3 Tips For Leveraging the ‘Near Me’ Search Trend
March 29, 2016 Scott Barnett
Last April, it was reported that Google searches using ‘near me’ qualifiers surged 34 times since 2011. A key stat from that article indicates:
Words like “near me,” “closest,” and “nearby” are increasingly common across the billions of queries on Google every month. More and more, people are looking for things in their vicinity — be it a gym or a mall, a plumber, or a cup of coffee. Google search interest in “near me” has increased 34 times since 2011 and nearly doubled since last year. The vast majority come from mobile — 80% in Q4 2014.
Just this month there was a another report that stated that the amount of ‘Near Me’ mobile searches has risen by triple digits since last year. Specifically:
Searches on all devices looking for something “near me” are up 130% over last year; and mobile comprises 88% of all “near me” searches.
You would think that this type of “serendipity” searching would be for low cost and immediate items such as lunch, coffee or a tow if your car broke down, but the latest data shows that searches for luxury items such as cars and jewelry are increasingly coming up in these “near me” type searches.
We've reached a tipping point where a mobile and real time Yellow Pages is being created. This makes things more challenging for small businesses, since they can’t call up their mobile/real time Yellow Pages sales rep and place an ad – but there are things a small business owner can do so they become more visible in these near me searches.
1. Make sure Google knows you
If you operate a small and local business and have not claimed your business on Google My Business, you're missing out on the simplest and easiest thing you can do to help your local online visibility. Google My Business is simple and easy to setup, and there are even easier ways to verify your business than in the past (e.g. you may be able to skip the postcard confirmation if you can provide other authoritative means).
2. Get cozy with a local expert
If there's a publisher or blogger that covers your particular market, you should make sure you have a relationship with them. This goes beyond advertising – that's not to say ads are a good or bad way to go, but ads won't help at all with ‘near me’ searches.
‘Near me’ searches rely on a business directory to provide current information such as NAP (Name/Address/Phone), hours of operation, website and other highly sought after data. If your local expert has a business directory, make sure you're on it and that you're profiled heavily.
The best option for every local business is their local digital publisher. If there's a site that reports the news in their daily community, they'll have a significant amount of local authority with search engines. If they have a complete and authoritative business directory, you should be listed (and highlighted) there. Make absolutely sure that your NAP is the same in your local business directory as it is with Google. If you can find a local digital publisher that will publish your listing AND update your listing with the major directory aggregators (these are global companies such as Infogroup, Acxiom, Factual and Localeze that feed the majority of internet directories on the web today), then you’ve hit a home run.
3. Promote your business
Again, we don’t mean ads, for the same reason as #2. What we mean is consistent and regular new content about your business showing up online – ideally via the local expert sites suggested in #2. If you have events or business promotions, list them on your own site for sure, but make sure they're also listed on local authoritative sites too.
Customer feedback is also a must – the more people talk about you online, the easier you'll be found. Make it as easy as possible for customers to give you feedback. This is the most overlooked (and biggest value) strategy that a small business owner has.
We can’t stress enough how much this a priority. Published reports indicate that 78% of mobile searches for businesses result in a purchase. The click through rate for ads is now in the very low single digits (and in many cases, even lower than 1%). With your limited marketing funds, where do you think your time and money is best spent?
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