Local SEO: Optimizing SEO for central New Jersey

Central New Jersey Farmer's Market
Central New Jersey has a lot of farms and farmer markets, like this one in Highland Park, NJ

This post will teach you how to optimize a post for local. Local where? Local anywhere, but the post will use SEO for central New Jersey as an example. I expect others will come up with more ideas on how to optimize a post for local; feel free to add your own ideas in the comments.

Ways to approach optimizing a post for local

  1. Get Started: put your focus keyword phrase in the title. In the case of this post, the keyword phrase is “SEO for central New Jersey.”
  2. Add some images: get some images of the local area and put them in the post. Some can be wider in pixel size; some should be smaller. This way when you share the post on various social media, you can make use of what imagery is fitting for that social media. For example, a long thin image will stand out more on Pinterest. Do you have of the local area that match that description?
    Take a walk down the Asbury Park boardwalk on the central New Jersey coast.
    Take a walk down the Asbury Park boardwalk on the central New Jersey coast.
  3. Work on the topic: Notice I said add some images even before I suggested start writing. You might actually want to base your topic on the images you have found. On the other hand, once you come up with a topic that might attract local viewers, you might specifically want to search for images that fit that topic.
  4. Write your post: you will need to include your keyword phrase naturally in the post as well as discuss a topic that is of interest to your readers. Let’s say I was writing the post for a local restaurant that recently added an outdoor cafe. Then I would need to put in my keyword phrase about central New Jersey as well as talk about the view of the Raritan River from the cafe. If my imagery or my writing is well done, I might attract the interest of locals as well as those who just generally enjoy hearing about cafes by rivers with tasty food.
  5. Add keywords to your post: headers (h2, h3, h4), slug, meta description and alt tags in images are all great places for local keywords. The title for your post should already be in an <h1> tag, so don’t use that tag again. But consider adding your keyword phrase or a similar phrase with important keywords to h2, h3 or h4 tags within the post. I already have “SEO for central New Jersey” in several places within the content of this post. Maybe I will rephrase it slightly for a h3 tag.
  6. Make sure content is informative and not just an advertisement. Some businesses make the mistake of sell, sell, sell on their posts. Add content about the local area to attract a variety of potential readers.
    Rutgers Gardens sign - an example for SEO for central New Jersey

    For example, I might write about Rutgers Gardens in central New Jersey as a nice place to go for a short hike. The post might have advertisements for one’s business on the side or at the bottom, but it is not the main body of the post. Inform, do not preach. You might also want to link to more information on your topic: for example, you may want to read more about Rutgers Gardens.

  7. Share, share, share: share on local social media groups and on other groups that will be interested in your topic. Join LinkedIn groups or Facebook groups that are specific to your geographical area. Remember to be social and comment on other people’s posts as well. You can even create a local group on Pinterest if none yet exists and invite others to join. Then, pin your best images on posts about your area to that group.

Your turn, please: How would you write a post on SEO for local?

How would you write the post so it captures a reader’s interest but also optimizes for the local area? Would you repeat the keyword phrase a lot or a little? How could you do this so you naturally present information without bombarding your readers with awkward keywords?

Princeton University is a fun place to tour.  Meet John Witherspoon of Princeton.
Princeton University is a fun place to tour. Meet John Witherspoon of Princeton.

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38 thoughts on “Local SEO: Optimizing SEO for central New Jersey

    1. I know what you mean about updating older posts! I found one I should probably delete, as I no longer follow anything I wrote in that old post.

      I tend to update ones that seem to get more traffic and not worry so much about short, small ones I wrote quite a while back.

  1. I’m with Susan in recently starting to implement good SEO practices (thanks to the WordPress for SEO plug-in). I do know that images drive a lot of traffic, and I miss the traffic I got from all the travel photos I had in my old posts that I took down. As time goes on, I am aiming to incorporate more pictures that fit my writing posts, but can also be images from my travels that people would search for in and of themselves.

    1. Sometimes I take pictures of common objects (a school bus, a tree, a playground) so I have a database of images from which to choose for posts.

      Thanks for the comment, Jeri.

  2. Leora — I think including local SEO key words works well for local businesses, like restaurants. I don’t sell locally — I can write for people anywhere. However, as I have three main topics I write about: social media, employee engagement and branding, I need to be sure to include the key words for those topics. Something I didn’t do early on but do now is to delete the url for images I use and include the url to link to a post or page within my site. Otherwise, if someone clicks on the image they simply see a larger image.
    Jeannette Paladino recently posted…Please ReTweet, Link and Comment on This Post — So Says HubSpotMy Profile

    1. Jeanette, yes, it’s true only certain businesses need to write posts for local. But it’s interesting how the advice for local can be fitting for other categories as well, such as those topics you mention.

