So, what is a “near me” search? For the small business owner, it’s probably one of the fastest growing search techniques and, some would argue, the most important. A “near me” search basically consists of a web user, most often on their phone, searching for combinations of ideas that are “near me.” Think coffee shop near me. Or shoe stores near me. Pizza places near me. You get the idea. Using location services on the consumer’s phone, search engines are able to deliver results based on a searcher’s physical location in proximity to your brick and mortar location. The closer you are to the person looking for you, the more likely you are to turn up in their specific search results.
While the “near me” search technique is a relatively new way of searching, a Google case study from 2015 found that “near me” search had doubled since the prior year and 80% of those where on mobile devices. For a trend that didn’t really take off until 2013, we’re talking full out explosion of the “near me” search technique in 2015.
We dug up some statistics that show just how important it is to be optimized for local search. In the summer of 2015, Google surveyed mobile phone users about their mobile shopping and search habits. The results speak for themselves.
- 91% said they turn to their phones for ideas when trying to figure something out
- 90% said they are usually not certain about which brands they want to buy from
- 87% of Millennials say they have their smartphone at their side, day and night.
- 82% use their phones to check for potential in-store purchases
- 71% of smartphone users say they’ve used a store locator to find a specific store location
- 61% percent of smartphone users say they’re more likely to purchase an item from a business that takes the time to customize location information.
- 51% said they discovered a new company or product through a mobile search
So, as a small business owner, what should you do?
- Make sure the information about your business is consistent and error-free across search engines, review sites and mapping technologies so you are found when a consumer looks for something “near me”.
- Ask for reviews from happy customers on Google, Yelp, Facebook and other must-have networks. Reviews are important to solicit, and positive reviews do even more to ensure that you’re indexed favourably.
- Use the data from each platform to customize marketing campaigns and content development to ensure that people find you, click on options to call your location, ask for directions to your business or visit your website.
The evidence is all there, consumers are more and more phone-intensive. Brand loyalty to a retailer is up for grabs and if you can be there for them when they need what you have, your proximity to them and the value you offer are the key ingredients to driving them through your door. The bottom line? Be sure they can find you.