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Local SEO has increased in prominence recently, with ‘near me’ or ‘nearby’ searches rising almost month-on-month. For bricks and mortar businesses, this trend highlights a shift in the way people are looking for services. In response, companies must incorporate ‘near me’ searching into their SEO strategy.
Users have always relied on search engines to find shops, restaurants and amenities in their area. In this respect, local SEO is nothing new. However, the way users are searching for local services is changing. Traditionally, users would add particular location to specify the geographical area in which they wanted to search. This shift towards ‘near me’ searching has removed the need for users to pinpoint their locale. As a result, it increases convenience and UX when it comes to searching for nearby businesses and services.
What is ‘near me’ searching?
Quite simply, users add the words ‘near me’ to key terms when they’re using a search engine, such as Google. In doing so, they expect to see SERPs showing relevant businesses or services in the current area. If you’re out and about and what to stop for an impromptu lunch, for example, you might enter ‘restaurants near me’ or ‘cafes near me’ to find a selection of eateries nearby.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the increase in ‘nearby’ searches has correlated with the rise of mobile devices. With cheaper data, more functionality and faster response times, mobile device usage has risen across every demographic in recent years, culminating in more people using mobile devices than laptops or desktops.
Currently, almost 90% of ‘near me’ searches come from mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets. With the ability to find local services in any area, adding ‘near me’ to a keyword or key term ensures efficiency for the user, so delivers a better UX.
Why are ‘near me’ searches so popular?
The way we use technology evolves over time, and the shift towards mobile devices and voice automation been a significant factor in the rise of ‘near me’ searches. We’ve become used to increasingly intelligent indexing and highly-relevant SERPs, despite providing less detailed search terms and keywords.
‘Near me’ searches are easy for users, and they provide good results. Instead of having to specify an area or maximum distance, users can simply add ‘near me’ to whatever they’re looking for and rely on Google to do the rest.
Furthermore, ‘nearby’ searches are ideal if you’re looking for amenities, products or services in an area you’re unfamiliar with. Whether you’re in a new town, city or country, adding ‘near me’ to your search will give you more information about your immediate area and the amenities available.
Location tracking and ‘near me’ searches
Search engines have sought to track and identify a user’s location for years, although more advanced location tracking has been controversial. Originally using IP addresses to determine your location, search engines now use a range of tracking methodologies to isolate your geographical location. With location tracking more accurate than ever before, the quality of ‘near me’ SERPs has increased, and it’s become a mainstay of local SEO.
In fact, more accurate location tracking has put ‘nearby’ searches on a par with location-included searches. In contrast, ‘near me’ queries offer more convenience and faster searching. As a result, users have embraced this new way of searching for local services.
Local SEO and voice searches
Voice searches and the use voice-activated tech has exploded over the past couple of years. Smart home devices becoming increasingly popular in residential environments is just one example of the trend. Whilst mobile device personal assistants have been around for some time, the improved results delivered by Cortana and Siri have ensured their continued usage.
However, when we use voice-activated tech, we look for things differently. You don’t necessarily type how you speak, so it makes sense that these two search mediums operate differently. To offer accurate SERPs, Google has invested heavily in AI. This technology determines exactly what users are searching for, and which results are likely to be most relevant to them.
Search engines now have a greater understanding of what users mean when they add ‘near me’ to a search. Combined with their ability to pinpoint our real-time location, the results from these searches are increasingly accurate. As a result, users have continued to use ‘near me’ searching at a prolific rate. To date, this particular search trend is showing no signs of slowing down.
What does this mean for local SEO?
Businesses who want to attract local clientele to their premises must engage in effective local SEO, and ‘near me’ searches are a critical component. Whilst search engines can accurately identify user location, they have yet to establish an effective way of determining what geographical areas a website is targeting.
For digital marketers, this means your SEO strategy should still incorporate locations which are relevant to your clients. It won’t take long for Google to find a way to determine what locations websites are targeting, but it’s not there yet.
In the meantime, your content and your page title should still contain the locations you want to reach. This will enable search engines to match your content to users in the relevant area.
However, the change in location searches provides us with crucial information about user behaviour. The improved accessibility and accuracy of ‘near me’ searches increased convenience and enhanced UX even further than before. Now, users can provide less information but receive more tailored and relevant SERPs. Indicative of the move towards more intelligent indexing and results, ‘near me’ searching is just the beginning.
The rise in ‘near me’ searches is underway but it’s not too late to benefit from this new user behaviour. As users continue to search for amenities and services close by, it will be websites and businesses which respond to ‘near me’ searches that will attract users and custom – both online and offline.
To incorporate ‘near me’ searches into your local SEO strategy, contact ClickSlice now on 020 3287 3638 or say firstname.lastname@example.org