In this rapidly changing and tech-savvy world, adapting and keeping up with the evolving trends is the key to stay relevant. With change being an inevitable truth, adopting new ways and technologies to stay a notch above the competition has become a must and search engines are no exception here!
Over years, Google has come out with numerous (sometimes disruptive) alorightm updates to enhance the user experience and provide superior outcomes. Among several such updates, Google’s recent shift to a more location-centric and voice-based search query based on the AI technology has made the Local SEO and “Near Me” or “Near my area” Optimisation more important than ever!
What is “Near Me” Query and How it can Affect Your Position in the SERP?
One of the most popular searches, “Near me” or “Near my area” allows the user to look for places that are in the proximity.
To get more clarity on “Near Me”, grab your phone and type in the search query “SEO Agency Near Me”. You will notice that Google responds by showing you a list of SEO Agencies in your vicinity. The search engine’s AI suggests the options that you are closer to your current location.
Nowadays, with a surge in the voice enabled devices such as Alexa and Google home, along with mobile searches for local services, there has been an impressive growth in the “near me”, along with other local search queries. The near me search has seen an exponential growth.
Besides, it is also observed that location based searches like “near me” help drive more footfall to a brick and mortar business. In fact nearly 50% of the users are likely to take action and carry out a transaction in the physical store. Therefore, optimising the “near me” or “near my area” is your ticket for a place in the top league! This practice enhances the likelihood of getting a marketing lead and dramatically increases the conversion rates without putting much resources at work!
In addition to this, most of the hand-held devices come with GPS enabled technology, which allows Google to automatically detect a user’s current location and present more relevant and localised search results. Therefore, it won’t be an exaggeration to say that the “Near me” searches are critical for online marketers as it allows them to reach the intended users to offer immediate and more relevant solutions to their queries.
Which are the Top Categories for “Near Me” Queries?
Some of the popular maximum near me searches are conducted for food, followed by entertainment and services like medical emergencies and banking. In addition to this, it’s seen that people perform location-based search for apparel shopping and personal care services like salons or spas.
The hierarchy of categories is as follows:
- Medical services/hospitals
- Apparel/fashion stores
- Personal care services like spas, salon, nail spas and more.
How to Optimise Near Me Search to Take Your Sales Notches Higher?
Nearly 46% of all Google searches feature a local intent which means that the search engine giant is placing an extra emphasis on delivering local results to offer prompt solutions and enhance overall customer experience.
As the localised searches have become indispensable, businesses which neglect optimising “Near Me” and voice-enabled searches are bound to fall by the wayside and lose their footing in the fiercely competitive environment.
Here’s how you can optimise the location-based search and make the online presence of your businesses stronger and hard to ignore:
1. Create/Complete Google My Business Profile
Having a Google My Business profile has become imperative, particularly in the recent times where the search engine is giving importance to localised search.
If your business doesn’t have a profile on GMB, it’s essential to get one as soon as possible. The reason for getting an account on GMB is that Google draws information from the listing to determine which businesses can be displayed in the local search results. If you still haven’t got your business listed on the GMB, your business will probably won’t even show up at all putting you at serious disadvantage.
Take a look at the screenshot below. Intesols ranks on the top when you type “web design agency near me”; these details come from the GMB listing. People usually look at information like address, timing, contact details and reviews to determine whether or not they want to make a transaction.
There are few key points that you need to focus while creating your GMB profile. They are:
- Ensure your display name matches the business name.
- Rather than using a stock photo, it’s always recommended to use a custom image as it will add a personal touch.
- Double check that the URL is correct.
- It’s recommended to avoid using legal terms like “Inc.” or “LLC” in the business name.
- Ensure your business is verified with Google.
2. Get More Positive Reviews
The one thing that separates you from your competitors is excellent customer experience and positive reviews. The number of 5-star and positives amplify your chances of ranking notches above your competitors. It is seen that around 84% of users trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Therefore, it’s important to have a good strategy to solicit reviews which not only helps in building brand affinity with great consistent reviews.
3. Consistent Contact Details throughout Site
You should ensure that the basic information about your business is accurate and consistently listed throughout the site. Apart from having the mandatory contact page, include information in the footer of all the pages. This will make it easier for Google to crawl through your pages and list the site on top in GMB. Moreover, make sure the information in your site matches exactly what with the details listed on GMB.
