Forget SEO And Think Local

Published by 25 Comments

I know the headline is a bit contradictory. Local search is still considered SEO by those near and dear to our hearts.

Maybe for you targeting people all over the world makes sense. I’m certainly not saying to forget it completely, but I read a lot blogs semi-regularly and you might be pretty well served if you started catering to your local audiences with a more grassroots marketing campaign.

Let’s run over a few bullet points of how local marketing might just kick your blog into high gear.

The Ultimate Blog Start-up Strategy

People have heard the term “grassroots” before, but most don’t apply it to internet business. Before you launch your next site, why not take the time to make friends with those in your area who are blogging as well? Tweetups, forums, groups, and clubs exist for nearly every major city. It’s time you jumped in and made the most of them.

Starting your blog with a built-in following is gold. It looks more successful to outsiders, it gets you feedback right away – which ultimately helps you grind out those posts – and you have a backing that is rooting you on just out of loyalty to the city you live in. Hopefully you do the same for them.

How much simpler would it be to walk down the street of your home town saying hello to someone rather than trying to shout it across the planet? Twitter has a million toys that allow us to seek out those with similar interests, but an oft-overlooked search metric is the ability to use services like WeFollow to find Tweeps in your area.

Twitter is just the beginning. You can use Twitter information to seek out other local bloggers (they often post the URL to their blog on Twitter), and start conversations with them. You have a lot more in common than most… you live in the same city.

Something I’ve discovered when using this approach is: not only does it make you new friends, but these friends actually visit your blog semi-regularly and start commenting – assuming you do the same for them. There is a sort of camaraderie that you share being from the same town, and they’re generally more than happy to help you promote your wares to other locals as well as make some introductions for you.

Nobody Likes An Empty Blog

When you start promoting your blog to the masses, you’ll notice that you are writing some of your best posts, but nobody is reading them. It’s hard to stay motivated when it takes an hour or more to craft a quality post that is only read by thirty or forty people.

Here’s where your new local blogging friends come into play. I live in St. Louis, and when I browse local blogs, they’re all very sparsely populated when you check the comment field, or the RSS subscriber numbers. This isn’t new and most local bloggers are used to it. They won’t care if your post has 1 comment or 10,000 – they’ll still interact with you because they know you on a personal level.

This differs a great deal from blogs who target a national or international audience right off the bat. If people aren’t already connected with you, they need to see other people connecting before they’ll make the first move.

In simpler terms, if you already have interactions via comments, RSS subscriptions, Facebook “likes”, Twitter “retweets” and LinkedIn “shares” they are more likely to interact as well. Imagine being at a party in which you know no one. It’s much easier to mingle when you see others are doing the same.

Our local visitors know us on a personal level, so they are there to make the party look a little more lively.

Local Advertisers – The Overlooked Revenue Stream

I’ve yet to see the vast majority of gurus mention just how profitable local advertisers can be when utilized correctly.

You’ve built the framework for a local audience. You’ve contacted local bloggers through Twitter, you read and interact with their blogs, you attend their seminars, and you make your way to all of the “Tweetups”… right? Here’s where most of us are missing the mark. You’ve got a targeted local audience that interacts with your website semi-regularly. Do you know how valuable that is to advertisers?

Think of it this way. When you buy a newspaper, you read what you want and then toss it aside. Businesses know this. Show them how, for a fraction of the price, you can get an ad on your website that is going to market to the same local audience nearly every day.

One newspaper ad can cost thousands of dollars. An ad in your sidebar might cost a few hundred. Sell them on the idea that once people read that paper, the ad is done, and they aren’t going to see any more traffic from it. Your blog on the other hand, has 60% of its audience from the locale they are trying to reach, and they only have to renew the ad once a month. See how this works?

It’s An Easier Market To Crack

The fact is, the local market is just easier to market to than a global one. By now you’ve got dozens or hundreds of local blogging friends who are doing their best to back you, why not turn it into some real cash? Use the power of your local friends, as well as their reach to other locals, and tap into that for all it’s worth.

If you plan on selling an info product for $97 to the web, why not start with your local audience?

Instead of your $97 product, you can turn it into a $299 seminar (plus up-sells and product sales of course) by renting out a small space, and finding others who will often speak on any number of topics for free.

Local seminars don’t often have problems finding people to attend them, as most aren’t willing to shell out the nearly $2,000 for a ticket to Blog World. I’ve been to at least a dozen local seminars in the past few years. The information is generally lacking, but they still somehow manage to pack the house year-after-year. Also, even though you might not learn a ton, the networking opportunities are priceless.

This isn’t meant to be a complete list of ALL the reasons why local marketing can help your business or website. Instead, it’s just the tip of the iceberg, and the intention isn’t to give you all the answers. The intention is to spark a thought in your head that allows you to come up with the best plan of attack.

I want this post to remind you that in this global economy, sometimes all you need to get going is a few locals. Global interest is nice, but you have to start somewhere. When launching your next website or product, I urge you to think of those in your local area first.

Bryan

Photo courtesy of greentechmedia on Flickr.

About Bryan Clark

Bryan Clark is a professional writer, blog editor and evangelist. He has contributed to leading news properties and blogs in tech, entrepreneurship, finance, and the digital lifestyle. Bryan has earned features on Problogger, Entrepreneurs-Journey and USA Today. Bryan works with Growth Partner, a venture fund and startup platform for web businesses.

