Thursday, February 16, 2017

From Building a “Near Me” Search Strategy for Better SEO

With a steady rise in “near me” search queries, adding a “near me” search strategy to your local SEO puts your business in front of customers ready to buy.

Over a year ago Google announced that search queries with local qualifiers such as “near me” had doubled in just one year.  More recently Google stated “Mobile makes up 88% of all “near me” searches, with those mobile searches growing at 146% year over year.” This rapid increase highlights how critical these hyper-local searches are to your local SEO.

near me search google trendsTHE GOOD NEWS: “Near Me” Search Benefits Consumers and Businesses

When consumers have an immediate need for something, whether it’s information or to buy a product or service, they conduct searches with local qualifiers like “nearby” or “near me.”  Google calls these times when customers are ready to take action, micro-moments and I-want-to-go-moments.  These moments are such a big deal to Google that prompts you with “near me” suggestions before you can finish typing what you are looking for.

near me search micro momentsImage Source: Think With Google

You can optimize your website to show up during these crucial micro-moments.  The best part is that it isn’t hard.  By adding a few “near me” specific tactics to a strong local SEO plan

THE BAD NEWS: “Near Me” Search Results are NOT Ranked by Proximity

Just being closest to a “near me” search user does not give your business a significant boost in ranking higher in search results.  It’s natural to assume that proximity would be a top ranking factor but Google’s secret algorithms are designed to give you the best results, not just the most technically correct.

Search queries are treated more and more like conversations with a helpful know-it-all guide.  If you asked a long-time local where the nearest bakery was, if he wanted to be helpful he would tell you where the nearest “good” or “decent” bakery was, knowing he had never heard anything good about the one closest to you.

near me search screenshotThat’s why building a near me search strategy needs to be part of your SEO.  Taking the simple steps needed to let search engines know exactly where you are and that you are the best option for local search results ensures your business shows up at the top of near me searches.

Building a “Near Me” Search Strategy for Better SEO

There continues to be a lot of chatter about how “near me” searches are trending, but a better term for what actually happening would be GROWING.  Optimizing your website for these searches by building a “near me” search strategy improves your ranking with local search users.

Your next new customer is looking to spend money today.  Add the following activities to your local SEO gets your business in front of that hyper-qualified audience.

Have a Mobile-Friendly Website

Duh, right? But I state the obvious to stress that you have to do better than just shrinking your desktop content and ads to fit a smaller screen.  Using a responsive design that optimizes your website for mobile viewing and navigation isn’t just good for “near me” searches but helps your SEO on every level.

Optimize Your Google My Business Listing

Your Google My Business Listing is vital to your success on the Google network.  This is how you show up on maps.  This is where customers leave reviews, and you get those wonderful star ratings.  This is how you get into the local 3-pack.  Google My Business is where everything begins.  You need to optimize your Google My Business listing, ensure your NAP is correct, and get those reviews that make you stand out in search results.

Consistent NAP on Website, Business Listings, and Citations

With “near me” searches it is even more critical than before that your NAP (name, address and phone number) be accurate and consistent across the internet.  Your NAP should be on your website’s main pages.  Additionally, manage your business listings to ensure that when Google crawls your site and other sites they use to cross-check your information your business is listed and each listing and citation is consistent.  If not, Google won’t trust that you are nearby a person’s location when they are doing a “near me” search.

Get More Reviews Posted Online

Encourage customer to review your business by clicking “Write a Review” on your Google My Business page. This is a simple and factual statement: The more reviews on your Google business page and the better the rating of those reviews, the higher you are going to rank in local search results.

The more people talk about you online, the easier your business is to find. Customer Review Management is a real thing, it is vital to the success of your business, and you need to be doing it yesterday. Have a plan and process in place to ask customers for reviews and make it easy for them to post the best of your reviews on Google.

Add “Near Me” and Backlinks with City/State Anchor Text NATURALLY

Probably the easiest thing to do on this list is to add “near me” to the title tags of your location pages.  You should also add “near me” with top keyword variants into the text of your web pages and the anchor text of internal links to your location pages.

It has been shown that having some backlinks with your city and state in the anchor text correlates with higher rankings in “near me” searches.  The key word here is “naturally.”  Meaning, don’t stuff your content with city/state keywords to create dozens of backlinks.

Near Me Search Optimization is Key

According to Google, 82% of smartphone users consult their smartphone when researching an upcoming purchase. If your business is not showing up high in mobile “near me” searches you are losing valuable customers to the competition.  Take these steps to build your “near me” search strategy and improve

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Zach_Color_Trans_small_CroppedAbout The Author

Zach Anderson is the co-founder of Reputation Loop (helping small businesses grow by generating customer feedback and online reviews) who loves online marketing and golf.

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