How to Optimize for Near Me Searches

The way people search might have changed through the years, along with the evolution and constant updates of most search engines, including Google. But ‘near me searches’ have always been at the top of the queries that people use and that’s not going to change anytime soon. 

If you offer physical products or services in a specific area and you don’t optimize for near me searches, you’re potentially missing out on acquiring new customers. 

In today’s article, we’re looking at some of the most useful tips and tricks on how to optimize for near me searches. 

How to rank for near me searches

What are the top searches in my area?

Before we move on with the rest of our article, we’d like to note that sometimes, it might pay off to optimize for near me searches, but sometimes, it might not. 

As you will see, it can take a lot of time and effort to create a perfect local SEO strategy and then apply it in different ways. But the truth is that individuals who perform online queries are more likely to search for ‘near me’ businesses if you are in one of the following industries:

  • Food 
  • Entertainment
  • Apparel
  • Personal care
  • Banking 

So, if you offer any of these services, you will have to do your best at optimizing your website, your GMB listing, and a number of other things that we will discuss below specifically so that people can find you easier and faster. 

Did you know that almost half of all of the searches that people perform these days online, whether on Google or any other search engine, are local-based? 

Optimizing for near me searches can basically get you more traffic, which you can then convert into actual clients. 

How does near me search work?

You might think that using keywords such as ‘near me’ might get you somewhere if you want people to come across your business faster. But the truth is that this is an entirely generic search term and you don’t need to use it at all. 

In fact, you must apply most of the techniques that we have described in our detailed local SEO guide, so you will have to include the location you do your business at on your website. 

However, if you also go to people’s homes to fix things or offer in-person services either at your office or anywhere a potential customer might want you to in your area, you should include location-specific keywords that are broader. 

For example, if you are based in Glasgow, UK, you will definitely have to use the name of the city while optimizing your content on your pages and posts. But perhaps you also offer your services in nearby towns such as Wyndford, Balmore, Cadder, Clarkston, or Bearsden. 

You will undoubtedly be missing out on acquiring new clients if you don’t create individual pages for all of those searches or at least put together one where you list all of the places you can go to and meet people’s needs. 

In a nutshell, that’s what ‘near me searches’ are all about — knowing what you do, where you do it, and the most likely places people are going to look for you. 

SEO for near me searches

Create and regularly update your Google My Business Profile

If you do not have a Google My Business and you’ve been offering services for a while, it’s a miracle that people found you online. Your GMB listing is an incredible tool if you run your business in a specific location. 

Creating a Google My Business account is very easy and the platform does a great job of explaining what you have to do. You need to include some of the following information:

  • Your NAP (name, address, and phone) 
  • Your operating hours
  • Your website (which by the way, means you’ve acquired a link)
  • A short description of your services
  • A number of quality photos of your products or services
  • Several photos of your location so that people know how your storefront looks

Make sure you pick the correct category from the ones that Google will suggest while you optimize your GMB listing. This can be very important as if you are listed in the wrong category, you aren’t going to be found by the right people. 

You can also include information on whether parking is possible in your area (in front of your shop, in the back or anywhere else) or if you offer free WiFi to the customers that are waiting in line, for example.

Making sure that your Google My Business information is up to date can be essential. Any change that you make, whether on your location or the types of services you offer has to be detailed in your listing. 

Given that situation that happened in 2020, a lot of businesses changed their operating hours and forgot to update them. 

Needless to say, if people have to travel for a number of miles, they get to your shop, and they realize that the operating hours you have listed in your GMB information are incorrect, they’re going to be upset. 

As such, any changes on your address, contact details, or working hours have to be included in your GMB listing as soon as possible. 

The most important directories

Google isn’t the only search engine that people use, so you have to consider this ‘minor’ detail when optimizing for ‘search near me’. 

Bing is a good example, and while it might be less popular, it’s still the favorite of some individuals.

A GMB listing doesn’t exist for other search engines, but making a business profile is possible, so you have to do the same things that we’ve already mentioned. 

On top of that, you should get your business listed on some of the following sites:

  • Yelp
  • Trip Advisor
  • Foursquare
  • Apple Maps
  • Facebook

It might sound like a hassle, but if you’ve made any change on your business details, you will have to update all of these profiles one by one. 

Also, do consider that these are places where people can review your services or products, so you have to regularly check on them and see whether you don’t have to reply to any comments or even solve a problem. 

If you do not have the time to do all of this yourself, you probably have to hire someone in-house for managing both your social media and local information, and perhaps your SEO. 

Acquire the right type of backlinks

Getting backlinks is clearly important, no matter what some people might tell you. Backlinks are and will probably always be a ranking factor, so you’ll have to do your best at getting them from websites that are as relevant to what you do as possible.

