"Near Me" Ranking Factors in Local SEO

If you haven't optimised your business for local searches for "near me" and voice-activated, it is time you start doing so.

Kristel Nisda
SEO Specialist

How does “near” me searches work

"Near me" searches are intended to target users close to a business. As GPS-enabled devices rise, growing numbers of users are relying on search engines to find the results as close as possible.

If you haven't optimised your business for local searches for "near me" and voice-activated, it is time you start doing so. 

Here, we will explore the importance of local SEO, how to rank for "near me" related searches on both the desktop and mobile and how to optimise voice search.

Most users now have the location or GPS enabled on their mobile devices — and since most applications allow this to be activated, even users who had previously switched this off for privacy reasons are now keeping them on.

"Near me" searches are critical to marketers, as it allows you to reach your intended customers at micro-moments when they want your service or product most.

Just check out how Google trends evaluate the search trend of the term “near me”.



near me searches trend from 2017 to 2020


Not only has “near me” risen as a whole, but specific near me searches have also skyrocketed.


near me popular searches

Top 'Near Me' Query Categories

One of the most popular searches we do is to look for something nearby – a coffee shop, noodle restaurant, shoe store. In fact, almost one-third of all mobile searches are location related.

A survey conducted by Uberall monitored 1,000 smartphone owners ' responses and found that, between July 23 and July 27, 2018, about 82 percent of smartphone users had performed a "near me" search. 

Below is the hierarchy of the categories:

  1. Food: 84%
  2. Entertainment: 56%
  3. Banking: 50%
  4. Apparel: 41%
  5. Persona care: 38%


As Lisa Gevelber, Global VP Marketing, Google, pointed out, "' Near me ' searches are used to find a specific object, in a specific area and over a given timeframe."

She has written about using the search phrase "near me" before, because it's crucial piece information for advertisers. When people are looking for something similar to them, that is a very strong signal of intent.

So wouldn't it be great if customers could find your business when they conduct this kind of industry-related search? Well, it would of course. 


Learn the SEO factors for “Near Me” Searches

So what are the local SEO factors influencing your ranking? 

Google identified three primary factors (including "near me" searches) influencing local search rankings and results. These are:

Relevance

This applies to how well your business or your website content suits what a user is looking for.

Full, accurate and up-to-date information will increase your visibility and help align your business with relevant local searches.

For example, if your online business information suggests that you are running an Italian restaurant, you would not rank in "Japanese restaurant near me" searches.

Distance

The location term is simply the location of the user, determined based on location information about the device they used to search. (If your Italian restaurant is situated 100 miles from the searcher, you won't be able to rank ahead of a competitor 5 miles away.)

Prominence

This refers to the visibility of your company, offline and online.

How Do You Optimise Your Website Business For Near Me Searches

You can try to optimise the entire site by using words like "near me" and still end up ranking behind a competitor that is closer to the searcher.

And, on the other end of the spectrum, your business position may be the nearest to the searcher, but you may still be outperformed by competitors in the search results for "(business) near me."

Here are some ways to optimise your business for searches on near me":

1. Consider to place ads

Knew you could run an ad that will show up in local searches?  Yes, you could. 

Even better: the ad should appear when people seeking the term "near me" have followed a business type.

As an example below, using “hotel near me” as search terms, we can see a couple of ads above the local search pack.


near me searches query



So, consider only placing an ad in the local pack if you have a company with respectable margins and you'd rather not wait a while to see the results take effect. That's probably the quickest and easiest choice.

You need to figure out which keywords to focus on before you publish your ad. An Italian restaurants in Sydney, for example, could use the keywords "best restaurants in Sydney" in their ad to boost local search SEO.

The first step to creating a Google Ad is to agree on a budget. You can start on as little as $5 a day.  If you're new to Google Ads though, you can always ask for advice from a Paid Search Specialist.

 

2. Complete your Google My Business Profile and optimise it

Ensure that your Google My Business listing is accurate and up-to-date is important. If anyone performs a search for ' near me, ' Google must actively check for addresses close to the user's location to decide which information to serve up.

