If you’re running a regional business and you want to reach people in your surrounding area, then you need to practice good local search SEO.
Part of that effort involves ranking when people search for “near me.”
In this article, I’ll go over several local search SEO strategies that can land you a top spot for “near me” searches.
How to Rank In “Near Me” Searches:
- Consider running an ad
- Complete your Google My Business profile
- Get positive reviews
- Include your NAP on your site
- List any local events you sponsor
- Geocode images
- Make your website responsive and user-friendly
- Build a backlink profile with geographic anchor text
- Use landmarks and neighborhood names on your site
- Include driving directions on your site
- Make your site “sticky”
- Get local links
In case you’re unfamiliar with “near me” searches, they work like this: people head over to a search engine and type in a specific business followed by the words “near me.”
For example, folks looking for a dentist in their area might visit Google and enter “dentist near me” in the search bar.
Google will respond by returning a list of dentists near the person who performed the search.
By the way, if you take a look at data from Google Trends chart, you’ll see that “near me” searches have taken off in recent years.
1. Consider Running an Ad for Local Search SEO
Let’s start with a shortcut. Did you know that you can run an ad that will display in local searches?
Yes. Yes, you can.
Even better: that ad can appear when people search for “near me” followed a type of business.
Try a couple of searches right now. Use “restaurant near me” and “doctor near me” as search terms. You might see a couple of ads in the local search pack.
These advertisements are easy to identify because the word “AD” appears on the listing. It’s typically in front of the star rating.
So if you have a business with decent margins and you’d rather not wait a while to see the results of your local SEO efforts take effect, consider just buying a spot in the local pack. That’s probably the easiest and quickest option.
The first step to setting up a Google Ad is to decide on a budget. You can start with as little as $10 per day.
Next, you can set your location and choose a target radius surrounding your zip code. Specifying a distance will help increase your conversion rate and up your chances of being included in “near me” searches.
Before you publish your ad, you need to determine which keywords to focus on. For example, a barbecue shack in Memphis might use the keywords “best barbecue in memphis” in their ad to boost local search SEO.
2. Complete Your Google My Business Profile for Better Local Search SEO
You do have a Google My Business profile, right?
If not, then make one. Right now.
Google draws on info from GMB listings to determine which businesses to display in the local search results. If you don’t have a listing, you’re at a serious disadvantage.
In fact, your business probably won’t show up at all.
The important thing to fill out for local search SEO is your business name and address. That is, after all, how Google will determine where your business is physically located.
Once again, conduct an experiment. Perform a “near me” search on Google right now.
Click on any one of the listings that appear. You’ll see a popup that shows a good deal of information about the business.
Those details come from the GMB listing.
People look at that info to determine whether or not they want to use that business.
So do yourself a favor: visit your Google My Business page and fill it out in its entirety..
Some key points to focus on in your GMB profile are:
- Make sure your display name matches your business name
- Use a custom image instead of a stock photo
- Make sure your URL is correct
- Avoid using legal terms (such as “Inc.” or “LLC”) in your business name
- Use local phone numbers instead of 800 phone numbers
- Make sure your business is verified with Google
3. Get Positive Reviews
Yes, Google looks at reviews when determining if your business should rank at the top of the local search pack. That’s why you need plenty of positive feedback.
Keep in mind: Google makes it easy for customers to write a review. They just need to open Google Maps, find your business, and click Write a Review.
Customers can also leave star ratings about the quality of your business.
Remember: Google is all about giving its users a positive experience. That’s why, all other things being equal, the Big G will rank highly rated businesses above low-rated businesses or businesses with no rating at all.
There’s also some evidence that responding to reviews can improve your local search SEO rank. Even if that’s not the case, though, it’s still good customer service and might even attract new customers.
You can also publish positive reviews on your own website. Then, Google can pick up on them when it crawls your site.
To make that work, though, you need to use the Schema Review markup and the Schema Rating markup.
The Schema Review markup is the verbal review of your business. For example: “Outstanding customer service! I highly recommend this business to everybody!”
The Schema Rating markup is the numerical rating of your business. For example: 4 out of 5 stars.
You need to use Schema Markup to ensure that Google can properly parse the reviews on your website. If you have plenty of positive reviews collected on your site, that should help with your aggregate rating and allow Google to feature your business on top SERPs (Search Engine Results Page).
4. For Better Local Search SEO, Include the NAP on Your Site
Google My Business isn’t the only place you need complete information. You need it on your website as well.
So make sure that you display your business name, address, and phone number throughout your site. This will drastically improve your local SEO “near me” ranking.
Once again, Schema markup is your friend. Familiarize yourself with the LocalBusiness markup.
Yes, the phone number is important as well. That area code will also help Google determine the location of your business.
Also, another pro-tip: make sure your address is spelled the exact same way across all your web properties.
For example, if your address is “123 Main St.” in GMB, then don’t spell it “123 Main Street” on your website. Keep it consistent or Google will get confused. When learning how to rank for “near me” searches, consistency is key.
5. List Local Events You Sponsor on Your Site
Another way to inform Google that you’re in the neighborhood is by listing local events that you sponsor on your website.
