“Near Me” Searches and How to Rank on Google
A year ago, Google location searches exploded – “closest,” “nearby,” and “near me” searches were performed 35 more times than they did in 2011.
People demand instant, accurate, and helpful information on Google. Because of this, it likely comes as no surprise that Google has had to make many complex updates to its algorithm to keep up. Gone are the days of “cookie-cutter” search results. Google now strives to deliver the most customized, local search results possible. A Brooklyn pet owner, for example, searching for “veterinarians nearby” will get totally different results than a pet owner in the Bronx searching the same keyword phrase – all thanks to Google’s local-search result algorithms.
When it comes to the veterinary industry, this type of search has many applications. A pet owner who has recently moved to a new city and is looking for a new family practice veterinarian, for example, may Google “veterinarian near me.” Meanwhile, a person worried about the chocolate their new puppy just consumed may hurriedly Google “nearby emergency vet.” It is crucial that your veterinary clinic or hospital show up in positions 1-3 during these deciding moments.
Amazing Local Search Stats to Consider
Here are some specific local search trends that are good to be aware of if you are trying to put together a local marketing strategy for your business:
- “Near Me” keyword searches doubled last year, and continue to rise.
- People perform “near me” searches across all devices – they are looking for business hours, address (directions), and info about available products and services.
- People are increasingly searching on their phones – it is projected that by 2018, use of mobile devices will supersede use of all other devices… combined.
- 90% of consumers say they base their buying decisions on online reviews – this is important for “local search engine optimization,” as review ratings show up on Google map listings and even in organic results.
How to Rank for “Near Me” Searches on Google
It’s one thing to understand the latest local search trends, but It’s another thing to know what to do about them. Here are some specific tactics that veterinary practices (and other local businesses) can use to improve their rankings for high-volume, high-value “near me” keywords:
- Keep your Google Map listing up to date. Make sure your Google map listing is claimed, and has accurate information about your clinic, including address, hours, services offered, and website URL. After you’ve set up your map listing, you’ll need to maintain it and keep it updated ongoing.
- Get those reviews! These days, pets are considered family members. Location matters, but what matters even more is quality medical care, which is something that can be gleamed easily by reading online reviews. Small businesses that have many reviews, and a high star rating to go with, will benefit from higher rankings, and thus more exposure on Google.
- Include information on your website about the locations you serve. Instead of targeting broad locations like New York, focus on less competitive areas and neighborhoods, like “Park Slope.”
- Focus on your mobile site. If your website is not mobile-friendly, it needs to be! People are increasingly searching on their mobile devices, so your website must be (a) mobile-friendly and (b) deliver a great user experience.
- Advertise online! Unfortunately, it’s not always enough to show up on Google organically. That’s because paid search ads and map listings typically show up top. To combat this, you can run your own paid, location-targeted ads on Google, Facebook, third-party sites and more. Sometimes you just have to pay to play locally.
“Near me” searches are not slowing down, but the real takeaway is that we live in a mobile age, wherein we demand instant answers to all our questions, no matter how big or small (or local). In all the complexity, though, there is also opportunity for small businesses to drive more valuable, qualified traffic to their websites than before via local SEO and marketing tactics.