If you’re running a regional business and you want to reach people in your immediate vicinity, 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.
In case you’re unfamiliar with “near me” searches, they work like this: people head over to a search engine and type in a type of 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 this Google Trends chart, you’ll see that “near me” searches have taken off in recent years.
So wouldn’t it be nice if local people found your business when they perform a “near me” search related to your industry? Of course it would.
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 search?
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.
Those ads are easy to identify because the name of the word “AD” appears in the listing. It’s usually in front of the star rating.
So if you’ve got 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 option.
Complete Your Google My Business Profile for Better Local Search SEO
You do have a Google My Business profile, right?
If not, then go get one. Right now.
Google draws on info from GMB listings to determine which businesses to display in the local search pack. If you don’t have a listing, you’re at a serious disadvantage.
In fact, your business probably won’t show up.
The important thing to fill out for local search is your business name and address. That is, after all, how Google will determine where your business is 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. Completely.
Here are some things to watch out for in your GMB profile:
- 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
Get Positive Reviews
Yes, Google looks at reviews when determining if your business should rank at the top of the local 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.
There’s also some evidence that responding to reviews can improve your local search rank. Even if that’s not the case, though, it’s still good customer service.
You can also publish positive reviews on your own website. Then, Google can pick up on them when it crawls your site.
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’ve got plenty of positive reviews, that should help with your rank.
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.
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.
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 particular attention to the location attribute because that’s what you’ll need to set for local 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.
Geocode Images for Local Search SEO
If you want to jump ahead of your competitors in terms of search 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 a few ways.
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.
Another option: use a GPS-enabled camera. When you do that, the picture’s geocoordinates 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.
Probably the best option, though, is to once again 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 particular attention to the contentLocation attribute. That will enable you to specify the location of the object in the photo.
Set that attribute to the location of your business and you’ll more likely rank for “near me” searches.
Make Your Website Responsive for Local Search SEO
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 iPhones 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 pack. Then, he or she clicks on the website icon.
Suppose 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 listing. 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.
For local SEO especially, it’s imperative that your site is user-friendly on all platforms.
Build a Backlink Profile With Geographic Anchor Text
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.
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.
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!”
In that case, even though your business is located in Springfield, people who do a “near me” search from Harboro have a better chance of seeing your listing.
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.
Once again, you’re dropping more clues about your location. Google will take notice.
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.
Don’t let that happen. Offer a compelling home page that keeps people browsing around.
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. Get on that.
Also, look for opportunities from trade organizations, non-competing businesses, and local web directories.
There are probably plenty of opportunities to get backlinks from sites that don’t have high domain authorities. What they do have, though, is local authority.
That can help you rank.
Wrapping It Up
There you have it: 12 steps to help you with “near me” local SEO.
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.
After awhile, you’ll see a noticeable boost in your local search traffic.