Hyper local SEO: mastering the art of ‘near me’ searches
Local Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is important for businesses to help improve their visibility in search engines when users are looking for products and services in a specific geographical area.
Local SEO focuses on making sure your business appears when users are searching for products or services located or near specific locations, in towns and cities – for example ‘beauty salons in North London’. These types of searches are usually carried out as part of the consideration phase when planning activities or researching products to buy.
Micro-moments are changing search
With the massive growth in smartphone usage the way people search has been changing. They are no longer sitting at home in front of a desktop computer researching what they need before choosing what to buy or where to go.
Instead, they are making dozens of searches every day constantly looking for things to do, learn, discover, watch, or buy. These searches typically take seconds and are known as ‘micro-moments’.
A recent study by Google found that 91% of smartphone users look up information on their phones while they are in the middle of a task. And 82% will consult their phones while they are in a store deciding what to buy, with 1 in 10 buying something different from what they had planned. 69% of all online consumers surveyed said that the quality, timing, or relevance of a company’s message influences their perception of a brand.
Marketers need to be aware that they often have just a few seconds to capture the attention of their audience and convey a compelling message that is relevant and of interest.
In order to reach people effectively during these micro-moments, businesses need to be prepared to evolve their local SEO efforts into hyper local SEO.
What is the difference between local and hyper local SEO?
Hyper local SEO is essentially the same type of optimisation as local SEO but concentrating on smaller, more focused locations such as neighbourhoods, streets, and areas near well-known landmarks.
Hyper local SEO means targeting prospective customers in a very specific geographical area. The intention is to put your business in front of people who are conducting “near me” searches on their mobile devices. Or as Google calls them ‘I-want-to-go moments’.
From 2015 to 2017 Google found there was a 900% increase in mobile searches for “near me today/tonight” eg “cheap hotels near me tonight”, and a 200% growth in mobile searches for “open” + ”now” + “near me” eg “chemists open now near me”. People are no longer planning for things days or even hours in advance but are exhibiting more spontaneous behaviour because the technology allows them to do so.
Google has also been shaping and encouraging this spontaneous behaviour by offering ‘near me’ suggestions, surfacing calls to action, such as phone numbers and directions, including local businesses in the top three search results —the Google 3-pack— and prioritising local business listings over more generic Google Maps results. Google is essentially rewarding businesses who are conducting hyper local SEO.
It is therefore important that you have a well optimised hyper local business listing to make sure you appear during those micro-moments when people are looking for things to do nearby.
Although hyper local SEO is similar to the more general local SEO, there are some additional things you should be doing as part of your hyper local SEO strategy:
- Mobile-first: Optimise your website for mobile – hyper local searches typically take place on mobile devices so it is essential that users can find all the information they need on their screens. Have your name, address, and phone number (NAP) visible on landing pages specific to local areas and include click-to-call buttons.
- Use local features: Include key information in your Google My Business Listing for those micro-moment searches. Customer reviews, opening times, and prices, will all help someone’s decision making in just a few seconds. Google will prioritise well-optimised My Business Listings in the search results so keep them updated, respond to reviews, and include visually appealing photography.
- Relevant content: Create pages on your website that answer the ‘near me’ queries. For example, if your business is near a local landmark create content to reflect that. If your business has multiple locations, then create separate store pages and content for each location. To avoid duplicate content each landing page must be customised for the local area.
- Use Advanced platform features: start to utilise advanced features offered by some of the platforms, such as descriptions and extended attributes. This will enable you to highlight specific services not covered by categories such as whether a location has wheelchair access, outdoor space or is child friendly.
- Structured data markup: Structured data markup, or schema markup, allows you to include information on your website that Google can easily pull into the search results. This can include your phone number, business category, opening hours and even your exact location with latitude and longitude.
Hyper local SEO will not only help you make the search journey easier for potential customers, but also give you an advantage over other businesses.
By appearing for niche hyper local terms at the right time and with the right message, you will reach more people and drive more footfall.