If you’re a B2B service provider, or even a small B2C operator, there’s a good chance that the majority of your custom comes from local people. Personally, less than ⅓ of my clients are based more than a 20 mile radius from my office, and unless you’re a nationwide brand, it’s the same story for most businesses.

Thus, it’s wise to tailor your online activities accordingly, ensuring your messages reach the right people. Firstly, keyword research is vital for successful content marketing so you should take time to analyse which regional search terms are the best to target, and then audit your website to see how you can naturally insert them into your text.

‘Naturally’ is the operative word here, because if you try to manipulate search engines by bolting every possible variation of a phrase into your content – even if they don’t all make sense, grammatically – then it’s highly likely you’ll be hit with a Google penalty for spam.

For example, as a Bristol-based content marketing agency, I might be tempted to weave the term ‘content marketing Bristol’ into my homepage because keyword research tells me this is a popular phrase (people often flout grammatical rules when typing entries into search engines). However, ultimately, I know this doesn’t read well, so I’ll avoid it, and plump for variations on the theme that actually make sense, as highlighted below:

Following this pattern throughout your content is essential for gaining traction in local results, as is completing your Google My Business profile. Google’s primary focus is constantly improving the experience of their users, meeting the searchers intent and ensuring that people continue to think of it as their first port of call when online, and Google My Business aids the user journey by displaying your phone number, opening times, map location etc., as well as linking to your website.

Encouraging happy customers to leave reviews also bodes well, adding social proof to your brand. At the end of the day, the more detailed your profile is, the better chance you have of people clicking your way.

It’s also crucial to NAP, i.e. ensure your Name, Address and Phone number is consistent and clearly visible on your website, listed on a page that’s included on your sitemap, guaranteeing the search engine bots can easily read it.

This might seem blindingly obvious, but taking time to ensure all information is accurate vastly increases the probability that you’ll rank well in local search results. I recently pointed out to a client that their post code differed from homepage to contact page, only for him to realise he had absentmindedly listed his home post code in one instance. Mistakes like this are all too common, and sending such confusing signals to the search bots can seriously hamper your SEO efforts.

Community outreach

To really make an impact with those on your doorstep, you have to be creative with your engagement, perhaps conducting some form of survey to gauge the local mood. For example, if you’re a recruitment firm, it’d be a great idea to contact local companies, as well as people you’ve recently placed in work or those you are helping to find work, and ask for their feedback on the current state of play.

Doing so will allow you to compile a report that outlines what skills firms are actively searching for, and what professionals want in return, data which can be collated and published to position yourselves as the go-to guys, the company that’s on pulse of things and are well placed to fill vacancies.

Conducting your own, unique research is a great way to elevate your status, naturally gaining attention (and hopefully a few backlinks) from target audiences. This is why it should form part of every successful content marketing strategy.

You can further extend your reach by contributing guest articles to local publications, putting your name front and centre in the minds of prospects while also boosting local SEO.

For instance, as a Bristolian marketing agency, we’ve recently submitted an article to TechSPARK (whose tagline is ‘All things tech in the west’) entitled Tech marketing campaigns putting Bristol on the map, while also contributing to Businesswest (our local chamber of commerce) with a piece called 3 ways to nail your digital marketing in 2017.

This strategy helps position us as a leading marketing agency in the area, both on a human level (i.e. in the eyes of readers) and from a search perspective; obtaining valuable backlinks from authoritative local websites gives us a healthy boost in local search rankings.

In fact, due to our keyword research and overall approach to content marketing, we currently top the ‘Map Pack’ when people search for “content marketing agency” while in Bristol.

This can change overnight, owing to a variety of search factors, but it shows that we’re on the right track, highlighting how important it is to have a local focus in your content plan.

Provide value

When submitting guest articles, you should never stray into writing an advertorial that directly promotes your products and/or services. Instead, you should look to share your expertise, highlighting valuable business lessons or commenting on trending topics related to your niche, framing you as a trusted voice of authority.

Contributing useful, worthwhile content will be looked upon much more favourably than thinly-veiled sales messages. In any case, you’ll usually be allowed to indirectly promote your business by way of a backlink in the body text, provided it’s to a relevant piece of content that adds value to the wider conversation.

It’s crucial to understand your target demographic and figure out what type of content they’d find useful. The objective should be to provide something that establishes your expertise and piques interest, but people don’t like being sold to in the Internet Age so make sure your output doesn’t come across as at all ‘salesy’.

The key principle of a ‘value exchange’ is that if you provide something valuable not wanting anything in return, the right people will naturally gravitate towards you when the time comes to tender for business or buy your product.

It’s also wise to undertake a spot of competitor analysis. You can use Moz’s Open Site Explorer to see where your rivals are obtaining backlinks from, and see if you should be publishing articles on those sites as well.

You can also check out your competitors’ social media profiles; see who they’re following, what content they’re sharing and, ultimately, see how you can drive engagement in more meaningful ways, connecting with local people and commenting on trending topics in your area.

Making friends with your neighbours can pay dividends, so take your local content marketing strategy seriously.