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 is knowing how to rank for “near me” SEO searches.
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 for “Near Me” SEO:
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.
So wouldn’t it be nice if locals were able to find your business when they perform this kind of “near me” SEO search related to your industry? Well, of course, it would.
1. Consider Running an Ad
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.
So, if you have a business with decent margins and you’d rather not wait a while to see the results 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. Specify a distance that 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 how to rank for “near me” keywords and select the right “near me” 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.
Now, you’re ready to create a profitable advertisement for your business.
2. Complete Your Google My Business Profile
You do have a Google My Business (GMB) 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 “near me” 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 decide whether or not they want to use that business.
So do yourself a favor: visit your GMB 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. Collect Positive Reviews
Yes, Google looks at reviews when assessing 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 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. Include Your 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 “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 find 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 not only improve your search rank but also your brand reputation by showing the people around you that you care about the community.
6. Geocode Images
What does that do? It associates images with your business location. That’s going to help you rank.
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.
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.
Set that attribute to the location of your business, and Google will be more likely to recognize you in location-based searches.
7. Make Your Website Responsive and User-Friendly
One of the reasons that “near me” SEO 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 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
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.
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 links 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.
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 kind of proper nouns that identify your location and 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.
10. Put Driving Directions on Your Website
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.
11. Make 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 for your “near me” SEO strategy? 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 landing page that keeps people browsing around and clicking through your site.
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 ranking.
13. Ranking Factors
Wondering how Google determines your local ranking?
Local results are based mainly on relevance, distance, and prominence. Google uses a combination of these factors to provide you with the best match for your search. For example, let’s say there’s a business that’s farther away from you, but likely has what you’re looking for. In that case, it may rank higher in search results.
- Relevance: As Google’s strongest signal, relevance refers to how well a local Business Profile matches what a user is trying to find. The more information you add, the better Google can understand your business and pair it with relevant searches.
- Distance: Proximity considers how far a potential search result is from the location term that was used in the search query. If you don’t specify your location in your search, Google will calculate the distance based on what they do know about your location.
- Prominence: Prominence is Google’s newest ranking factor and basically looks at how well-known a business is. It is also based on information Google collects from across the web from links, articles, directories, and reviews.
1. What percentage of Google searches are local?
The official percentage, according to Google, hovers between 30%-50% of all searches.
The company has also confirmed that “near me” searches are on the rise, and a recent study into local search habits by Uberall found that 82% of those surveyed had performed a “near me” search.
2. What types of businesses will benefit from a “near me” SEO strategy?
Local SEO is not suitable for 100% e-commerce businesses. Since these companies don’t have a physical location for customers to visit, a “near me” SEO strategy wouldn’t be possible.
Think about how confusing it would be to see e-commerce businesses listed when you’re browsing for a nearby hardware store. You want a place to look for and buy tools, not an online store to get the tools delivered.
Local SEO offers a great opportunity for businesses that interface directly with customers, clients, or patients in-person.
3. What are some stats about “near me” searches?
As stated above, “near me” searches have grown exponentially over the past few years.
- There has been 150% growth for phrases like “near me now“. (ex. “restaurants near me now”)
- There has been a 900% growth for phrases like “near me tonight/today“. (ex. “sports bars near me tonight/today”)
- There has been 200% growth for phrases like “now” + “near me“. (ex. fast food near me now)
- And, from 2013 to 2017 there was a 900% increase in “near me” searches:
4. How do “near me” searches work?
“Near me” searches are meant to target users in close proximity to a business.
Due to the rise of GPS-enabled devices, more and more users are relying on search engines to find the results as close to them as possible.
As pointed out by Hubspot, these searches are critical marketers, as they “allow you to reach your intended customers during micro-moments when they most desire your service or product.”
Near me searches tend to be very specific, usually when searches for looking for a specific place or item, in a specific place, at a specific time.
As such, local marketers must be sure to update and list their full descriptions. location information, open hours, etc. to give Google as much information as possible. That way, you’ll have a much better chance of ranking for location and time-specific searches.
4. How can you improve a business’s visibility to people located near you geographically?
The three pillars to making sure your business is visible to people located near you geographically are to make sure the following three things are clear and up to date:
1. Your phone number
3. Business Hours
There you have it—12 steps to help you rank for “near me” searches by utilizing local search 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 results.
After a while, you should see a noticeable boost in your local search traffic.