March 16, 2021

How to Win in Local SEO NYC

NYC is not one local market. To win requires hyper-localization. As with everything in NYC, location is everything. Leverage it in your marketing strategies

Redefining Local in for a Major Metro Area

There are only slightly more people living in Australia than in the New York City  Metro Area. Thinking about localizing something for all the region is akin to doing for an entire country. This thinking is incorrect and can lead you astray.

A mile in Brooklyn, NY differs greatly from a mile in Brooklyn, IN. For local search engine optimization (SEO), this nuance matters.

How Local Search Engines Work and Why You Should Care?

local search engine optimization (SEO) nyc

Consider the fact that only 8% of businesses, whose search result tops the list for local search, would even make the 1st page of search engine results page (SERP) on Google if searched normally. Therefore, local search is so important to small businesses and larger ones, too.

The mathematics surrounding local search is complicated, however the principle is not. I call it the “largest hill in Kansas” principle. This simply means that the model looks for the highest peak within a local boundary. It is meant to return the best result within a reasonable distance.

If the terrain is flat or empty, the boundary can be large. If the terrain is hilly or mountainous and very crowded, like the Rockies, the boundary has to be smaller.

I mean this similar metaphor to show why the term local SEO for a large metro area is nonsensical. A better way is to think about SEO under these conditions is hyper-localization.

In determining local or hyper-local results, bots care about three things: proximity, prominence, and relevance.

local search engine optimization (SEO) nyc keywords


Proximity is a simple concept. It is as the name suggests. It is a measure of how far your business location is from the geolocation of the searcher. 

However, proximity is bounded by the terrain, as mentioned above. The proximity bound will be much narrower in Manhattan than in Walla Walla, WA.

You need to know this nuance if you plan to be effective in local SEO or hyper-local SEO. If they optimize you for locations outside your bound, it is a wasted effort.


Prominence is very similar to the concepts we covered for search engine optimization. Prominence is a measure of your online clout. This closely tracks your domain authority. 

It calculates domain authority using an algorithm based on the number of backlinks you have from other credible sources, how visibility you are on local listing, etc. The bot is trying to validate two things. First, are you truly a local business, or are you pretending to be one? Second, how well respected your business is.


Relevance is a fairly simple concept. It is a measure of how you page ranks for the keywords relating to the user’s search. If your product or service has a higher rank than others in your local area, Google will consider you more relevant. 

So What Does that Mean for Your Business Online?

There are several on-page, off-page, and technical techniques you can use to help with all three. I divide this section into two parts. 

The first section contains steps that most people can do on their own. The second are steps you should consider hiring an SEO expert or SEO company or agency to do, as they require coding.

Basic Steps to Help Improve Local SEO: Maps, Listings, & Link Building 

  1. Make sure you've claimed your Google My Business page. If one doesn't exist, it is simple to create and claim one. The ensures you are shown on Google Maps
  2. For other map listings, the top two to consider are Bing Places and Apple Maps.
  3. Every city is full of lists, best restaurants, bars, gyms, etc. Inquire how you might get a link from them.
  4. Local news–Internet news sources are a great way for local businesses to be seen.
  5. Awards–Research the ones that pertain to your industry and inquire about entry requirements
  6. Local business development groups, business listings, business directories.
  7. Get to know your local over social media

Remember that your name, address, and phone number (NAP) are consistent across all listings, as this is a strong signal of local prominence. These basic steps should help drive more potential customers and  traffic to your website.

More Complex Steps Best Left to SEO experts

local search engine optimization (SEO) nyc schema example
  1. Using structured data to encode your geo coordinates on your page, so every page is tagged and optimized for local search: example above.
  2. Hyper-localize your top keywords for your business based on the density of competitors in your neighborhood, town, city, etc.
  3. Ensure that they optimize all your meta tags for the locations you serve and in which you are trying to compete.
  4. Used structured data to improve your chances of landing in the Google 3 pack local results: see below
local search engine optimization (SEO) nyc 3 pack example


Since most small businesses will have less than a 1 in 10 chance of making the first page SERP, local search is a great way to help level the playing field. It is time-consuming, which is why many businesses choose to hire an outside SEO agency or SEO company for optimization services. 

If you do, it is wise that you have a basic understanding of SEO. Unfortunately, not all firms are reputable. Often they promise much more than is possible to deliver. 

You can learn more on SEO by downloading our eBook: Easy, Simple Guide to SEO. A little knowledge can help save you from a terrible decision.

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About the Author

Brian Cairns, CEO of Prostrategix Consulting. Over 25 years of business experience as a corporate executive, entrepreneur, and small business owner. For more information, please visit my LinkenIn profile

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