Optimizing for "Near Me" Searches
“Near me” searches on Google are exploding in popularity across the US (and worldwide). From 2011 to 2015, the interest in these types of searches has multiplied a staggering 34x, according to LSA Insider. Clearly, smart assistants and mobile devices are playing a big role--”hey Siri, find a furnace repair company near me.” “Near me” is an essential element of Local SEO (search engine optimization), and as Google gets smarter and smarter about local search intent, staying on top of these types of searches is crucial. I took a dive into Google Trends data to see just how much this term has grown in popularity in recent years:
Here is US-wide search data for the search term “near me” over the past five years:
Prior to June/July 2013, search volume was relatively low. The ever-increasing use of mobile devices for internet use and localized searches is reflected in the steady increase of “near me” searches until late 2015. After that, volume has risen dramatically.
But how does this affect the better building, HVAC and home performance industries?
Since 2014, the bump in “HVAC near me” searches is impossible to ignore:
The same goes for “plumber near me:”
And “solar near me:”
Noticing a trend?
It’s important to do what you can to make sure your site is optimized to show up for “near me” searches in your service area. Here are some strategies:
Check site usability
This is a gimme, but is crucial for ranking. You site should be user-friendly, have a clear structure with easy-to-navigate pages, and present factual, readable information to users. This lays the groundwork for a site that ranks well and is good for converting visitors into customers.
Make sure NAP data is consistent
Name, address and phone number (NAP) data for your company should be consistent everywhere, both on your site and off your site. Google takes into account inconsistencies in NAP and can penalize your site’s rankings if there are too many variations. By conducting an audit of NAP data across the web for your company and fixing the errors, you can expect to show up better for local search queries.
Claim Google My Business page
Your Google My Business page, which includes NAP data, should be properly set up and optimized. If you have more than one business location, create a separate page for each location. This will help you show up for local searches from users in your service area.
Work on local citations
Aside from your site, there are likely dozens of directories in your area on which you can list your business’s NAP data. Since these directories are explicitly for local businesses, listing your company on them can enhance your site’s local SEO value. Even better when the directories give you a “follow” link to your company’s site--this gives a boost to your site’s authority.
Include “near me” phrase in content
Finding natural ways to include the “near me” phrase in your content and meta tags is a common practice for businesses trying to rank for the search query. My word of caution here is to make sure the mentions sound natural and not forced. Since 2017 is likely to be a year of content engagement mattering more than ever, over-stuffing your page with “near me” will likely agitate users and won’t be worth the dividends on local ranking.
Enable location extensions in paid ads
Location extensions, a special extension you can add to Google Adwords paid ads, attaches the physical location of your business and a map “pin” directly on your ad copy. Users familiar with your service area will recognize this location as being close to their home, giving them one more indication that your business satisfies their “near me” query.
Positive reviews, particularly on your Google My Business page, are a significant influencer for local rankings and will help boost the authority of your site. Having positive reviews off-site also adds an element of trust for potential customers reading about your business (especially as third-party reviews continue to become more prominent).