If you haven’t yet optimized your business for “near me” and voice-activated local searches, you’re missing out on local business in a big way.  The use of voice-activated technology has gone mainstream, and it continues to grow worldwide.  In 2019, it’s estimated that 111.8 million people are using a voice assistant at least monthly, up 9.5% from last year. This means 39.4% of internet users, or 33.8% of the total U.S. population, are using voice-activated search at least once per month.

These statistics show that online searches for local products and services are now more frequent than ever before, and it’s time for you to start taking advantage of the “near me” trend.

On average, Google receives over 100 billion (yes, that’s billion!) search requests per month, and most of these requests come from mobile phones.  While being able to quickly find results on every topic makes life much easier, Google’s ability to quickly and easily identify local businesses through its “near me” search function offers a significant opportunity for retailers looking to make a bigger impact through local marketing.

While we were out of town for a family vacation recently, I used “near me” searches on several occasions to identify nearby restaurants we might want to try, events that were taking place, and even to find a place that carried men’s caps, since my husband had forgotten to pack his.

As great as these searches worked for me as a consumer, just imagine how they can expand your target market to help customers discover you in ways they might never have before.  Optimizing near me searching for your business is critical for every retailer, as it will allow you to reach your ideal customer base during the micro-moments when they most want or need your products and services.

Google’s VP of Marketing for the Americas Lisa Gevelber says that if people are searching for something near them, that’s a pretty strong signal of intent. She also shared that in 2017, Google noticed that smartphone users were dropping location qualifiers like ZIP codes and neighborhoods from local searches. Why? Because they assume the results will be automatically relevant to their location thanks to their devices.

“Near me,” Gevelber shares, is no longer just about finding a specific place. It’s now about finding a specific thing, in a specific area, and in a specific period of time. 

In the past two years, Google has seen:

  • 150%+ growth in mobile searches for  “___ near me now” (for example, “food near me now,” “gas station near me now,” and “delivery near me open now”).
  • 900%+ growth in mobile searches for  “___ near me today/tonight” (for example, “open houses near me today,” “cheap hotels near me tonight,” and “movies playing near me today”).
  • 200%+ growth in mobile searches for “Open” + “now” + “near me” (for example, “restaurants near me open now,” “stores open near me right now,” and “pharmacy near me open now”).

In addition to the increase of user desire for immediate results, as shown in the 900%+ increase for  “near me tonight/today” searches, there has also been a significant increase in user intent to make a purchase at a local brick and mortar store. Google reported that there has been a 500% increase in “near me” searches that include a variant of “can I buy” or “to buy”.  It’s clear based on the data Google is seeing, that expectations for finding exactly what people want, exactly when they want it, are growing.

So how can you take advantage of the “near me” searching trends, and optimize your business to attract customers in those micro-moments?  Start by making sure you have claimed your Google My Business page. 

Google my business is a free tool that Google offers to businesses to improve their presence throughout all Google applications, including Google Maps.  All of the information you provide about your business on a Google My Business page, including business hours, website and telephone number and contact information will be displayed on search results when your business name pops up.  The more details you provide, the easier it will be for potential customers to learn everything they want about you in this one place.

The tech-forward, digitally astute brick-and-mortar stores that have taken the time to provide more relevant local data tend to capture the attention of Google’s algorithm and, as a result, move up the search rankings. Retailers who optimize for “near me” searching can begin to see immediate benefits including:

3-5 Times Higher Conversion Rates

100% Incremental Search Traffic

30% Increase in Local Leads

300% Increase in Buy Online and Pick Up in Store

500% Return on Investment (within 6 months)

It’s an established fact that while 87% of shoppers who begin their searches online would prefer to purchase in-store when given the opportunity.  Knowing this alone should incentivize retailers to tap into the popularity of “near me” search volume, and make it a top implementation priority for 2020 and beyond.

Interested in learning more about how Google’s Near Me can help your business grow, have questions about this article, or want to suggest a topic for me to cover in future blogs? I’d love to hear from you. Email me at Ann@JewelersSuite.com today!

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