The digital landscape for local businesses is getting more and more competitive every day. Local searches appear to be growing 50 percent faster than mobile searches overall. If you are having your first website built, or have neglected your online presence over the years, ranking for local keywords is no easy feat. The goal of this guide is to show you how to drive traffic to your website and then turn that traffic into paying customers WITHOUT ranking for your main keywords.
Your Main Keywords
For most local businesses, ranking on the first page of Google for your “services + location” keywords is your primary objective. If you are a local insurance agency, you probably want to rank for auto insurance + “your location” or home insurance + “your location.”
Unfortunately, it can take months or even years to rank a new website (or one without much authority) due to the competitive nature of these local markets.
A study conducted by Ahrefs shows that only 4.8% of pages published will rank on the first page of Google for low volume keywords (less than 1k searches per month) within the first year. This percentage of first page rankings decreases as the search volume increases. So what is a local business to do?
The answer is simpler than you think. But before we get into that, you need to understand the importance of backlinks and topical and location relevance.
A backlink is a hyperlink that links from some other website to your own. Backlinks are one of the most significant ranking factors in Google’s algorithm.
As a general rule, the more high quality backlinks your site has, the better it will rank (assuming you follow all other SEO best practices). To learn more about acquiring backlinks check out this guide.
When you receive a backlink from a website that covers topics similar to your site, the backlink is considered topically relevant.
If you own a local insurance agency, it’s clear the content on your website is going to be about insurance.
Now let’s say you write an awesome article about auto insurance on your site. An insurance blog stumbles upon your article and finds it useful, so they link to it. That link is topically relevant to your site.
Links that are topically relevant are stronger than links that aren’t (all other factors being equal). If a blog about dinosaurs linked to your auto insurance article, it wouldn’t be as valuable of a link as the insurance blog (again, all other factors being equal).
When your website receives a backlink from a site that is in your geographic area, the link is considered locally relevant.
For example, let’s say your insurance agency is located in Scottsdale, Arizona and you publish a piece of content about Arizona auto insurance laws and regulations. If you can acquire links from Arizona news websites, these links will be stronger than links from New Mexico news sites (assuming all other things are equal) because the links are relevant to your location.
According to Moz, the quantity of inbound links to your domain from locally relevant domains is the 6th local organic ranking factor.
What Does This Mean For Your Local Business?
As a local business owner, you not only want to focus on obtaining links that are topically relevant to your site but also links that have location relevancy. Building these types of links increases the overall authority of your site and makes it easier to rank for your main keywords. The problem with this is that it takes time.
Targeting Low Competition Locally Relevant Keywords
Now that you know it can take months or even years to rank for your main keywords, the question is, what can you do to increase the number of leads you get from you website without ranking for these keywords?
The answer is to create content that targets low competition keywords that are locally relevant to your business.
For example, if you are an insurance agency located in Scottsdale, Arizona, you could write an article titled “The Best Film Festivals in Scottsdale” or “15 Incredible Saguaro Cactus Facts” (a cactus native to Arizona).
Finding these content ideas and determining keyword competitiveness will be covered later on in this post. But first, you are probably wondering how in the heck a piece of content about film festivals or the saguaro cactus will bring your local insurance agency leads. There are two parts to this answer.
Part One: Local Leads and Retargeting
By creating locally relevant content, you will bring locally relevant traffic to your website. If someone is searching for “saguaro cactus facts,” the chances of them living in Arizona is very high (because the saguaro cactus is native to Arizona). If you look at the Google Keyword Planner and set the location to Arizona, you can confirm this. The keyword “saguaro cactus facts” has an average monthly search volume of 100-1k.
This means that if you rank a piece of content targeting the keyword “saguaro cactus facts” for your Arizona insurance agency, a number of the visitors landing on your site live in Arizona. This is the perfect opportunity to convert these visitors into insurance leads. There is a number of ways you can do this.
Although the visitors to your site aren’t specifically coming for your insurance products, they are in fact landing on your site. Once they are on your site, you have the opportunity to build awareness of your business through branding. Make sure the following two items are clear to your site’s visitors.
- Who your business is and
- What your business does
Here are a few bullet points to follow:
- Business name is big, clear, and noticeable
- Color scheme is unique and consistent across all web properties
- Business services or industry is made clear through a tagline, copy, or by other means on your website
Branding is what massive corporations do when they pay for super bowl commercials.
Branding at a local level is just as beneficial and important. The next time a visitor of your site is in the market for insurance, they have at least seen your brand before. With this brand awareness, closing a sale is much easier.
