Local Blogging Specific Advice

Basic good blogging practice is great for local blogs, for example write good content, but there are a few additional things to consider.

1) Pieces of Paper and Signs

If you are a Brick-and-Mortar store, you’ve got some great resources to advertise your blog. You might mention your blog on your invoices, fliers, your sign, etc. If you hand out any promotional literature, e.g. fliers or a sheet of current events in the store, not only mention your blog, but mention recent post topics, which are presumably about things of local interest that will interest your target audience.

2) Press Releases

The local media LOVES local news. Writing a press release is well beyond the scope of this post (plenty of good resources on line), but a title starting with the word “Local” and stressing benefits (i.e., why people will care) can get the attention of local media. I’m certainly no expert, but I’ve found hand-addressing envelopes to the local media makes them stand out and stressing the local angle can do wonders. You can also send out the press release for free or cheap using a service like PR Web.

3) Search Engines

Almost everyday I look up a local business – today it was my Cleaner and a Chinese restaurant.

I always look on line first, before defaulting to the phone book. Younger people are even more likely to look on line.

Search engine optimization is critical, and the basics are simple.
Why? So people looking for local services on line can find you easily!!

The number one rule – MENTION LOCATION. I’m tempted to say mention “location location location” because you will want to repeat yourself as we outline below.

3a) Blog Names:

A search engine friendly name is great! For example a name which includes location keywords such as the name of your town/city, state or other geographical info, for example “Twin-Cities” for Minneapolis/Saint Paul. The name of the service or product you provide is also great, like “Bowling” or “Chinese Food” or “Window Washing.”

“Great Bay Bowling is an OK blog name, but “Great Bay Bowling, Newmarket NH” is much better.

Of course there are other reasons for choosing a particular name, including branding.

3b) Post Titles:

It’s important to include keywords in post titles – and for local blogs that includes location.

If you’re a fishing tackle shop  posting a fishing report, “Fishing Report” is NOT a good blog post title. “New Hampshire Fishing Report” or “Everglades Florida Fishing Report” or “Cape Cod Fishing Report” is infinitely better! More specific, where appropriate, is even better, for example “New Hampshire Coastal Fishing Report” or “Outer Cape Cod Fishing Report.”

For a cooking and food supply shop, “Big Bob’s BBQ Restaurant Review” doesn’t cut it as a title. “Portsmouth New Hampshire: Big Bob’s BBQ Restaurant Review” or similar is the way to go.

3c) Body Text:

Mention geographical location (yes again) and what you provide (again) in the body text also, preferably several times in a natural way if you can. Don’t write garbage text to include keywords over and over again, but if you are writing about “Vegetarian Dog Food,” it makes sense that you might write “vegetarian dog food” several times in your post. Search engines like that.

3d) Title and Meta Tags

Web pages, which include blog pages, have a “title,” and search engines care very much about the title. This is the title of the webpage that shows up in the top of most browsers’ windows. Most blog software automatically sets the title tag to something at least semi-intelligent, for example your blog’s name, and it’s easily modified.

All Web pages are written in HTML, and this HTML contains the title. We can modify a Blog’s basic HTML by modifying its “template” (sometimes called a “theme”). For example, we could modify this not over search engine friendly name:

<title>Alice’s Restaurant</title>

to this much more search engine friendly name:

<title>Northhampton MA, breakfast and lunch at Alices’s Restaurant</title>

Blogs actually have several types of pages, including the main page, archive pages, post pages, etc.The details depend on the actual blogging software used, but in this example (Blogger.com) it modified all the pages except for the post pages, where the default was already fine.

Similarly, the description and keywords meta tags can be modified as below:

<meta name=”description” content=”Alice’s Restaurant in Northhampton MA serves delicious breakfast and lunch 7 days a week “>

<meta name=”keywords” content=”Northampton,MA,Massachusetts,Restaurant,lunch,breakfast,food,Alice “>

The description and keywords meta tags are not nearly as important as the title tag.

3e) Local Links

Links are incredibly important for getting search engine traffic, especially relevant links. They raise your site’s worth significantly in the search engine’s opinions, and will result in higher search engine rankin s and more on line traffic – which can result in more off line traffic and customers and sales. For a restaurant, relevant links would include “food” related links, as well as “local” related links, for example from local directories, local newspaper Web sites, chambers of commerce, etc.

So, a few ideas to make your local blog really tick! Any other ideas and advice out there? (No, spray painting the blog name on the local water tower is not recommended!) How about examples of effective local business blogs – suggestions?

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