Bloggers And Small Businesses Can Conquer Cyberspace With Collaboration

I ‘met’ Freelance Writer Donna Anderson (@SheWritesALot) online when she wrote about the Cornell University / Yahoo! Research Twitterverse Study for the Lexington Examiner. Donna writes regularly for them and I asked via Twitter if she would write a post about writing for local blogs like Examiner.com which has versions for many local locations.

I feel bloggers, small businesses, and consumers would all benefit from some cross-promotion between traditional news sources and blogs – including what Donna has been doing writing for Examiner.com. There is no reason others of us should not be doing the same.

This guest post goes beyond what I had in mind. It is definitely a MUST READ for every blogger.

chocolate covered oreos

Craving chocolate covered oreos?

I’ll have to admit I was a little intimidated when Gail asked me to write a blog post for GrowMap and give you advice on how to write localized articles for your blog. I’ve learned so much from GrowMap and, after her Technorati interview, Gail has become a blogging and business sensation. It’s kind of like Jennifer Anniston asking me to style her hair for her. Is she serious? She wants MY advice?

So it took a brainstorming session that involved a Double Chocolate Smoothie and a handful of Oreos to settle my nerves and help me come up with something to say that you might find useful. And it took another day for my hands to stop shaking enough, after consuming all that sugar, to get it down in writing!

Before we get into the how-to stuff, I should probably explain WHY you should start including local content on your blog. If you’re like me, you always want to know all sides of the story and how everything relates.

I think, by now, we all realize that it’s almost impossible to imagine the vastness of Cyberspace and the potential it holds for connecting with people all over the world. The possibilities are endless. But, when you take a look around you’ll find that, for all it’s size and wonder, people still want to connect on a personal level. Just look at the popularity of sites like Twitter and Facebook and all the individual groups and communities within each of those sites.

The social networks aren’t the only sites that are growing in popularity. Sites like Examiner.com that specialize in localized content are seeing a tremendous increase in traffic and it’s because people want to know what’s happening in their own cities and towns. Yeah, it’s great that we can click a button and connect with someone on the other side of the world. But let’s face it:

Most of our day-to-day opinions and purchasing decisions
are based on local information, and most of our day-to-day
relationship happenings involve people who live nearby.

Now, how do you write local content to appeal to the people in your community?

There are two types of local content: news that happens in your local area and news that happens elsewhere that has an effect on your local area. The first one is easy enough to spot and include on your blog. It’s the supermarket grand openings, the lost dogs, the book signings, the parades and festivals, whatever is happening in town that’s relevant to your blog.

The second is a little more difficult. It’s possible to localize just about any type of information. But it’s not enough to simply put the name of the city in the title and call it a local article.

You have to show your readers how that information
is relevant to them, in their community.

Baby food

Click Image for Healthier Baby Food

For example, let’s say you have a baby care blog and one of the baby food manufacturers announces a recall of one of their products. You could simply announce it on your blog but everyone else is already doing that and you’ll never be able to compete for indexing.

But, you can take it a step further and localize your information. Call the stores in your area that carry that product and find out if they’ve removed it from their shelves. Ask them if it’s created any difficulties, are they allowing returns, will they give refunds, etc? Then, include these business names and your findings in your article to let your local readers know how this recall is going to effect them personally.

Anytime anything newsworthy happens anywhere in the world, some blogger is going to blog about it and you’ll have to compete against them for index placement.

By localizing your articles you’ll not only be providing
relevant information to your readers, but you’ll be creating
a unique article (because it’s localized) and you’ll be able
to compete for better index placement.

A bad example of a localized article would be to simply state that Main Street Gazette in Your Town, USA reports that XYZ Baby Food Manufacturer has announced a recall. Yes, you managed to include the name of your city, but you haven’t shown your readers how it relates to them personally. You haven’t added anything of local interest to your article. And you’re just one of the crowd as far as Google is concerned.

How can bloggers and local business owners collaborate to increase sales?

A small business that operates on a local level isn’t really interested in the vastness of Cyberspace, either. All he’s really concerned about is his own little corner of the world, his own city or town or neighborhood. He’s not out to compete with the world. He just needs to let the people in his marketing area know he exists and unfortunately that’s difficult because of the sheer size of Cyberspace. It’s a vicious circle, that’s for sure.

One of the reasons that blogs are so popular is the comments section. After a while the comments section becomes a little community of loyal followers. (There’s that word ‘community’ again!) You’ll increase that sense of loyalty even more if you localize some of your content and focus on a local business. This will give your readers one more point of commonality.

You’ll also be surprised to see more traffic
coming in because of your localized content.

organic baby

Click Image for the Benefits of Organic Baby Clothes

For example, let’s say you have a niche blog promoting baby care products. Team up with your local pediatrician, day care center, or baby clothes store and create a new category on your blog just for them.

Be sure to use their company name and the name of the city in each of your blog posts so they get picked up accurately by the search engines.

How does it benefit you, the blogger,
to include that localized content?

The biggest benefit is that it helps establish that feeling of community. It’s much more difficult to establish a relationship over the Internet because you can’t see the person you’re talking to. But if you help people connect by giving them something local to focus on then, then you’ve given them a better reason to follow your blog.

Secondly, more than 80 percent of all searches are conducted on Google and Google has localized their index. If you type in the word ‘plumber’ the first results you see will be plumbers in your immediate vicinity, based on your IP address. So, if I live in Kentucky and I’m looking for information about hotels in Nashville, I actually have to enter the keyword ‘Nashville’, otherwise my results will be all Kentucky hotels. Using keywords to localize your content will give you more listings on the index which is especially important if the small business you’re targeting relies on traveling and tourism.

MONETIZING LOCAL TRAFFIC:

How you choose to monetize this local traffic is up to you and the business owner. You can charge a fee for advertising space or set up some type of coupon code or affiliate program. You may find that just having a local vet give advice on your dog food blog is enough to boost sales of your affiliate product so high that it doesn’t really matter if he compensates you.

Now, let’s add in the localized online media…

The local small business owner who’s looking at collaborating with a blogger really needs to be concerned about traffic. After all, that’s the whole purpose for teaming up. And some blogs just don’t have the ranking to draw in that traffic. Even if they do, they can always use more. So, in my mind, here’s the perfect scenario with a proven track record.

  • The blogger wants to attract traffic to his low ranking blog and understands that if he adds some local content he’ll be able to establish a stronger community.
  • The small business owner wants to attract traffic to his business and he needs an online presence that ranks well, with an established readership, to get that traffic.
  • Examiner.com is a higher ranking site that caters to localized traffic and allows the author to write about any given topic and link to whatever they want. The writer is also allowed to link to his own blog in his bio.

Put those three points together and it comes out looking something like this:

Local small business owner and blogger collaborate to create 3 or 4 articles a week to post at Examiner.com or a similar higher ranking site. These articles talk about topics relevant to that business and provide links back to the blogger’s blog and the business owner’s website. The blogger and the business both benefit from traffic generated by posting localized articles at Examiner.com because it’s a higher ranking site with an already established local readership. Examiner.com benefits from the additional traffic the articles bring into their site. Everybody wins and it’s all because…

It’s a collaboration!

Will it work? It’s already been proven. It’s actually just another method of article marketing – only it’s localized…and on steroids. I’ve seen this method in use on Examiner.com numerous times and I could name some of the companies but then I’d have to kill ya. In fact, Examiner.com encourages it because it benefits everyone. Everyone benefits when we all pitch in and collaborate! Right, Gail?

Ask away in the comments and I’ll be happy to answer any questions I can.  In the meantime, Gail, thank you very much for this opportunity to be of service.

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