Gone are the days of pulling out a map, hoping it’s updated, and meticulously searching for a location. Since then, we’ve seen technology offer us various ways to find the businesses and services we’re looking for. With the introduction of Search Engines, starting with Archie Query Form in 1990, we’ve watched the way people search evolve over time. 

But even when it comes to the modern-day search engine platforms we know so well, you have to have some semblance of an idea of where you’re going – or who or what you’re looking for. That’s where the trend of “near me” searches can help you narrow down your parameters. And in a time of the COVID-19 pandemic, where consumer behavior has pivoted drastically, “near me” inquiries are taking on a whole new meaning.

It’s worth noting that not only can “near me” searches help audiences and consumers, but it can shape the way that businesses, like B2B and B2C companies, formulate their strategies. How exactly? We took a brief look at the rise of “near” me searches and their role in marketing today.

Near Me Searches and B2B/B2C Companies

How do you search for a business or service near you? Do you type it into Google? Your Apple Maps app? And what about your Alexa or Google Home? Fortunately for us, there are countless ways for us to look for the local businesses we need. That means companies can capitalize on these capabilities, just like you would a blog post – even optimizing their place in result rankings. And it’s a lot simpler to do than you might think.

According to HubSpot, as of 2019 there was a 150% growth for phrases such as “near me now”. And as we see people increasingly looking for these local services, it’s important to know how this data is critical to business marketing. To provide this information to users, Google typically requests you to enable GPS. This is both in your general settings and through various apps, to provide the most accurate results about a consumer’s current location. This usually always runs in the background, even when your phone is locked. It can track things like where you parked and where you’ve moved even when you aren’t aware of it.

Capitalizing on Near Me Searches

But how exactly do you optimize for something that has everything to do with your location and the behavior of your audience? You can start by listing your company on Google My Business; and make sure your business information, like hours of operation or contact information, is as detailed and thorough as possible. This also includes acquiring detailed backlinks for your website and having separate optimized web pages for each business location. Plus, you must set up your website to be friendly on an array of devices. 

Surprisingly, you can even optimize how you appear to users who search through voice command. For example, according to the 2019 Smart Audio Report, 24% of adults in the United States own at least one smart speaker device. That’s 60 million people who are asking questions like “Alexa, what sushi places are near me?” or “Okay Google, find a gas station near me.” And to optimize your results to populate among the top when these questions are asked, you have to anticipate what they’ll be. By doing so, you can fully optimize each of your pages to best answer them. 

How COVID-19 Has Affected Near Me Searches

Unlike the typical consumer patterns we’re used to seeing, the behavior of shoppers during the COVID-19 pandemic has changed immensely. The landscape of typical “near me” searches have shifted from inquiries about the best local club nearby to where one can find cleaning wipes in their community. According to Search Engine Journal, eCommerce sites that sell essential goods, such as toilet paper and hand sanitizer, are seeing a surge in traffic. And as companies made the switch to work from home, searches for things like office chairs and desks also saw a spike. 

But as virtual lines for stores are filling up, searches for local services, beyond that of grocery stores and other essential businesses, are seemingly slowing down. For example, health sites and recipe pages are seeing slight increases in their traffic; and this may only increase in the coming months depending upon new updates concerning social distancing regulations and mandatory closures of all non-essential businesses changes throughout the country. 

If you haven’t already, update your business hours as they change. By regularly updating information about any services, like contactless delivery, you can ensure you keep showing up where you should. Optimization is the most important step and adaptability in changing times follows closely behind. 

How ON Advertising Can Help

At ON Advertising, our team of experts can help you control the conversation around your business. Our strength is turning general prospects into highly-qualified sales leads and measuring the return on your investment. From a digital strategy and email marketing to conversion rate optimization and SEO/PPC solutions, our digital services can help you unlock your full potential. And in these times, we’re here to do everything we can to help your business. Contact us to speak with our team today.