If you own a local business, chances are you rely on your rankings in local search results for generating enquiries and footfall.
Knowing how to optimise for ‘near me’ searches is critical to ensuring your business appears when users are searching for relevant local results.
If you’re not already leveraging Google’s ‘near me’ searches to your advantage, you’re likely losing out to your competitors.
Before we dive into our top tips for optimising for ‘near me’ searches, let’s check out why ‘near me’ searches are vital for a successful local business.
‘Near me’ search queries are defined by those that are looking for specific products and services in a specified location. The search intent is generally associated with wanting to make an immediate purchase at the time of the search.
While eCommerce grows year on year, Google recognises that people still want the physical experience of choosing a book, trying on new clothes or seeing products in reality before making a purchase.
Google provides the ‘near me’ search option so consumers can quickly identify local search results that are most relevant to their search query.
People use search engines when they’re looking for a local business. If your business is brick and mortar based - it has a physical presence and doesn’t rely on eCommerce - harnessing near me searches to your advantage is key to boosting sales.
In fact, 46% of all Google searches are looking for local information, according to GoGulf.
Optimising for near me searches will undoubtedly direct more organic traffic to your business’s web page, resulting in higher footfall and conversions. 88% of searches for local businesses on a mobile device either call or visit the location within 24 hours, according to Nectafy.
These days, most smartphone users leave their GPS or location services switched on. Most apps require this to be enabled and so even users who preferred to switch off their GPS for privacy reasons now leave them on for convenience purposes. This means Google can detect users’ exact location and give them the most relevant and nearby results.
People searching online for local services or products is more common than before. If you’re not optimising for ‘near me’ searches, you’re missing out potential consumers and conversions.
Optimising for ‘near me’ search results allows you to reach your target consumers during moments when they’re most likely to make a purchase.
Optimising for ‘near me’ searches is critical for brick and mortar businesses with a physical presence. Think restaurants, shops, entertainment, healthcare, and banking.
Some typical examples of the kinds of searches consumers are tapping into Google are ‘pizza restaurants near me’, ‘cinemas near me’ or ‘nearest pharmacies’.
With more and more devices enabling voice search, this gives local businesses a unique opportunity to optimise for ‘near me’ searches from a voice recognition platform.
People love to ask their devices questions and often defer to voice search when they’re on the go, perhaps relying on a GPS application like Google Maps.
You need to think creatively about the kinds of questions users are asking their devices that could lead them to your business.
If you identify a few relevant voice search queries, you’ll be able to defeat competitors who aren’t yet optimising for voice search.
If your business has a physical location and you want to generate more footfall, you need to make optimising ‘near me searches’ a priority.
Google always structures its ranking factors around user search intent. When we talk about local search intent, consumers are looking for a specific item, in a particular location at a specified time. Google wants to give consumers local businesses they can trust to provide them with the required product or service they’re looking for.
Once you’ve got a grasp of Google’s ranking process and how user search intent works, it will help you fully optimise your business’s listing.
Before attempting to get your business to the top of ‘near me’ searches, you first need to list your business on a local business results page.
Open a business account on Google My Business. Following the search engine’s instructions, it’s easy to add your business to Google Local.
Keep in mind the following:
Using schema markup properly is a great way to stand out from the crowd and attract more consumers.
Schema markup is a kind of coding language that facilitates the appearance of rich results - the cards and snippets that show up in search results with images, reviews and ratings along with other relevant information from your site.
Schema helps search engines pull information about your business from your site to present in a way that’s more helpful and engaging for the user.
Implement schema markup on every location page that your business offers. Always include the business address, contact details and hours of operation in your schema data.
Given the fact that most ‘near me’ searches take place when the user is already out, the majority of local searches are from mobile devices. This means Google always rewards those sites that offer the best user-friendly experience to the user.
If you need any more convincing as to why prioritising your site’s mobile experience is necessary, remember that 61% of mobile searchers are more likely to contact a local business if they have a mobile-friendly website.
In addition, Forrester predicts that by 2021, mobile devices will influence more than $1.4 trillion in local sales.
Find out how mobile-friendly your site is with Google’s free Mobile-Friendly Test. Simply enter your site’s URL, and the platform will identify what needs to be improved.
We recommend improving the mobile usability of your site by doing the following:
Making your site mobile-friendly is critical for performing well in ‘near me’ search results.
If your business has multiple physical locations, it’s essential to build separate web pages for each different location. In this way, each web page that serves a distinct region or city can rank separately for users’ ‘near me’ searches.
Optimise each web page and improve its chances of ranking by:
The key here is to acquire high-quality backlinks that come with relevant geographically rich anchor text.
A pizza restaurant that wants to rank for ‘near me’ searches in London would need to use location rich forms of anchor text like, ‘pizza restaurant in London’, ‘best pizza restaurant in London’, ‘pizza restaurant in Soho London’, ‘pizzas in central London’.
Implementing a backlink strategy that properly leverages anchor text as an opportunity to increase rankings will boost your business’s visibility in ‘near me’ search results.
Building a successful blog is one of the best ways to top Google’s rankings, and when it comes to ‘near me’ searches it’s no different.
Creating a blog is an excellent way for you to share relevant articles related to your business’s niche frequently. Users can read your blog to find out useful information about your industry as well as details that will help them decide to purchase your product or service.
You can also use your blog to obtain local backlinks. Try to see if you can get your business to appear in local online publications or if an influencer related to your industry will link to your site.
Perform some keyword research and uncover what kinds of search queries your target audience has. You can then write highly relevant and targeted content to address your users’ queries and concerns.
It’s also a good idea to create a keyword-rich FAQ page that provides detailed information on your business’s exact location, products and services will improve your business’s visibility for your target location and keywords.
Optimising for ‘near me’ searches on Google will give your local business the edge over competitors.
Leveraging ‘near me’ searches to your advantage will result in more enquiries, higher footfall and increase organic traffic. This will ultimately improve your overall position in rankings and result in a higher rate of conversions.
Start by creating a solid Google My Business profile and gradually optimise more components of your ‘near me’ search appearances. If you follow these steps, you’ll see improvement both in your rankings and conversions.