Over the course of the past week, I’ve spoken to a handful of clients, all of whom are using inbound marketing to reach a local geographic market. They’re doing everything right – from regularly posting keyword-rich blogs, to promoting their content on social media, and using email marketing to stay in front of their audience – but wanted to explore additional strategies that could help get them in front of even more people within the specific geographic area they are targeting.

This is something that comes up a lot, both with our clients and prospects. So, like any good content marketer, I thought I’d address it here in our blog. After all, any question that someone asks in person is probably also something they are looking up on Google, right?

To get found locally, you still need to begin with a solid inbound marketing strategy. Once that is in place, there are some simple things you can do to get more mileage out of the content you are creating and increase the number of visits and leads from your local target audience.

1. Get Your Business Listed in Online Directories

Remember the Yellow Pages? Not the online version. I’m talking about the big, yellow book that used to arrive at your doorstep every year. It used to be the best way to ensure a business got found locally, and companies went so far as to pick their names to optimize placement in Yellow Pages listings. That’s why there are still so many companies with “AAA” in their names.

Now that people use the Internet (and not a big yellow book) to find local businesses, directories are still important, but the key difference is that they are online. There are five main aggregators of location data that send information to U.S. local search engines: Infogroup, Neustar Localeze, Acxiom, Factual and Foursquare. When someone goes online to find a local business, search engines like Google rely on location data from these sources to provide search results.

yellow_pages_directory_listing.jpg

Getting your business listed online is important, but setting up all those listings – and keeping them updated – can be incredibly time consuming. For this reason, we recommend that our clients use a service like Moz Local or Yext. For a reasonable annual fee, they enable you to create and manage a master listing they then push out to a long list of websites, directories and data aggregators. This approach saves time and ensures that your listings are accurate, up-to-date and consistent.

2. Use Paid Social Promotion to Get Your Content in Front of a Geographically-Targeted Audience

Paid social advertising is a great way to get your content in front of a larger, but targeted, audience. Think about it – we give social platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn a ton of information about ourselves. And I’m not just talking about our names and job titles.

“Paid social advertising is a great way to get your content in front of a larger, but targeted, audience.”

They know things like:

  • Where we live (which means we can target users by city)
  • Our age and gender (interested in reaching men over a certain age? this is a great way to do it)
  • What we’re interested in (we can create ads targeted at people with particular hobbies or interests)
  • Our relationship status (helpful info if you’re a wedding planner and want to target newly engaged people, or a marriage counselor looking for couples to work with)
  • The businesses we frequent (every time you “like” a business page, you’re sending advertisers a signal about what interests you)
  • The company we work for (thanks to LinkedIn, you can target ads directly at employees of particular companies) and our job titles
  • The schools we graduated from (want to target alumni of a local high school or college?)
  • And a LOT more…

sponsored-post.jpg
By combining geographic location with other targeting options, you can zero in on the exact audience you are trying to reach and have the comfort of knowing they are located in your local market. With this degree of certainty, its worth increasing your cost per click because you can be pretty confident in the results you’ll get.

When it comes to social advertising, I always advise our clients to tap into a pain point rather than promote a direct offer. This is a more effective way at reaching buyers at the top of the funnel, and will most likely get you better results. An example of this would be a financial adviser who runs a promoted post ad on Facebook about a blog on saving for college – as opposed to a direct offer like “contact us for help putting together a college savings plan.”

3. Tap Into Your Referral Network and Spotlight Them In Your Content

Do you get clients through referrals from other area professionals? Leverage that network by spotlighting them in your blog or premium content. Using the example of the financial adviser again, let’s say you get referrals from accountants, estate attorneys, etc. Invite your top referral partners to guest blog on your website. In doing so, you strengthen your relationship, promote them to your audience and give them a reason to also promote your content to their audience.

Can’t convince your referral partners to write a blog post? No problem. Just get on the phone and interview them, and then turn those questions and answers into an interview-style blog like this post we created for our client, a local insurance agency:

hwp-blog-screenshot.png

If you’re concerned about appearing to favorite one referral partner over others, an easy solution is to create crowdsourced content. For example, our financial adviser might ask five different local estate attorneys what the top challenge is when it comes to passing your estate to your children, and then take all five answers and turn them into a post called “Five of the Areas Top Estate Attorneys Discuss the Toughest Estate Planning Challenges.”

Regardless of what format the content takes, the point is to shine the spotlight on those who refer clients to you and give them a reason to help promote your content.

4. Publish Your Content on Other Local Blogs

Sometimes the best way to get your content in front of a local audience is to piggy back on someone else’s audience. Start by going online and Googling “[your city name] blog.” Odds are, there will be several results for bloggers talking about your city or town. Your local newspaper might also have a blog.

Reach out to these bloggers and offer to create content and guest post for them. Make sure you’re not just promoting your business. Instead, offer their readers something educational. My fictional financial adviser might reach out a local wedding blogger and offer to create a post about paying for your wedding or financial planning tips for newly married couples.

Another great option is to become an approved blogger for Patch.com. There are hyperlocal Patch sites throughout the country, and each of them includes a blogging section where locals can create and post their own content. Again, don’t be sales-y or your blog might not get approved. But if it does, this can be a great way to get in front of a local audience. Here’s an example of a post we published on blog for a client who is a local DUI defense attorney:

patch_guest_post.png

The Bottom Line

While all four of these tactics can be great ways to get you in front of a local audience and convert that audience into leads, they are no substitute for a solid inbound marketing strategy that includes keyword-rich blogs, geotargeted landing pages and premium content offers. This is the block-and-tackle stuff that any business needs to be doing to get found online. Without it, all the other stuff just won’t be as effective.