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April 04, 2019

Top considerations for scaling hyperlocal content

Written by Michael Pasco
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With local journalists and large publishers creating hyperlocal content each day, enterprise brands are struggling to compete in an increasingly content-heavy local landscape. Many brands understand the value of relevant content and its potential to engage and convert, but one important question persists: how do you plan quality, shareable content with a hyperlocal focus at a national scale?

National brands can capture local share of voice with hyperlocal content creation, especially by designing website experiences you can only find online. By creating content designed to capture state-, city-, or even neighborhood-specific search terms, brands can grab attention with helpful content that’s relevant to their area.

When done right, this research-heavy endeavor can provide a lot of utility for regional teams. But it takes a lot of planning and project management to create content at a national or even global scale.

Teamwork

Going Hyperlocal Comes With Challenges

Starting a large-scale content development project can be extremely rewarding, but is not without challenges. When you plan quality, shareable content with a hyperlocal focus at a national scale, you and your team need to address five critical questions: 

How do I maintain content quality with repeatable processes at scale? Content development can be time- and research-intensive. Unless you plan the ideal page architecture and establish content development workflows, production will feel sluggish and inefficient. It’s important to avoid shortcuts — content can be repetitive and duplicative if you aren’t careful.

Clear communication, regular meetings, and editing guidelines are essential to maintaining quality. Creating strategic milestones to assess or pivot strategies can improve quality in the long run.

How do I efficiently build a large quantity of pages? By far the most difficult challenge is to create a process that works for all writers on a project. Taking the time to create tools and reference material can keep people focused on the writing. When possible, use regional experts. If that isn’t possible, ask for regional input or crowdsource information where you can reduce time spent on research.

From kickoff to finish, staying organized and coordinated is important to meeting deadlines. Start small and reasonable. Focus on learning writing style or editing approval first. The ramp-up can occur once copywriters begin to speed up.

How do I ensure my pages are discovered? Nobody wants to create content that their target consumers will ignore. Without losing focus of the execution tactics, think critically about channel strategies. Taking SEO, social media, paid search, and other discovery marketing strategies into account can heavily affect how the pages look, feel, and read.

Creating efficiencies with how all channels can work toward the same goal is a key post-launch strategy. With specialists all working on the same project with shared workflows, teams can discover cross-functional efficiencies in the long run.

How do I stand out among my competitors? Finding a niche or a competitive advantage can be challenging when local content is fairly similar. Ultimately, it’s important to plan content that’s useful and usable to your consumers. Depending on the industry, being useful and usable may mean offering content that nobody else can. Though the basic information among competitors is often similar, local input, knowledge, and brand identity is essential to standing out.

Moreover, it’s important to think about what happens after you complete content development. Competitors are likely working on their own projects as well. Honing post-launch monitoring and maintenance strategies ensures that previous content-development initiatives continue to yield results. This provides an opportunity to pivot strategies that need a performance boost.

How is hyperlocal content right for my business? Content built without purpose will surely fail business goals like revenue targets or increased traffic. If people are asking for it – or even better, if it solves a problem people don’t know have – then it’s absolutely worth it.

This is where you take your industry into consideration. For example, for travel or real estate brands, this question should be a no-brainer – hyperlocal content that hones in on neighborhood guides pay off in the long run. Not only will regional teams be able to use or refer to the content, but they serve as a top-funnel attraction to qualify and support other organic search efforts. 

The true utility manifests itself in more than increased hyperlocal traffic. Rather than restating local information found on Wikipedia or Quora, hyperlocal content development provides brands with much more control. That’s why it’s important to think critically about what type of local content will actually provide value and help prospective customers solve problems.

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What’s the common theme here? In order to scale hyperlocal content, you need to trust your team. Hyperlocal is a team sport – everyone needs to work in lockstep in order to score. You need to communicate effectively in order to pace efficiently and exceed project goals.  

My company, Investis Digital, maintains a lot of its content development and governance workflows across numerous large-scale projects. I’ve noticed a few key findings for scaling hyperlocal content:

Kick Off With Clear Team Communication Workflows

adult-business-connection-1181531The beginning of a project is the most crucial period because it’s the time to research and set expectations. If you aren’t critical or methodical from the get-go, you can waste a lot of time throughout the project.