      I almost never pick the url to the image. That’s only useful for those wanting smaller images on a post and a larger one to view (and I rarely do that). I usually select “none” for a link from an image, but sometimes I link to other relevant posts, as you suggest.

  3. As always Leora, advice that can be extremely valuable to small businesses. Your examples are great. (I’m going to forward this to one of my clients.)

    In my opinion, your best piece of advice is “Make sure content is informative and not just an advertisement.” Readers are on our sites for a reason and it’s up to us to fill their needs not ours.
    Sherryl Perry recently posted…Friday Finds – Twitter Cards, Social Networks, SEO & Triberr RebloggingMy Profile

    1. Sherryl,

      Thank you for your kind words and for sharing with a client. I do see that mistake too much, where advertisements are posted instead of taking the opportunity to engage potential clients. If you met someone in person, you would have conversation, not spout ads. So talk like you are meeting in person.

    1. There are numerous other factors that can be of value besides those written in this post. Incoming links to your blog, website or individual posts are important. Google does seem to favor sites that are updated regularly. Learning about and implementing Google Authorship is also a significant factor. See http://biz.leoraw.com/google-plus/ for some information on Google+ and Google Authorship.

  4. This is a great post. Thank you for sharing. There is plenty of information here that I found very helpful and I may have to revisit to gain a better readership. After all, what good is writing for an audience when you have no audience? Even if you write for yourself, it is nice to have other’s visit your page and read what you have to say.
    Mary Slagel recently posted…6 Reasons You Aren’t Reaching Your Fitness GoalsMy Profile

  5. Surprisingly, I have done most of the above, but noticed recently in web analytics (google) that many of my images are being found, even though they were generic and not mine. Like Girl Robot!! Go figure :> Just goes to show, that not only should you use images, but caption, alt tag and title them properly. Then your site might be found for images and content.
    Ashley Faulkes recently posted…TweetDeck – Improve your Twitter experienceMy Profile

  6. I am so horrible at this. I write and just go with it. I pretty much never worry about keywords or SEO. Even better is when I write horrible headlines. I am great for that.
    Jon Jefferson recently posted…The CrutchMy Profile

    1. Jon, you make me smile. Keep using social media and sharing the way you do. Not everyone has to go the SEO route. If a few people like what you read, and they share it, and then a few more people …

      On the other hand, if you can come up with titles that have phrases people search for (like “how to make calzone” – although that phrase likely has stiff competition), it certainly helps.

  7. I do some of these things, but there are many more that I should spend more time on. I sometimes feel that if I spent every minute of every day working on my blog I would still not discover the full potential. It’s good to be reminded not to get too complacent. 🙂

    1. Debra,

      If you do it as you write a post, it won’t feel so much like a chore, just part of the process of blogging. Don’t feel you need to redo every post – pick two or three popular ones and concentrate on those.

  8. Great post! I’ve heard about using pictures to drive SEO, and am still figuring that one out. Some people will post a picture and then tag it as “picture” or “headshot” – that much I know is wrong. Do you know how to insert a tag to make it more SEO friendly?

    1. Krystyna, to each image, you can add an alt tag. You just add the key phrases to the alt tag, like this:
      <img src=”http://yourdomain.com/images/filename.jpg” alt=”your key phrase for SEO goes here” />

      If you use WordPress, you can add the description via the Media Manager.

  9. I have been lucky to be introduced to an SEO plugin that made this easier. I am still not sure I get it completely, but as long as I have ticks on all the things it says I should.
    I have wanted to start making a specific day to go out and just shoot photo’s. Mainly with a post in mind, but possibly taking them and then creating a post about it might be a better way to do it. I haven’t started doing it yet, but it will be interesting should I ever get my butt into gear 🙂
    Becc recently posted…Its been a buggerMy Profile

  10. Great post! I’ve heard about using pictures to drive SEO, and am still figuring that one out. Some people will post a picture and then tag it as “picture” or “headshot…!!thanks…!!

    1. Sharma, thanks. Yes, good idea to put information about your post in the alt tag of an image. Think, for example, if you pinned the image to Pinterest – what would you want to appear as the note with the image? Write it up accordingly.

  11. I sometimes feel that if I spent every minute of every day working on my blog I would still not discover the full potential. It’s good to be reminded not to get too complacent. :)thanks…!!

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