In recent years, one of the most common questions in the local marketing space relates to the value of “near me” search optimization. As developers of Enhanced Google Business Profile tools and listing management services, it is something we are deeply engaged with. Do “near me” searches still matter, or has the search landscape evolved beyond the trend? For a closer look at this subject we’ll start by considering what Google has to say.
The Importance of Near Me Search Optimization
A perhaps surprising statistic released by Google this year was that searches for “open now near me” grew globally by over 400% year over year. While we may have grown accustomed to hyperlocal searches in the digital marketing world, only recently have many consumers shifted their behavior to conducting searches on the go – or with an immediate buying intent.
We can also see similar patterns on the Maps service. Google Maps searches for “shopping near me” grew globally by over 100% year over year. Online shopping may have seen dramatic rises over the last decade, but consumers still want to visit local stores, restaurants, doctors, dentists, car dealerships and a host of other business types.
Today, consumers are consistently turning to search engines to research local businesses. A recent survey, BrightLocal’s Local Consumer Review Survey 2022, highlighted this fact, indicating that 81% of participants used Google to evaluate a business compared to 63% the previous year.
And with “near me” searches taking place on desktop, mobile and voice search – and with varying intent – it’s more important than ever before for businesses to be optimized across diversified platforms, from Google and Bing to hyperlocal directories – sites like Bubblelife, NextDoor and MapQuest.
Google Is Focused on Hyperlocal
A reason some are skeptical about “near me” search optimization comes from Google’s Vicinity update. One aspect of the update was the push to tackle Google Business Profile (GBP) spam in business names. With some companies adding “near me” to their name, Google took measures to penalize this attempt to hack the popularity of the search term.
The Vicinity update meant that under some circumstances, Google treated “near me” searches as an indicator of proximity instead of a keyword-matching phrase. And some businesses have suffered from this adjustment, but many others have continued to gain visibility in the local pack and maps.
Why? This is because a “near me” search indicates hyperlocal interest. Therefore, Google wants to show GBPs, listings and websites are the closest, most relevant and prominent results.
Taking a Comprehensive Approach to Near Me Search Optimization
You may remember we discussed dominating Google search results using local business listings. The concept involved getting multiple local pack and organic search results for the same keyword. With an optimized GBP, widely distributed listings and a quality website, this approach is highly achievable.
A well-optimized GBP will appear in the local pack when, along with proximity, it also demonstrates quality and relevance. To achieve this you can follow our GBP optimization tips, including name, address and phone number (NAP) details and opening hours. Advice Local partners can use GBP Sync to guarantee data consistency, and use the available auto-reject public edits feature to ensure unwanted changes are not implemented. These are just a few of the GBP features available within our partner dashboard.
However, understand that focusing solely on a GBP is essentially an oversight. Listings sites frequently appear in organic search for locally-relevant searches, increasing the visibility of a business. For example, a study by Fresh Chalk found that for every Google query containing a city and business category, Yelp appears in the top five search results 92% of the time.
Listings platforms are designed to help businesses hit the metrics of proximity (NAP details, integrated maps and local categorization), relevance (business categories, product details and keyword-rich descriptions), plus prominence (reviews and accolades). Consequently, as long as an agency develops and maintains accurate data for a business, with the help of listing management services such as ours, the business is highly likely to be rewarded in “near me” search.
Of course, a business website also provides opportunities to reach local searchers. Citations from business listings still play a role in search visibility, along with locally-relevant content. In fact, data from Sterling Sky indicates that adding “near me” onto a website had positive results for “near me” searches. If a business has multiple locations, developing targeted location pages will also help.
The Value of Near Me Search Optimization in 2023 by @BernieColeman #SEO
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