The biggest opportunity lies in creating clear communication and job function strategies in order to stay organized. To do that, take inventory of what you currently have and look at additional team members or agency partners to fill a specialty gap.

The first step is to think about what team members and job functions you need. This can help you delegate the strategic tasks before getting started. For large, multi-functional projects like this, a project manager, a lead digital strategist, and a content manager are imperative to staying efficient. If there are any existing workflows between certain team members, take stock of it and use them to your advantage. Set clear expectations for how they can be used in the future.

Once team members have been selected, the next step is to plan completion workflows. If not done already, this is a good time to identify project scope and priorities for the execution team. Different factors such as availability of research or search demand can influence prioritization. Copy editors, SEO analysts, digital strategists, and copywriters need to be heavily involved in bridging the gap from content creation to internal approval.  

Develop Reference Material For Copywriters

The copywriters will be doing the majority of the heavy lifting with a project of this scale. Do what you can to make their job easier. At Investis Digital, copywriters produce stronger work when they can reference information themselves. For projects at scale, it’s important to create reference material that ensures brand consistency across many different page types. These are created by leaders to keep quality high and to eliminate commonly asked questions.

First and foremost, create a template or wireframe for each of the different page types. Collaborate with implementation teams and developers to craft design and copy elements, which will lead to clear expectations and guidelines. 

A shared keyword research file can help map key search terms, themes, and associated derivatives during development. Doing so can create efficiencies between the SEO analysts and copywriters on the team, saving key optimization time.

Consider developing a voice and tone guide to help maintain consistency. Writing a few sample pieces of copy can reduce frequently asked copywriting questions and assist copy editors in maintaining voice. A shared vocabulary list provides the guardrails needed for writers to understand definitions associated with word choices, spelling, and grammatical style.

Align Delivery and Format Early

Let the end result inform delivery and format. Copy-driven templates or wireframes built with content blocks may lend themselves to using Excel or Google Sheets for mass delivery. Although you must spend time editing and optimizing before upload, each cell can serve as a content block or module for developers to easily copy and paste into a CMS.

This method makes the most sense for brands that prioritize consistency and simplicity more than uniqueness or depth. Although there should be a happy medium with both, the templatized method simply works better for the former.

For instance, travel guides for a global hospitality brand may want to scale by offering restaurant or shopping recommendations from locals. Asking for regional input in a couple of paragraphs should be easy; the source can be trusted to be accurate and relevant.

But for other brands or industries, it may make sense to answer hyperlocal questions with unique, evergreen guides that help to inform a consumer. For content where it’s difficult to formalize a consistent format, a Word or Google Doc with a clear table of contents section may be more useful for delivery. It lends itself to editing for accuracy or quality more than a spreadsheet can.

For instance, renters or homeowners insurance rates are heavily affected by location. Homes or apartments in areas like South Florida may struggle with cheaper rates due to potential floods and other weather risks. For people who have never purchased renters or homeowners insurance, visiting this page will set expectations and further qualify a lead. These nurtured, informed customers, when they fill out a form or call a number, will be ready to set up a relationship. 

As a secondary effect, pages that effectively answer local or commonly asked questions will naturally attract links. Though the answer may not be unique, quality, ease of use, and clarity may differentiate the page from competitors.

Stick To the Go-Live Date

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It should go without saying: it’s important to emphasize the final deadline at all stages of the project. Ultimately, publishing hyperlocal content is the goal. It’s up to project leaders to trust their team while staying efficient. 

After all, when you’re scaling content, you’re also scaling relationships. Any content governance tactics or efficiencies created with one global project can be used for the next. Leaning on an experienced agency partner ensures you can take full advantage of their project management and communication workflows to balance out the high resource demands.

Hyperlocal content is an investment that can support many different channels. Although this article focuses primarily on SEO impact, hyperlocal content can be served across marketing channels. When done right, they may even be used or referenced in offline collateral like brochures and guides.

To create content that builds closer connections with your audiences, contact Investis Digital. We have deep experience helping businesses create and manage content at scale.

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