Mar 05, 2021
Content marketing – specifically local business blog writing – has opened the door for many small businesses to reach their target audience easily. It’s built their site authority, strengthened their rapport with prospective customers, and generated organic interest in the business’ offerings.
But if you’ve ever tried to blog, you know just how tricky it can be. Between SEO, topic selection, and calendar management, there’s a lot to juggle.
So to help you get started, we’ve put together a step-by-step guide to creating a successful local business blog. Let’s get started!
You can’t just create content that promotes your products and services and assume that people will care. Since content marketing is about helping your target audience, you need to know who you’re talking to and what they actually need. This includes their pain points, interests, questions and knowledge gaps.
To an extent, you also need to know their demographics, as your style of writing and word choice will be tailored to the personality and preferences of the reader. For example, a pediatric dentist might write in an empathetic and professional manner to put parents at ease. But a local restaurant might choose to be bubbly and fun to captivate a young Gen Z audience.
In any case, having a clear understanding of the person on the other side of your blog post will enable you to write more clearly and provide personalized answers – the same way you might when talking to a customer one-on-one.
Taking the previous step deeper, you also need to get clear on your audience’s awareness of your product or service. The reason? It determines the type of information you provide.
For instance, if a customer is visiting Knoxville, Tennessee and wants to find the best place for pizza, they won’t jump straight to a restaurant’s menu. They’ll likely start by reading Google reviews for highly-rated locations and digging into blog posts (like this one!) to get the inside scoop on the best hole-in-the-wall spots.
As a result, a restaurant owner would need to need to create content that compared the best pizza places in Knoxville to reach that customer. If they just focused on their own menu items, that would mean a missed marketing opportunity.
With that in mind, here are the awareness stages you need to know and cater to:
At the first stage, your customers are “problem-aware.” They know they have a problem, and they want to solve it, but they have no idea how. (i.e. They’re hungry and want takeout, but don’t know what their options are.)
In this stage, your job is to educate your prospects – to give them more information about their problem and provide some easy solutions for them to follow.
The next stage is "solution-aware." Here, your customers are well-educated on their problem and have some idea of what's out there, but they don't know about your specific business. (i.e. They know there are lots of great restaurants on Kingston Pike, but don't know much, if anything, about your restaurant.)
That means, to reach customers at this level, you need to make them aware of your business. And more importantly, you need to promote the value of your product or service.
Once they reach the product-aware stage, your leads know about your business. They just aren’t sold on what you have to offer. They might be shopping around between you and your competitors (i.e. several pizza restaurants) or simply digging deeper into your offerings to make sure that you’re the best option for them.
Regardless, the purpose of blog posts here is to convince customers to buy from you. So you want to continue stressing your value and providing incentives for them to choose you over your competitors.
Since you have leads at all of these stages, it’s important to discuss your audience’s interests and pain points (see #1) in lots of different ways. Not only does doing so give you the opportunity to create a wide variety of blog posts, but it also enables you to reach customers with unique questions and concerns.
Once you know what your customers want, it’s time to map out the content itself. And that starts with your keywords.
The reason is simple. Since keywords act as the bridge between you and your customers – with the connection point being a SERP – you need to find keywords that match your business and customer research early on, so you can write your blog posts around them. Otherwise, you can spend hours creating high-value content that your leads never see.
Like paid advertising, these keywords should focus on your business category (i.e. digital marketing). But they don’t necessarily have to be tied to a single word or phrase. You might expand the primary keyword into a long-tail keyword or create a localized version like “top Knoxville marketing agencies.” You might even decide to branch into sub-topics like content marketing, blogging, social media marketing, SEO, and SEM to provide more targeted information to your readers.
As a small, local business, here are some keyword categories you should prioritize, though:
- High-traffic + medium competition keywords
- High-traffic + low competition keywords
- Long-tail keywords (lower volume and lower competition, but high conversion rate)
- Location-specific keywords
From here, blog post SEO gets a little more complicated, as you have to balance your core keyword with LSI keywords, build links, and optimize your images. However, by getting a strong keyword list put together, you’re well on your way to writing a solid, search engine optimized blog post.
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Now that you’ve got a framework in place, it’s time to start building a list of blog posts for each stage of customer awareness. These lists streamline the topic research process, making it easier to create content your customers actually care about. Here are some ideas you use and riff:
- Breakdown an important industry-related term (i.e. “what is” blog post
- Roundup post of you and your direct competitors (like this one)
- Direct comparison of your business against one competitor
- How-to article for DIY solutions you can safely recommend (like this)
- Explanation of why a problem exists or occurs (here's a great one!)
- Exciting events or competitions your customers can participate in
- A listicle of creative innovations in your industry
- Break down the benefits of buying local (to customers and businesses)
- List the benefits of your most popular products or services
- Announcements for your latest offerings (don’t forget the why!)
- Explanation of old vs. new products in your industry (here's one)
- Spotlight a team member or top customer
- A listicle of little known (but important) facts about a relevant topic
- Explanation of how to find local businesses nearby
- What to expect with a product or service
- How to work with businesses in your industry
- [Product/service] your customers should invest in this year
- The latest trends in your industry (and whether you’d recommend them)
- List of pitfalls to avoid with [relevant topic]
- How to avoid [major problem] (here's a great example)
- List of things to know before hiring a professional in your industry
- Debunk common misconceptions about [product or industry] (like this)
- How to choose the right [product/service]
- A listicle of secrets professionals in your industry want them to know (like this one)
- List of red flags to watch out for when working with a business in your industry
- How day to day living creates or exacerbates your customers’ pain points
- How a current event is impacting your business (i.e. what are you doing)
- Community events your business will take part in (what, when, and where)
Just remember, this isn’t a one-and-done activity. As you write and publish blog posts on each topic, you’ll need to replace them with new ideas for content.
Now comes the easy part. All you have to do is decide how often you’ll publish blog posts and what order you want to publish them in.
For beginning bloggers, this will likely be once per week or once every other week, as you get comfortable with blog writing. But as you ramp up, you can transition to two or even three pieces per week, if you can manage it.
As you increase your content load, you might even decide to outsource to a local digital marketing agency. Just remember, the important thing is to be consistent and provide quality over quantity.
The last major step to starting a local business blog is figuring out how you’ll get the word out about your content. Sure, SEO will help with organic SERP rankings, but the more shared a piece of content is, the more valuable it appears to search engine algorithms and people.
Planning content distribution requires a few moving pieces, though. Besides promoting your own content on your blog and social media channels, you need people who are willing to share it and encourage others to read it.
This can happen organically, as your customers share your blog content with their friends and family or through paid relationships with influencers who promote your posts on their own site. But no matter which option you choose, gaining backlinks and additional reach can make a huge difference to your content marketing strategy.
While the previous steps mentioned are critical to blogging success, the most important part of starting a local business blog is writing. At some point, you just need to sit down and type it out or hand it off to a professional content marketing team.
With years of experience and a team of qualified SEO experts, we’re here to help you build a great business blog. Connect with our team for more information about our blogging and SEO services.