As you can probably guess by now, you’ll need to use Schema markup to do that.
Check out the Event markup. Pay particularly close attention to the location attribute because that’s what you’ll need to set for local search SEO.
Of course, you’ll also want to give your human visitors details about the event. Do that with the about, sponsor, and description attributes. Showcasing your sponsored local events will improve your “near me” search results and let people around you that you care about the community.
6. Geocode Images for Local Search SEO
If you want to jump ahead of your competitors in terms of local search engine optimization, consider geocoding your images.
What does that do? It associates images with your business location. That’s going to help you rank for “near me” searches.
How can you geocode your images? There are several ways to do so.
First, use a photo sharing service like Flickr. Upload your photo and geocode it with the location.
You can see plenty of examples of geocoded Flickr photos here.
Then, once you’ve uploaded it, link to the photo from your own website. Also, link back to your website from the Flickr description of the photo. This will boost your local search SEO ranking.
Another option: use a GPS-enabled camera. When you do that, the picture’s geo coordinates will be stored in the image EXIF (exchangeable image file format).
When you upload the image file to Flickr, it will read all the metadata associated with the image, including the location. This can save you time by keeping all data pertaining to the particular image in one place.
Probably the best option, though, is to rely on Schema markup. In this case, you’ll use the ImageObject markup.
Whenever you add an image to your site, add more details about it with that markup.
Pay particularly close attention to the contentLocation attribute. That will enable you to specify the location of the object in the photo.
7. Make Your Website Responsive and User-Friendly
One of the reasons that “near me” searches have kicked up so much recently is because of mobile technology. People on the go just whip out their smartphones and perform searches like “restaurants near me.”
That’s why you need to make sure that your website looks great on a mobile platform.
Think about it: somebody on a smartphone searches locally for your business and finds it listed in the local search results. Then, he or she clicks on the website icon.
If that person has to horizontally scroll around to navigate your site or “pinch and squeeze” because the text on your site is too small. That’s not going to be good for business.
In fact, that user might just click the “back” button and look for another business website that is easier to navigate. User experience is critical in boosting your business and local search SEO ranking. Google will take note of that bounce and your rank will suffer.
So make sure that your website is responsive. In other words, make sure it responds to any size viewport, whether it’s on a tiny smartphone or a huge desktop monitor.
8.) Build a Backlink Profile With Geographic Anchor Text for Local Search SEO
You probably already know about the importance of building a healthy backlink profile for “normal” SEO. For local SEO, you need a backlink profile that includes geographic anchor text.
That geographic anchor text should include your business city and state. For example: “Advantage Dental Services in Kalamazoo, Michigan.”
Why is that important? Because it’s one more way that Google identifies where your business is located. That can only help with local search engine optimization.
If you don’t have any backlinks with geographic anchor text, reach out to some non-competing webmasters for guest-blogging opportunities. In your blog posts, include that anchor text in a link back to your home page.
Another way to get backlinks to your site is by finding broken backlinks on other local business websites and reaching out to the webmaster about replacing it with yours. This can funnel the traffic from that site over to yours and boost your local SEO “near me” ranking.
9. Use Landmarks and Neighborhood Names on Your Site
Another way to “tell” Google where you’re located is to use the names of nearby landmarks and neighborhoods on your site.
For example, add text like this to your home page: “We’re located at 123 Main St. in Springfield, just around the corner from the Washington Memorial and across the street from the Gobbler’s Cove subdivision!”
Think about any kinds of proper nouns that identify your location. Find a way to work those into your website.
Also, let Google know where your customers come from. For example: “We serve people all over the Springfield, Harboro, and Metropolitan Manhattan areas!”
10. Put Driving Directions on Your Website to Optimize For Local Search SEO
Thanks to mobile and GPS technology, driving directions aren’t as important as they used to be. For humans, that is.
For search bots, they can very important.
If you haven’t done so already, put some driving directions on your “Location” or “Contact Us” page. Provide directions from different points in your area.
11. Improve Your Local Search SEO By Making Your Site “Sticky”
I’ve already touched on this briefly in Point #7: you need to make your website “sticky.” That means when people visit your site, they should stay there for awhile.
Why is that important? Because if Google sees that people are abandoning your site after only a few seconds, that’s a signal that whatever you’re offering isn’t what users are looking for. Google will drop your rank.
12. Get Local Links
Are you still trying to get a coveted dofollow link from Huffington Post? If so, give it a rest and instead look for local backlinks.
Your local chamber of commerce probably has a website. Register with them to learn more about local networking opportunities.
Also, look for opportunities from trade organizations, non-competing businesses, and local web directories.
There are probably plenty of ways to get backlinks from sites that don’t have high domain authorities. What they do have, though, is local authority.That can help your local search SEO ranking.
Wrapping It Up
There you have it: 12 steps to help you with how to rank for “near me” searches by utilizing local search SEO tactics.
Go through the list again and find some of the quick wins that you can do right now. Then, chase after the more challenging options to improve your “near me” search results.
After a while, you should see a noticeable boost in your local search traffic.