Use Local SEO in Summit to Create a Hometown Advantage

Daniel Case, CC BY-SA 3.0 <http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/>, via Wikimedia Commons

Summit, NJ: Queen of Union County

Summit is one of the many unique suburbs in Union county New Jersey. Others like it, Union, Watchung, 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 45 minutes commute from New York City. Summit is a bit more unique in that it has a bustling central business district and hospital surrounding the train station.

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.

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"

Playing to Your Home Field Advantage

Local search algorithms work on what I like to call the “biggest hill in Kansas” principle. This means the local landscape sets the bar by which you will be measured. Typically, the smaller you make the reference field or more narrow you make the topic, the more likely you rise to the top.

There are exceptions, like in the New York metro area. Here, it is more akin to the biggest hill in the Himalayas.

It is a bit of an art and a science to find the right balance between scope, geography, and search volume. If the region is too small, there is likely no one searching for it. The same is true regarding the topic.

Here are the three things that you need to consider with local SEO for your business website. 

  1. Proximity: How far is your business location from the local market that is being searched, e.g., ‘near me’
  2. Prominence: How well do you stack up versus the others within similar proximity. It is the height of your hill vs. everyone else nearby.
  3. Relevance: Algorithm based determination based on the keyword search and rank on that keyword. Again, it is compared to those near you.  

What does this mean for local small business SEO?

For proximity, it depends on how crowded the neighborhood is. A mile in Manhattan, NY is much different than a mile in Manhattan, KS.

For prominence, again this is a competitive metric. The more crowded your location is, the more difficult it will be.

Finally, on relevance, this is no different for normal SEO except you are ranked versus your peers. If you are in a room filled with Einstein clones, it will be hard to pick out the smartest.

Why Digital Marketing is Important in Summit?

One of the major challenges for new businesses in the suburbs, like Summit, 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. 

  1. Local digital marketing in Summit & Union County is about being visible, at the right time.
  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 or drive from where you are.

Leveraging Your Hometown Advantage: Basic Tips

Home Town Advantage for SEO

If you want to take full advantage of Google 3 pack to drive more traffic to your website, then the time spent optimizing your business's content and site is worth the effort for a small business. These are some basic off-page tips that can help:

  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 over social media

In other words, build your SEO around the places where your local community is active.

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 (title, heading, 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 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 to associate the right location with your business 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 example for localization

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 Summit or Union County 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 Summit or the surrounding area, you'll want help from someone who understands the lay of the land and the daily flow.
  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 in the area, 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 Summit

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 Summit 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 towns/areas you service, for example “seo services union county”.

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 Summit. 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 Summit Chamber of Commerce or New Jersey Small Business  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.

The same tips would apply if you were wanted to go more broadly, for example, the state level with Local SEO New Jersey

If you are interested in what more we do, you can see our Small Business Marketing in Summit. If you want the full state, you can see our Small Business Marketing in NJ.