To begin our local SEO guide, Imagine you are on a business trip, and unfamiliar with the surrounding city. You’ve just finished up a long day of meetings and networking, and want to find a decent place to grab dinner. You decide you’re really in the mood for sushi. What do you do?
Your first instinct is probably to pull out your phone and type “Japanese restaurants near me” into Google. Google picks up on the “near me” part of that query, and your cell phone’s location services go to work. You receive a list of Japanese restaurants in the area, complete with their addresses and contact information.
As a business owner, one of your top priorities is to retain current customers and attract new ones. By implementing a “near me” search strategy into your local SEO plan, you will heighten your chances of appearing in the search results of location driven searches.
Why Does Your Business Need a “Near Me” Search Strategy?
Google refers to searches including local qualifiers such as “near me” and “nearby” as micro-moments. In these micro-moments, consumers are ready to buy immediately. They know the product or service that they want, and they want it now. Google deems these circumstances priority, and therefore produces a list of search results consisting of businesses in the immediate area that the search was conducted.
The number of Google searches using the term “near me” doubled from 2015 to 2016. This rapid increase proves how important it is to optimize your company website for this type of search. The greatest reason why a “near me” search strategy is vital to your website is because Google does not rank these micro-moment searches based on proximity alone. In other words, just because your shoe store is closest to the person who typed “sneakers near me” into Google does not mean your website will be first on the search results page. To ensure that your website ranks well in these results, use the following tips to improve your local SEO with a “near me” search strategy.
Ensure Your Website Is Mobile Friendly
According to Google itself, 88% of these micro-moment searches are conducted via mobile devices. A website with strong mobile formatting and user friendly navigation is more likely to retain customers and decrease bounce rate. In addition, Google’s “Mobilegeddon” algorithm update has placed precedence on websites that are designed for mobile. Not only will optimizing your website increase your chances of appearing as a result of “near me” searches, but it strengthens your SEO as a whole and is firmly suggested in any local SEO guide.
Optimize Your Google My Business Listing
Google My Business, a free tool allowing organizations to monitor and control their digital presence, is essentially your customer’s starting point. This is where consumers can view your business hours, determine your location, and read product and service reviews. It is from this listing that they will decide to continue on to your company website or to visit your company in person. A customer’s ultimate purchase decision is heavily influenced by your Google My Business listing.
When a consumer searches for a company, the Google My Business listings shown are local to that person’s location. Maintaining an effective Google My Business listing is a vital part of building a strong “near me” search strategy. Here are a few steps you can take to optimize your listing:
- Ensure that the hours of operation are accurate and up to date
- Include the exact storefront address
- Ensure all phone numbers and contact information listed are accurate
- Add high quality, relevant photos
- Include a list of services
- Maintain positive customer reviews
Check out our guide on how to take advantage of 2017’s new Google My Business features to polish your listing, and you’ll be well on your way to attracting new customers in your area.
Keep Your NAP Uniform Across the Web
A crucial part of optimizing your Google My Business listing, your business name, address, and phone number (NAP) must also remain consistent across all digital platforms and throughout the entire internet. Google will not trust a website whose information differs from one site or listing to the next, causing your ranking to plummet. With “near me” searches, it is especially important to maintain these accurate points of information to ensure location services can properly identify your organization’s position.
Generate More Online Reviews
A Brightlocal survey found that 84% of consumers deem online reviews just as reliable as verbal recommendations, and 74% of consumers say that positive reviews amplify their trust of a local business. The importance of online reviews is evident, and is especially necessary when seeking a high ranking on “near me” search results. Online reviews have proved to increase local search engine rankings based on the following factors:
- The number of reviews of your business
- Speed of review generation
- Diversity of digital platforms that display your reviews
- The authority of the consumers who have reviewed your business
Generating online reviews is easier than you may think. The same survey reported that 70% of customers will leave a review of a business if they are directly asked to do so. When patrons experienced exceptional service after having lunch at your restaurant, politely ask them to leave a review on your website. At the checkout register in your floral shop, remind customers that they can leave a friendly online review if they loved your inventory that day. Including an online review generating survey on your website is an even more solidifying way to capture these vital reviews.
Add Natural Backlinks Using Anchor Text
Simply adding the term “near me” to your location pages’ title tags is an effortless way to increase the likelihood of appearing on micro-moment search results. Including the term in anchor text is effective as well. Creating backlinks with your city and state name can boost your “near me” strategy and improve your overall local SEO. However, be careful not to flood your website with too many location keywords. This will seem unnatural to Google and other search engines and could possibly be considered as a form of black hat SEO.
Implementing a Local SEO Strategy With “Near Me” Search Is Essential
In a digital world saturated with commercial websites, an education in local SEO will skyrocket your ranking and set you apart from the competition.
Appearing in “near me” search results is an important aspect of reaching your target audience. Optimizing your Google My Business Listing, maintaining positive online reviews, and keeping your contact information consistent are all attainable steps you can take to reaching your ultimate local SEO goals.
Interested in improving your local SEO strategy even further? As a Yext Certified Partner, Creative Click Media has positioned itself as a leader in local SEO. Contact our team to find the search engine optimization package that’s right for your business.