“Near me” is a simple phrase that’s a huge predictor of search user behavior. When users look for a business near me, what they’re really saying is they have a pressing need right now. They are ready to get in the car (or are already there!) and go.
All things being equal, a near me search is often one of the last steps before a purchase.
Of course, Google knows exactly where you are – and which “near me” searches your business should qualify for. Although these searches are only a small fraction of the total, they are so valuable that you should always optimize to capture them.
The driving force behind them – proximity – is the next big thing in search.
You Can’t Move Your Business, But You Can Move Ahead of Your Competitors
There’s no way to qualify for more proximity searches. Even if you could, it would be a pyrrhic victory: Users would realize you’re not as close as they expect and would leave you in the dust.
However, you can work for greater visibility compared to other nearby businesses.
Let’s look at some powerful ways to influence your proximity search position:
Optimize Your Local Search Basics
To win at local search, you need to ensure your location information on Google is flawless. Your address, phone number, business name, and hours all need to be accurate. Plenty of business owners have learned to their horror that, to Google, they are “permanently closed.”
Gather Positive Reviews
Reviews are perhaps the biggest factor people look at when deciding between two similar brands that are unfamiliar to them. Users are willing to scroll down quite a ways to pick the high review option. Have a plan in place to motivate reviews and address complaints that might sour reviews.
Establish Local Citations
Local citation refers to links and information about your business that come from sources in the same area, particularly your name, address, and phone number. For example, local media outlets provide authoritative citations. These can help edge out rivals for proximity search placement.
Have Robust Options on Google My Business
Google My Business is a relatively recent Google innovation that lets you manage things like local search and Maps. It’s a free tool that helps you adapt your search presence to the details of your business. For example, a restaurant can specify payment options and takeout.
Proximity is a valuable aspect of search – and it’s one you can quickly optimize. The tools are available right from Google, and proximity success dovetails with best practices in customer service and PR. Just a few hours of work may result in huge foot traffic for your location!