Optimising Your Website For Near Me Searches
Nearly half of all Google searches involve a query for local information. (Source: Social Media Today)
If you’ve got a local business, there’s never been a more important time to have a local SEO strategy. Local search queries are on the rise and if you want to stay ahead of the competition and attract the attention of potential customers looking online for products or services like yours, now is the time to focus on local SEO.
When someone types in ‘near me’ when they’re searching for a specific product or service, we know they’re probably intending to make an immediate purchase or at least make contact with that business.
Google knows how important it is to deliver relevant results and its algorithm is structured in such a way to give local searchers results which are physically closest to them.
But can you actually influence what results Google serves up? Can you make your business easier to find in these location-based searches? Yes you can – by optimising your business website for local search so that you’re seen by the local audience.
Local search is particularly relevant to businesses that have a physical local presence. The majority will have a bricks and mortar property (eg a restaurant, retail outlet, beauty salon, healthcare provider, gym, bank, vet etc) but others will be local businesses providing a service in a specific location (eg a plumber, painting service, mobile dog grooming service, roof contractor, handyman, landscaper etc).
‘Near me’ and ‘where to buy’ mobile queries have grown by over 200% in the past two years.
If you’ve neglected your local SEO strategy up until now, that statistic alone should get you firing on all cylinders! Because most people use their mobile devices for local searches and they tend to leave their GPS location services turned on, Google is able to use the searcher’s actual location to work out the most accurate and relevant local search results. If your business is not in it, it can’t win it!
Another stat that should focus your attention on optimising your website for ‘Near Me’ searches is that 88% of local searches from a mobile device result in that person either contacting or physically visiting the premises within 24 hours.
Quite simply, optimising your website for local searches gives you the opportunity to tap into a highly motivated target audience who are looking for your precise product or service and who are ready to make a purchase. Increased organic website traffic = increased foot traffic into your actual business premises = increased sales.
Download my Beginners Guide to Google My Business and follow these tips for optimising your online presence to take advantage of ‘Near Me’ searches:
Optimise your Google Business Profile
Your Google Business Profile (formerly known as Google My Business) is one of the most powerful tools at your disposal – and it’s free. It allows small business owners to promote their business information on Google Search and Google Maps and your ultimate aim is to appear in the sought-after ‘Three-pack’ which appears at the top of page one of a local search result.
Once you’ve claimed and verified your profile, you can add all the relevant information (eg name, address, opening hours) making sure that all the details are consistent, accurate and up-to-date. This will help your chances of being shown to potential customers. You can also add additional helpful content which could help searchers with their decision-making (eg reviews, high quality photos, links to blogs, special events, COVID-19 arrangements etc).
Your Google Business Profile is dynamic – so you should look to refresh the content regularly to keep customers engaged. You should also respond to all reviews, both positive and negative, to demonstrate to searchers that you take customer service seriously.
Separate web pages for each location of your business
Location landing pages can positively impact your success in ‘Near Me’ searches.
The idea is to have a separate page on your website for each of your business locations. These individual landing pages should include specific information on each location (eg address, opening hours, phone number, email contact, even photos of staff members).
Make sure the content on these dedicated landing pages is optimised with local keywords and meta tags, and that the alt-tags of any images are location-optimised. You should also make sure your page title links and your URLs are user-friendly.
Pursue geographical backlinks
Quality backlinks are an essential component of any SEO strategy – including local SEO. Because the search engines pay such enormous attention to the geographical location of the searcher, your aim should be to get backlinks that link to geographically relevant content (eg links from high quality local directories).
Have an active review-seeking strategy
Google has said that high-quality, positive reviews from your customers will improve your business’s visibility and increase the likelihood that a potential customer will visit your location. You should encourage customers to leave a review and make it really easy for them to do so – and don’t forget to acknowledge and respond to every review, good or bad!
Implement Schema Markup
Schema is a particular type of structured data or coding language which you can add to your website to let search engines understand your content better and know more about your business location. This data helps them provide searchers with more relevant, engaging and visually appealing results enhanced by things like star ratings, reviews, images, pricing information etc.
Used effectively, schema markup can have a significant impact on your SEO campaign, boosting click-through rates by up to 30% and driving traffic. You should implement schema on each of your location pages on your website to help improve its rankings for ‘Near Me’ searches. Remember, your business NAP (name, address and phone number) plus any other relevant information (eg hours of operation) need to be consistent.
Make sure your website is mobile-friendly
60% of smartphone users have contacted a business directly using the search results (eg by clicking on the ‘click to call’ button).
Google rewards websites that offer visitors the best mobile friendly experience. You know how frustrating it is to click on a search result on your phone, only to discover that you can’t read the content, or that images are too big or slow to load. It’s off-putting and most visitors simply give up or find somewhere else to go.
More than ever, you need to make sure your website is optimised for mobile devices. Most ‘Near Me’ searches are made by people who are using their mobiles and who are mobile themselves. They are looking for somewhere to go and want instant gratification…not an irritating search experience with websites that aren’t mobile-friendly.
You can see how your pages stack up by doing Google’s free Mobile-Friendly Test. All you need to do is enter a page URL and it will be scored according to how easily a visitor can use your page on a mobile device.
Optimise for voice search
Voice technology looks likely to become the way of the future when it comes to searching.
To optimise your website for voice search, you need to consider what type of questions searchers may ask their voice assistants (eg Siri and Alexa) in order to find you. For example, they could ask ‘find me the best pizza restaurant near me’ or ‘where can I find an after-hours electrician near me’. If you anticipate frequently asked questions, generate optimal answers and weave them into your content, you will increase the likelihood of your website showing up in a voice-activated search query.
A final word on optimising your website for ‘Near Me’ searches
It’s no secret that local searches are on the rise and business owners who effectively optimise their websites for ‘Near Me’ searches and for local SEO in general will steal the march their competitors.
If this sounds like something you should be doing on your website, you’ll be interested in The SEO School. This self-paced online course takes you through all the important elements of SEO with practical implementation of your strategy as you progress through the modules. I designed it myself because I passionately believe in helping businesses achieve the highest possible levels of online visibility (and I want to pass on my trade secrets gathered over nearly 20 years in the Perth digital marketing space!) Find out more at The SEO School.
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