Ensuring that your address is right increases your chances of showing up to potential clients.

To get your business to the top of searches for "near me" you need to rate your business on the pages of the local business results, as shown in the screenshot below:

near me search example


3. Encourage your customers to leave reviews on Google 

 Reviews can provide valuable information to encourage a potential client in making a purchase decision.

Google encourages businesses to remind their customers to leave feedback. Nonetheless, note that not all websites have this policy. Yelp strictly forbids its users to submit reviews. So, why are reviews significant to Google searches for ' near me? 

Here's an example of what happens when I search for "burgers near me."

As you can see, the first three results highlight the fact that users mentioned mashed potatoes in the company reviews shown. Even though Burger Urge Smithfield was first listed, I'd probably choose Grand Trailer Park Taverna as he's got a higher rating and amount of reviews.

Example: burgers near me



4. Put on a wide net for “Near Me” Variations

If you want to refine your search keywords for "near me," broaden your scope to include variations, such as what may appear on the search suggestions list, for example: 

Are you offering delivery? Is your business open 24 hours? Try using additional variants for both organic and paid search to optimize the effect of your marketing efforts at "near me." Google registered 150 per cent more searches for "near me now" and 200% more searches for "available" + "now" + "near me."

Example: “Fast food delivery near me,” “fast food near me open 24 hours”.   This 

Through expanding beyond the boundaries of "near me," you will be able to reach even more customers, especially if you take the time to identify the terms your customers are searching for and optimizing for. This form of strategy will be of great benefit to the franchise marketing business.

In this way, franchisee can gain more exposure in front of searchers who are looking for something very specific from their nearby location.


example: fast food near me searches

5. Describe your locations

When you’re optimizing for “near me" searches, describe your locations as if you were offering directions to a first-time visitor. For example, indicate on your website which landmarks you're close to or which neighbourhoods you're in, or list non-competitive businesses or famous places you're near.

Add exterior photos on your Google My Business Listings if you can. All of these add up to relevant local content which will boost your ranking in searches for "businesses near me.

6. Use proper schema markup

Schema data helps search engines gain more business-related information and present it in the form of rich snippets which are very useful to the user.

Add schema markup to each location page your business serves. The schema data should have the business address, operating hours, and contact details.

Also, add the homepage schema markup to allow your company to appear in the Knowledge Graph and help to ensure accuracy of business information. The screenshot below provides an example of an organizational schema markup.

 

Knowledge Panel

7. Optimise for mobile and make it easy for people to call you

According to the local search report by Google in the past years, they have seen

  • 150%+ growth in mobile searches for  “___ near me now” (e.g., “food near me now,” “gas station near me now,” and “delivery near me open now”).
  • 900%+ growth in mobile searches for  “___ near me today/tonight” (e.g., “open houses near me today,” “cheap hotels near me tonight,” and “movies playing near me today”).
  • 200%+ growth in mobile searches for “Open” + “now” + “near me” (e.g., “restaurants near me open now,” “stores open near me right now,” and “pharmacy near me open now”). 

It means mobile searches for "near me" businesses have actionable intent, more often than not. You can help put your business in front of these “near me” searches by making it easy for them to call. All it takes is to add a phone number to your site, which sends behavioural signals to Google's "mobile click to call," signalling that your company is actually close to the searcher.

By doing so, you boost the user experience and make interaction with your company simple for them: something that the search engine will then reward with higher search results.

Final thought

Today people expect search technologies to find the places where they can get what they need. This more-informed shopper no longer has to waste their valuable time commuting to multiple stores across town.

It is evident that expectations are growing to find exactly what people want, just when they want it.

All that's to say — people looking for local online services are more prevalent now than ever before. Hence, the rise in popularity of "business + near me" searches has become an increasingly important feature of local search.

For us marketers, the purpose is to ensure that we provide people with the answers they need as soon as possible. And by doing so, the opportunity is catching their consideration– and the sale.

If you consider optimizing your business  for “ near me” , you can go through the list again, and find some of the easy wins you can make right now. Then, chase after us to boost your performance for the more difficult options.

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