The Role of Content Marketing in Local SEO

Properly-researched, properly-optimized content is at the core of every successful website. This holds true regardless of whether you’re targeting on a local scale or a global one. That said, there are a few things about local SEO that requires a unique approach to content marketing.

As the old cliche goes, content is king. Careful, targeted content marketing is one of the pillars of success with every form of search engine optimization, including local. Leveraged in tandem with other local tools like Google My Business and Facebook, it can easily help you take your business to entirely new heights.

Generally speaking, where local content marketing is concerned, you have two options. On the one hand, you can simply write on topics you know your target audience is interested in, and add a few personal touches to them. Mention a local landmark, reference a recent event, talk about your own experiences in a city, or provide advice specifically geared towards people in your area.

For instance, let’s say you own a hardware supply shop and you’re writing a guide on tiling for a backyard patio. You might add a few recommendations based on your city’s weather and climate, recommend a local contractor, or suggest a local material wholesaler. The key here is to take a light touch.

As with keywords, you don’t want to bog down your content with too many local references. Not only can this make your copy cumbersome and difficult to read, in extreme cases it could potentially lead to you being penalized by Google’s algorithms. Just write as you ordinarily would, and sprinkle in a few references. 

Your other option is to write content geared from the foundation for a local audience. This might include information on nearby activities and events, case studies or profiles of customers and business partners, or announcements about your business and its local activities. If you’re feeling stuck on content, you can use a tool like Google Trends to see what search terms are popular in your area and generate ideas from that. 

In both cases, the same rules apply to local-oriented content as to any other content:

  • Write well. Proper spelling and grammar are a must. We’d also advise steering away from any unnecessarily complex words. 
  • Make it easy to digest. Use a tool like Hemingway, and ensure anything you write is at a reading level of eighth grade or lower. Break up long walls of text with images or subheads. Keep things as concise as possible. 
  • Keep it relevant. Focus on what your audience wants. You’re trying to drive traffic and sales, sure. But you do so by serving their needs, not pushing your own. 
  • Do your research. Beyond keywords, you should also know what type of content is most frequently associated with your brand, including niche topics. 

Where local search is concerned, content marketing is part of a unified whole. Social media, business listings, on-page SEO, and customer reviews work together with created content to act as the foundation of an effective marketing campaign. If you’re to truly master local search, you’ll need to master each one in turn.

3 Core Components of a Successful Facebook Business Page

It goes without saying that social media is an incredibly powerful marketing tool, especially for small businesses. Facebook is still the reigning titan in that regard. Not only does it have the potential to significantly improve your reach, but it also allows you to engage and communicate with your audience on a deeper level than any other channel. 

That said, it’s very easy to do Facebook wrong. While that’s not likely to cause any long-term damage to your brand, it will end up being a wasted effort. Let’s talk about how you can avoid that. 

Sleek Photos

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. 

For that reason, it’s imperative that both your business page and the majority of your social content leverage high-quality imagery. The profile photo for your page should be sharp, clear, and representative of what you feel is the core of your brand. This could be your logo, an image of a well-known product, or something else that you know will inspire your audience to click-through.

Make sure it’s 180 by 180 pixels and sized so that people are able to tell at a glance what it is. 

For your other photos, think about what you can do to make yourself memorable to potential clients or customers. What sort of imagery will resonate with them and make them really remember what they’re seeing? This need not break the bank either, as there are plenty of free photo-editing tools and stock photography websites available for use across the web. 

An Accurate, Optimized Business Description

Your Facebook Business Page should act as a one-stop-shop for customers who want to learn more about your brand. Include as much information about your business as you possibly can, including website, address, contact information, and links to other relevant social media accounts. For your business description (About Us), keep it brief and focus on a few core keywords, as you’ve only got 155 characters to work with.

Make sure that you also choose the right category for your page, and select a vanity URL that reflects your brand. 

Targeted, Engaging Content

We’ve saved arguably the most important part for last. Look at your competitors and large businesses in your field who are killing it on Facebook. See how they interact with their audience, what sort of content they share, and when and how often they share it.

Then emulate them.  Keeping sales-focused content to a minimum, share things you think might be useful to your audience. Content they might find informative, entertaining, or thought-provoking. 

Consider automatic post scheduling, and feel free to repost published items that resonated with your audience in the past. Respond to questions and comments on your posts promptly and with an eye for your brand’s personality. Some lighthearted fun usually goes over pretty well, but don’t deviate too far from your core branding. 

