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.

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.

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