Location-based searches are more common than ever. In fact, according to Google trends data from March 2017, searches containing phrases and words such as “near me” and “closest” have doubled in the past year.
About 80 percent¹ of these searches are completed on mobile devices, and Google says 69 percent of consumers expect to find what they’re looking for within five miles of their location.
Near me searches are particularly important for businesses that face fierce competition. Showing up on top of search results provides a way to stand out. Of all near me searches, 50 percent lead to store visits within 24 hours, and 18 percent lead to a purchase within a day.²
“80% of near me searches are completed on mobile devices. 69% of consumers expect to find what they’re looking for within five miles of their location.”
Rules for Ranking in SERPS Have Changed
The rules have changed for location-based search. Google highlights just three results on the map — what’s called the Google Local 3-pack — in search results.³ To the right is a screenshot of what Google provides when you search “gas stations near me” from the San Francisco airport.
To make things more challenging, the three top results aren’t always the most relevant for the person performing the location-based search. General searches for a business in a particular city may yield results most relevant to the city name, not the searcher’s exact location.
So, even if you’re closest to the person performing the search, Google may display other competitors in the 3-pack.
Getting into the 3-pack depends on several factors. Here are the two most important:
- Business Listings. Any variations in how your name, address and phone number appears can be penalized by Google, affecting your ranking.
- Online Reviews. If your business has a high volume of positive, recent Google reviews, it’s more likely to appear in the local 3-pack. And, if your business does manage to be among the top three results, Google will include links to your reviews.
Rank Higher in Near Me Search
Google’s ranking algorithm is based on more than 200 factors, and the algorithm is updated regularly. The following Online Reputation Management (ORM) strategies can increase your chances of ranking higher in location-based searches:
- Claim your business listings. First, make sure your Google My Business listings are claimed and optimized. Your business name, address and phone number for each location must be correct and match what you have on your website — exactly. Listings on other key directories such as Facebook are also important, as are industry-specific sites such as Vitals for healthcare or Cars.com for automotive.
- Build review volume: Review snippets appear in search results — make sure you have a high volume of reviews available for Google to choose from, so they accurately reflect the high quality of service you provide.
- Respond to all reviews: One bad Google review has the power to shape your brand and negatively impact local search rankings. Responding promptly to negative reviews can prevent frustrated customers from writing additional negative reviews. In fact, 95 percent of unhappy people will return to a business if an issue is resolved quickly and efficiently.4
Strategic Online Reputation Management will help you to win over customers when they find you in local searches. It’s important to be proactive by learning how to improve your search rankings and ratings. If you want to know more, contact us and we will be happy to give you a Demo of our Online Reputation Management platform.