If standing out in a crowd is tough, standing out in a crowd of 8,000,000+ can seem downright impossible. If you’re a business owner or marketing director here in New York City, you’re likely aware of how competitive this market can be. It doesn’t matter what your business is or if you’re only online or have a physical store. Being successful in the most competitive marketplace in the United States takes some thoughtful planning and consistent leg work. Let’s see what successful NYC businesses are doing right with their local search engine optimization and why you should be taking it seriously.
Pandemic Accelerated Online Adoption
If the pandemic has taught us one thing it’s that the online world is more important to society than some previously imagined. The way we live and work has changed dramatically and those changes may be permanent. We shop more online than ever before as a species and that isn’t just for physical goods. Local businesses had little or no foot traffic to their stores in the past 18 months, how did they survive? They either upped their online game and web presence or got left behind with thousands upon thousands of local businesses closing their doors for good.
Companies that adjusted to the shift in our lifestyles not only survived but thrived and they all did a few key things:
- New York City Website redesign or launch
- Consolidation and targeted online marketing
- Social media creation and promotion (user engagement)
- Email capture and broadcast systems
Surely none of those will shock you and you may be thinking “ok put up a website, do a little spending for ads on Google, and capture some emails, what is so difficult with that?” But simply knowing how to get up a website and set up an ad is no guarantee that anyone will ever get to your website or that you’re not wasting money on unprofitable ads. There is a science to building a successful online brand and it only starts when you get out there.
Local NYC Businesses are Unique
For business owners in The Big Apple, the answer to online marketing success isn’t as easy as reading some blog posts titled, “Best 5 SEO Strategies”. Many New York businesses exist in a niche space and what separates a restaurant, salon, or boutique consignment store from its competitors is often how unique it is.
Consider the rise of bars where you rent a room with some friends and destroy things as a way to have fun and release stress (tv, radios, mirrors, dinner plates, and more). Or bars that are “prohibition bar” which can only be entered from a trap door in a wall and the setting is like a true 1920’s prohibition-era speakeasy. These are very unique and niche angles for a bar to take that will draw a crowd who wants to have some drinks but in an amazing and different setting from the standard dive bars they’ve been to a million times.
Understanding NYC Local SEO
Local SEO isn’t all that different from traditional SEO. Businesses are competing for the number #1 organic search result whether they are a local restaurant or a global corporation. But a huge problem that local businesses do way too often is target broad or non-location-specific search terms.
For example, if your business is a bowling alley in NYC, you wouldn’t want to simply target the term “bowling alley” as it is not locations specific. Not all web users have their location services turned on so that means they will never see your ad unless you can outperform every other bowling alley in the country!
All things being equal local search engine optimization is how you’ll display for searches like “bowling alley near me” or “bowling alley in Brooklyn NY”. This is the way to stand apart without paying per click in a market as competitive as the Big Apple.
Looking Under the Hood for Local SEO in New York
Great content is important for a successful online marketing campaign but it isn’t everything. There are real technical aspects to profitable SEO that go beyond a great article. Let’s take a look at just a few key items:
- A slow website or slower website than local competitors will weigh on your rankings. This means having a solid backend system with enough bandwidth and memory on the server-side. We prefer using dedicated servers not shared as they are much slower.
- No SSL? That is a HUGE problem. It will turn away some users to never come back and also will hurt your rankings from search engines. After all, why would they display a non-secure website when they can display your competitors with a secure website.
- Have technical problems on the web browser or mobile version of your site? This is a major concern, over 80% of visitors with a technical issue (even something as a blurry image) will leave to never return.
- If your site isn’t mobile-optimized you will miss out on the lion’s share of local search traffic as using a phone to do local searches dominates the numbers from computer users.
- How good looking is your site? Local NYC Web Design is as competitive as it gets. The content can be perfect but if it looks like crap, you won’t be converting or keeping many of those users.
- Is your site have anti-virus security beyond SSL? If not and you are using WordPress you need to fix this immediately.
- This is only the beginning!
Make sure you have a current and verified SSL certificate or Google and other search engines will avoid your website (a nail in the coffin for local SEO).
Google is the Dominant Player but they’re Not Alone
Google is the main player in all things search at the moment but that is changing. With the Facebook marketplace growing and local businesses using the systems on Instagram, Snapchat, and others; you can’t forget about Social Media.
Social media has a stronger link to a successful local SEO strategy than you may think. This is where you’ll further build out your brand and engage with your followers in a social media landscape. This will add to your local seo as local user engagement is taking place throughout various social media platforms and being a part of the community for your business is a key to maximizing your results.
Social media does a great job of increasing the conversation around your business (something Google measures) and it is a great way to increase backlinks organically (from real user engagement).
Brief Summarization of Local SEO in New York City
If we’re being honest there is way more to local seo than we can cover in this article and we wouldn’t be surprised if you scrolled down to find a summary, so here you go!
- Google ranks businesses and websites in two tiers, Local and Broad-based.
- Local SEO rankings are realized with a strong combination of content, technical assets, security, site speed, user engagement, history, and more.
- Be sure you’re targeting local-specific search terms, not the broad part of the search term. Think “best sushi in Bushwick NY”, not “best sushi”.
- Claim your listing on Google My Business
- Set up local business pages on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and other social media platforms.
Hiring a Local NYC SEO Specialist
We’ve been doing this a long time and have been based in NYC for 15+ years. We know the city, we live in the city, and we are the city just like you! Standing out in this competitive market takes proper planning, implementation, and consistency. Find out how we can take your local NYC business to the next level today.