The last few years have witnessed a significant increase in searches with additional keywords ‘near me’. The fact that near me searches have doubled since 2015 is a clear indication that customers now prefer to look for products and services in their vicinity. Google trends show a similar growth for the search term ‘near me’.
It is almost natural for customers to search for things like ‘marketing firms near me’ or ‘digital marketing agencies + near me’ to find services that are convenient to them.
To benefit the most from this trend, you need to ensure that your business shows up in local searches. You might be wondering how exactly these searches work, what is its relevance in today’s world, and how it impacts local businesses today.
This article provides all this information so you can have a clear picture of why local search holds such a dominant position in today’s digital marketing.
How do ‘near me’ searches work?
It’s difficult to know the exact algorithms that govern searches since the details of the search algorithm are kept confidential. But emerging research identifies important factors that hold sway in ‘near me’ organic results.
Many website owners became to use keywords like ‘near me’ in their titles and content, because if a user searches for ‘near me’, then only those pages should pop up that include ‘near me’.
When asked how Google determines which pages to rank for a ‘near me’ enquiry John Mueller stated;
“So as far as I know, we mostly look at this with regards to location, so doing things like adding “pizzeria near me” as a title of your pages on your website probably doesn’t make that much sense because we would try to figure out like what is actually near the user.”
For a search engine to figure it out accurately, you need to do two things.
- Put your address on your website and structure it properly, so that search engine can know your location
- Set up a Google My Business (GMB) local listing, which we will further discuss later in this post
Google further provides three metrics that outweigh all other factors when it comes to local search results. These are:
In local searches, Google ensures that your website content matches what the user is searching for. If a user types ‘digital marketing agency jobs + near me’ while you have an open position at your restaurant, then it doesn’t need to show up because the two queries do not match.
Another vital factor to consider for these searches is distance. Google determines how far is a search result from the location term used in the search and rank pages accordingly. If the location is not specified in a search, Google calculates it based on what’s known about the user’s location.
Prominence depends on things like authority, customer ratings, and business image. Some brands are well known among the public in the offline world, and Google tries to reflect that in their search. So, if a business has a higher review count and score, it will likely rank higher in local searches.
Prominence is also established on the information that is found online about a business. This includes backlinks, articles, directories, and a plethora of other things.
Importance of ‘near me’ searches
Optimizing your site for ‘near me’ is extremely important especially if you want to get clients in your locality. A study conducted by Forbes observed that 95 percent of smartphone owners had used their device to perform a local search.
It also found that 61 percent of them called the business and 59 percent paid a visit after the online search. Another study indicated that the majority of the people call a business directly from Google search results.
These stats indicate that location-based searches are a major source for getting potential customers in the area where your business operates. Such leads are also more likely to convert since they look for products and services that you offer.
How should digital agencies optimize their websites for local searches?
The ‘near me’ search is as specific as you can get. The search engine grabs the users’ exact latitude and longitude and finds businesses that are in the proximity.
These searches apply to businesses across every industry; from restaurants to coffee shops and printing houses to marketing agencies. If you have a digital agency and want to capitalize on the growth of this type of search, here is how you can do it.
Complete your Google My Business profile
Google My Business is an essential tool provided by Google to help you manage your business information such as location, contact details, business hours, and a great deal more. If you want to dominate ‘near me’ results, you need to make sure that your business information on Google is accurate.
All the information that you provide will display in searches when your business name pops up. The easier you make for searchers to learn the most about your business, the more likely they will give you a shot.
Keep the customer’s reviews visible
Customers’ feedback in the form of reviews and ratings is important to dominate ‘near me’ results online. According to Google, review count and score are factored into local search ranking as they improve your prominence on Google. Google also makes it easier for customers to write a review as they only need to open Google Maps and click ‘write a review’.
Keep NAP visible and consistent
To rank higher on the web for local searches, make sure that your NAP is clearly visible and consistent all over the web. NAP refers to;
N = Business Name
A = Business Address
P = Phone Number
By keeping this information consistent, you make it easy for Google to show the most relevant data to the users. From a consumer perspective, NAP helps consumers find you easily and remember the establishment.
Get backlinks with geographic anchor
Google treats backlinks as trust votes, so getting quality backlinks will build your prominence and help you rank higher on search engine result page (SERP). However, it is important to note that the backlinks should include the locality name in the anchor text of the link. Also, try to produce local content with geographic elements.
What Experts Say?
Here are a few comments on the importance of “Near me” searches for digital agencies:
Matt Smith, Co-Founder & CMO of MaxAudience, shared;
Mobile marketing is driving the “near me” search. It is about the location first to rank nationally you must be ranked locally. A national ranking will never happen if you don’t rank high locally.
Mattan Danino, CEO & Founder of WEBITMD, shared;
Local is everything! Our agency has team members in 3 markets (Los Angeles, New York City, & Dallas). We have a local presence in each and optimize to attract businesses locally. Despite the fact that we can (and do) work with clients around the globe we have found the most success working with clients locally in our markets. Strategy wise; focus on local pillar pages. Produce long-form optimized content pages on your website for the markets that you do business in and then 2-3 supporting blog posts in a cluster model to help rank that pillar page. Content is still king!
Dominating the local searches is not easy. It can be tempting to add the keyword ‘near me’ to your titles and content in an attempt to boost visibility. Unfortunately, that won’t work and might even throttle your website ranking. Instead, focus on the three factors and try to earn more positive reviews.
Updating your business information on Google My Business and keeping it consistent all over the web can prove effective in local search optimization.