By John Turner, founder of SeedProd

When consumers want something, typically they want to know that they can get their hands on it immediately, which is why “near me” Google searches have become so popular. In fact, according to data from Uberall, published by Search Engine Land, 82 percent of smartphone users conducted a “near me” search between July 23 and July 27, 2018. The most popular near me search query categories were food, entertainment, banking, apparel and personal care. But, the “near me” search trend is relevant for all types of businesses. 

Since people who conduct “near me” searches are closer to making a purchase than regular online window shoppers, when your business ranks at the top of local search engine results for those queries, you’ll be able to capture more customers at exactly the time they’re ready to buy. So, how do you turn your business into a local hotspot with local search

Here’s how to leverage the “near me” search trend. 

Create a Google My Business profile. 

When a user searches for “pizzerias near me” on Google, for instance, you want your restaurant to show up in the first few results. These first few results show an image of your business, star rating, location, hours and more. This extra information is a great incentive for users to choose your business.

To increase your chances of getting your business ranked at the top of these local search results, create a Google My Business profile. A Google My Business profile is free and easy to set up. Just be sure to fully complete your profile for the best results. It should include:

  • Business name and complete address
  • Marker location for your business so users can receive directions
  • Hours of operation, website, phone number, etc. 
  • Business category and amenities offered such as wifi
  • Images of your storefront, interior, popular products/services

Remember, always keep your profile up to date. For instance, if your hours of operation change, it’s important to update your Google My Business profile to match. 

Create a web page for each business location. 

If your business has multiple locations, you’ll want to optimize your website to leverage “near me” searches for each of them. To do that, create a web page for each of your business locations. For instance, if your bakery has two locations, one in Houston and the other in Dallas, you need to create a page for each with an easy-to-understand URL that includes location keywords such as www.deliciousbakery.com/houstonbakery and www.deliciousbakery.com/dallasbakery. 

To further improve your chances of ranking for “near me” searches, include the city name in your title, h1 tag, geographic keywords (such as "city" and "neighborhood") within the content and the full address on each page. By creating a web page for each of your business locations, you should see a huge increase in traffic and your overall ranking. 

Make your website mobile friendly.

Google looks at a range of criteria in order to decide if your website will rank in search results. Included in that criteria is user experience, which involves being mobile friendly. According to Statista, mobile devices accounted for over half of all organic search engine visits in the United States, and the number of mobile search users is expected to increase to 221 million users by 2020. 

So, to improve the user experience and boost your rankings in local search results, optimize your site for mobile. Choosing a responsive website design, improving your site speed and performance with browser caching and image compression and providing a search bar to make it easier to find content are just a few tips for creating a mobile-friendly website.

Get backlinks with geographic anchor text. 

Acquiring more backlinks is a great way to boost your search engine rankings, but if you want to increase your rankings for “near me” searches, prioritize backlinks with geographic anchor text. For instance, if you want to rank in search engine results for “hair salons near me” in Portland, you’ll want sites to link back to you using location rich anchor text such as “best salon in Portland,” “best Portland hair salons” and so on. 

To get these backlinks, try reaching out to local bloggers who can write blog posts featuring your business, guest posting on other publications and linking up with local media outlets. Don’t forget to use geographic anchor text for internal linking as well. 

Ready to get more customers through your business doors? With these tips for how to leverage the “near me” search trend, you can improve your online presence and generate more sales. Location-based searches aren’t going away, so make sure you keep up with the times and the competition.

John Turner is the founder of SeedProd, the most popular coming-soon page solution for WordPress used by over 800,000 websites.