social-media-1Of late, there have been a lot of attempts by small businesses to get visibility on local searches – and not without reason. Local SEO is very rapidly replacing the traditional Yellow Pages primarily because it is simpler, faster and more accurate. Under these circumstances, it becomes essential for local businesses to make sure that they rank well, as its an amazing source of new clients.

Most of the popular ways to make sure you rank well on Local SEO are to optimize your profile well, get citations from established sources and ask for positive client reviews. Sadly, your competitors have probably done all three of these to death. In such cases, how do you make sure you stay on top at Local SEO rankings? Well, its very simpleā€¦

Local SEO is not simply about building a bunch of links and taking a break. You are going to have to show a lot of activity for search engines to like you and one of the best ways to do this is to blog.

Yes, you heard me. Blogging offers you several intrinsic benefits that citations or optimization cannot give you. For one thing, it lets you come in direct contact with your target audience (and possibly future customers) and it establishes your authority in the industry. If your blog becomes popular, you become the “go-to” person in all things related to your industry. Not only that, it gives you a platform to promote yourself in social media. All you need to do is feed in your blog to Facebook and Twitter and you get an instant source of local traffic to your blog.

You’re probably wondering how to so it. How to configure your blog and your blog posts to target your local markets. Here’s how:

1. Make it a sub-domain: If your blog is an external site and not a part of your business site, then you are not really taking full advantage of blogging. Make sure that your blog is a sub-domain of your website. That way, any new traffic that come to your blog also comes to your website.

2. Use a reliable blogging tool: I am personally a huge fan of WordPress. Its a gold mine for bloggers who want to hook their blog up to social networks because of its incredibly useful plugins. But any of the modern platforms will work just as well. I’ve heard good things about Tumblr too.

3. Do basic SEO: You don’t want to over-optimize your blog, but its always wise to make sure you do keyword research, find out which topics are popular in your industry and optimize your titles and headers.

4. Create categories and tags: Organize your blog for the search engines. Tag your posts appropriately and put them in the correct categories. Not only does this give your blog a neat look, it also makes sure that your readers can find similar content easily.

5. Respond to comments: I cannot stress the importance of this. Your readers took the time to read your entry and leave a comment. The best way to make them feel better is to give them a reply. After all, these could be your customers tomorrow.

6. Post regularly: This is something which most business owners neglect. Take some time out of your schedule every week and write something interesting.

7. Make it interesting: Here’s the tricky part. You will need to find topics that will interest your readers. Say for instance, you run a home remodeling business, your readers will not particularly be interested in the various ways you can fix a drywall. However, you can write about a new design concept that you came up with or what surprises you are planning for your employees for the holidays. You can also cover local news in your industry and give your insights. Another way to establish your presence is to find another blogger in your industry and give your opinions on a recent post of his. Spice it up!

8. Grab the social networks: Hook up your blog to various social networks like Facebook and Twitter. That’s where most of your local market is!

Follow these steps and you will be surprised at how fast you move to the top in Local SEO rankings and how fast those new inquiries start coming in!