But using anchor texts that are generic can be useless and you can end up paying a lot of money for links that aren’t going to bring you any traffic and that aren’t going to positively influence your rankings. 

There is no point in you relying on literal ‘near me’ anchor texts since this is a too broad search term. Instead, get backlinks with local-based anchor texts that might or might not be keywords. 

Like in the Glasgow example that we have mentioned above, you should include other towns if you offer your services in a wider area. 

Finding the right keywords — both for your content and for your links — isn’t that difficult so long as you use a keyword tool such as SEMRush or Ahrefs. And if you don’t have the budget to pay for a monthly subscription for any of these tools, there are free alternatives you can come across. 

Create different pages based on the locations you offer your services in

While this is a great tip, you definitely do not have to overdo it. If you don’t offer your services in a nearby town, simply do not create a page for that specific keyword. 

Otherwise, people are going to call and ask about your services and you’ll tell them that, in fact, you do not offer your services there — so the likelihood of them stepping through your door if you’re in fact based somewhere else and you can’t go to that location is very low. 

When creating new pages for your locations, you have to keep your URL structure as short, sweet, and clean as possible. That would look something in the lines of ‘yoursite.com/italian-restaurant-glasgow’. 

Your meta titles, meta description, and obviously, your content, all have to be optimized for that specific keyword.

One very important note that we have to make here is that your website structure needs to be absolutely perfect. If you create a dozen pages but they can’t be crawled, so, in other words, found by the search engines, you’re not going to achieve anything. 

Try to think of the most important pages and posts you have on your site and make sure that they’re linked right from your homepage. 

Crawl depth exists and you should keep everything on your site at a distance of no more than 3 or 4 clicks away from your homepage. This is useful both for your actual visitors and for the search engines. 

Make sure your site loads fast 

If you operate a physical business, you’re probably in the same industry as other companies doing the same in your area. 

So you have enough competitors, and if their websites are better than yours in many ways, including the loading speed, you’re not going to be listed among the top results.

Try to fix your technical site issues as soon as they appear. If you have to, check your website every day and use an online tool to make sure that the loading speed is up to par. GTMetrix is a good example. 

Make sure your site is mobile-friendly

Approximately half of all of the individuals who perform searches online use their smartphones, not their desktop computers. In other words, if your website isn’t mobile-responsive, you’re definitely losing customers. 

Since the process can be a tad complicated, we suggest working with a good designer and SEO so that all the boxes are ticked without too many headaches. 

Get local-based reviews

If you’ve had a great experience with a customer, why not ask them to review your business? The most important ones you can receive are those that you can get on your Google My Business listing, but other places definitely do not hurt — such as Yelp or Trip Advisor. 

Even your Facebook page has a review feature and you should not ignore people that express their opinions. Respond to both positive and negative reviews. 

Did you know that about a quarter of customers that leave negative reviews and are replied to change their reviews so that it’s on a more positive note or delete it altogether?

If you have a freebie that you can give to the individuals that have had a bad experience, don’t hesitate to do so. You might get them to entirely change their opinion and their review, too! 

While you can definitely ask people to leave your reviews after you’ve done business with you, so you’ve actually met them, they might forget. Use email marketing to your advantage, in this case, and ask them to fill out a form to evaluate their experience and also provide a review. 

Get listed in local directories

We have already mentioned Yelp, Trip Advisor, and other websites where people can go and review your business, but did you know that there are heaps and heaps of other local directories? 

More often than not, getting your name in there doesn’t even cost a lot of money or any, for that matter. Many of them are free. Think of it this way — these sites are used by some people, so you might be acquiring more traffic from them, but they can also give you a backlink, whether nofollow or not. 

It might not be the same, but do look for online magazines and newspapers in your area that might have a specific category for business that offer services in that region.  

Use Schema

Using Schema Markup the right way can definitely make you stand out from the crowd. Unfortunately, it is not the easiest thing to implement, so you will need someone that has advanced technical skills to help you. 

Otherwise, things can go bad and you can miss out on being included in search results that have reviews or ratings or images. 

Try to make sure that you have Schema implemented on all of your location pages that you have on your website. Needless to say, you should include your business info on all of them. 

Conclusion

As you might have noticed, optimizing for ‘near me’ searches isn’t all that easy. Plus, these days there are a lot of factors that you have to consider, including the devices that people now use to perform searches. 

If you have all of the aspects that we have mentioned in perfect shape and you regularly update your listings on the search engines you have business profiles on and in local directories, you’re probably already doing a good job. Try to tick all of the boxes just to be on the safe side of things. 

Need help with your SEO or digital marketing efforts? We have lots of plans and courses available. Get in touch to find out how we can be of assistance!

 

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Craig Campbell

I am a Glasgow based SEO expert who has been doing SEO for 18 years.

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