Create a Hometown Advantage with Philadelphia Local SEO

Bruce Emmerling, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Philadelphia: Largest Major City You Rarely Hear About

Philadelphia is an amazing city that often gets overshadowed by its noisy neighbors to the north (New York City) and the south (Washington DC). With New York City and Washington taking up the oxygen, Philly can get overlooked. That's a shame because Philadelphia has so much to offer.

Philadelphia is the sixth largest city in the US, and the second largest city on the East Coast. This is right. It is bigger than DC and Boston. Maybe it is part of its Quaker history, but Philly does blare its own horn as much as its sister cities on the coast.

There are 3 million jobs in Philadelphia. Many of which are highly skilled in industries such as medicine, technology, financial services, renewables, and many others. In fact, it's the 6th largest workforce in the nation.

With all this diversity, the marketing challenge most small businesses face is one of awareness.

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 Local Digital Marketing Matters in Philadelphia?

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

  1. Local digital marketing in Philadelphia is about differentiating and owning a small niche. Then, exploring how you might expand from it.
  2. Digital is important to raise awareness among both Philadelphia residents and those from the suburbs, who commute into the city daily. 
  3. It lets both Philadelphia and nearby towns and regions, such as the Main Line and New Jersey suburbs, etc. know you are nearby, open, and accessible.

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 Philadelphia 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 Philadelphia, you'll want help from someone who understands how Philadelphia works. The best marketing firms understand the differences among the regions, towns, and cities of Philadelphia
  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 Philadelphia

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 Philadelphia 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 Center City”, or “seo service Chester 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 the Philadelphia region. 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 Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce or JobStars 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 Philadelphia can be a crucial way to get your company noticed online.

If you are interested in what more we do, check out Small Business Marketing in Philadelphia and also in NJ.