Mobile devices are expected to influence $1.4 trillion in local sales by 2021, according to a Forrester research report. As more and more Americans rely on their smartphones to find local services and products, “near me” searches have become default functions for both search engines and the people using them.
Think about how you use your phone when you are heading out, or on the road, ready to make a purchase. Whether you need a burger or a dry cleaner who doesn’t strip the buttons off of your shirt, Google is ready with suggestions on where to solve your hunger or button problems. And the search engine will gladly list them from best to worst, near to far, to make it easy for you.
Near Me Search – How Local Businesses Are Found
If you want customers near you to find your business first, local SEO (search engine optimization) is critical for exposing your business to new audiences. With the staggering growth of “near me” searches and other local intent searches on mobile devices, every business that wants more local customers should be optimizing their online presence for the way consumers now find new products and services.
According to Think with Google, 76% of local mobile searches for something nearby result in a same-day in-store visit, and 26% of those visits result in a purchase. Adding “near me” to an online search demonstrates an intent to take immediate action on search results. Are you using “near me” search strategies to ensure your business is showing up when people are ready to buy?
Optimizing for Near Me Searches
Optimizing your business’s online presence for “near me” searches requires paying close attention to the location identifiers, service/product listings, and categories so search engines like Google know precisely where you are located and exactly what you provide to your customers. Because all search engines want to give the best results first, not only does proximity to the searcher matter, but customer reviews will influence how you rank when there are multiple choices within close proximity to one another.
Local SEO Best Practices for Near Me Searches
To ensure you are showing up in search results when your next customer is online looking for what you are selling and ready to get in the car (or on the phone for an order), local businesses will want to follow these local SEO best practices:
- Optimize Google My Business – Claim and fill out your GMB accounts completely – paying special attention to your address and pin location on Maps, categories, and services sections. Continuously add photos, update holiday hours, monitor reviews, and answer questions.
- Gather (and Respond to) Reviews – Have a process in place that requests reviews from your happiest customers, monitor Google and other review sites, and respond to both positive and negative reviews professionally and compassionately.
- NAP on Website & Business Listings – Wrong, missing, inconsistent, or incomplete business name, address, and phone numbers (NAP) on business listings and website pages confuse search engines, and they won’t provide confusing results to search engine users. Consistent and complete NAP are rewarded with higher rankings in near me searches.
- Location Identifiers on Image and Meta Tags – Geotagging your images and metadata ensure your website contains the local identifiers that tell search engines your content is relevant and should appear for local queries.
- Mobile-Friendly, Fast-Loading Website – How fast your site loads and how user-friendly it is on mobile devices are huge ranking factors in Google search. Fix slow-loading pages and ensure your website is mobile-friendly.
- Local Backlinks (from Chambers, Associations, Directories) – Building local backlinks reinforces your business’s relevance in the community. Strategies include creating content local authorities want to link to, sponsoring local organizations, creating resources with a local focus, and hosting community events.
- Written Text Driving Directions (with major cross streets) – Contact pages for each of your locations should include driving directions from well-known landmarks and list the names of the areas, neighborhoods, and cities you serve. A written list of the services and products you provide is also helpful information that should be written in your website text and NOT displayed in PDF or image formats.
Near Me Search Has Redefined How Consumers Shop
We are drowning in data that lets us know where, when, and how people are using search engines to make purchasing decisions. Today search engine users expect search technology to guess their intent and find the places they can get the stuff they need.
Since “near me” is a popular phrase that shows up in search engine queries across all categories as people look for the closest options for activities, services, and stores, NOW is the time to use local SEO to earn new customers.