When you stop to think about it the Internet is quite a fickle entity, and that’s never more obvious than when it comes to search engines. The rules and parameters seem to be changed, tweaked or adjusted on a weekly basis, making it difficult to know how best to approach making your site and content suitably SEO friendly.

Here we focus on looking at just one aspect of SEO – and that concerns local rankings – more specifically, how to make sure that your local New York City business manages to rank well in local searches, as against its ranking in national searches.

Why are local search rankings so tricky?

There are several possible explanations for why this is the case, including:

·         The growing number of local companies who are getting on board and competing for the space available.

·         Fewer top slots being reserved on the first page of Google’s SERPs [Search Engine Results Pages] and promoted as specifically local.

Strategies to help boost your local New York City business’ chances of ranking in local search results

Strategy #1 – Devote time to getting keywords right

Unless you outsource every item of your work and are living on the moon chances are you’ll be familiar with the term ‘keywords’. These are the backbone of Internet searches for local services of all kinds, so you cannot afford to neglect them or not have the best possible keywords in place. This applies to both paid and organic search, see the differences here.

Useful tips

When thinking of suitable keywords start by creating a picture of your ideal target shopper. If you sell several things you may wish to focus on the keywords connected to just one or two aspects to begin with, monitor the results closely, then expand to test out more as you can.

Put yourself into your typical shopper’s shoes. What kind of questions would they be asking to find the service(s) or product(s) you deal with?

Remember that the average person won’t have your insight into the industry so is more likely to use basic, non-jargonized terms. They will, however, more likely than not include at least one term which relates specifically to the local area. In the example of a local NYC search this could include NYC, New York City, or the name of an area within it. Some may even search for things close to a major landmark, or a physical place like a school or subway station.

Although you need to avoid having too many mentions of your city’s name in one piece of information, (nothing screams ‘spam’ more than that), it should appear two or three times in a natural way. Remember to add it to the headings, titles, and metadata too.

Strategy #2 – Make use of Google and Bing’s specialist pages

Google My Business and Bing’s Places for Business are really useful, and completely free, pages these leading search engines offer business owners. This is an extremely easy and potentially lucrative way to get yourself found by people looking for a local business just like yours. As a bonus you show up on Google Maps too.

Useful tip

Only the business owner can register to claim this particular goodie.

Strategy #3 – Include content relevant to your local area

You don’t have to fill your website and/or blog with 100% local content, but there should be something interesting, useful and relevant that creates a link between your business and your local area and/or city. These could be about a special event in the neighborhood, or information on a local charity your business supports. There are many useful software that can help you target your local customers better. For example, you could use software like Maptive and generate a radius on a local map which will help you better understand the best locations where you should place your resources.  

Useful tip

If your business has several branches in different cities make sure each location has its own page, with completely unique content.

Strategy #4 -Exploit business directories

In the past these were paper-based, like the yellow or whitebooks, but nowadays they exist mainly online. You may be familiar with them in the form of Yelp, Foursquare, Merchant Circle and so on. The links between these directories and your business’ website are rated quite highly by Google so they can do wonders for your ranking on local search results.

Useful tip

Make sure that all information for your business, such as name, address, and contact number are correct, and to update them as necessary. Always write the information in the same way or you risk losing points for inconsistency.

Strategy 5 – Focus on securing 5-star reviews

This leads to a win-win situation as your business is more attractive to local customers, but good reviews also boost your search engine ranking. There are companies who will trawl the net for your reviews and help link them to directories to further solidify your ranking.

Useful tips

There are lots of ways to get those important reviews. You can ask current or previous customers if they would do it – many will be happy to oblige. Do help them out though by providing a direct link to the review site, which can be the major Google and Bing pages mentioned earlier, as well as other sites.

Stagger the number of people you ask to avoid a sudden swamp of positive recommendations, which can look very suspicious and fake.

From all the SEO work involved in launching and maintaining an online presence for your business, working on the local search engine ranking angle is perhaps one of the most important aspects when measuring success, but it does involve a decent level of commitment.

If you love the idea of having your local New York City business rank for NYC terms but don’t have the time or inclination to do the work involved yourself don’t worry. You can always seek out an expert NYC SEO company to take care of all these issues and work alongside you to create the results you really want. This is definitely the option which lets you tap into amazing levels of expertise and experience in New York City search result rankings.

By Eddy

Eddy is the editorial columnist in Business Fundas, and oversees partner relationships. He posts articles of partners on various topics related to strategy, marketing, supply chain, technology management, social media, e-business, finance, economics and operations management. The articles posted are copyrighted under a Creative Commons unported license 4.0. To contact him, please direct your emails to [email protected].