The use of search engine optimization (SEO) to climb up the search engine rankings is a continuous process. Whenever you post content, you have to make it count. This is particularly true for local businesses that depend on people in a specific area for their sales. The concept of local SEO is aimed at increasing the visibility of your business to people in your area and region.
Local SEO can be beneficial as a part of your public relations (PR) strategy. In this guide, we will look at why local SEO should be a part of your PR strategy and ways to get more coverage.
Let’s dive in!
What is Local SEO?
Local SEO is a hyper-targeted way of increasing the visibility of a business within its geographical location. In a nutshell, it helps businesses reach out to clients who are in the same place and who want to support a local business.
It can include everything from targeting local keywords to gathering customer reviews on Google. Local SEO is an essential tool for small businesses. It also helps them manage local engagement, helping them build a loyal consumer base in their area. Whether you are reopening your local business following the pandemic or just looking to build your reputation and attract more customers, local SEO is your best bet.
It has been proven that local searches directly impact sales. That’s because people who search for a product or service near them are more likely to convert into a paying customer.
In the next section, we will see why local SEO is also a critical factor in an effective public relations strategy for a small business.
Why is local SEO important for your PR strategy?
Good SEO practices elevate your content online and can also help you boost your PR strategy. On the other hand, getting mentions in the right publications can also help you climb up the search results. You see how the two strategies make ideal partners? The right combination of PR and SEO can help you give your business a significant leg-up over your competitors.
Let’s look at three reasons why local SEOs and PR strategy go together.
1. Creates credible links
Link building is essential for any brand with an online presence. It is a significant factor in how Google ranks your page. The higher the number of high-quality sites that link to your page, the better you will fare in search results.
Google rankings are critical for local businesses, as most people will not go beyond the first page of results in any given Google search. Since local searches are often followed up with a visit or a call, people don’t spend a lot of time scanning through the results. A study estimates that about 92% of users choose businesses from the first page of results.
When it comes to building links from trusted sites, what better site than a respected publication? PR helps you get visibility on influential websites. You don’t necessarily need leading national dailies (though that wouldn’t hurt!). For a small business, an appearance on a popular regional site can help you get the SEO boost. Pro tip: use online competitor intelligence tools to find out where your competitors are being featured.
Strong SEO will make it easier for relevant publications (and their readers) to find you, while a good PR strategy will ensure you get featured and build those all important links. This is the symbiotic relationship between PR and SEO for local businesses.
2. Elevates brand awareness
SEO and PR also help you build more brand awareness for your business, which is vital if you want to attract more customers. Featuring on a high-quality outlet can help your brand get mentions across social media platforms and news sites, and is a great way to promote your business across channels.
This helps both search engines and people see you as a trusted brand. Some sites have dedicated sections to support small businesses, which can give your business a platform and expose a broader audience to your message.
3. Builds trust
An essential aspect of local SEO is managing reviews of your business. That’s right – reviews directly impact your search performance. If managed well, your reviews on dedicated sites like Yelp and Tripadvisor (as well as Google, of course) can also help you build trust with your consumers. Since 84% of consumers trust reviews as much as recommendations from friends, they really do matter.
Once people find your business online, they want to know if they can trust you. A quick search of your reviews will help them decide. Reviews can really make or break the public’s perception of your brand, so make the time to manage them properly.
How can you get more coverage?
SEO and PR should go hand-in-hand to ensure that it forms one coordinated effort to attract more customers and climb up the search results. Good content optimization can help you boost your public outreach by creating credible links and raising brand awareness and trust.
So, how can you get more coverage for your brand? Many people are vying for a place in prominent publications, and it can be tough to attract attention to your brand.
A few tips can help you target the right publications, create engaging content, approach the right people, and measure your results. Let’s take a look at how to do all this and more with the effective combination of local SEO and PR.
1. Develop a target list of publications
Take a close look at the websites in your area that rank highly in searches. Local authority sites, newspapers, and relevant magazines will likely be your starting point. Look at niche magazines that specifically cater to your industry, too. Choosing the right publication is an essential step in your PR strategy.
Use this list to create a database with the names of the editors, reporters, and other details such as specific ideas you can pitch to them, editorial guidelines, and social media handles. Once you have this, you’re ready to start reaching out via email and taking the conversation forward.
2. Create great content that ranks for local keywords
Local SEO content is precise and must be highly targeted. You will have to combine what you know about the local market with your knowledge of your sector or niche.
For example, take a look at this piece of content from a local coffee shop. Creating a local guide will grab people’s attention in the relevant area. Since the piece is also optimized for local keywords, it also gives the brand a big local SEO boost.
If you haven’t already, starting a blog is a vital local SEO strategy that can also give your PR a boost. If you create compelling, relevant content that local people will love, you vastly increase the chances that a high quality local publication will be interested in featuring your business.
When you reach out to an editor or reporter with a query about getting your business featured in their outlet, send them a couple of your best pieces of content. If applicable, let them know that your content ranks highly for specific local keywords – that’s sure to impress!
3. Get reviewed
Another way to get coverage is to get reviewed by a publication or a mediaperson. Review videos of businesses like hotels and restaurants are common, and many influencers make money on YouTube and Instagram by sharing this content with their subscribers. Then there are reviews in more traditional print and digital media.
Reviews can be particularly useful if you are in the service industry as they give your business more credibility. These reviews are different from the standard feedback left by your customers and are more detailed and are published as standalone articles. For example, the New York Times has a separate section where it reviews restaurants:
Source: New York Times
Doing this helps you establish credibility and gives you a chance to feature in a story that isn’t just about selling your business. It enables you to cement your reputation as the best in the area.
Good local SEO practices make it far more likely that your business will get picked up for review. Publications and influencers want to work with businesses who have an active online presence. If your business appears on the first page of Google results for relevant local keywords, they’re more likely to conclude that their readers and fans will be interested in what you have to offer.
In addition, reviews will boost your search performance in the future by building valuable backlinks and relevant keywords about your business.
4. Measure your success
Continuously measure the success of your campaigns. Are you showing up on a Google search? How many links do you have back to your site? What local search terms are you ranking for? When you Google your business name and read your reviews, is sentiment generally favorable?
Ensure that you look at these metrics periodically to see what you can do better and what is working well. Just like marketing analytics can help you quantify your sales efforts, keeping Google Analytics handy enables you to understand your reach and the success of your combined local SEO and PR efforts.
Another way to measure your success is to compare it with your competitors. Is there a common theme in their successful campaigns? Can you learn from them? It is always a good idea to keep track of the industry to set performance benchmarks for your efforts.
Social media channels also give you an indication of your success through impressions, shares, and likes. These platforms also help you expand your reach and are among the most powerful tools for promotion. Keep track of your organic mentions and engage with your audience through the comment section.
In an increasingly digitized world, SEO has become an essential part of the promotional strategy of any business with an online presence. When you add the science of keywords, backlinks, and search engine rankings to your public relations strategy, you can take a giant step towards creating brand awareness and building trust.
These tips will help you gain more visibility and drive sales. So, what are you waiting for? Your next campaign awaits!