Email Converting Call to Action
When creating locally relevant content for a local business, your number one goal should be to acquire your visitor’s email address. This will allow you to use email marketing to sell the service or product your business provides.
The best way to get an email conversion is to give something away in exchange for an email. When deciding what to give away, you need to know who your customer is.
As an insurance agency selling car insurance, you could run a contest giving away a $200 car insurance policy discount or even an iPad. What you give away doesn’t really matter because car insurance is a product that every driver is legally required to have. If you assume the majority of visitors landing on your website can drive, you want to obtain every visitor’s email address.
For a company selling dog supplements, you want to be a bit more strategic about your giveaway. If an iPad is the prize, everyone will enter. The problem is not everyone has a dog. You would be better off giving away a dog leash or a dog supplement. That way, the only email conversions you are likely to get are people who would actually buy dog supplements.
To obtain a visitor’s email, you need a form on your website with the giveaway details and a place the visitor can enter his or her name and email address. If you aren’t familiar with any email marketing tools, check out this post.
Retargeting with the Facebook pixel is another strategy that can convert your visitors into paying customers. The Facebook pixel is a tool that allows you to specifically target people that have been to your website site with advertisements.
As a visitor lands on one of your pages, a cookie (i.e. pixel) is dropped on their computer. The pixel tracks visitor activity on your website. Here are some examples of pixel events.
- Content is viewed on your site
- A visitor searches for something on your site using a search function
- A visitor adds a product to their shopping cart
- A visitor adds a product to their wishlist
- A visitor starts the checkout process on your site
- A visitor enters their payment information on your site
- A visitor makes a purchase on your site
- A visitor converts into a lead by filling out a lead generation form
- A visitor completes a registration on your site
After an event takes place and the cookie is dropped on your visitor’s computer, you can then display targeted ads to these visitors at a later date based on the pixel event they triggered. We will not be covering retargeting in this post for the sake of scope, but if you want to learn more, here is a guide on Facebook advertising.
Retargeted ads usually convert at a much higher rate than advertisements to a cold audience because you have at the very least built some brand awareness and credibility with your visitors before advertising to them.
Part Two: Backlinks and Social Signals
Creating locally relevant content can attract locally relevant links and social signals. Social signals are things like shares, likes, votes, retweets, etc. from social media websites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc. Although highly debated about in the SEO world, social signals can unquestionably influence SEO organic rankings.
By writing content that is relevant to your geographic area, you are more likely to obtain links and social signals from other local web properties. As discussed earlier, locally relevant links are very important when it comes to ranking for local keywords.
How To Find Easy To Rank Content That Drives Local Traffic
So how do you find locally relevant content ideas and keywords that are easy to rank for?
One of the best ways to start is by finding content that already performs well and receives a lot of organic traffic or social shares. You want to ask yourself two things when doing this:
- Is the content piece topically relevant to my site?
- Is the content piece locally relevant to my site?
To find content that performs well, open up the Ahrefs Content Explorer. Type in the city name of your business’s location and then set the filter to “In Title.” For our Scottsdale insurance agency example, we will type in “Scottsdale” and then click the orange search icon.
Next, select the “Domain Rating” filter and set it from 0 to 50. Domain rating is an Ahrefs’ metric that shows the power of a website’s backlink profile. By filtering for 0 to 50, you are excluding websites that have backlink profiles you probably do not have the resources to compete with.
Now, select the “Referring Domains” filter and set it from 0 to 10. This is the number of websites that link to the piece of content. The fewer backlinks your competitors have, the easier it will be to overtake them in the rankings (all other SEO factors being equal).
Finally, sort the results by “Search Traffic.”
If you look at the results, the second content piece is an article about the infamous saguaro cactus. If you look at “Organic Traffic” you can see this piece of content gets around 1k visitors a month to it.
Next, click the “Details” options and select the “Organic Keywords” tab to see what keywords this article is ranking for.
Select the “View All Keywords” button.
This will bring you to a page that looks like the following image.
Select the position filter and set the min position as 0 and the max position as 20. This shows you what keywords the page is ranking for on the first and second page.
Next, select the “KD” filter which stands for keyword difficulty. Ahrefs’ keyword difficulty metric will tell you how hard it is to rank top 10 on the front page of Google. A 0 – 10 KD rating means the keyword is easy to rank for, requiring 10 or less referring domains.
This yields you 40 keywords that are low competition and that you can rank for!
