When the pandemic hit, many businesses went into e-commerce overdrive to connect with local customers and attract new customers. They recast local marketing strategies, building in local search engine optimization (SEO) so they could upgrade website and social media content.
As the pandemic appears to slow, businesses might be tempted to stay with the local SEO strategy that carried them through the crisis. Research indicate retail and business consumers won’t abandon online shopping anytime soon:
McKinsey & Co. U.S. Consumer Pulse shows retail businesses’ online business is higher now than it was before the pandemic.
Marketing collaborative 99firms cites data showing 97% of consumers search online for a local business and 46% of all Google searches are local.
Statista predicts B2B online sales will reach $1.2 trillion, up from $889 billion in 2017.
That’s great news for businesses that saw returns on their investment building strong local SEO. But what worked in 2020 might not work going forward. According to a blog by Forrester, businesses need to upgrade their local SEO strategy. It’s time to move away from products to building customer relationships.
Enter the white paper.
What is a white paper?
In the beginning, white papers were legislative documents that outlined proposed policies. A legislative white paper was prescriptive – it described the issue, the proposed solution and the anticipated outcome. About 20 years ago, businesses co-opted white papers, making them a core marketing tool.
Now marketers use white papers to attract customers with crisp content that highlights common business challenges and offers solutions. Customers reap the benefit of business insight. Businesses reap the benefits of a new way to generate leads.
Ready to add white papers to your business’ local SEO strategy? Start with understanding white paper key elements.
White paper key elements
Writing an effective white paper starts with a basic marketing principle – know your audience. More than that, know your audience’s business. For example, a white paper outline might look like this:
·What are my prospective customers’ problems?
What are the implications of those problems?
Are there fresh perspectives and solutions to those problems?
Is there enough information to create in depth analysis?
Are there statistics to support the analysis?
Are there case studies, graphics and illustrations?
What is the call to action so readers can learn more?
Of course, even the most in-depth compelling content won’t generate leads unless prospects can find it.
Enter local SEO.
How Local SEO Drives White Paper Readership
People read white papers when the content focuses on problems and provides solutions. People use specific terms, or keywords, when scouring the internet for insight.
Having the right keywords in your white paper content helps people find your content – and find your business.
A caveat about keywords: Strong white paper content is concise, easy to read and focuses on content that addresses prospective customers’ needs.
“Stuffing” keywords – filing content with keywords without context – might bring prospects to your business website. But unless they find value in the content, they’re likely to leave and not return.
Here’s how to apply SEO practices to white paper content and distribution:
Tap your market research for keywords that address your prospects’ issues.
Think in terms of creating content that will be a comprehensive resource for your prospects.
Focus on short, descriptive titles that are easily adapted as URLs.
Write meta descriptions highlighting the issues and solutions your white paper tackles.
Write for your prospects, not for the search engines.
Link your content to related insight.
Promote your white paper on your social media channels.
Track your website traffic to confirm your targeting the right readership.
Local SEO Strategy
There are clear benefits to adding white paper content to your business’ local SEO strategy.
But it takes time to research and write white papers. It takes SEO expertise to identify the right combination of keywords and content to attract readers to your white paper, engage them in the content and ideally encourage them to contact you.
If you know it’s going to be hard to find the time to research and write SEO-powered white papers, consider investing in a relationship with a local SEO agency.
What to look for in a local SEO agency
To harness the combined power of great white paper content and SEO expertise, look for an agency with broad SEO experience and deep SEO acumen. Your agency team will drive your business’ local marketing by:
Doing competitor analysis.
Completing keyword research.
Managing local listings.
Your agency team should also be able to dive into your business and industry. Effective white paper content begins with insight into your prospective customers’ issues, followed by identifying and researching solutions.
Next comes combining insight and SEO acumen to create keyword-rich white paper content that will boost your business’ ranking.
The final step is establishing a gating process on your website. Strong online content brings prospects to your website. Gating the content─ offering your white paper in exchange for prospects’ contact information – brings business leads.
Ready to combine the power of local SEO marketing and white papers to develop leads?
Drez Jennings has pursued her passion for writing and editing as a journalist covering crime and politics, and as a media relations and marketing communications pro supporting large financial services, healthcare, and legal businesses.
Drez lives with her husband Mark Wainwright in a 100-year-old Arts and Crafts home in eastern Lake County. Fun fact: all of Drez’ pets are named for musicians. Now on stage – black Lab Joe Walsh, and cats Jerry Garcia and James Brown.