With four out of five people using search engines to look for local information, it’s no secret that implementing local SEO content can give your business a competitive edge. Nowadays, with over 2.5 quintillion bytes of data being produced every day, Google is separating the wheat from the chaff in its search results by pointing users towards locally created content.
To take advantage of this, content marketers must consistently track the changes and nuances of Google’s search algorithms. If you learn how to tailor your content to appeal to search engines, you’ll give yourself a marked advantage over less locally-focused competitors.
Take a few tips from Wordsmith to boost your local search prowess and engage customers in your area:
1. Partner with niche influencers
In recent years, influencer marketing has become an essential asset in every industry, with 92% of consumers trusting third-party recommendations and influencers more than branded ads or celebrity endorsements. CEO of MuseFind, Jennifer Li, claims that savvy content marketers are now realising how influencers and User-Generated Content (UCG) can affect their bottom line by helping brands “re-romance their customers”.
Not only does working with an influencer boost brand visibility and engagement, it also keeps your content fresh, which can further enhance your local presence on Google rankings. In fact, research shows that sharing content through influencers increases conversions by up to 10x. When it comes to influences, bigger isn’t always better. Targeting micro-influencers in your niche that have 20,000 followers as opposed to 2 million may actually work to your advantage as they can guide truly engaged consumers to your brand.
Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of influencer marketing platform Grin, Brian Mechem, explained, “Anyone with an online personality has the potential to be an influencer brands want to court …The right influencer, with the right audience, can have a huge impact. But hiring just any random person with a big following is a great way to waste your advertising spend.”
National Geographic launched an influencer-driven campaign “Make What’s Next” on International Woman’s Day 2016 that encouraged young girls to work in science, engineering and technology industries. They asked a number of prominent female scientists and adventurers across different local communities to get involved by posting Instagram photos. This campaign generated over 3.5million likes for National Geographic’s Instagram page, unifying like-minded audiences together, while keeping the content local.
2. Localize your content at every stage of the decision-making process
Marketers should not only look towards niche influencers to get their messages across, they also need to incorporate touches of localization in every stage across the decision-making pipeline. If your next campaign wishes to target a certain area, writing a blog post on the location alone won’t suffice - you need to take a 360 ° approach.
Research from the Location Based Marketing Association (LBMA) found that 25% of leading brands’ marketing budgets are spent on location-based marketing, and this number is projected to rise. With local searches now driving more than 85% of consumer engagement, marketers need to ensure offline and online content is creatively engaging audiences on a local-level to build relationships and retain customer loyalty.
Silicon Valley start-up, Airbnb, operates in over 65,000 cities across 191 countries. Its US$31 billion home-sharing service is seeing users book two-thirds of their trips across country boarders, meaning that not only do they have to be global in their marketing approach but also create localized content to attract unique international users.
To work effectively, Airbnb had to minimize the global-local gap through optional translation buttons and customized local payment options. Airbnb even chose to localize their sign-up methods to appeal to their Chinese audiences. Instead of asking to sign-up through Facebook, Twitter or Google Accounts that are unavailable to Chinese netizens, Airbnb now offers consumers the choice of logging in through their Weibo and WeChat accounts.
Joe Zadeh, Airbnb’s VP of Product, believes that, "if you get the right sign-up methods, the sign-up conversions can skyrocket overnight," Zadeh says. “When a place is an important destination for us or for people traveling from there, we will invest in trying to understand what's going on in that place." This targeted communication strategy made Chinese consumers their fastest growing category with a 700% increase in 2015 alone.
3. Focus on mobile first design for hyperlocal targeting
With 88% of consumers making local-related searches on mobile, marketers should make mobile content a top priority. By enhancing their local content using mobile-first design, brands can encourage engagement and increase consumer footfall within their stores. Google’s search interest in “near me” and “nearby” queries has increased 34x since 2011, which has motivated businesses to develop creative hyperlocal targeting campaigns for mobile. As mobile searches become increasingly immediate and location-specific in nature, brands must provide that hook or quick answer to meet the needs of on-the-go audiences.
Subpar mobile website experiences, including slow loading speeds, out-dated store locations or poor product/service content drive away prospects, so marketers need to ensure their site’s navigation and user experience is up to scratch. Google is constantly refining its results in response to these hyperlocal, “I-Want-to-Go moments.” Brands that do not prepare for the increase hyperlocal searches may see a considerable drop in both online and in-person traffic.
According to Forbes, 82% of customers research online before buying, and prefer to use a mix technology and in-store visits. Cosmetic brand Sephora understands consumers’ need for omnichannel shopping experiences. By using localized content on mobile, Sephora not only attracts consumers who are in close proximity to their stores, but also enhance in-store experiences for mobile users.
Sephora discovered that consumers rely on their smartphones to help them purchase the perfect product. Therefore, their app streamlines the search by directing shoppers to product reviews and star ratings. Vice President of Digital Media at Sephora, Bridget Dolan believes, “one of the biggest opportunities that we have in retail is for our customers to leverage their phones as a shopping assistant when they're standing in the store. Having access to this information is that perfect new moment for customers to find everything they're looking for and get advice from Sephora."
With the constant changes in digital marketing it’s challenging for both local businesses and international brands to find the perfect balance between “think global, act local”. The consumer purchasing journey is no longer a linear path that leads directly to the check-out counter, but instead involves a series of omnichannel high-intent touch points. Rather than seeing this as a challenge, marketers should take this opportunity to connect and engage with consumers in new and unique ways.
As hyperlocal search continues to grow, and the I-Want-to-Go moments rise to a prominent search position, marketers need to consider engaging with niche influencers, adopting a mobile-first mindset, and incorporating local content into every stage of the purchasing process to stay ahead of the curve.