One of the ways that I like to look for opportunities in search engine optimization is to watch Google trends
. In 2015, an interesting thing started to happen in google search data. Mobile search, especially with voice activated search was exploding toward the end of 2014, meaning that people were taking their searches with them wherever they went. The result of this was a phenomenon called hyper-local searches where people searched for businesses or attractions in their general vicinity. In 2015, "near me" or "nearby" searches doubled
, and have continued to grow dramatically, every year since.
Why does this matter to you if you're a tradesperson? Surely, people don't search for nearby contractors, right? Here is a chart that shows the growth of that search in Google over the previous two years. Right now, 12,000 people a month search for "contractor near me" and another 6,000 search for "general contractor near me." The keyword "plumbers near me" gets a whopping 110,000 searches per month!
Near me searches on Google exist in a weird crease between organic search and map pack search. Google has two separate algorithms for determining search results with local intent. One relies on proximity signals, like address in the maps listing. The other relies on organic signals to generate non-localized search results. This is why you see both local and national results on a search for something like "certified plumber near me
Sometimes the local signals aren't as strong as other organic signals and Google's ability to indentify your location can be diminished if you have your GPS on your phone turned off, and that's where we can gain an advantage. This advice is especially important for businesses trying to compete in a larger metro area or service area businesses that go to the customer to provide service.
Begin creating optimized content on your website that targets the location you want to service and includes "near me," "nearby," "near you," or some other synonym in your title, images, and content. Linking out to an authority site that is localized to the area is another great way to signal local relevance and show Google that you're near the searcher's location. Other normal SEO rules apply to these pages to get them to rank if they don't rank just based upon good on-page SEO. Work with a qualified SEO company to grab your share of the "near me" searches.