Lastly, you might consider using pinned posts to allow customers and clients to stay informed about stuff like sales, product releases, and other major events. These pinned posts will stay at the top of your feed for seven days before returning to the bottom. 

The advice above is just a starting point. But it’s the first step in shaping Facebook so that it works for you rather than the other way around. And the value of that cannot be understated. 

What Facebook Burnout Means for Social Marketing

People are fed up with Facebook, and it isn’t hard to see why. It’s gone from a great platform that everyone loves to use to a place everyone loves to hate. The reasons are many and varied, but ultimately come down to the social network’s blatant disregard for the well-being of its users. 

Pushy marketing campaigns. Creepy features that seem to track our location, our preferences, and even our conversations. Privacy scandal after privacy scandal. 

On top of all this, social media as a whole is exhausting. Negative news coverage and arguments in the comment section. The constant pressure to view and reply to the messages you receive right now, this very instant, unless you want to be a bad friend. 

Simply put, people are burnt out. 

Yet even in the face of this, the network’s membership is apparently still growing. According to Statista, it currently sits at approximately 2.5 billion monthly active users. Although at least some of this number may consist of fake accounts (again, per Statista), Facebook is still the place to be as far as social media is concerned.

That’s true both for users and for marketers. This may not always be the case. It probably wouldn’t be inaccurate to say that most people who are still on Facebook are there only because there’s no viable alternative. 

Because that’s where their friends and family are. Because many employers now all but demand that people have a Facebook account. Because without Facebook, how would one keep track of the parties they’ve been invited to and the events they have to attend?

Basically, what we’re saying is that just because people are on Facebook, it doesn’t mean they aren’t burnt out by it. It doesn’t mean they really want to be there. And it doesn’t mean 

In a study conducted by real estate technology firm BizCatalyst360, it uncovered some telling sentiments towards the network and its behavior.

  • 80 percent of Americans have privacy concerns about Facebook’s usage of their data.
  • 95 percent of Americans are concerned about their privacy on social media in general.
  • 76 percent of Americans find social ads annoying, and 83 percent are creeped out when ads seem to ‘follow’ them around. 

Given the numbers above, it should be fairly obvious that your business should not attempt to reach prospective customers through traditional means. Non-native social ads are, at this point, effectively a lost cause. Impersonal, untargeted marketing messages are no longer going to grab people’s attention.

Instead, your brand needs to focus not on itself and its products, but on its audience. Who are they? What do they want? What interests them? What kind of content do they want to see, and how can you provide them with that content?

For now, Facebook remains a great way to connect and communicate with your audience. But it’s important to remember that this may not always be the case. While social media as a whole is unlikely to die out anytime soon, it’s worth considering, at least in passing, what you might do if one day using Facebook was no longer feasible.

Optimizing Your Google My Business Page

Local search engine optimization, at its core, is about connecting your business with nearby sales prospects. To that end, Google My Business represents one of the most powerful tools in your repertoire. A free tool provided by Google, Google My Business allows you to create a digital profile for your organization that includes location, photos, website URL, contact information, services, and user reviews.

Not only does your business profile provide another avenue through which you can interact with your audience, but it also gives you a huge leg up in discovery. Local users looking for products or services your business offers have a chance to see your business profile listed right at the top of the search engine results page. If you’ve played your cards right, this can result in a ton of leads.

Creating Your Business Listing

Before you get started, it’s important to note that you can only create a profile if your business has a physical outlet that customers can visit. Digital agencies or organizations without a customer-facing office are ineligible. With that in mind, your first step in creating a Google My Business Page is to check if one already exists. 

  1. Navigate to the Google My Business landing page
  2. Type your business name into the search bar. 
  3. If a listing already exists, you’ll be directed to it. 
  4. Click on Claim this business.
  5. If someone else has already verified the business profile, you’ll need to fill out a form to request access.
  6. Once the form is filled out, click Submit. The current profile owner will have between three and seven days to respond. 
  7. If you don’t hear back or your request is approved, sign in to Google My Business. There should be a Claim or Verify button on your dashboard. 
  8. If your request is denied, you’ll have to contact Google Support and work with them to claim ownership. 

Your next step is to provide your business details. The idea here is that customers who visit your listing have a complete picture of who you are, what you do, and how to get in touch. You’ll want to add the following business information. 

  • Name. 
  • A brief description of your business and what it does, up to 750 characters in length. Google has published a set of guidelines for what this description should include
  • Address, including street, city, and zip code. 
  • Business hours. 
  • Phone numbers. 
  • Website.
  • One primary category which describes your business. Take care to be as specific as possible. 
  • Whether or not your business delivers goods and services, and the service area in which it operates. 

