If you are like most local businesses, you probably only have one physical address. This is the most common local business structure after removing the big box brands from the equation. But one of the most common questions I get asked is “how can I rank for multiple local search terms?” What they are asking is, even though I have only one physical address, how can I rank in Google for several other surrounding metro areas?
Take one of my personal injury law firm clients as an example. They have an office location in Cumming, Georgia. However, they desire to be the dominant personal injury law firm along the entire GA 400 corridor which constitutes no less than 5 other major metro areas. So how can this personal injury law firm, with only one physical address, reach the 5 other markets they are wanting to target?
Here’s 3 local SEO tips to ranking for multiple local search terms and local markets
Local Content / Local News Blogging
One of the most effective strategies we’ve implemented for our clients is the use of local news blogging. Basically, we identify news content that’s relevant to the client’s market, build a blog into their existing website, and then turn their blog into a online news source.
Writing news content for adjoining markets is a simple process, thanks to the use of local news organizations that have online publications, and other sources such as Google News.
Here’s a screenshot of a search I did in Google News using only the city name I’m located:
As you can see, here in Athens the hot topic is the firing of Georgia Bulldog coach Mark Richt and the incoming coach Kirby Smart. And the majority of these news articles are published within the last 24 hours.
So using a tool like Google News can give you quick access to news articles for your specific local target market.
When you write content targeting a specific local area, you naturally attract visitors from those local markets. The more you write over time, the more visitors you’ll attract to your website from those local markets.
The strategy here is to remember that if you are writing local news articles on your blog, which is part of your business website, you are automatically obtaining 100% brand equity exposure from every visitor.
Compare this to running an ad in Google Adwords, or in your local news paper. In these platforms, your business would not have 100% branded equity. If your ad appeared on a page with at least 3 other advertisers, regardless of the type of ad, you are would only achieve 25% brand equity for every pageview.
And these are hard numbers to swallow considering the cost of online advertising on someone else’s platform.
But when you write news article directly on your own website, and within your own blog, you now command 100% of brand equity exposure to every visitor and every pageview.
Use The City Name In Your Titles
We’ve learned that after awhile, you’ll become inclined to forgo using the city name in the title of your news articles.
However, if you are wanting to target multiple metro areas, then it’s important to use the city name of those markets in the titles of your news articles. This helps Google drill down the relevance of your articles to a particular location. And in turn, helps those articles rank in Google for city specific searches.
Looking at the analytics from our clients, we see news articles driving the majority of organic search traffic month after month.
In fact, we see news articles that were written months ago continue to occupy the top 5 pages that are driving the most organic search traffic.
Taking this strategy one step further, let’s say you are wanting to target 4 additional metro areas along with the one you are physically located in – that makes 5 total target cities.
Using a blogging platform like WordPress, you can set a category for each city, and then every time you publish a new article for that city, you add it to your city specific category. Over time, that city category will become, in essence, the homepage for all news related to that city. And over time, that category level page will become more authoritative as a result of the volume of articles under it, which in turn will drive more authority (ranking power) down to each of the individual news articles for that city.
That’s a mouthful I know, but it’s all about a highly structured approach to organizing your content.
And from my experience, I’ve learned that the one who pays the most attention to details, wins in the organic search results in Google.
Social Media Distribution
After every article you publish, you should then take that article and share it across all of your social media profiles.
Your business should have, at a minimum, a Google business page (necessary for local SEO), Facebook page, Twitter profile, and LinkedIn Company page.
There’s many tools available to use to make the social media distribution easy from your website. If you use WordPress, we love using the SNAP plugin. If you are more interested in automating the distribution and diving into the analytics, we strongly recommend using tools such as Buffer or Sendable.
Regardless of how you do it, the key here is the share all of your locally targeted content across all of your social media profiles.
This builds your brand reputation for your local markets in social media, and also naturally attracts visitors to your website who are following, or otherwise interested in, the local markets you are talking about in your social media posts.
Not only does social media distribution build your brand and drive locally targeted traffic to your website, but this also contributes to building the relevance factor for your website, which is a key metric in helping you rank better in Google local search.
Since Google crawls and indexes the pages of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, publishing links back to your website from these sources helps Google find your articles faster, and attribute more relevance to your articles over time.
Now, I’m not advocating this as a backlink building strategy. For anyone who knows me well enough, knows that I do not advocate manually backlink building as an SEO strategy.
The point is, Google attributes a lot of authority to major social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. And because of the massive amount of content volume published on these sites, Google is constantly crawling and indexing their latest updates.
And when you publish content from your own website with links back to your articles, Google will almost instantly become aware of the content and come back to your site to crawl and index your article.
Bonus tip: Frequency matters (A LOT!)
As a bonus tip for how to rank for multiple local search terms, let me conclude with a few comments on frequency.
The basic principle is this – the more frequent you publish high quality content on your blog, the more Google will come back to crawl and index that content, which means the more authoritative your website will grow in proportion to your frequency.
Likewise, the more content you publish, the more traffic you will drive to your website over time.
We have clients where we are publishing 30 news articles a month (1 per day). And one look at their analytics will show you exponentially higher levels of organic search traffic compared to clients who are only publishing 8 articles per month (2 per week).
Because we track the traffic data and analytics for all of our clients, we are able to see the comparative differences that different frequency levels have on traffic.
And there is a definitive correlation between the number of articles published and the volume of organic search traffic coming to their websites.
The correlation is even more profound when looking at the frequency of social media posts.
Again, we take every new article and share it across our client’s social media profiles. So the more content we publish, the more social media posts get shared.
And the relative percentage growth in traffic from social media, in most cases, far outweighs the percentage growth from organic search (i.e. Google).
Social media is a powerful source of traffic for any business, even those that are targeting local markets.
But the point here is that frequency matters.
The more you publish and share content across social media, the more traffic you drive back to your website.
In conclusion, any local business can rank for multiple local search terms, but it takes a consistent, proactive approach to producing content that’s relevant to those local markets and then sharing that content across your social media profiles.