An Effective Internet Presence is becoming more important for local businesses, as fewer people even consider using the “yellow pages” these days. Blogs are wonderful for building a local business’ internet presence. Basic good blogging practice works well for local blogs, for example writing good content, but there are a few additional things to consider that can make a big difference for local businesses

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.

2) Press Releases

The local media loves local news. Writing a press release is well the scope of this article (there are 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. 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 an online 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 for your blog and Web site, so that people looking for local services online can find you easily. The basics are simple.

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.

Blog Names:

A descriptive blog name that includes location 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. The more location specific a name, the more local traffic it will get from the search engines.

Post Titles:

Many of your post titles can benefit from including 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.

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.

The Title Tag

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 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 usually easily modified.

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:

to this much more search engine friendly name:

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.

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 opinion, and will result in higher search engine rankings and more online traffic – which can result in more offline 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.

More of your potential customers are looking online. Good blogging can help catapult a local business’ Internet presence and bring in more customers. These are a few ideas to make your local blog really tick!