It is Friday evening and you don't feel like cooking. What do you do? Most likely whip out your phone and google for nearby restaurants. Google picks up the 'near' in your query and dishes out a list of restaurants, complete with their address and details for you.
It is extraordinary how commonplace such searches have become -- whether it is for nearby restaurants or malls or even utility services like hospitals and family entertainment centres. In fact, a recent Google Trends report said Google searches that included terms like 'nearby' or 'near me' have doubled and what's more, nearly 80 per cent of such localised queries are originating from mobile devices.
Which is why, for businesses looking to expand their digital marketing, incorporating 'near me' strategies in their local SEO plan becomes crucial. In this era of mobile consumers, information must be local, accurate and fast; businesses which have understood this well have seen rewards both in terms of increased store visits and sales. Here are some tips to up your 'near me' game.
Make your website mobile friendly
Online consumers are notoriously disloyal. If they don't find the right information at the right time and your site fails to display properly on their mobile device, they are most likely to opt out. So in addition to local search optimization, it is vital for businesses to make their websites mobile friendly.
Go local on your website
Your website must include location pages that lists directories, other review sites etc. It is also prudent to optimise your website so that it shows up in local searches. This can be done by adding elements such as special offers, customer ratings, lists of services and products offered, hours of operation, contact details, route maps etc.
Use Google AdWords location extensions
Google has recently introduced many enabling changes in its mobile search. This has significantly changed the way location-based searches function. To take advantage of these changes, experts advise businesses to use the Google AdWords location extensions. Location extensions display your address details, phone number if listed and a map along with your AdWords text. On mobile devices, they will also include a link to provide directions to your physical store and a click-to-call functionality. Clearly, these are great tools to boost your conversions.
Check your business directory listings
Though Google is doing a great job of providing lists for localised searches, studies suggest that consumers are still largely dependent on online directories and Yellow Pages for information on companies and services. Hence, it is important that your business is listed in all major directories such as TripAdvisor, Bing, Yelp and others. Also make sure the information you provide in these directories is complete and accurate.
Get more Google reviews
Positive reviews from customers on Google give a great boost to your chances of being included in local searches. Also, don't underestimate the value of consumer sentiment about your brand -- a five star by even one consumer can push another to buying your product or service. Similarly, citations of your business on directories, review sites, blogs etc. provide the customer with a sense of authenticity and value.
Focus on providing local content
Since consumers are constantly using their smartphones to evaluate businesses or even to use or buy products, content that is relevant to their needs can have a major influence on their purchase decisions.
For instance, a restaurant website could include a blog that provides health tips about right nutrition and eating; a local service could provide information of interest in the immediate community. In such content, remember to mention the area, neighbourhood or city along with relevant keywords associated with the place and your product.
The writing on the wall is clear – it is time businesses utilised the full potential of the local!