Read more from Bryan Clark »

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25 Comments

  • I actually realized the exact same thing – that involvement by your local “audience” ignites your blog in several ways. I had a blog a couple of months back that received literally no feedback, though it had quite a lot of visitors.

    I didn’t much like the idea of promoting my business-blog to my friends on Facebook, but eventually I cracked the nut and posted a link on my Facebook wall. The response was fantastic! What had I expected? My friends only found it natural to comment, participate and – not to forget – spread the word about my writings.

    That was perhaps the single best thing I ever convinced myself to dog in my history of blogging. Protection of my privatesphere has been history ever since!

  • hope this doesn’t come duplicated. Noticed typos!
    Thanks Bryan for a wonderful post. It’s a common sense approach… Build connections, they will help you later. Do your networking.

    The same approach is true for niches. I’d readily talk to the vegans from all over the world just because my blog is vegan, too, and we share the same passion.

    People are just plagued by the gold rush, they hear from all ends that it’s easy to make 234,774 dollars with your blog, and the majority doesn’t pay enough attention to the local connections, focused on buying some dubious cash generating systems instead.
    Once again, excellent expression of what I thought but had difficulty putting on paper.
    Olga

    • Thanks. Where might I find your vegan blog? I just made the switch recently, so I’m reading anything I can get my hands on. Maybe we can talk sometime on Twitter… Twitter.com/BryanClark

  • Nice idea. Locals are more appealing. But what you do when neighbors are so poor and unresponsive? No sense in distributing literature among illiterates.

    • That’s a good point. I can definitely see where you are coming from on that one, as I didn’t even consider other countries when I wrote this. I know Yaro is in Australia, and I’m in the US, so typically we can find an audience anywhere.

      If you think of anything, let me know and I can add it to the post.

  • Really and truly awesome post. Thanks for sharing.

  • Good post. I am working with some social media folks and they are more than mindful of the local social search and how important it is to my business. I appreciated the information on twitter. I didn’t know about the WeFollow. Thanks.

  • Raj

    While what you say is true, there are other factors to consider – The size of the market, their investment abilities and your cost of living. I guess a local website could compliment a global one. But having a local website alone may not pay the bills.

    • The goal isn’t to abandon global SEO completely. I just think that a local approach is a better way to get started than targeting a global market all at once. As you start tapping into the local market, then expand.

      • I agree , my strategy is to be strong in your own back yard and then try to conquer the world.. interesting post.thanks for sharing. I like doing seo in my own country market before expanding it to other foreign markets

  • Starting locally is defiantly a wiser option, especially for new start-ups. Like you said you have to start somewhere, what better place to start in your local terrorist, where you can build up connections very fast. Also as for SEO, optimising your site for local search results is imperative. As if you do not do it, your competition will.

    • I couldn’t agree more. And, you meant “territories” right? :-) — Autocorrect gets me every time!

  • Great post, thank you so much, Bryan. Have a great day! Norja

  • It seems many of us are trying so hard to reach the whole world that we forget our local friends, neighbors, and professional contacts. I’m from a small town near our capital city and there are a plethora of available contacts and resources. Seems we sometimes need to narrow our focus in order to reach a broader audience. Your points are well taken.

  • I’m glad I found this post. I’ve got a an idea brewing for a second blog, and the notion of building an audience that’s ready to participate at the blog’s launch is a great one.

    I never would have thought about using local advertisers, but it makes perfect sense. Thanks!

  • Aha, a great and impressive post, I love your point at “Nobody likes an empty blog” but, BTW, what happened to your blog at imbryanclark.com, I saw it don’t work???

    • I’m blogging everywhere else… it gets neglected. I run a social media department, so I’m blogging all day, then I blog on a freelance basis at night, and my poor blog suffers. So, I euthanized it for the time being. :-)

  • Hey Bryan,

    Totally agree with you. Like what you had mentioned in your post “Don’t look for something flying for high rather than looking for something low but promising”. So looking for potential customers locally will ensure sure profit rather than looking for 50/50 profit which is not confirmed at all. So look locally first for better business opportunities..;)

  • Hi Brian… killing your blog must have been difficult….give it another chance….

  • I strongly agree with this:

    “When launching your next website or product, I urge you to think of those in your local area first.”

    I think it’s something so obvious but others still do not understand. Thanks for sharing this!

  • I agree and that has been the plan with my blog. I have been writing non-geographic information, however, I include some local photos on the sidebar and a Gravitar of myself. The plan has been to start promoting it to businesses in my area and then eventually expand. I want to eventually start incorporating local bloggers from other areas to keep that local feel to the site since it is focused on helping local small business owners.

    Thanks for the post. It gives me confidence that I am going in the right direction.

  • Ihjas

    Thanks brian, the post was very interesting. in other words, this what we call “coperation”. a cooperative society which is aimed at the development of blogging cooperatives :)…what you say brian

  • I am so glad I came across your website! I hadn’t considered local advertisers for my blog, and believed I had to think globally exclusively. There are people in my area that read my blog, and I should reach out to nearby businesses that could potentially profit off of my site.

    Thank you for the excellent advice!

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