- While users are increasingly likely to make a search with a local intent, how they do so is changing.
- For businesses, ranking high for these local search queries is not just about hoovering up the traffic; it can also make an even more direct impact on their bottom-line.
- The potential and buy-readiness of local searchers means that it’s currently an untapped goldmine for any business that makes it a focus.
- Local-search strategies include Google My Business, optimizing for local search, using schema, and NAP management, among others.
Give us a few seconds to run a quick test about your online behavior. Think about what you would do in the following situations:
- You’re hungry at home, and there’s nothing in the fridge. You want to eat out or order in something new.
- You’re somewhere new, and for whatever reason, your evening schedule just opened up. You don’t have any preference for what to do; you just want it to be fun or interesting.
- Just when you want to use your microwave/washing machine/TV, it breaks down. You want to either get it fixed or buy a new one in a hurry.
Most of the time, in these situations, people will get online and search for something nearby. Despite the global nature of the digital world, the stats show that local search is still massive. The last time Google said anything about the breakdown, they claimed about a third of mobile searches were location-specific. Since then, their CEO Sundar Pichai has said that number was showing 50% growth annually, much higher than the growth in even mobile search itself.
While users are increasingly likely to make a search with a local intent, how they do so is changing. Instead of putting in a location indicator, such as a zip code or the name of a city or neighborhood, they presume that their device will tell the search engine where they are. This has given rise to the “Near Me” search, where you basically say what you want + “near me,” such as “burgers near me/things to do near me/washing machine repair near me.”
Here’s some of what Google has had to say about it*:
- 500%: Increase in “near me” searches with variations on the term “to buy”
- 900%: Increase in “near me” searches including “today/tonight”
- 200%: Increase in car dealer “near me” queries
- 600%: Increase in dress related “near me” queries
*Note, the above data was published in 2018 and refers to growth across 2015-2017.
For businesses, ranking high for these local search queries is not just about hoovering up the traffic; it can also make an even more direct impact on their bottom-line. There’s something other than being location-specific that they have in common *we’ll pause for dramatic effect* they indicate you want something NOW.
Searchers who are looking for local goods or services are much further along the sales funnel and more likely to buy. Again, this is backed up by the stats:
- 83% of people making a local search want to make a purchase that day
- 75% of these local searchers visit the store within 24 hours
- 30% result in a purchase
Think about it, if nearly a third of visitors to your site made a purchase, what difference would that make to your revenue? Not to mention the fact that conversion rate optimizers around the world would be hailing you as some kind of deity.
So that’s the ‘why’ of “near me” and local search, now let’s get to the trickier part, the ‘how’ of ranking ahead of everyone else in your area.
How to Rank Number One for Local and Near Me Searches
1. Google My Business
One of the biggest factors Google takes into account when deciding on relevance for local searches is a company’s Google My Business profile. We’ve already taken an in-depth look at Google My Business and how it affects your rankings, but it’s definitely worth stating again: if you want to be top for “near me” searches, Google My Business is the first place to start.
2. Optimize for Local Search
When planning your SEO strategy, it’s natural to want to target the keywords that relate the services to particular keywords. What can often slip people’s mind however is optimizing their site for their location. Along with keywords associated with what you offer make sure to also include your location. This goes for mentions in content as well as page URLs and backlink anchor text.
3. Back-Up Everything with Plain Text
Another local SEO tip to note is to ensure that all of your content is in plain text, so it is readable and adds to your SEO. Many small businesses use PDFs of things such as menus and flyers that they upload straight to their site. Unfortunately, while people can read them, machines can’t. Wherever it is, make sure that content is in text somewhere.
4. Show You’re Involved Locally
Location-related keywords are important for your on-site SEO, but what about off-site SEO? To do things right in a local way, get involved in your local community, helping out somewhere or sponsoring something is obviously great for giving back to the locality, but it has the added bonus of being opportunities for local-sourced backlinks.
Encourage local clients to leave reviews, either for your testimonials page or to drop a short one on Google. The more connections there are to your area, the more Google can see that you are relevant for local search.
5. Make Sure Your Schema Is Correct
While an often overlooked part of SEO, a company’s schema markup is essential for confirming key details about your business and establishing your local bona fides.
This includes the all-powerful knowledge graph that appears at the side of Google searches. It can do great things for your page’s pulling power, but Google is very protective of ensuring it is trustworthy. One way of telling Google that all the info you’re giving them is correct is through your schema markup.
6. Get the Basics Right – The NAP
Though it might seem basic and old-fashioned in the complex digital world, your NAP details (Name, Address, Telephone Number) are still as important as they used to be when business cards first took off. For Google and other search engines, it is those basics that let them know how accessible you are locally.
If you don’t provide them, they’ll just assume you’re not looking for local business (which is fine if that’s what you actually intend, but not great if you don’t).
7. Local Advertising = Local Business
Local advertising doesn’t just mean your area’s newspaper or network affiliate; it should also include PPC. Making your paid search location-based means that you will have less competition for local search keywords and also indicates to Google that you have a connection with where you’re advertising.
8. Plan with the User in Mind
With so much of local search traffic coming from mobile, it’s vital that your site is prepared for that. With Google’s new mobile-first indexing, if your pages aren’t responsive and have terrible load-speeds, you’re going to be heavily penalized when it comes to local searches. Take a look at our article to get some tips on getting your site ready for mobile-first.
Get Seen Globally (& Locally) With RMG
For most businesses, local is still their bread-and-butter. Despite this, most SEOs want you ranking on the moon as much as the next block. While that’s all well and good, the potential and buy-readiness of local searchers mean that it’s currently an untapped goldmine for any business that makes it a focus.
To find out more about how we can build you a perfect strategy that can get you seen globally and help you clean up locally, get in touch with our experts today.