Forget about unique content. Try actually BEING local!

Columnist Greg Gifford notes that when all your competitors have unique content, then that alone won’t be enough to help you stand out from the crowd.

Is it just me, or does it really seem lately like every marketer is looking for a silver bullet when it comes to SEO? Even though nothing even close to a silver bullet exists, the search is always on for the “one big thing” that can really jump a site up in the rankings.

It’s time for another installment of Greg’s Soapbox. Stop trying to look for silver content bullets! Stop trying to be lazy or look for shortcuts! If you put in the time and do things correctly, you’ll win in the long run.

It’s fall conference season, and I’ve sat in on countless sessions that preach the same thing over and over again: you’ve got to create unique content if you want to succeed.

Technically, that’s true. But in the real world, I’m just gonna say it: it’s a load of BS.

The myth of unique content as a differentiator

Let’s look at the majority of businesses out there. Unless you’re the only underwater basket-weaving supply company in the state, there are going to be competitors in your market. Depending on your vertical and your city, you could have anywhere from a handful of competitors to hundreds, all fighting for the top few spots on page one.

Unique content is important, but there are only so many ways you can write unique content about whatever you sell. There might be 50 plumbers in your market, and they could all have unique content on their sites, but their sites are all still about plumbing. The actual copy might be unique, but the overall content is pretty much the same.

Citations used to be a big game-changer in Local SEO, but they’ve become more of a basic building block. I typically explain to businesses that citations are like your ante in a poker game. You’ve got to have a clean citation profile to be able to sit at the big boy Local SEO poker table.

Unique content is becoming the same thing. As more marketers and business owners become SEO-savvy, more and more websites feature unique content. Does that really make a difference any more? Once everyone has unique content, that factor is no longer a differentiator.

So here’s my push for the rest of the year: If you’re doing Local SEO, worry less about unique content and put more effort into local content. Don’t simply include city and state info in different on-page elements — actually write local content!

Local is the new unique. It’s totally fetch!

I wrote a post here a year and a half ago about making your blog a local destination. Go back and read it. Go old-school Wil Reynolds and do RCS. Don’t pretend — actually BE local.

Share useful information about your area. Interview local figures. Share local news. But don’t just limit your new local focus to your blog — put a local spin on your standard website pages as well.

I’m talking about a fundamental change in the way you write your content, and the way you run your business. If you’re not involved in the community, get involved. Donate your time to local groups, participate in the neighborhood community, support local charities and so on. You can’t fake being a part of the local community. If you’re truly involved, writing local content will be incredibly simple.

Yes, that’s technically still writing unique content — but unique content for its own sake won’t matter if all of your competitors are doing the same thing.

Truly local content will help you stand out. Google will love the legitimate local signals of relevancy, and your customers will flock to your site because those local signals are genuine.

[Article on Search Engine Land.]

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