Montclair is one of the many unique suburbs in Essex county New Jersey. Others like it, Maplewood, Millburn, for example. They all have their own character and quirks. All are predominately bedroom communities for people who want a more suburban life, but still want to be close to New York City.
All are roughly 30 minutes commute from New York City. Montclair is a bit unique in that way. If you do a little digging into the local history, Montclair "came about because residents wanted a second railroad that officials refused to finance. So it is fitting that the township is home to six NJ Transit rail stations, considered the most in one municipality in New Jersey" (Source)
I bring this bit of trivia up for a reason. Many of the small businesses in these areas rely on the ebb and flow of commuter traffic in and out of New York City. Most of their quaint downtown district surround the train station, so that daily ebb and flow is important to know.
One of the major challenges for new businesses in the suburbs, like Montclair, is being found if you are off the beaten path. A great website, when used effectively, can help you get noticed.
If you are on the beaten path, then it’s all about timing. How to maximize the daily rush coming in and out of town as Manhattan and Montclair State come back to life.
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"
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.
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 Kipps Bay interacting with your neighborhood can add value.
It also helps with when your calls to action focus on local events in and around Montclair 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 Montclair. 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 Montclair has two or more places to visit while out in the neighborhood.
One of the major challenges for new businesses in the suburbs, like Montclair, is being found if you are off the beaten path. Local digital marketing, when used effectively, can help you get noticed.
If you are on the beaten path, then it’s all about timing. How to maximize the daily rush coming in and out of town.
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.
In other words, build your SEO around the places where your local community is active, and you will get better local SEO rankings.
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.
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.
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.
If you're thinking about finding help in Montclair or Essex County for your small business, here are the 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 Montclair 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 or towns you service, for example “seo services montclair university”.
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 neighborhoods are in Montclair. 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 Montclair Chamber of Commerce or New Jersey Small Business 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 that you will score points on relevance.
The same tips would apply if you were wanted to go more broadly, for example, the state level with Local SEO New Jersey