Now repeat this process for every piece of content you can find in the Content Explorer that is either topically or locally relevant to your website. An insurance agency in Scottsdale, Arizona would enter words like auto insurance, life insurance, grand canyon, Arizona, etc.
Creating Your Content
Great! Now you know you can create a piece of content about the saguaro cactus that will bring targeted organic traffic to your website after you get it to rank. So how do you create a piece of content worthy of ranking on the first page of Google?
The whole point of a search engine is to provide the searcher with the best, most relevant piece of content for their search query. When creating content, you should follow the Skyscraper Technique, a phrase coined by Brian Dean of Backlinko. The basic principle of this technique is to create content that is better than anything else on the front page of Google for the keyword you are targeting.
Here are some ideas for outdoing the competition and creating content that is rankable and backlink worthy:
- Create an infographic
- Create a video
- Add helpful, relevant images
- Add memes
- Interview a subject matter expert
- Create data visualizations
Pro Tip: Link your new piece of content to the page(s) on your site targeting your main keywords. This is called siloing and helps pass link juice from your content to the page you want to rank for your main keywords.
Promoting Your Content
Now that you have a piece of content for your keywords that trumps any other piece on the web, you will need to promote and build links to it. Without the proper promotional strategies, no one will know your content exists. Here are some ideas for building awareness and backlinks to your new content piece.
Reverse Engineering Competitor Backlinks
You should constantly be looking for link opportunities in your niche. Doing this ensures you are continually building up the authority of your website. However, the low-competition traffic acquisition strategy covered in this guide requires that you build backlinks specifically to your new piece of content. Since you followed the skyscraper technique and your content is better than any other piece on the web for your keyword, it should be easy to build some of the same links your competition has obtained using the Ahrefs Site Explorer.
Start by typing in one of the keywords your article is targeting into Google.
Select the first result, copy the URL into the Ahrefs Site Explorer, and then hit the orange search button.
Select “Backlinks” on the left side menu bar. The “Backlinks” tab will show you the referring pages that are linking to the article you inputted into the Site Explorer.
Click on each referring page and look for any linking opportunities. Check out this article by Brian Dean to learn how to obtain links using this method.
Many of the links you will not be able to recreate because they were paid links, part of a private blog network, or some other special relationship was built with the site’s webmaster. Although this process is very manual, you will eventually find some golden nugget linking opportunities.
You can do this for every URL in the top 20 or 30 search results for your keywords. Reverse engineering your competitor’s backlinks is a great way to snag any low hanging fruit link opportunities right after you publish your content piece.
As we mentioned earlier, social signals do contribute to SEO and your rankings. Right after your new content piece is live, look for local social media groups, pages, and profiles that you think would enjoy or benefit from your content. Share your content piece in groups (making sure you aren’t breaking any group rules) and message any social media pages or influencers that might find the content helpful. Here is a basic outreach template to reach out to pages and profiles for the saguaro cactus example.
My name is ____. **Insert something unique to the page or person you are contacting. Typically you want to compliment something about the page or profile.**.
I recently created an article called “15 Incredible Saguaro Cactus Facts” and thought you and your audience would like it. Let me know if you want me to send you the link 🙂
Do not send them a link to the article right away for two reasons:
- Sending someone a link that they don’t want is pointless and can hurt you and your website’s reputation. There are people out there that get upset by outreach because they feel you are trying to get something out of them (even though your article is, in fact, unique and helpful). It’s better for your reputation if they don’t know your website from your initial email. If they ask for the link then great, but if not, you won’t have to worry about angry influencers.
- You don’t appear pushy. It’s amazing how human psychology works. For some reason, people are more likely to help you out if you offer them something (putting them in control), and not ask for it. Reaching out in this way will allow you to build relationships with these pages and influencer and will drastically increase the number of positive responses you get.
This strategy will get your page a bunch of views, social signals, and even some backlinks if you target the right groups, profiles, and pages.
The goal of influencer outreach is to get websites and blogs to link to your content. This is by far the best way to build links and rank your new piece of content. We will not be getting into outreach because there are excellent guides on outreach that already exist. Page One Power created a very comprehensive outreach resource page if you want to read some of these guides.
Bringing It All Together
As a local business, you need to be strategic about growing your online presence. Creating exceptional content that targets low competition local keywords is a great way to begin building the overall authority of your website. This strategy also allows you to convert visitors to your site into leads without ranking for your main keywords.
If you have any questions, enter them into the comments below!