I just got some feedback from a one-year test today, and I wanted to share it with you here in this blog post.

I was approached last year from a friend who owns a local pool business. He came to me because of advice that I gave him 10 or so months prior. I’ll recap that first, before I continue on.

My friend, Bob the pool guy, didn’t have an online presence at all, except for mentions in some web directories like the Yellow Pages, and some random blog posts from happy customers. But none of them showed up without a lot of deep SERP diving.

local business blogging

So, here is what I recommended off the bat, as anyone would I am sure:

1. Get a domain and build a site. Use WordPress for simplicity and power.
2. Be sure to include a gorgeous image that reflects your business and can invoke positive feelings in people. A nice refreshing image of someone swimming when the temperature is HOT, for example.
3. Be sure to include your phone number, local serving area, and business name in text (rather than an uncrawlable image) across the top of every page.
4. Introduce the team of employees and yourself.
5. Have more detailed pages about what you offer.
6. Include hours of operation, and update them for holidays.
7. Keep the homepage fresh with changes, events, and specials.
8. Inform people of news, laws, etc. that may/will affect them as pool owners.
9. Submit your business/site to local directories.
10. Write a unique article for a local site that fits with their audience and potentially yours. Inform, but don’t sell. Rinse and repeat.
11. Submit press releases.
12. And blog regularly.

He asked what to blog about. I really don’t know the industry, but I suggested:

1. News.
2. Product info.
3. Tips, tricks, how-tos.
4. Business info.

The above are standard regardless of industry. I might even be missing some ideas.

With that advice, Bob did very well. His business increased. He opened a second location. He doubled his staff. He is no longer in debt. He has a happy life, because finally he has a happy wife.

Well, he felt that he was still missing a lot of potential traffic, and as it turns out… he was.

He asked what else he could do. It was a casual conversation, so I had a casual response.

“Blog more.”

But as he informed me and as it became apparent after looking through his site, he was blogging regularly. That wasn’t the problem.

A quick look at his Google Analytics stats revealed the problem. Well, not the “problem,” the “solution” I should say. It’s all in how you look at it!

He was getting a flood of organic traffic, but only a small fraction of it was local traffic. His homepage was 89%+ local, and about 5% surrounding areas, but the blog posts were primarily a global (mostly U.S. and Canada) audience.

What to do?

I had two ideas that turned out to be brilliant. It changed his bottom line Drastically over the last year. Notice the capital D?

Blog for Local Traffic

The majority of his posts had global appeal which is great, but we decided that half his blogging effort should target a local audience.

He already blogged to a local audience some of the time when he posted information about the business, employees, local events, and the like, but we decided to test a strategy that didn’t even seem reasonable at the time.

He mostly targetd pool owners with his postings. But what about swimmers who didn’t own pools? They would actually bring more money to the business if they became customers. Selling a pool and installation, with the maintenance upgrade was very enticing.

The previous year saw a huge influx of maintenance and repair contracts that he determined 72%+ came from the web.

So, we decided to think like a swimmer, not necessarily a pool owner. Questions arose that we could answer in the form of a blog post.

“When does the pool open for the season at __________?” – think parks, and communty centers.

“Where are swimming lessons avaiable in __________?”

We came up with dozens of ideas for local searches.

We didn’t use a keyword research tool for this mind you. Not a commercial tool like Market Samurai, or a free tool like the Google AdWords tool.

We just put ourselves in our customers shoes, and came up with some ideas. We worked some phrases into Google Suggest though to help come up with some long tails, but the majority was from the ol’ noggin.

In these local centric posts, in the sidebars he placed a banner that brought visitors to a page that explained how affordable it was to get a pool at home. He also talked ahout how simple the buying and maintenance process was when you have the right experts guiding the way.

The “guide” was written in a manner that the customer could use at any store offering the same services and products. i.e. No pressure to call Bob. Bob just wants to let you know your options.

Pool sales went through the roof over the past year!

Monetizing Global Traffic

OK, the “offline” business is doing well. We worked an “online” business model into the mix.

I sell a geo targeting script tool for WordPress and PHP sites. We installed the tool into Bob’s site so that we can determine the geographic location of the visitors to his site on-the-fly, knowing that people are visiting from around the world.

Armed with that information, we are able to decide what to do with the traffic in real time. Since a great deal of his past posts, and a good chunk of future posts have global appeal, we decided that advertising on those pages would help monetize that traffic. The visitors lived in locations well outside his service area anyway.

At first we implemented Google AdSense for non-local (and non-surrounding area) audiences. In other words, people outside his service area. He did tremendously.

Then, for fun, we rotated in a “Your Ad Here” banner, with text below that read “Place your {city}, {region} business ad here.”

That my friend, opened up EVERY global-targeted post on Bob’s site to advertising from EVERY city across the globe essentially.

Mind you, he had to hire two people to implement ad management which took about 2 months. Also there are three people dedicated to the ad management team, but the revenue from ad sales certainly justifies the employee and implementation expense.

If Hindsight was 20/20

Had I though a little further ahead, rather than offer free advice to my good friend Bob, and give him a 50% discount on the MaGiKS geo targeting tool, I would have instead asked for a percentage of all sales IF/WHEN my ideas saw some revenue.

Ahhh, live and learn.

p.s. Rather than advertising we considered selling “parts” on the web. But in the end he decided “shipping” wasn’t too exciting. Amazon “ship for you service” could remedy that though. But, there is really nothing unique about his product line, as the products come from top manufacturers that any retail business has access too.

What’s unique about Bob is his valuable service he provides locally.