Your complete guide to ranking for “near me” SEO and local searchesBy Lawrence Dy
Picture this: a potential customer is out and about, and they need a specific service or product. They pull out their phone and type in those magic words, 'near me.' In an instant, a list of nearby options pops up, guiding them to their destination. As a savvy digital marketer delving into the world of local SEO, you know these 'near me' searches aren't just words; they're a gateway to a treasure trove of local business opportunities.
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In this article, we'll unravel the significance of 'near me' searches in the realm of local SEO and discover how small businesses can harness their power to drive foot traffic and conversions.
Current status of “near me” SEO
In November 2021, Google rolled out an algorithm update aptly named the November 2021 Core Update, which affected "near me" searches (Semrush). The update changed the way the algorithm interprets these searches, treating "near me" as a proximity indicator rather than a keyword-matching phrase. As a result, optimizing for "near me" terms as keywords is no longer a 100% viable strategy for Google Maps and Google search optimization (Geekflare).
Here are some statistics on "near me" SEO and searches to explain why that matters:
- Searches for local places with the term "near me" have grown 150% over the last two years (The Media Captain).
- The number of searches for "near me" has increased by 500% in recent years (Business Edit).
- 28% of searches for "near me" lead to a purchase (Business Edit).
- 89.3 billion searches occur each month, with 1.5 billion of those being "near me" searches (Business Edit).
- 46% of all Google searches are for local businesses (Business Edit).
- 88% of mobile searches lead to visits to a physical store (Business Edit).
- In the United States, more than 1 billion searches containing the phrase "near me" are used every month (New Reach Agency).
- "Near me" or "close by" type searches grew by more than 900% over two years (Hubspot).
These statistics highlight the increasing importance of local search and the growing trend of consumers using "near me" SEO to find local businesses. It's crucial for businesses like your clients to optimize their online presence and ensure they are visible in local search results to attract customers.
Industries with the biggest reliance on “near me” searches
These industries have experienced a significant surge in "near me" searches as consumers increasingly rely on their smartphones and computers to find local businesses and services:
- Food: The restaurant and quick-service industry sees a lot of "near me" searches, given the behavior of proximity-based eating (Uberall). Food businesses have the highest percentage of "near me" searches (Hubspot).
- Entertainment: The entertainment industry has also experienced a significant increase in "near me" SEO. People often search for nearby movie theaters, concert venues, amusement parks, and other entertainment options (Hubspot).
- Banking: The banking industry has seen a rise in "near me" searches, with people searching for nearby bank branches, ATMs, and financial services (Hubspot).
- Apparel: The apparel industry has also witnessed an increase in "near me" searches. Consumers often search for nearby clothing stores, boutiques, and fashion outlets (Hubspot).
- Personal care: The personal care industry, including salons, spas, gyms, and beauty services, has seen a rise in "near me" searches as people look for nearby establishments for their self-care needs (Hubspot).
Impact of “near me” voice searches
Voice searches have had a significant impact on "near me" searches on Google. Here's how:
- Increased "near me" searches: Voice searches often include the phrase "near me" as users seek location-based content. According to Google, nearly 22% of voice search queries are seeking location-based information (Apsis).
- Local intent: Voice searches are commonly used for quick informational queries and local searches, such as finding nearby restaurants, stores, or services. Users often ask for specific recommendations or inquire about businesses in their immediate vicinity (WSI World).
- Conversational queries: Voice searches tend to be more conversational and natural compared to typed searches. Users are more likely to use full sentences and ask questions in a conversational manner. This impacts the way businesses should optimize their content and keywords to align with voice search queries (Redefine Your Marketing).
- Mobile-centric: Voice searches are predominantly performed on mobile devices, as they offer convenience and hands-free interaction. As "near me" searches are often location-based and mobile-driven, having a mobile-friendly website becomes crucial for ranking in these searches (WSI World).
To adapt to the impact of voice searches on "near me" searches, businesses should consider optimizing their content for conversational queries, incorporating location-specific keywords in their Google Business Profile, and ensuring their websites are mobile-friendly. By aligning their SEO and content strategies with voice search trends, businesses can improve their visibility and attract local customers searching for nearby products or services.
8 Tips for optimizing for “near me” searches
By the time you're through with this section, you'll be armed with the know-how to elevate your visibility in "near me" searches and draw in the local customer base you've been aiming for. So, let's dive into how to optimize for ‘near me’ searches.
1. Optimize GBP
Creating and optimizing a Google Business Profile (formerly called Google My Business) is essential for businesses to appear in "near me" searches. Ensure that the profile is complete, accurate, and up-to-date with relevant information such as business hours, address, phone number, and website. You’ll also want to verify your GBP, either with or without a postcard.
For more about GBP, read our complete guide to offering Google Business Profile management.
