Chris Silver Smith covers this very well in a guest post for Search Engine Land. He makes the case that many local businesses aren’t blogging yet, which means that a well-written and well-maintained blog can take you over the top – even if you and your rivals have already done all the typical tasks involved in improving your local SEO.
How can you improve your local SEO efforts by blogging? Well, to start with, writing regular blog entries means you can jump right on any timely news items or events. Google’s spiders raise their antennas for any whiffs of fresh content, so you’ll attract their attention. You’ll also attract the attention of human visitors – and if they interact with you, you’ll set those Google antennas quivering even more. “User interaction signals can give your site a higher prominence score in Google local algorithms,” Smith notes.
Humans do more than interact on your site, though; they also tell their friends about you, linking back to your blog posts. These unsolicited links give your site a unique profile – the kind that can’t be bought, and that Google really appreciates.
With an active blog, you can interact with more than just the visitors to your website who choose to comment. You can also link to other bloggers and comment on their blogs. It’s a very popular way to continue the conversation. If you’re really good (or lucky), they may even visit and leave a comment, or link back to you.
Perhaps the biggest benefit to blogging for your local business website is that it provides you with a platform. You can use this platform as the “voice” of your company if it ever gets attacked online. You can jump into exciting news related to your industry from your blog. You can even link to blog posts from other social media sites to promote your business.
So how do you get started? Smith offers a number of simple recommendations. First, go ahead and use WordPress as your blog’s content management system. It’s already quite search engine friendly, and you can easily find add-ons to make it even more so. It’s a good idea to check with an SEO to help you decide which of these (if any) you should use, and to walk you through the basics.
You can usually choose from a variety of themes for your blog. Given the way Google has been treating links in the post-Penguin era, it makes sense to stay away from themes that don’t let you remove or nofollow links to the designer’s website.
Some site owners wonder if they should set up a separate website for their blog, and point it to their business website. Don’t do it! You want to attract links directly to your business website, not to some other website that then, in theory, boosts your business site. You can put your blog into a dedicated subdirectory or even a subdomain, but make it part of your business website.
Once you get your blog set up, post regularly. Not everyone can manage a post every day, and that’s okay. If you can only do a post once a week, that’s fine. But it’s important to be consistent; that trains Google and your human visitors to expect fresh content. Also, you don’t need to post a novel every time; to be honest, hardly anyone has that kind of attention span online. So if you can only manage three or four paragraphs, do that much – but make them count.
Finally, make your posts interesting and entertaining – and remember that this will probably mean taking your blinders off. Just because you’re an accounting professional, for example, doesn’t mean all of your blog posts need to cover close readings of the tax code, the 1040 and other forms, and various deductions. That’s enough to make ME yawn – and my dad was a CPA in both New York and Florida. You can write about interesting moments in tax history or weird tax facts, like why the folks in Massachusetts and Maine sometimes get an extra day to file their taxes. A little research can turn up some very cool stories. Tell them well and regularly, and you’ll attract all the traffic you can handle. Good luck!