How to Use Local SEO in Chinatown to Drive Traffic

Patrick Kwan from New York City, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Chinatown: So Much Crammed in Such a Small Spot

Officially, Chinatown is less that 500 acres. But, it has hundreds of small businesses crammed into one small space. The reality is Chinatown is more for the tourists as more of the Asian population has migrated to the Queens Chinatown in Flushing. Much of the authentic Chinese culture moving with it.

That doesn't mean Chinatown is not a vibrant, colorful neighborhood. It simply means that its customer base has changed significantly. Instead of catering to Asian Americans and other New Yorkers, it now focuses on tourism. COVID 19 had a devastating effect on Tourism and Chinatown, just like Times Square, has suffered.

Why Should I Care About Local Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Google 3 pack example

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 search using keywords that are relevant to their product or service.

This is an example of the 3 pack for the search "Italian Restaurants Near Me"

SEO for a Small Business Needs to be Local

Building an SEO profile for any small business involves knowing how Google works to gain visibility for our business website online.

Like everything else, NYC is competitive. There are simply a lot more businesses competing for attention. For example, SEO agency NYC is much harder to rank for than SEO agency for Dallas, even though they have roughly equivalent search volumes. This is why a mix of on-page and off-page SEO can help.

On page SEO, as the name implies, is content and keyword driven. Off-page focuses on building the credibility of the page through links, referrals, etc. Technical SEO is the behind the scenes work that SEO professionals do to ensure the coding of the website follows SEO best practices.

Even the best small businesses will struggle to compete for high volume keywords so local SEO can help you close that gap.

Why Local Digital Marketing Will Be Important in Chinatown?

For Chinatown, local digital marketing may need to wait until tourism rebounds, likely later in 2021. With a new administration with a much more open attitude, New York City's tourism business will come back. Once people have been vaccinated, we fully expect Chinatown's crowded street will be bustling again.

Universal Techniques for Optimizing Your Small Business SEO

local seo nyc brooklyn queens

Optimizing your business's website for a localized SEO campaign can be time-consuming. But, it is worth the effort so you can get better search results, your customer can find your business online, and you can take advantage of the Google 3 pack. Here some general tips for Google search, and we will go through more specific guidance in the next section.

  1. Make sure you've claimed your Google My Business page. If one doesn't exist, it's fairly easy to create one.
  2. Link building & local directories: Every city is full of lists, best restaurants, bars, gyms, and the like. Inquire how you might get a link from them.
  3. Local news – Internet news sources are a great way for local businesses to be seen and raise local authority.
  4. Awards – Research the ones that pertain to your industry and inquire about entry requirements
  5. Local business development groups.
  6. Get to know your community over social media
  7. Optimize your meta tags for your local market, such as the header tag or the title tag.

In other words, build your SEO around the places where your local community is active, and you will get better local SEO rankings.

Basic Technical SEO Tips to Help with Localization

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 and drive more traffic to your website. 

Quick Overview of Structured Data

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 you may want to consider hiring an SEO expert or SEO company.

Location

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 location. 

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.


Schema Localization Mark-up Example

If you need help with local SEO for your business, please see our eBook Easy, Simple Guide to SEO.

Things to Remember…

If you're thinking about finding help in Chinatown for your small business, here are some things to keep in mind.

  1. Find a firm that knows your area. If your small business is marketing in Chinatown, you'll want help from someone who understands how Chinatown works. The best marketing firms understand what makes Chinatown stand out  and can communicate with the community.
  2. Find a company you can trust. If you can't trust a business to have your best interests, you're already going to be left in the lurch. Make sure you have a guarantee that your business will be treated fairly by all parties.
  3. Get the size of help you need. A larger firm can provide has more resources and can do more things. A smaller firm, on the other hand, can feel like a neighbor in Chinatown, with the added benefit of one-on-one help from the best the company can offer.

How to Adapt Our Small Business SEO Tips for Chinatown

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:

Proximity 

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 Chinatown 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 Jay Street”.

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. 

Prominence 

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 areas are near Chinatown. 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, e.g. the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce or Chinatown NYC. Any local listing helps.

Relevance

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 Chinatown can be a crucial way to get your company noticed online.

These same tools would apply if you want to target local SEO in NYC or more narrowly local SEO in Manhattan.

See more about Small Business Marketing in Chinatown. If you are more interest in the borough, you can see our Small Business Marketing in Manhattan. If you want the full city, you can see our Small Business Marketing in NYC.