Google, on average, gets over 100 billion searches a month. Most of these queries come from mobile phones.
However, arguably the best feature Google boasts isn’t its search capabilities, but rather its ability to identify nearby locals through its “near me” query (when it can locate your mobile device’s location).
Whether you’re going to lunch in a specific locale or cruising an unknown interstate out of town, Google can use your location to identify nearby restaurants, grocery stores, salons and more.
A simple query such as “restaurants near me” or “salons near me” on Google search or Maps will yield a range of results.
However, as a business owner, these searches hold a completely different advantage. They open up the possibility for customers to discover you in a way they otherwise wouldn’t have were they to rely solely on exit signs or highway billboards.
That’s why optimizing near me searches to your business is integral today for any business hoping to increase foot traffic and gain customers.
In this post, we’ll go over exactly what you can do to optimize your “near me” search results so that customers not only discover you, but are also enticed to pay you a visit.
Optimize your Google My Business search
To improve how well your business shows up on “near me” searches, one of the first things you should do is get on Google My Business.
This is a free tool that Google offers. The primary benefit of it is that it allows businesses to improve their presence throughout all Google applications, including Google Maps.
Once on the Google My Business page, you’ll need to submit a complete profile of your business. Be as thorough as possible when filling out your business’s information.
You’ll be asked to provide your business name, location, contact information and hours of operation. However, go beyond that and include other helpful details as well, such as your website URL.
Essentially, all the information you provide will display on searches when your business name pops up. The more details you offer, the easier it will be for clients to learn everything they want about you from one place.
Many of them like avoiding the hassle of multiple searches to find the information they need. The more convenient you make it for them to learn the most about your business, what you specialize in, how late you’re open, etc., the more likely they’ll give you a shot.
Business information aside, also focus on your profile appearance. For instance, upload a clear, appropriate profile picture so customers can tie a face or visual to your business.
Google will use all the information you provide on your Google My Business page, including your profile picture, and display it in searches when your business shows up. This includes for near me searches.
Make sure your information is listed consistently
Google is particular when it comes to determining which businesses make the cut for near me results (just like with any other Google search results). Essentially, it favors consistency and location.
If you want to increase your chances of showing up in results, make sure all information relating to your business is consistent across the web.
For instance, if your business displays one address in one online directory, another on a different website and a third on Google My Business, Google picks up on these inconsistencies and pushes you further down in its rankings. The SEO world calls these listings “citations.”
Some key pieces of information to pay particular attention to, for instance, are your business name, address, and phone number (commonly referred to as your NAP).
For example, don’t list your business name as ABC Business LLC in one spot and ABC Business in another.
It’s not physically possible, or at the very least it’s extremely time-consuming, to go through every reference to your business on the web to ensure accuracy and consistency.
Fortunately, tools like Yext and Moz Local can help you clean up variations so you can rank higher in search results.
Using the information you provide, these tools comb through every place on the web where your business is listed and fix inconsistencies.
However, they also come with a downside. Not only do these tools cost money, but if you ever unsubscribe to them, they’ll revert all fixes so that the inconsistencies reappear, taking you back to square one.
In other words, once you subscribe, you’ll have to continue paying for these services in the long run to continue reaping results.
Make Reviews and Customer Feedback count
When you show up on “near me” results, one of the first things that will display directly beneath your business name is your overall customer rating. This will be based on a scale of one to five stars with five being the best.
This not-so-little detail is one of the key factors that influences whether or not a customer chooses to do business with you over your competition.
That’s why paying attention to your reviews is crucial. When customers express appreciation for a good experience, encourage them to rate you on Google so you can drive up your overall rating.
Fortunately, apps like Google Map make this easy to do. For a customer to leave a rating, all they have to do is launch the app, type in your business name in the search bar, tap on it once they find it and rate you on a scale of one to five stars.
If they’re willing to leave a comment, that’s even better.
