With the rise of mobile and voice-enabled devices, the way people search online is changing. In particular, more and more people are now adding ‘Near Me’ to the end of their queries. From 2013 to 2018, there was a 900% increase in ‘near me now’ searches. To take advantage of this, you need to ensure you optimise for Local SEO to show up in local searches.
As with SEO, the exact algorithms are a closely kept secret. However, there is research to suggest what does affect the rankings. You may believe that you need to enter the ‘near me’ keyword in your titles and content, and you won’t be the only one. However, this has been confirmed to not affect the ranking by Google’s Senior Webmaster Trends Analyst, John Mueller:
“So as far as I know, we mostly look at this with regards to location, so doing things like adding “pizzeria near me” as a title of your pages on your website probably doesn’t make that much sense because we would try to figure out like what is actually near the user.”
Here are some things you can do to ensure you appear when a user searches for a keyword + near me.
Optimise listing on Google My Business
To have any chance of Google finding your business, you need to have created a free Google My Business account. You want to add as many details as you can to ensure it is fully optimised. You also need to ensure that the details you add are accurate and are always kept up-to-date. This information will appear on Google when your business appears so you want to ensure it is easy for users to find out information about you. If there is missing information or the information is out-of-date, it’s highly likely that the user will move onto another company.
It is also important that you ensure reviews are visible if you want to appear near the top of the rankings. Google has confirmed that “High-quality, positive reviews from your customers will improve your business’s visibility”. Whilst entering the information into Google My Business, ensure the information is consistent with other business profiles you may have online, for example on social media sites.
Create location pages on your website and structure properly
Create a page on your website for each location and ensure they are properly optimised for ‘near me’ searches. Ensure the address you have entered on Google My Business is on the page and ensure all tags and metadata are added. If you add an image of your business, use your location keywords in the alt and title tags. To ensure your business stands out on the SERPs page, you want to add schema markup to your page. The schema data should have the business address, contact information and opening hours.
Google has also confirmed three factors that determine local ranking. They are Relevance, Distance and Prominence.
Google ensures that your business will only appear in the local search rankings if your content is relevant to what the user has searched. If a user searches for ‘estate agents + near me’, your business travel company isn’t going to appear as it is not relevant to the search query.
If someone is searching for a business near them, there is a reason why. Google determines how far a business is from the location term used to rank accordingly. If a location hasn’t been specified, Google calculates the distance based on the information it does know about their location.
Well-known brands and landmarks are likely to be more prominent in local search results. However, prominence is also based on information that Google has online, such as backlinks, articles and directories. As mentioned earlier, the more reviews and positive ratings you have online, the more likely you will appear higher. It’s also important to not ignore SEO fundamentals as your position in SERPs are also taken into account.