Next, you’ll want to verify your business listing. Google provides multiple options for verification, including phone, email, and physical mail. Choose whichever is easiest for you, then wait for the verification process to complete. 

Once your business is verified, it’s time to start adding photos to your profile. You can add as many of these as you want. They can be used to showcase products, services, physical location, and anything else you feel accurately represents your brand. 

Make sure at least one of these photos is uploaded in a 16:9 aspect ratio. This will be featured at the top of your profile and be the first thing prospective customers see. You might also want to upload your business’s logo, as well.

Beyond the above, all photos aside from your cover photo should follow Google’s best practices.

  • JPG or PNG format.
  • Between 10 KB and 5 MB in size. 
  • A resolution of 720 by 720 pixels. 
  • No significant alterations, excessive filters, or poor lighting. 

You can also upload videos to your business listing. These can be up to 30 seconds long and up to 100 MB in size with a resolution of 720p or higher. 

Monitoring and Interacting With Your Business Listing

Your job isn’t done once your listing is complete. Google offers multiple insights that help you understand how customers find and interact with your profile which can be used to tweak both your listing and your website. You’ll also need to monitor suggested edits to your profile and respond to user reviews. 

We’d advise thanking users for positive reviews, and responding to negative reviews with candor and accountability. Per Google’s guidelines for responding to reviews, be honest about your mistakes, but don’t take responsibility for things that weren’t your fault. For legitimate grievances, encourage the customer to get in touch with you to fix the problem. 

Google My Business is an incredibly powerful tool for just about any local organization. If you’re not using it already, you need to start. Otherwise, you’re just letting potential customers slip through your fingers.

5 Best Practices for Website Push Notifications

Recently, you may have noticed more and more websites requesting your permission to enable push notifications.  Used effectively, they can be an incredibly valuable tool for increasing audience engagement, particularly amongst desktop users. Unfortunately, in our experience, most businesses don’t know how to use them effectively.

As a result, they end up annoying their audience rather than compelling them. Let’s talk about how you can avoid making the same mistake. Here are five best practices for push notifications on your website. 

Don’t Send a Prompt Right Away

Many websites request permission the instant a user lands on the site without providing any context as to why it should be granted. This is among the most common website notification mistakes. It can also be one of the most damaging. 

With the release of Google Chrome 80 last month, the browser has started blocking websites that engage in this behavior. As if that’s not enough of an indication of how Google feels, it outright states in its developer best practices guidelines that this is the worst thing you can do. You need to provide users with context and value.

Instead of immediately foisting a permission request on your audience, provide them with some incentive, and send them a prompt when they’re likely to be most engaged with your site. 

Personalize Everything

Just as mailing lists benefit from segmentation, so too do website notifications. Most website push plugins and platforms provide a wide range of analytics data on how and when users engage with the notifications you send. You can use this information, as well as site activity metrics, to more effectively target and personalize your messaging.

Segmentations you should consider include:

  • Geographical location and timezone 
  • Money spent
  • Products purchased
  • Pages visited
  • Frequency of visitation
  • Social engagement
  • Mailing list subscriptions 
  • Device and browser type 

Don’t Overdo It

According to entrepreneur and journalist Matthew Paulson, the “sweet spot” for notifications is four to five per day. Anything less, and you risk large portions of your audience missing out on your messaging. Anything more, and you risk frustrating and alienating your audience by spamming them. 

Note that this may vary depending on your audience and vertical. 

Keep Notifications Short, Simple, and Relevant

In order to make your notifications as attention-grabbing as possible, keep them brief and include visual elements such as custom icons and large, dynamic images. Consumer engagement platform OneSignal recommends keeping titles to a maximum of 10 characters, and messages to 45.  In order to maximize your clickthrough rate, they should not be more than six to eight words long. 

Emojis can also be used in moderation to add a bit of extra flair to your messaging. 

Test Everything

When implementing website push notifications on a new platform, we’d strongly advise testing them extensively to ensure everything’s working as intended. In addition, you should regularly A/B test your notifications. This will allow you to further optimize them over time, determining both what works and what doesn’t. 

In A/B testing, you select two audience segments and send each one a distinct notification, with one minor detail changed between them. 

Done right, website push notifications are a valuable tool for audience engagement. Follow the best practices above, and you might be surprised at how successful they can be.

Website Not Ranking? The Problem Might Not Be Your SEO

Search engine optimization (SEO) is not foolproof. There are no guarantees. Rather, it’s about continually improving your site, continually working to grow your site and climb the search engine results page. 

