content for the home and landing pages that describe the products or services that are offered. But to really boost your marketing efforts, you need to go a step further. Increasing visibility in the search results starts by offering value with your content.

Some examples include:

  • Blog posts: Use your keyword research to find what questions your audience is asking. Then publish blog posts to your site (e.g. how-tos, tutorials, resources, checklists, etc.).
  • Videos: Videos are excellent tools to educate potential customers on exactly what your business offers. Publish these on your blog or upload to one of the many video sharing sites such as YouTube.
  • Infographics: Sometimes it helps to break down complicated topics into bite sized information that is easy to digest. Infographics also tend to receive a lot of shares.
  • Newsletters: If you want more subscribers to your newsletters, one way is to offer compelling and exclusive content.

Don’t forget to share content you create to your social profiles to increase their visibility.

3. Leverage Local Events
There are always local events going on that your business could sponsor or provide coverage for. These types of events provide excellent opportunities to create content and generate interest for your business. You could even consider hosting your own events or meetups.

Leveraging events in this manner can help get your brand in the local news and build quality links in the process.

Zappos generated a lot of buzz in Austin when it hosted a unique event last year asking residents to locate a gingerbread man and upload his picture on social media.

Zappos Wanted Poster

As you might expect, many people participated in the event which massively helped with their marketing efforts. If your business does something similar, offer an award to entice people to participate and be sure to document your efforts on your site and social platforms.

Content marketing is a highly effective way to increase brand awareness.

So it’s not surprising that more local businesses are putting more resources into its implementation. Content that you publish has the potential to reach your target market and bring in more sales. But the content marketing campaign must also be tailored to your organization to reach local customers. The sooner you get started, the more benefits your business reaps.

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