Everyone is battling for space in the search engine results. With competition now stretching across the country and even worldwide, it can be difficult to really stand out.
Local search focuses on targeting the audience that is within your neighborhood and serving radius. A search engine user might type in “computer software companies in NYC,” in order to narrow the field to companies in their own time zone and physical location.
When a customer types in your product, service or industry along with their area, is your company one of the first to pop up?
Dense areas like New York can be difficult for great local search presence because of the amount of competition for the spot. But you still need to do your best to show up in the results for a local search. Local marketing that focuses on NYC will help improve your presence when a local search is made.
How Does Local SEO Help My Company?
Just like any form of search engine optimization (SEO), the goal is to get to the top of the search results for most relevant queries.
Organic SEO takes a lot of time and effort. Search engine algorithms are always changing in an attempt to deliver the user the most relevant information. While you can pay for spots at the top of the results, your budget will go fast if you are trying to buy every keyword phrase that your target audience will be likely to search.
Local SEO for NYC is often slightly less popular because it narrows down the competitors to those in your area. This makes it ideal for organically improving your approach and increasing your spot on the list.
With any search, the higher you are on the page, the more likely your user is going to see your results. Very few people get to the bottom of the first page, and even less go to the next page of their search results. In order to get relevant traffic, you need to be easily found when people are searching for what you do or offer.
Local SEO goes one step further and attempts to increase your brand awareness and popularity with those in your very neighborhood. Your local customers are going to be more likely to have some kind of brand loyalty and they are the ones you should be concerned with impressing first.
A local customer is typically easier and cheaper for your company to serve. Plus, any events that you hold or participate in are going to likely be more successful, since your brand will be interacting with the same local crowd you are already working to target.
7 Ways to Boost Your New York Presence
New York is a big area and there is more competition for the local spots than in smaller cities. In order to organically gain a high spot on the search results, here are seven tips for boosting your spot for the NYC area.
This works for any location, but it may take more focused effort if you are in a big city or have a lot of local competition.
1. Use Locally Relevant Titles and Tags
The title of your pages and articles still matter, along with meta description tags and headers.
If you aren’t thrilled about the idea of listing your location on every page, you need to at least have a landing page that is likely to show up in those searching local. Pages that contain content and keywords specific to an area are going to be deemed more likely to be relevant when a search engine is putting together a list of results.
The title and meta description also offer an important place to advertise before the customer even has a chance to see the site. A beautiful webpage with a smart message and intuitive design will mean nothing if you can’t usher in traffic.
Generally, the title of your page should be 50-60 characters long and the meta description tags can be 160-200 characters long. Don’t waste space on page names or meta data that don’t provide helpful information to someone scrolling past.
Brands need to take advantage of this space to catch the consumer’s attention. If you don’t establish your meta description, you may end up with a list of pages on your site (Home, Services, Shop, Press, etc.), a list of locations or some kind of error message for why the description isn’t showing.
This is a wasted opportunity and you will want to make sure you fix this in order to improve your spot and better connect with your target audience using the search engine.
2. Clean Up Your Presence
You need to make sure you have a cohesive and accurate listing with online directories, like Yelp, Citysearch, Merchant Circle and others.
Find respectable directories, like the Chamber of Commerce, the Better Business Bureau or your local newspaper’s website to help you gain respectable listings. Some of the major data aggregators, like Neustar, Acxiom, Factual and Infogroup are important places to also get your business name, address and phone number (NAP) correctly listed.
Continue to search for and check your online information on various listings to keep them as consistent as possible.
Discrepancies can cause havoc with confused customers losing trust in your brand and Google presenting wrong information (or not showing your business at all).
Misspellings, wrong phone numbers, old addresses, abbreviations and incorrect store hours are some of the problematic information that often causes confusion from varying listings online. If you are really struggling to get control over listings, you may consider paying for a service like Yext, Universal Buisness Listing, Localeze or another platform that will help you publish and manage correct information.
3. Establish a Google Directory Spot
Google should be one of the directories you are looking at in step #2, but it is a really big deal, so we will highlight it separately.
Since Google is the biggest and most well-known search engines, you need to ensure your business is clearly claimed and properly listed.
When someone does a local search, a handful of businesses will be listed first on the map results. You need to make sure your business is visible on the map, has correct information and has positive customer reviews.
There is a verification process that requires sending a PIN to your physical business address to ensure everything is legitimate. Only the business owner can claim a page, but a digital marketing agency can be given permission to manage that page (keeping you in control in case you decide to part ways). Make sure you upload pictures of the location and hours, since many people searching for your business will find this relevant.
Once you’ve filled out every possible part of your Google profile to increase exposure, you will want to do the same with Bing Places for Business. This is a similar directory and Bing is a major search engine that will give you important exposure as well.
4. Be Proactive About Reviews
Reviews can’t be emphasized enough for a small business. Recent surveys have found that 84% of people are swayed by reading an online review and 70% of customers will leave a review if asked to do so by the business!
You will want to be working to get those positive reviews up in order to give your business a better reputation that new leads will trust. Google has stated that “high-quality, positive reviews from your customers will improve your business’s visibility.”
Use reputation management tools, like Reputation Loop, Trust Pilot and Get Five Stars to manage, track and proactively seek reviews.
Also, use social listing software, like Hootsuite and Tiny Torch, that will alert you every time your brand, products or employees are mentioned. You can then respond to public comments in a professional way.
Facebook and Google are probably the most important places to focus on getting reviews, with Yelp being a close third for many businesses.
5. Craft Local Content
In order to improve your reach for local search, craft content that appeals to your local audience.
Talking about local events or mentioning local projects in your content is a natural way to use local search terms. Is your business going to participate in the NYC Donut Fest, have a presence in a New York parade or attend a major convention?
Looking for ways to participate locally and then talking about it online will help improve your brand recognition locally while also pushing you up in local search results.
Make sure you promote events on your social media as well as publishing notices on your website to help index more pages for local search.
6. Choose Variations and Neighboring Areas
Don’t just mention one area when you are talking about local spots, mention the neighboring places you serve as well.
While you might be located in the Upper East Side, you will want to talk about Astoria and Lower Manhattan too. You can also mention neighboring areas that are even further out, like Jersey City or Westchester County if those are also places you often do business in.
By increasing the number of locations you mention on your website, you can increase your opportunity to land in the local listings. You will want to dedicate landing pages that are a cohesive page your website for each place if possible, helping to seamlessly draw in those looking for a very specific location.
7. Use a Structured Data Markup
A structured data markup (or schema markup) simply adds date to your website code so that search engines can easily find information about your business.
This data may include products you sell, reviews collected, location information, services you offer and more. When Google determines SEO, it uses bots that search a website’s code for information to determine relevancy.
This structured markup provides data that helps Google better determine what your website is about, but less than a third of businesses are doing this.
Google even offeres a Structured Data Testing Tool to check and see if you have properly implemented data in your code.
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to local search, but it will take you a long ways if you follow each step. However, all of this is useless if you aren’t turning those leads into conversions, so make sure you are constantly testing and improving your website. With a great website, local NYC SEO will bring in extra traffic from location-specific searches and should result in increased purchases.