Sometimes it’s possible to do everything right and not see any improvement in your ranking. In situations like this, there are a few possibilities. First, you may not be targeting the right keywords or generating the correct topics for your audience.

In this scenario, it doesn’t matter if you’re producing compelling, high-quality content. It’s not targeted at your primary demographic, which means you’re pulling in traffic from users who aren’t particularly interested in your brand. The good news is that this is a relatively easy fix.

All it requires is that you do a bit of market research. 

First, take a look at your competition. Use a tool like Moz or Google’s Keyword Planner to see what keywords they’re targeting and give you an idea of where your own focus should be.   You should also draw on data you’ve collected from your own users, through their interactions with your site, your social feeds and any surveys you’ve sent out. 

It may also be that you are spinning content, or writing content that Google has identified as low-quality. Again, this is a fairly easy fix. Either shore up your own content marketing efforts or bring in a contractor who can handle that for you. 

The third alternative is that you have a branding problem. This one’s a bit more complicated. It requires that you first understand what’s wrong. 

Ask yourself the following questions: 

  • Are my competitors doing anything particularly unique or noteworthy that I’ve failed to address? 
  • Has my brand been involved in any recent scandals, such as a faulty product or a viral post gone wrong? 
  • Are consumers speaking negatively about my brand, or worse, not talking about us at all? 

Each of the above issues requires a slightly different approach. If you’ve been involved in a scandal, start making amends. Reach out to your audience, explain that you understand what you did wrong, and detail what you’re going to do to fix it. 

If your brand has grown outdated or is being outperformed by competitors, you’ll need to figure out what they’re doing that you’re not. Why have you fallen so far behind? What can you do about it? 

SEO doesn’t guarantee results. It never has. And it also cannot fix problems such as thin content, poor targeting, or a broken brand. These are all issues that must be addressed separately. 

3 Excellent Free Resources for Topic and Keyword Research

Keyword and topic research can be tedious and tiresome even at the best of times. However, it’s also a necessary step in the creation of high-quality, compelling content. While you’re likely to be well-served through an all-in-one platform like Moz,  don’t underestimate the power of the myriad free tools available online.

Here are a few we’d highly recommend if you’re suffering from a spot of writer’s block.  

Keyword Sheeter

Although it’s not quite as full-featured as Google’s Keyword Planner (which is also free), Keyword Sheeter mines Google autocomplete data to generate a huge list of possible search terms and phrases. It also includes filters to help you either eliminate irrelevant entries or narrow your search to entries containing certain words or phrases.

It can take a bit of time to generate a list for niche topics, but it’s nevertheless an excellent starting point. Note that the free version of the tool doesn’t show search volume or any other data about the entries. You’ll need to use a secondary tool in order to glean that information. 

Alternatively, you can purchase more comprehensive results through the platform, wither with premium currency or for a nominal fee. 

The Content Strategy Helper

It might not look like much at first glance, but the Content Strategy Helper is downright incredible. Developed by marketing strategist Daniel Butler, it searches across the web for content related to your keywords. The network of sites it pulls from is frankly almost overwhelming and includes Google, YouTube, Reddit, Hacker News, and How Stuff Works.

And that’s just the ideas tab. Source & Place leverages Twitter search tool Followerwonk to track down influencers and thought leaders related to your topic. Whether you’re looking to connect with people for their social influence or trying to track down guest post opportunities, it’s an invaluable addition to your repertoire.

Finally, if you’re interested in newsjacking, you can check out the Trending tab, which displays popular articles and news pieces. 


Created by the SEO toolkit developer topicseed, WikiBrowser is a bit more sophisticated than the other software on our list. When you enter a keyword, it provides a visualization of the topic’s outline on Wikipedia, while also generating a list of related topics and concepts that you can use to help spark your creativity. You can click on any of the generated topics to see topics related to them, and so on. 

What’s in Your Toolkit? 

The tools outlined above only represent a tiny cross-section of what’s available online. We chose three that we felt really stood apart from the rest, both in terms of what they did and how they functioned. We’re certain you’ll find them as useful in your own research as we did in ours.

What You Need To Know About Online Reviews and SEO

According to research collected by Statista, online reviews are a major deciding factor when determining what brands to support or what products to purchase. In the U.S., for instance, 62 percent of respondents indicated that online reviews were very helpful to them, with 36 percent of users aged 25-34 using them for research. Reviews are, in other words, a powerful marketing tool.

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