Editor’s Note: This article was originally published by Web Marketing Today. Practical Ecommerce acquired Web Marketing Today in 2012. In 2016, we merged the two sites, leaving Practical Ecommerce as the successor.
Google searches that include terms like “near me” or “nearby” have doubled since 2014, with 80 percent coming from mobile, according to a Google Trends report.
On-the-go mobile consumers want local information fast, and they reward businesses that provide it with in-store visits and sales — four out of five searches from mobile devices lead to a purchase — often within a few hours.
The implication for local businesses is clear: Be there when mobile consumers come calling, with the right information at the right time.
Here are nine actions you can take to capitalize on this “near me” local search trend.
1. Use Google AdWords Location Extensions
Last May, Google introduced a new ad unit into its mobile search lineup that affects location-based searches.
When people conduct business-related searches using their mobile device and include the term “nearby” (e.g., “auto repair nearby”), the ad unit displays three or four different local entries. You will need to use Google AdWords location extensions to take advantage of the ad format.
Location extensions show your company address, phone number, and a map marker with your AdWords ad text. On mobile, they include a link with directions to your business and click-to-call functionality. On average, ads with location extensions see a 10-percent boost in click-through rates, according to Google.
(Visit the AdWords support page for more details on adding location extensions.)
Related article: Understanding AdWords Extensions in Google AdWords
2. Optimize Your Website for Local Search
That means having your NAP on every page. Also, include elements such as hours of operation, special offers and coupons, customer ratings and reviews, and a list of products and services. The same goes for other location pages, such as directories and review sites.
3. Be Mobile-friendly
Google now sees more searches from mobile devices than from PCs, a Google blog post said. That means, in addition to local search optimization, make sure your site is mobile-friendly.
Consumers are fickle. If the information on your site fails to display properly on a mobile device, mobile searchers will just click away.
Related article: Make Your Website Mobile-friendly Now; 3 Ways
4. Claim and Verify Your Business Directory Listings
A report from Neustar/Localeze (PDF) said that consumers believe they are more likely to find basic business information (address, telephone number, hours of operation) on an Internet yellow page’s site and more likely to find maps and directions on a local search site. Yellow page sites also have the highest share of searches for independent businesses.
That speaks to the importance of claiming and verifying your listing on all types of directories, including search portals such as Google My Business and Bing Places for Business, customer rating and review sites like Yelp, and yellow pages sites such as YP.com and CitySearch.
Submitting your listing to relevant industry-related directories such as TripAdvisor (hospitality), Urbanspoon (food and dining), and Thumbtack (services businesses) is also advised.
Related article: Top 25 Local Business Directories
5. Ensure Business Data Is Correct and Up-to-date
Inaccurate business data such as the NAP can spell trouble for local businesses, so make sure it is updated and complete on your website, directories, and apps. Using a directory listing service such as BrightLocal, Localeze, or Yext can help as they send information to a variety of sources.
In addition to claiming and verifying listings, then ensuring the information is correct, enhance listings where possible by including hours of operation, photos, menus, customer reviews, and coupons.
6. Have a Presence on Mobile Apps
Studies show that 86 percent of smartphone time is spent in apps, so you need to have a presence in them. How? Five ways:
- In-app advertising through ad networks such as ReachLocal’s ReachDisplay InApp;
- Advertise on Facebook, which offers an ad unit called “local awareness ads” that allows hyper-local targeting of potential customers who live near your business location;
- Create an app for your business using services like Como or ShoutEm;
- Claim and verify your listing (many directories and review sites have apps associated with them);
- Participate in social networks, many of which have either shifted to mobile or were mobile to begin with (Instagram and Foursquare, for example).
7. Create Content That Speaks to Consumers’ Needs
“Nearby consumers are using their smartphones to evaluate purchase decisions on the fly, to learn how to do things or use products, and to solve problems they face,” a Business.com blog post said.
Creating relevant content that addresses these needs can directly influence buying decisions. A blog that provides information of interest to your local community is a primary content channel. Include a mention of your city or neighborhood alongside relevant keywords in posts whenever possible.
8. Obtain More Google Reviews
Positive Google reviews from customers increase your chances of inclusion in the local search “3-pack.” Plus, good reviews influence consumer sentiment about your brand.
Related article: 7 Ways to Get More Customer Reviews
9. Get Local Citations
Citations are mentions of your business on other websites — directories, review sites, blogs, press releases, etc. — that lend authority to your site. Get as many of these as you can. The article “Local SEO: 15 Marketing Activities that Improve Citations” contains a list of ways to get started.