11 Mar How To Optimise For ‘Near Me’ Searches
I regularly check what kinds of searches are rising and falling in popularity for my clients to try and better understand trends in how people search for products and services online.
One of the major changes is the astronomical rise in people searching for businesses ‘near me’. It shows that people are for more trusting of search engines to deliver what they are looking for even without specifying it exactly. A few years ago it was ‘best’ business.
This is just another step towards voice search and context based search results. It is also frequently suggested by Google suggest/autocomplete when people are searching for businesses on mobile.
When comparing regular searches to ‘near me’ searches there are a few interesting things to consider:
- Almost all of these searches are performed on mobile
- They are highly commercial searches as people are looking to make a purchase right now
- They are not fussy about who they do business with as long as the offer is right.
These customers are far more likely
So how do you get front and centre when someone is searching for a business like yours with a ‘near me’ search?
First we will start with what doesn’t necessarily work.
You can be forgiven for thinking that Google will just select and show the businesses that are closest to the person performing the search. This is not always the case. So, if you were contemplating setting up new business locations just to get a premium position in local search, you can stop right now. In fact of the factors which contribute to rankings for ‘near me’ searches, location is quite low on the list. As long as you are in the same city or region as the person searching you are in with a shot to rank for a ‘near me’ search.
What has the most impact on ‘near me’ search rankings?
Local SEO Guide conducted a study across hundreds of local businesses (which you can find here) and combined with our own data, these are the factors with the greatest correlation to performance.
Google My Business
Google My Business is essentially the new yellow pages. When people are searching for local businesses it displays a handful of businesses that are most relevant to the person searching based on location, reputation and other information about the business found in the listing, on the businesses website and found elsewhere online.
To be eligible to have your business shown you need to first create a listing. Luckily it is free and can be setup in 15 minutes or less. More often than not a pack of local business results are shown at the top of the search results page when a ‘near me’ search is performed:
- Setup a Google My Business listing (https://www.google.com/business)
- Fill in your business details
- Be sure to include your logo, a cover picture and interior/exterior pictures if relevant
- Verify the listing
- For our full guide on optimising your listing check out our Google My Business guide here
Reviews are an essential part of building business reputation online. A vast majority of consumers use online reviews and recommendations to decide which businesses to deal with and as such they are also weighted heavily when deciding which businesses to show for ‘near me’ searches. Here are a few practical steps to gather more positive reviews:
- Get as many positive reviews as possible through your Google business listing
- Google does also consider third party review site such as Yelp, but these are
- Rather than generating 50 or 100 reviews over a short period of time it is better to create a review acquisition strategy that will generate a consistent stream of new reviews over time.
- Responding to reviews is also another positive sign that you are actively listening and reacting to customer feedback.
Consistency in name, address and phone number across all website where your business is listed has always been essential to performing well in local search results and this is no different. Whatever is written on your contact page should be the exact same contact details used in every business listing, including your Google My Business listing. Making your business contact details available on every page of the website either in your header or footer is also recommended for improving local and ‘near me’ search performance.
There are many websites out there that provide directories of different business types. While it may be tempting to try and list your business in every business directory out there, I would recommend that you ask yourself “would my customers ever use this directory to find me?”. If the answer is no, then don’t waste your time. Many business directories exist only to create spammy SEO backlinks – avoid these like the plague. List your business in all the places where you customers will look and avoid the rest.
Local optimisation also extends to
Ensure your website is mobile friendly
With the majority of ‘near me’ searches being performed on mobile it makes sense to have a mobile friendly website. Over the past few years Google has shown a strong preference for websites that function well on mobile devices.
If other local websites and businesses are linking to you it is good indication that you have a strong presence in your local area. These types of links hold a lot of sway for local searches including ‘near me’. There are lots of ways to acquire local links: reach out to local news sites, host events and list on local event listings, start a partnership with a non-competing business. Read our local links post here for more ideas.
Links that include the location in anchor text
Near Me text
It is certainly awkward to incorporate the words ‘near me’ in your on page copy. However it could also help appear higher in ‘near me’ search results. It is difficult to say whether having the text on the page is the reason, or whether the increase click through rates as a result of having the text in titles or descriptions is the reason. Either way, Trip advisor is one company that has gone all in on optimising page content for ‘near me’ searches. Just take a look as the bottom of this page (https://www.tripadvisor.com.au/Restaurants) and see all the links created to optimise for ‘near me’ searches. They even rank highly for the ‘near me’ itself.
To wrap up
Many of the suggestions above overlap with our local SEO optimisation tips and strategies and having a well planned and executed SEO strategy will also make it easier to rank for ‘near me’ keywords.
To learn more about local SEO and Search Engine Optimisation check out our guides.