Consumers seek immediately accessible information, and that often means they’re looking for it on their smartphones. Thanks to GPS, consumers don’t have to type in their city or region to conduct a local search—they can simply search for a specific type of business and add the words “near me” (“closest” and “nearby” also get used). So how can you take advantage of this super local type of search, and why should you?

Search Interest In “Near Me” Has Increased 34x Since 2011​

More and more consumers are turning to online searches for information on where to shop. According to Matt Lawson, the Director of Performance Ads Marketing at Google, the number of searches involving “near me” has increased a whopping 34 times since 2011, and almost doubled in the past year.

More importantly, though, may be how consumers are using “near me” searches. According to Lawson, 50% of consumers who search something locally visit a store within 24 hours, and 18% of such searches result in a purchase. Meanwhile, consumers looking for a restaurant frequently search within an hour of when they plan to eat. In other words, consumers who use “near me” searches typically plan on making a purchase soon after conducting the search.

As a small business owner, you need to capitalize on people who might look up your type of business with “near me” in the search query. For example, they might search “sporting goods stores near me” or “hair salons near me” to get local results. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to incorporate the keywords “near me” into your site copy, but we’ve outlined ways below to increase the chances of consumers visiting your store via this search query.

Make Your Website Mobile and User-Friendly

The first step is to make sure your website is mobile-friendly. As of April 2015, Google announced that mobile-friendliness would become a key component of page ranking for Google search results. Google Developers released a tool to test whether or not your site is mobile-friendly, so this is a good place to start. Moreover, if customers can’t view your website on their mobile devices, they’re less likely to visit your brick-and-mortar location.

Second, ensure your website is kept up to date—old websites are less likely to show up in search results. Third, make sure your website includes useful information so customers can immediately see your store hours/location/phone number on your landing page—the page consumers are brought to when they click a link to your site. Include information that is hyperlocal such as a particular region of that town you’re located in. Make sure this landing page is clear, easy to read, and current.

Use Google’s Tools for Mobile Advertising

You can also sign up for Google’s Local Inventory Ads so when customers search for a particular brand or product near them, they can tell if you have any in stock. They can also tell immediately what your hours are and get directions to your store. With Local Inventory Ads, you can also use Google’s measurement solutions to see how your ads have affected foot traffic and in-store sales.

There are other Google tools you should have in your arsenal. Besides Google’s ads, you can use ad extensions to enhance your search advertising performance. Location extensions include a link with directions to your store, and call extensions enable customers to call you directly from your mobile ad. Google Maps is an important resource for mobile consumers searching for local businesses. Make sure your store details are correct on Google My Business so that customers have no trouble finding you on Maps or listings.

Ensure You’re Listed on Review Sites

Lastly, make sure you’re listed on review sites like Yelp, Angie’s List, and FourSquare. Consumers still turn to those sites when making purchasing decisions. The more information they can find about you online—including these sites—the better.  With Connectivity, you can keep track of all the online reviews customers share about your business, and find common keywords in those reviews that can help your business’ standing in online searches and keep those customers coming in the door.

Want to learn more about Google Analytics for your business? Check back to our blog throughout the month of October.

 Barb Dittert is a Content Marketing Specialist at Volume Nine.