7 Keys to Showing Up in “Near Me” Searches
If you own a local business, you need to show up in “near me” searches
Google’s Consumer Insights has reported a 150% increase in “near me” searches in the past two years. A near me search almost always signals that the searcher is ready to buy a product or service. Think With Google reports that 76% of those result in a same-day in-store visit. Results are almost as strong for services like lawyers, plumbers, and landscapers.
Ideally you want to show up in Google’s Local 3-Pack, which shows three organic listings and a map showing where they are. Failing that, you want to show up in the organic listings beneath it and in the list when someone clicks “More places” at the bottom of the 3-Pack.
The 7 keys to “near me” visibility
Classic search engine optimization (SEO) is always essential to visibility in searches of any kind. But local SEO, which is needed for showing up in near me searches require some extra attention. Here are seven keys to improving your visibility in those kinds of local searches.
1) Mobile-friendly website
I always recommend a responsive website so that the same content and experience is delivered regardless of the device visitors are using, whether computer, tablet, or phone. It needs to be mobile friendly with text that’s easy to read and buttons that are not too close together to be selected with a finger press.
You can check this easily with Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.
2) Fast pages
With today’s microscopic attention spans and general lack of patience, many searchers won’t wait more than two or three seconds for your site to show up in their browser or phone. There are a number of techniques you can use to speed up your pages that are beyond the scope of this article. But there are some excellent tools that can show you what your page download speed is. And if it’s too slow, some explain what factors are responsible for that and offer suggestions to speed things up. Here are three that I like:
3) Effective Local SEO
This involves clearly having your location or locations listed on your website. And not just on your Contact Us page. If you have a single location, it belongs in your footer so it’s on every page. If you don’t have a storefront but provide services at the customer location, describe your service area, both on your Contact Us page and, if it’s not too extensive, in your footer.
Some businesses create individual town pages for the most important towns in their service area. If you elect to do that, it’s absolutely essential to make sure that they don’t look like duplicate content to Google. Each page needs to be completely unique and obviously focused on the town it’s about.
Any place your address appears you should have schema code for it. Sometimes called structured data markup or structured coding, this is a construct cooperatively developed by Google, Yahoo, & Bing to help them better understand information on web pages. We explain it in our blog post entitled What is Schema Markup? How important is it for local business SEO?
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4) Claim your business listings
The most important business listing for you is probably going to be Google My Business. Make sure to claim your listing there and fill it out as robustly as you possibly can. Include things like business hours, your logo, photos, a description of your business, handicap access — anything and everything that Google My Business will accept.
Don’t stop there. You need a social media presence in at least Facebook and Twitter, and depending on the nature of your business and your target market, possibly Instagram and others. You need a listing on Yelp, Yahoo Small Business, Bing Places for Business, and LinkedIn. Other good listings would be Angie’s List and Judy’s Book, and there are plenty more good ones as well.
Vertical directories are another good source of listings. Depending on the nature of your business, you might want to be listed in places like FindLaw or Houzz. Caution – these are more likely than others to charge a fee.
5) Get more reviews
Online reviews can help assure Google that you are worthy of a prominent listing in search results. Start with Google My Business itself; asked a delighted customer or two if they would give you a review there. More reviews are better, but only if they are spread out over time. If you get too many reviews in too short a period of time they may appear as though you purchased them or enlisted everyone in your family to write them, which is a violation of Google’s terms of service.
Don’t stop there. Get reviews on lots of sites. The more broadly across the web your reviews appear, the better your chances of showing up prominently in Google.
If someone gives you a word-of-mouth referral, the person they refer to you is very likely to check you out by looking you up. If they see lots of sites that show online review stars for you, it adds to your credibility and improves the likelihood that they will reach out to you.
6) Ensure broad and consistent NAP citations
You need to be everyplace your customers are on the web. You should have listings everywhere you can. These are called citations rather then links because some of them, like Alexa, don’t link to your website. A local citation is any online mention of your NAP. Citations can appear on local business directories, on websites and mobile apps, and on social media. They help customers discover local businesses and can also improve your local search engine rankings.
One risk of widespread citations across the web is that older ones may have a variation of your company name, a previous business address, or an old phone number. That can confuse Google: if Google isn’t sure where you are, it’s unlikely to show you in local search results. If you don’t have the time to actively manage that, we have a service that can help get you that broad exposure and also ensure consistency across more than six dozen authoritative platforms.
It’s also critical to not only be consistent across the web, but also with how your NAP appears on your website. If you show a suite number across the web, don’t fail t include it on your website. Consistency matters.
7) Get geographically relevant backlinks
Backlinks are links from other websites to yours and are an essential part of all SEO efforts. Your website derives its authority or importance on the web based on the number of other websites that link to you and the authority they can pass along to you. And your authority is a critical factor in how high you rank in Google search results.
For local and near me searches, you should also have a good number of local backlinks. If you belong to a local chamber of commerce, make sure it links to you. If you participate in networking groups, make sure that they link to you. Any local businesses you work with repeatedly ought to be linking to you and, especially those you’re in a referral relationship with. And you can also get articles and press releases in local or hyperlocal news sources. That would include your local paper if they have an online presence, and other online sites like Patch.com and TAPinto.net.
Go Get ’em!
These are all things you can do on your own. As this is written, we are in the midst of the COVID-19 quarantine and many businesses have temporarily slowed temporarily. If that applies to you, use the extra time you have to go through these seven keys to showing up in local and near me searches and implement everything you can. That should position you for a faster recovery once the current pandemic ends.