“Near Me” searches in Google, such as, “breakfast near me” grew 130% year over year (YoY) overall and they grew even faster on mobile (146% YoY). Also according to Google, 88% of “near me” searches happened on a mobile device. As the mobile world continues to grow and evolve, these types of searches will grow in use and also become essential to local businesses wanting to be found by their ideal customer.
It’s important that local businesses consider this shift, whether they’re a franchise or a single location family owned business. This is a trend that will play a major role in how consumers find your business. Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as naming your business with an “A” to show up first in the phone book. It’s a little more complicated.
Taking “Near Me” Searches Seriously
Considering the amount of small businesses there are in the United States, very few are doing anything about marketing in search engines. This provides many local businesses with an opportunity to give their biggest competition something to sweat about simply by deciding to participate.
A solid search engine optimization strategy for “near me” searches should include these basics:
- Website Health: An up-to-date website can provide tremendous value for small businesses trying to improve their “near me” search appearances. It’s not just the coding and mobile friendliness of a website though. Businesses should consider the quality of the content, how it is structured, the speed of the site, and even how each page is connected as well. Optimizing your website for “near me” searches by including this in the meta information will help as well.
- Local Listings: Having local listings online (Yelp, YP, Google, Bing, etc) are important to your local searches simply by verifying your location. Many small businesses miss major opportunities for ranking higher in local search by not completing their categories correctly or their business descriptions completely. Remember that search engines thrive on content, so providing them with accurate and detailed information helps connect searchers to your local business. Don’t miss the opportunity that your local listings provide your small business.
- Proximity: Believe it or not, but the physical location of your business does matter for your search rankings. While there are hundreds of pieces of information the factor into your local rankings in search engines, your physical location plays a large role. That’s because Google and other search engines like Yelp know that most users want to see results that are within a certain mileage range. Of course there are some exceptions for businesses with amazing reputations, but that’s another ranking factor altogether. For some small businesses, your biggest opportunity to rank well might be within a 5-10 mile radius (and that’s okay).
- Reputation: At first, online reviews can seem like a very scary concept. Business owners have heard horror stories in the news about how bad reviews can destroy the reputation and future of local businesses. However, the quantity and quality of your online reviews can weigh in your favor, especially in “near me” searches. Local businesses can leverage great customer experiences by following up with review requests to help build their local reputation. This helps in two ways:
- Reviews will factor into your local rankings. Great reviews and plenty of them will help your search engine rankings.
- Great reviews catch the attention of consumers. Think about how you choose restaurants or contractors for your home projects. You most likely choose to spend your money with a business that has a great reputation.
Take an audit of your small business. How are you doing when it comes to “near me” searches? Find your weaknesses now while the majority of your competition continues to ignore how your local market uses search engines to find where they want to spend their money.