How to Use Local SEO in Manhattan to Drive More Traffic

Hakilon, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Manhattan: Constantly Evolving Mosaic of Neighborhoods

I have lived in Manhattan for the past 20 years or so. I have watched the city change dramatically in just that small window of time. Twenty years is a long time, but few cities are as dynamic and ever evolving as Manhattan is.

I grew up in Pittsburgh, and I think it is a great city. Although I haven't lived there in twenty years or so, it still feels very familiar. In contract, the Chelsea I moved into in the late 1990s looks nothing like it did then. You would be hard pressed to see anything that has remained the same.

That's the fundamental challenge of Manhattan. How to survive and remain relevant when you are living in a whirlwind of change and evolution. Each neighborhood is slightly different in its rate of change, but they all share a similar theme - if you are standing still, you are falling behind.

Why Web Design Matters in Manhattan?

Great web design is important no matter where you are located. However, in densely populated areas like Manhattan, where mobile usage is high. It is cost of entry. You are at a significant disadvantage without it.

  1. Great UX Experience: Easy to find what I need quickly. No one is going to fish around a site. If it is simple and intuitive, they are on to the next thing.
  2. Raising Awareness: Nothing kills awareness like a slow site. If you do not load in around 1 second, that opportunity is lost
  3. Catch them When They are Nearby: If they are searching on mobile, they are likely looking for something nearby. An east, fast, and intuitive site make it clear how close you are.

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 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"

Local SEO Is About Making a Bot’s Job Easier

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. 

  1. Content: The bot will use its natural language processing tools to determine what it thinks is the key theme of the page.
  2. Clarity of Indexing: Next, based on the theme it has determined, it will index your page according to keywords it feels is most relevant to the theme. Hopefully, you have done a good job and its assessment matches yours.
  3. Reputation: To me, it is the clearest way to explain domain authority. The more people who cite your work (link), or the more times you’ve been quoted in other work, the more clout your business website will have. The higher your clout is the better your final grade will be.  

What does this mean for local SEO

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.

Why Digital Marketing is Important in Manhattan?

Manhattan businesses are constantly trying to stand out. They are always competing with new ideas, concepts, and new ways to solve old problems. The question many of them face is about the brand. Can it evolve, or is it too rooted in one thing or another. Can the brand be authentic to both, or do you have to choose?

  1. Local digital marketing in Manhattan is about targeting. Who are the right people to reach? What are the right messages to send?
  2. Once you identify the target, it is important to raise awareness among them that your business exists. 
  3. Local digital marketing lets your target the right customers when they are nearby. That's the other truism about NYC and Manhattan specifically. If it's not within a 5-10 minute walk, it's too far.

Localization: Basic Technical SEO Tips

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. 

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 consider hiring an SEO expert, SEO agency, 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 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.

Schema markup for localization

Basic Off-Page Tips That Send Strong Location Signals

local seo dumbo

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.

  1. Make sure you've claimed your Google My Business page. If one doesn't exist, it's fairly easy to create one.
  2. 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.
  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 local market over social media

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.

Manhattan: Maintaining a Brand when Everything is Evolving

As I said earlier, Manhattan is a place of constant change. This can be incredibly challenging for a brand to manage. Branding is about consistency and building equity. How can you do that when tastes and customers change so quickly?

The key is to find your core equity, which is less about what you do and more about who you are and why you do it? Methods and things can change, but core values do not. That's how you can evolve. You can change what you do or how you do it, without sacrificing the brand to do it.

How to Adapt Our Small Business SEO Tips for Manhattan

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 Manhattan 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 Hudson Yards”.

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 neighborhoods are in Manhattan. 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 Manhattan Chamber of Commerce or New York Small Business Services for listings that might pertain to you. 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 that you will score points on relevance.

These same tools would apply if you want to target local SEO in NYC

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.