New York's second largest city gets a bit lost sometimes. I lived in Central and Western New York before moving to Manhattan. It's hard for the upstate cities to compete with all the noise my beloved NYC makes. However, these cities can teach us a lot about resiliency, tenacity, and grit.
I grew up in Pittsburgh during the deindustrialization of the US in 1970-80s. I have a special admiration for these industrial hubs that had to battle through some tough times and reinvent themselves. Buffalo survived, and its economy has made significant gain in the 2010s. It is testament to the hardworking people who stayed in the region to help it rebuild.
Western New York poses some unique marketing challenges. With the digital migration COVID has forced us to make, as region rebuilds, should businesses focus solely locally or expand beyond the region in light of their digital investment?
Digital marketing won't work with a great website. Your website is more than just a pretty page, it's an invitation for a new customer to get to know your business. In areas like Buffalo where you can't always rely on foot traffic to raise awareness of business, a great website in conjunction with strong digital marketing can more than make up for it.
Without it, it would be more challenging to find your business online. Less than 10% of the local pack results would have landed on the first page of the search engine results page. 80% of any search volume goes to the first page results. 71% to the top 5. Without local SEO, you are unlikely to make the cut.
Local SEO helps to level the playing field somewhat so small businesses can have the opportunity to be visible when people are near their location and searching for products or services that are relevant to their business.
This is an example of the 3 pack for the search "Italian Restaurants Near Me"
Bots are programs that crawl the web to perform the basic tasks or ranking a page based on its relevance to a category. They are the professor who is about to grade your work.
The grade you will receive is based on three things.
For content, it means that you need to have relevant information focused on that particular location be it neighborhood, town, or city.
With indexing, there needs to be sufficient use of the location in your text, so the bot knows that you are writing for a particular local audience.
Finally, using the reputation metaphor, being known and trusted in your neighborhood is a lot easier than being known nationally. Therefore, you don’t need as high of a score to rank reasonably well.
According to Best Designs, original graphics are the most successful.
“Original graphics make up 40% of all successful visual content that accomplishes marketing goals, but 43% of marketers struggle with the consistent production of captivating visuals.”
Since we are communicating one message, the artwork that supports it must work very hard to support the message. This is where local market know-how can really help. Original photos and images of your business in Buffalo interacting with your neighborhood can add value.
It also helps with when your calls to action focus on local events in and around Buffalo or at your business location.
Every email, no matter how trivial, should have a call to action. This is where all the hard work above pays off. If we omit one, we just wasted resources that could have been spent more cost effectively.
We cover email list building in great detail in our post on small business email marketing. Again, we will just hit the highlights here as it pertains to Buffalo. Every neighborhood has summer fairs. While these were severely impacted by COVID, in our post COVID world they should roar back with a vengeance. It would be smart to see if you could piggy-back off one or more of them.
Incentives, deals, free trials, and samples are all great options when developing your calls to action. See if you can partner with your neighbors to create a shared promotion. This way one shopper in Buffalo has two or more places to visit while out in the neighborhood.
Many businesses make the investment to deliver goods and services digitally to comply with COVID restrictions. They now face the question of what to do with that part of the business as things return to "normal" as more and more people are vaccinated. For those who decide they want to invest in digital delivery, digital marketing is critical.
If you aren’t afraid of a bit of simple coding, there are a couple of technical SEO tips that can help make the bot’s job easier by making some adjustments to your meta tags (headers, title, etc.) and header or body text.
Structured data in this context provides a way to present useful information to bots. Schema is a standard way of using structured data across the digital landscape. To use a simple metaphor, structured data is like a form, and schema is the template that helps put the right information in the right place.
To use schema code, you need to be able to access either the header section or the body section of your web page. Generally, the schema text is put in the header, but I’ve found this can slow page speed. I cheat and put it right after the <body> header. It works equally well.
If you don't know where these are, you may want to skip this section or consider hiring an SEO expert, SEO agency, or SEO company.
There are a number of technical adjustments you can make to help bots better scan your page. In this post, we will focus only on how to help the bot find your business location online.
This is the code that you need to insert to ensure that you pages are tagged properly for your physical location. I’ll highlight the important part you will need to add in on your own. If you want to skip ahead, I find the Merkle schema tool to be very helpful.
If you want to take full advantage of the Google 3 pack to drive more traffic to your site, then the time spent optimizing your business's content and site is worth the effort for a small business.
In other words, build your SEO around the places where your local community is active so they can find your business online. If you need help with local SEO for your business, please see our eBook Easy, Simple Guide to SEO.
If you're thinking about finding help in Buffalo for your small business, here are some things to keep in mind.
Aside from all the general tips above, here are some specific actions you can take based on the three key elements of local search algorithms:
All of this assumes that you have completed your keyword research and developed your keyword list. If you have not, this section will be more effective once you do. Please see our previous post on digital marketing in Buffalo and then come back.
Go through your keywords list and select those which are good descriptors of your business. If it were me, I would use something like “digital marketing agency”, “seo services”, for example. Then make a list of the neighborhoods you service, for example “seo services Niagara Falls”.
Now comes the harder part, that is frankly a bit tedious. For each combination, see if you can create a somewhat unique post that’s 500-1000 words for that keyword. For us, it is a post like this. I try to write a post that helps my potential clients learn something or do something they didn’t know they could.
Now, this is the good part. If you do write quality posts for these keywords, you will be raising your prominence. Google knows that all these locations are in or near Buffalo. So, for each good post you write, you help raise your prominence on a given topic in a given location.
Prominence is also helped by the basic techniques I mentioned earlier, such as being a part of local business groups. Please see the Buffalo Niagara Partnership or BBB of Buffalo for listings that might pertain to you. Any local listing helps.
This is why I like the blog technique because it hits all three key areas. If your keyword is a descriptor of what you do and the neighborhood is one you serve, it is highly likely that you will score points on relevance.
Finding the right SEO for your small business in a neighborhood like Buffalo can be a crucial way to get your company noticed online.
If you are interested in what more we do, check out Small Business Marketing in Buffalo.