Another easy way to encourage customers to review you is by taking the time to reply back to those who give feedback.
A quick thank you or positive remark shows potential customers that you value their opinions and are likely to treat them well in honor of potential future ratings.
Make your site all about mobile
As I mentioned, the majority of your customers will perform “near me” searches directly from their mobile devices.
This means that if you’re listing your website on your Google My Business profile, which you should, then it makes sense for you to optimize your site specifically for mobile.
“Near me” searches aside, people nowadays predominantly use their smartphones, not desktops, to access the web, so optimizing for mobile is good business sense.
When you’re checking how mobile friendly your site is, make sure all elements of it display correctly on mobile devices. For instance, make sure your site loads fully, nothing is cut off, buttons are functional and your site can be fully navigated.
Here are some things to consider:
- Make buttons larger so people can click them easily
- Use a bigger font than desktop/laptop so people can read your website content easily
- Compress your images so you can speed up your website on mobile
This last point is particularly important. One of the greatest pet peeves of visitors is stumbling across a site that takes too long to load. Ideally, loading should happen within just a few seconds.
If your site takes longer than that, this could deter visitors and drive them to the next option—your competitor. Compressing images takes some of the weight off your site, making it faster to display.
Showing up on other people’s pages
It’s easy for you to boast about your own content, but when someone else does it, it holds more power. Even better, Google takes notice.
Approximately 77% of Internet users read blog articles. When your weblink or physical address show up in a blog post other than your own, Google understands it to mean that you have good information and are an active, live, credible business.
As a result, it ranks you favorably on its pages.
There are a few things you can do to encourage others to link your content or information on their site. We’ll touch on a few of them.
Connect with other business owners
One of the easiest ways to show up on someone else’s site is by partnering with business owners who already have an established blog or website and are located in your service area.
Ask them if they’d mind linking your business website, location, or blog post in their blog content in a way that’s natural and not forced. What that business specializes in doesn’t matter as long as your link is in some way relevant to their content.
For instance, say the other business owner sells pets and you sell home alarms. A natural way to introduce your business name would be if the business owner wrote a post about protecting pets while owners are away and mentioned home alarms as an option, linking your business name or relevant blog post.
To make it mutually beneficial, offer to return them the favor on your blog.
Local event partners
Partnering with business owners or local ventures to host or participate in an event is another great way to increase awareness and promote your business name in the local market.
If, for example, there’s a neighborhood marathon benefiting breast cancer or a charity event, you could offer your time or resources, or take part in activities for causes like these.
Many times these events list event sponsors or supporters on their site, which is a great way to get high-quality backlinks (links to your content posted on someone else’s site) that can help boost your business’s SEO.
Local resources and directories
Many industries have online associations or business directories that list businesses in that industry.
Research to see if you find any for your industry. If so, reach out to them.
Unless they’re charging a fee, getting your company on these listings is definitely worth it.
If they require a payment, consider how strong the site is and its likelihood of referring your customer. If it’s not a well-known site, it’s probably better to skip out. There are always other, free ways to have your site backlinked.
If you do find an appropriate directory or association to go with, verify that they’ll share your business’s geographic location in their posting.
When Google sees several backlinks, it’ll weight your business more seriously in search engine results, including for “near me” searches.
Google is a unique science in its own right, but one worth mastering because of its innumerable benefits to your business.
Increased exposure, heightened foot traffic, and more web searches are just a few things to look forward to when you optimize your business for “near me” searches.
As an added bonus, “near me” is a great (and free) way to market your business in a unique way.
Use the tips we’ve discussed, and you’ll see your business listing inch upward in searches in no time at all.
However, in the process of scaling the ranks of Google, don’t forget the most important piece of all: tracking your progress.
Make sure to keep tabs on where you fall in search results, observe what’s working well (see an increase in backlinks?) and what’s not (getting low business ratings?) and find out how you can tweak your efforts and your business to rank well in searches.
The more disciplined you are, the better your results will be.