What were once key marketing and outreach tactics are now out-dated – how people go about searching for information within virtually every purchase process has changed considerably in the last five years.
This is evident in Google’s search trends – last year, Google reported that mobile searches have now surpassed desktop queries worldwide. That trend is also evident in Australia specifically - the latest Sensis Social Media Report showed that there are now more Australians conducting product research on mobile devices than desktop PCs.
And maybe even more important than the ‘what’, in terms of devices, is the ‘how’. Google’s also reported that ‘near me’ searches – those using qualifying terms like "near me," "closest," and "nearby" – have increased 34x since 2011, and doubled between 2014 and 2015. This makes sense – more people are conducting searches on mobile devices, which means they’re also looking for results as they’re out and about, so they’re looking for info relative to their location. But as these numbers highlight, that trend is significant, and requires a major re-think in SEO strategy.
Here’s some important steps to take to ensure you reach these new searchers.
1. Register your business with Google
Straight away, you should go to “Google My Business” and go through the set up process and fill in all the details (you’ll need a Google account for your business also). This is one of the key sources Google uses when ranking local search results – if someone looks up “plumbers nearby” you want your business name to come up.
You should also verify your business, which is a relatively straightforward process, and will add credibility to your profile, which can improve your Google search rank.
2. Seek customer feedback
Google takes into account a wide range of factors when ranking its search results, but one of those is feedback and reviews. Where you can, you should provide links to review pages and sources, including Google Reviews and on social media. Social media platforms, specifically, are not a Google ranking factor, but the related conversation and click-throughs to your website are taken into account.
3. Seek out local directories
This is another way to get Google to recognize your business – if there are any popular local directory sites or sources on which you can get listed, that’ll help provide more context to Google about where your business is located and its credibility as a match for local queries. For example, if you’ve got matches from several, credible local directories in Prahran and your competitors don’t, that’ll help Google understand that you’re one of the more recognized sources in your region.
4. Join local groups
Facebook community groups in particular can be beneficial. Again, Google doesn’t rank social media signals directly, but any increased discussion and attention that you can get from people within your focus area will provide more context to Google as to where your business is and whether it’s a relevant match for local searches.
Digital marketing is always changing, there are always new and improved tools and platforms that you ‘should’ be on, but the truth is you don’t have to jump onto every trend. Where you really need to be is where your audience is looking, and given the increase in mobile usage, and resulting search queries via mobile device, local searches is likely one of those key areas.