How to Use Local SEO in New Jersey to Drive More Traffic

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

Locals Know New Jersey Doesn't Fit the Stereotypes

Historically, New Jersey has gotten a bad rap. Sandwiched between two major cities, Philadelphia and New York, it is hard to be heard of the noise those two cities make, especially New York. New Jersey isn't a monolith, but rather a collection of regions, smaller towns, and cities that are vibrant, growing, and full of opportunity.

Essex, Morris, and Summit counties share common themes, but closest to New York, Essex is most affected by commuting either into New York City or Newark. Hudson river cities share a close bond, but Hoboken is more residential, while Jersey City is much more business centric. Then you have the educational regions like New Brunswick and Princeton, where the universities and med-tech industries dominate.

There is no one-size-fits-all local marketing approach in New Jersey, which is one of the toughest marketing challenges small businesses face in this state.

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 Local Digital Marketing Matters in New Jersey?

With so much choice packed into such a small area, the key to success in New Jersey is standing out and being noticed. Local digital marketing can help you do just that. 

  1. Local digital marketing in New Jersey is about differentiating and owning a small niche. Then, defining the target customer it serves best.
  2. Digital is important to raise awareness of and interest in your business by the target.. 
  3. You can let everyone know you are nearby, open, and accessible, especially in the regions, town, or cities where you operate.

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.

Things to Remember…

If you're thinking about finding help in New Jersey 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 New Jersey, you'll want help from someone who understands how New Jersey works. The best marketing firms understand the differences among the regions, towns, and cities of New Jersey
  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 more resources and can do more things. A smaller firm, on the other hand, can feel like a neighbor, 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 New Jersey

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 New Jersey 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 Exchange Place”.

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 New Jersey. 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 NJ State Library or New Jersey Business & Industry Association 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 likely that you will score points on relevance.

Finding the right SEO for your small business in a neighborhood like New Jersey can be a crucial way to get your company noticed online.

If you are interested in what more we do, you can see our Small Business Marketing in NJ.