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

New York: Patchwork of 330 Neighborhoods

I've lived in New York City for over 20 years. One of the reasons that I love this city is its diversity. All these amazing unique blends of culture, class, ideologies, religions, it is extremely hard to replicate. I have yet to find a city that does. There are a number of cities that are world capitals that are as large or larger, but none quite has the cultural diversity that New York does.

This city is not perfect. Someone once told me that how you experience NYC is directly proportional to the amount of money you make. For the most part, I believe that is true. But, I also believe it is a place where you can still find opportunity to grow. The creative energy comes from this vibrant mixture of people is why this city has made it through crisis after crisis.

The biggest challenge small businesses or any size business for that matter is how to standout. New York is a crowded and noisy place, so you have to find a niche where you can play and can own. It usually starts with your neighborhood, and you have 330 from which to choose.

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 Digital Marketing is Important in New York?

One of the major challenges for new businesses in New York  is the sheer volume of people and advertising noise. Local digital marketing, when used effectively, can help you get noticed.

  1. Local digital marketing in New York is about being visible, at the right time, and at the right place.
  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. It is so much easier to get what you need when it's a short walk from where you are.

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 New York for your small business, here are the things to keep in mind.

  1. Find a firm that knows your area. If your small business is marketing in New York or the surrounding area, you'll want help from someone who understands the lay of the land, and the daily flow. In New York, you may choose to start smaller with a borough or a neighborhood.
  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 be less intimidating, 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 York

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 York 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 regions/towns you service, for example “seo services manhattan”, or “seo service brooklyn”.

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 York. 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 New York City Chamber of Commerce or Manhattan Chamber of Commerce 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.

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

If you want the full city, you can see our Small Business Marketing in New York.