Prep Your Business for “Near Me” Searches

Whether you’re a restaurant owner, a charter fishing operator or a plumber, being top of mind among customers is the holy grail of marketing. Before online and mobile existed, small businesses achieved this status by engaging in tactics such as direct mail, radio campaigns, word-of-mouth efforts and more.

Today, there’s a new way to get your business name on top and reach nearby prospects who are ready to buy. Thanks to evolving mobile technology, all it takes is some digital planning and a sliver of your marketing budget. Sound like something that could help your bottom line? We explain what’s happening and how you can make the most of it.

Nearby Searches Up

In the past year, consumers have been using their smart phones and mobile devices to get acquainted with businesses in their area more than ever before. In fact, Google searches with the phrase “near me” and “nearby” have doubled in the past year, with eighty-percent coming from mobile devices.1

One of the first things you should do to increase your chances of appearing first with these consumers is to have to have a mobile-friendly site. Why? Because earlier this year Google tweaked its search algorithms giving mobile-friendly businesses an edge. However, that’s not the only way to nab nearby searchers.

Smart Listings

This past May, Google debuted a streamlined mobile service that boils ads down to their basic elements. Think of them as enhanced directory listings that include name, url, direction and call links. In the near future, a buy button link will also be available.

By using any of these links, a potential customer can easily see what you have to offer, get directions to your business and, hopefully, make a purchase. Further, ads will be grouped in packs of no more than four, eliminating searcher “burnout.”

What You Should Be Doing

To make the most of nearby searches and Google ad technology, there are a few things your business can do. First, as mentioned, make sure your website is optimized for mobile. For hints on doing so, check out this blog post.

Second, to qualify for these abbreviated ad packs, you have to be using Google Adwords. If you’re not, here are some helpful tips to get you started. A typical Adwords campaign can cost a fraction of a direct mail effort making it easy on your marketing budget.

Third, be sure your mobile site is accurate, technically sound and well executed. This cannot be overstated since the fallout for not doing so can be an “invisibility cloak” to nearby searchers. At best, they get a foggy impression of your business and at worst, they never see you at all.

Despite a rapidly growing world and consumer base, mobile devices continue to bring us closer. As a small business owner, this type of intimacy can mean good things if you’re prepared.

1Google Trends data, March 2015

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