Small business owners can connect with local consumers using local keyword phrases on their website and other online local marketing tools.
The Internet is an exciting global tool; however, this makes reaching a local consumer challenging. Starting with local word choices is one easy way to position a small business Website for local traffic.
An individually-owned property management company asked me for help with online marketing efforts around Pasadena, California and the local San Gabriel Valley. The small company wanted to compete online with some of the larger condo projects and apartment offerings built as part of the urban village concept in Pasadena’s Playhouse District and Old Town. The apartments were older and didn’t have the latest amenities, but the buildings were well-maintained and nicely landscaped. They did have a low vacancy rate, pointing to tenant satisfaction.
Most Internet users who looked them up online came to them through personal referrals or through online services that they subscribed to as a landlord-apartment owner. But they wanted to become more independent.
Their Website listed all 26 properties with descriptions about the local area that ranged from 60 words to 90 words. The properties were located in 8 different surrounding cities.
Local online marketing steps
Google analytics: I used their Google analytics account to determine the sources of their Website traffic and their keywords used. Most of the keywords were the name of the company, Barbera Properties. They usually came up three or four times on Google while the other search results for “Barbera properties” had to do with intellectual property of cartoon producer Hanna Barbera.
The company had almost no keywords for “apartment” or “rentals” and certainly counted low for “Pasadena” or any of the other cities.
Free online listings: I listed them in Yahoo! Local and placed their apartments on Google maps. I then listed them through a free local search listing available through the local newspaper’s Website.
Online articles: I wrote several online articles featuring the Pasadena Playhouse district and included a mention of the historic nature of one of their apartment buildings; some of the unique trees around the area and how they were used in landscaping with their apartment buildings; and some articles about the local neighborhoods where the apartments were located. In each of the articles, I was able to use a key phrase of “apartments” or similar wording to link back to their Website.
Rewriting the web site: I rewrote the descriptions of their apartments. Most of the descriptions were generic; I rewrote each section – staying within the existing 80 word limit to avoid re-design of the pages – to include key facts and features about the local city. If two or three apartments were in the same city or general area, then I rewrote content using information about the neighborhood and included intersections mentioning how nice it was “to walk near Huntington Drive and San Gabriel” or other useful information.
Social media: Some of the articles I wrote, I uploaded to Digg and Stumbleupon. I also activated a Twitter account and built a strong local following. I did 5 to 10 tweets a day, about 4 or 5 days per week. I used a pattern of pertinent local tweets about local events, local news, and tweets related to their apartments. I did retweets of other local users.
Local blog posts: I searched local blogs, including a local food blog, and left pertinent comments. I also went on some blogs related to apartments. One was in Philadelphia yet drew a national audience.
I used Google analytics to track the referring sources of the Website audience. The one in Philadelphia drew well; and it may have drawn users from California.
Within 30 days, the company started ranking with 8 results of the first 10 on Google for not only the company name but other phrases. The number of keywords visitors used had expanded from a previous high of 90 keywords in a month to over 130 keywords. Within 60 days, specific intersections were showing in the analytics keywords and specific zip codes in keyword phrases like “apartments 91106.” The number of keyword phrases used jumped to 144.
We’re aware that two renters came as a result of the online effort. The apartments were each rented for around $ 1,400 a month and they paid me about $ 3,000 for my work. Their return was $ 2,800 a month times 12. Many of their renters stayed three to five years.
Writing local content, local descriptions on a web site, utilizing social media and building local followers, along with local blog posts, and using free local directories can generate results for a small business and shoppers in their hometown.