- Posted by Nigel Edelshain
- On May 26, 2017
“Mexican restaurant near me”
At one time this was an odd thing to type into Google but not any more.
The smartphone has made it very common to type this kind of phrase into Google. Google knows where we are based on our Smartphone’s GPS and can tell us which restaurants with Mexican food are nearby.
If you’re a local business this means that you need to show up for these “near me” searches.
When consumers search for a local business on their smartphone they often visit and then purchase from that store within 24 hours.
“Near me” searches are clearly local searches. When you type “near me” into Google it knows you are looking for something nearby and will display search results with content that is local as much as it can.
You can always tell whether Google thinks you are searching locally as the results will include a map. The map is part of what is called the “snack pack”. The “snack pack” shows you the top 3 businesses in Google’s eyes that are in the category you are looking for and puts “pins” on the map to show you where those are.
These “snack pack” listings are actually pulled from Google directory listings (Google’s directory is called “Google My Business”). Since there are only 3 spots in this “snack pack” (at least without the searcher clicking to see more results) it can clearly be very competitive to have your business listed here.
Below the snack pack (and paid ads that may be at the top of the page) you will see websites ranked by Google’s algorithm that match your search. Google essentially gives you two chances to appear on page 1 of search results. Once for your Google My Business listing and once for your website.
What should you be doing?
Google’s ranking algorithms are secret. They do not hand you a book showing what you need to do to rank higher. However there is a whole industry of SEO consultants who observe how Google works and deduce what factors are causing some businesses to rank higher than others.
Each year Moz, which is the main industry “magazine” for SEO consultants (although of course it’s a website) conducts a survey of SEO practitioners to see which factors they see as driving local business rankings. This is one of the closest pieces of data we have to show how Google’s algorithm actually works.
Here’s an overview of the top factors from the 2017 results.
- Google My Business: As you can see from the results the #1 factor in where businesses rank is your Google My Business It’s not surprising that Google’s search engine considers Google’s own directory the #1 most important source of business information. So make sure your Google My Business listing is claimed and completed with all relevant information.
- Citations: Second is “citations”. Citations are listings in other directories that are not Google My Business. Some of the most important of these other directories are Yahoo, Bing, Yelp, and Yellow Pages etc. You have to claim your listing on these directories and complete the information about your business.
- Your website: the next two factors are the ones most people think of when they hear SEO. “On page” means things you do on your website pages. This generally has to do with researching and adding keywords. “Links” means building links from other people’s sites to yours.
- Reviews: Reviews are becoming more and more important in ranking. Consumers really like reviews and Google knows that. Data shows that consumers will not consider a business with a 1- or 2-star rating so it’s really important you gather positive reviews.
“Near me” searches are becoming increasingly important in driving sales for any local business. There are a lot of factors involved in ranking for this kind of local search.
If you’re in Northern New Jersey I’m going to be running a workshop on this topic at the Mahwah Chamber of Commerce social media day on June 15. Click here to find out more and register.