Here are some other things to know when creating, managing, and optimizing a GBP:
- Including your client’s CID number
- Notes on how to merge a Google Business Profile if you have a duplicate
- What to do if you need to delete a GBP
- How to handle a Google Business Profile suspension
- How to discuss GBP Insights and updates with your clients
2. Use schema markup for local SEO
Schema markup can enable rich snippets, which are additional visual elements that appear in search results. These can include images, pricing information, product availability, and more. Rich snippets can make your listing stand out and attract more clicks from users searching for local businesses (Incrementors). Rich snippets look like this:
By using schema markup to provide specific information about your business, you can increase your "near me" SEO. Search engines can better understand the context and relevance of your business to local searches, improving your chances of appearing in relevant search results (Ignite Visibility).
Adding LocalBusiness schema
Utilizing the LocalBusiness schema markup can provide search engines with essential information about your business, such as your business name, address, phone number, and opening hours. This structured data helps search engines understand your business's location and relevance to "near me" searches (Incrementors).
3. Use local keywords
Including “near me” keywords in website content, meta descriptions, and title tags can help businesses rank higher in "near me" searches. For example, using phrases like "best pizza near me" or "top-rated salon in [city name]" can help businesses appear in relevant search results. Google uses a variety of sources for its local listings, so the more information you can include, the better.
4. Get local backlinks
Businesses can easily improve their authority score, increase their local relevance, and improve their visibility in "near me" search results with local backlinks. This can lead to more clicks, more traffic, and ultimately, more customers.
Getting local backlinks can help businesses improve their ranking for "near me" searches in the following ways:
- Improved authority score: When a business receives local backlinks from relevant and authoritative sources, it can improve its authority score. This, in turn, can improve the business's chances of ranking higher in "near me" searches (Geekflare).
- Geographic anchor text: Backlinks with geographically-rich anchor text can help businesses rank higher in "near me" SEO. For example, if a business wants to rank for "best restaurants near Eiffel Tower," it should get backlinks from other websites with anchor text that includes the Eiffel Tower or other relevant landmarks.
- Local relevance: Local backlinks from other businesses or organizations in the same area can improve a business's local relevance and increase its chances of appearing in "near me" search results.
5. Reviews and ratings
Positive reviews and ratings can help businesses stand out in "near me" search results. Encourage customers to leave reviews on Google, Yelp, and other review sites, and respond to all reviews, whether positive or negative. Encouraging positive reviews, responding to feedback, and using customer feedback to improve your business can all help improve your search rankings and attract more customers.
6. Create hyperlocal web pages
A hyperlocal web page is a web page that focuses on a specific geographic area or neighborhood. It provides localized and relevant information, products, or services tailored to the needs and interests of the local community. Hyperlocal web pages aim to target users who are searching for businesses, events, or resources in their immediate vicinity.
These web pages often include location-specific keywords, content, and features to optimize for "near me" searches and attract local customers. They may provide information about local events, news, weather, business listings, reviews, and other relevant local content.
Hyperlocal web pages can be beneficial for businesses that primarily serve a specific geographic area or want to target local customers. By creating hyperlocal content and optimizing their web pages for local search, businesses can increase their visibility in "near me" searches and connect with potential customers in their immediate vicinity.
7. Have a mobile-friendly website
Since most "near me" searches are done on mobile devices, having a mobile-friendly website can improve the user experience. A mobile-friendly website loads faster, is easier to navigate, and provides a better user experience, which can lead to higher engagement and better search rankings.
Additionally, with the rise of voice search, having a mobile-friendly website can help businesses rank higher in "near me" searches. Voice search is often done on mobile devices, and a mobile-friendly website can provide a better user experience for voice searchers, leading to higher engagement and better search rankings.
8. Maintain a social media presence
Posting regularly on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter can help businesses build brand awareness, attract local customers, and rank for "near me" searches in the following ways:
- Increased visibility: Maintaining an active and engaging social media presence can increase your business's visibility to local customers. By regularly posting content related to your business, sharing updates, and engaging with your audience, you can attract more attention and potentially appear in "near me" search results (Review Trackers).
- Local engagement: Social media platforms provide an opportunity to engage with your local community. By interacting with local customers, responding to their comments and messages, and participating in local conversations, you can build a strong local presence. This can lead to increased brand awareness and potentially higher rankings in "near me" searches (Chat Meter).
Here are some tactics you can use in your social media strategy to rank for “near me” searches:
- User-generated content: Social media platforms allow users to generate content related to your business, such as reviews, recommendations, and check-ins. User-generated content can contribute to your business's credibility and improve your chances of appearing in "near me" search results (ThriveHive).
- Local influencers and partnerships: Collaborating with local influencers or partnering with other local businesses through social media can help boost your visibility in the local community. Influencers and partnerships can help promote your business and increase your chances of appearing in "near me" search results (WebFX).
- Social signals: Social media activity, such as likes, shares, and comments, can send positive signals to search engines. These social signals can indicate that your business is relevant and engaging, potentially improving your rankings in "near me" searches.