It’s time for my monthly column again, which means it’s time for me to jump back up on my soapbox. If you’ve read any of my past articles here in the Local section of Search Engine Land, you know that my posts typically fall into two camps: helpful tips for marketers, or soapbox rants with helpful tips thrown in.
This month, it’s the latter of the two. In fact, we might need to come up with a permanent moniker for my posts here. This month, on Greg’s Soapbox…
The biggest problem with local SEO
I work with car dealers all over the US on a daily basis, and since I speak at a ton of SEO and marketing conferences, I get to chat with business owners and marketers literally all over the world. Regardless of the vertical, the most common truth in local SEO is that the majority of sites out there have flat-out awful content.
Yes, I’m probably talking about your site. I talk to people all the time who say that their content is awesome, but I find it’s almost always the same boring fluff that every other website in that vertical publishes.
Here’s a great example of a lead paragraph from a car dealership I talked to this morning (The names and cities have been changed to protect the innocent):
Our Dallas Toyota dealership Toyota of Dallas is your source for the best Toyotas if you’re looking for a new Toyota or used Toyota in Dallas, Texas or the area around Dallas. We’re conveniently located to also serve Richardson, Garland, Plano, Addison, Allen, Frisco, McKinney, The Colony, Euless, Bedford, and more in the Dallas area. Our Dallas Toyota dealership has great deals on Toyotas near Dallas, so come see us at Toyota of Dallas, right off the highway in Downtown Dallas.
It’s not just car dealers, either. Lawyers try really hard to win the Spammiest Website Content Award, and AC repair companies are nipping at their heels.
Yes, you definitely need to mention your location information in your content — but you absolutely don’t need to mention it four times in one sentence. Hopefully, you’re laughing right now, because it sounds completely off, right? But far too many business owners and marketers write content like this on a daily basis!
So, ranting from my soapbox today, I’m going to share an incredible tip with you that’s guaranteed to help you write better content on your site.
Writing great website content for local SEO
First, head back and read my post from June about asking yourself the most important question in Local SEO. The crux of that article was as follows:
Every business owner thinks they’re the best and that they should be #1 in local search results. The important question to ask is, “Why do you DESERVE to be #1?”
Once you’ve got that question answered, you know what you need to write about on your site. From there, sit down and write it.
Here’s the awesome content-writing tip: Read what you wrote out loud. I’m not talking about reading back through it in your head — I’m serious about actually reading it out loud.
If you read it out loud and it sounds awkward, it’s wrong. After Panda and Hummingbird, you absolutely have to have conversational content on your site. If you read your content out loud and it doesn’t sound like something you’d say to a customer over the phone or in person, then it’s wrong. Period.
If I called your business to ask a question, would you lead off the conversation by mentioning that you’re in Dallas five times in the same breath? Of course not. Would you tell me that you’re conveniently located to be able to serve customers from Richardson, Garland, Plano, Addison, Allen, Frisco, McKinney, The Colony, Euless, Bedford, and more in the Dallas area? Heck no. Would you tell me that you sell the following products, then proceed to list them all out, before you even find out what I’m calling about? Duh, no.
So don’t write content like that for your website!
Seriously… just stop. You’re not going to rank well for all of your products or services simply because they’re listed on your home page in a comma-separated list. You’re not going to rank in 20 different cities simply because you listed them in a comma-separated list on your home page. That tactic never worked, and it definitely doesn’t work after Pigeon. (And Pigeon happened two years ago!)
Yes, you still need to mention your location info. Yes, you still need to optimize your title tags, H1s, URLs, alt text and meta descriptions. You’ve got to cover the basics, but without truly awesome, unique content, optimizing the elements won’t matter.
Read everything you write on your site out loud. Potential customers and Google will love you for it!