4. Use Important Landmarks, Neighborhood in Content Within the Site
It often happens that some businesses are well-known in the offline world and the local search results can reflect this in local ranking. Let’s say for an example – you can mention the famous hotels, restaurants, or even well-known stores nearby, that are popular among the users in your content. You can add a small text to your page like “Located at 5/860 Nepean Hwy in Hampton East” to make the location-based SEO more effective and will help your site to show up in the localised search results.
5. Have a Backlink Profile with Geographic Anchor
The importance of building a healthy backlink profile for great SEO is not an alien concept. For local SEO, you need a strong backlink profile that includes geographic anchor text which should have your name of your business city and state. For instance, building backlink on keywords like “SEO Agency in Moorabbin, Melbourne” will give you optimum results for local search. This will help Google to identify where your business is exactly located! If you don’t have proper backlinks with a geographic anchor text, you can even contact a non-competition webmaster for guest blogging, in which you can include anchor text in a link redirecting back to your home page.
6. Geocode Your Images
If you want to stay a step ahead of your competition in terms of local SEO, consider geocoding the images.
What does a geocode image do? It associates images with your business location which help you to rank! How to geocode the images? There are several ways to do like:
- Use a photo-sharing service like Flickr. Upload the image and geocode it with your exact location.
- Once the image is uploaded, link it to the photo from your website. Also you can give a backlink in the Flickr description of the photo.
- Another option is to use a GPS-enabled camera, as this will store the picture’s geo-coordinates in the image EXIF file.
When you upload the image file to Flickr, it reads the metadata associated with the image which also includes the location. This saves your time by ensuring all the data pertaining to a specific image in one place.
7. Use Geo-targeted Keywords
Using geo-targeted keywords is one of the most crucial elements in “Near Me” optimization. The geo-targeted keywords specify the location and ensure the users find your business in SERP faster. Using these keywords play an important role in increasing your online traffic and targeting your intended audience.
Some of the common local SEO-friendly keywords that you can use are:
- Best SEO Agency near Moorabbin
- Best Restaurants Near to go Hampton East
- Italian takeaway Braeside
These keywords may seem simple, but they are very effective and help in generating relevant local search results, ensuring you can reach your target audience.
8. Add Driving Directions on the Page
This might sound pretty trivial and even unimportant, but this can tremendously help!
Optimising this part can ensure your site appears in the coveted local – 3 park section of Google’s SERP, and adding in directions around local landmarks and neighborhoods will ensure your site stands out in the competition.
9. Create Localised Content
For effective local SEO, one of the best ways for search engines to identify the location of your business is to create localised content that relates to that particular area. Doing so not only helps in identifying the location, but also provides a robust marketing channel to further promote your brand among the local community. Here are some of the best examples of localised content that help your brand:
- Best Places to Go for One-day Picnic in Melbourne
- Best Venues to Throw an Engagement Party in Melbourne
- Must try Indian dishes in Melbourne
Informative blogs, infographics or videos that subtly promote your product or services targeting a particular suburb will help you attract more web traffic. This will further give a boost to your SERP ranking, bringing your website on the top. See the screenshot below to get a better perspective about how localised content can bring you in the top SERP.
10. Add Proper Schema Markup
Structuring the data properly ensures that your site communicates well with all search engines. Adding an accurate and relevant scheme not only optimises and prepares your site for local SEO, but also enhances the likelihood of your site showing up in the quick answers. With schema that goes with the data on your site and GMB listing, search engines like Google can effortlessly scan through the site. Moreover, it becomes easy for the search engine to understand its structure and optimises the way it displays the content for the relevant searches.
11. Responsive Website for Better UX
One of the primary reasons for a surge in the “Near Me” searches is the recent mobile technology. People on the go just take out their smartphones to search for restaurants, cafes, banks or shopping centres in their vicinity. That’s the reason why it’s important to make an intuitive website that looks and feels great on a mobile device. If a user has to keep scrolling horizontally to navigate your site or have “pinch and squeeze” because the fonts are too small to read; that will result in poor UX which definitely will pose serious disadvantages.
In short, great UX is critical in boosting your local search running. Therefore, ensure that your website is responsive and responds to any screen size – whether a small smartphone or a huge desktop screen.
12. Optimise the Web Pages to Make it Load Faster
A majority of mobile website visitors would leave your site if the page takes longer than 6 seconds to load! Google takes into account the loading speed when it ranks the site, so ensure your pages are intuitive and load in less than 6 seconds to avoid the perils of high bounce rates.
With an increasingly high number of people using voice search and smartphones for Google search, optimising “near me” keywords have become more important than ever. It makes sure that your audience is able to discover your business even from a sea of websites floating around on the internet and help your brand to grow.