What is a Near Me Search and Why Should I Care?

You have all seen it. It is an integral part of search these days. You are out and about. You decide to look for a good place for lunch. Searching for “restaurants” works but if you want to be clear with your search, you can say “restaurants near me” and up comes the list. This is “near me” search and you need this for your listing.

While this makes a lot of sense for local sensitive places like restaurants, coffee shops or (my favorite) brew pubs, it is important for businesses all across the spectrum.

A mantra we often hear in business is “Shop Local” because by supporting local businesses we support local jobs. I know several people who will not go for coffee at Starbucks and will not have lunch at whatever the convenient big chain is. Instead they go out of their way to find the local coffee shop and independently owned restaurant to do business at.

In the same way people go out of their way to select the independent hair stylist, the local plumber, the local cpa and yes a local (or at least domestic) web design firm.

Still not convinced it matters to you? Let’s dig in a bit deeper. From 2014 to 2015 the traffic from “near me” searches doubled. At the same time, Google’s organic listings are LESS likely to have the magic 10 on the first page or results, opting instead for, on average, 8.5 listings. So being ranked 9 or 10 in the “organic” listings can bump you from the first page but being near where someone searches for you can pull your site or business up.

How do you optimize your local business listing for near me searches? Here is a high level overview of what you need to do:

  • Claim your business if you haven’t already: www.google.com/business for Google or www.bingplaces.com for Bing (we recommend avoiding the Yext and YP type services that will do this for you – you’ll pay a lot for an ongoing service that usually just needs done once)
  • Make sure your address is IDENTICAL everywhere – on Google and Bing, on your web site, on any other sites or groups that might list you. This leaves no room for ambiguity as to whether it is the same business or same address. No ambiguity is a very good thing when it comes to search.
  • Complete the business profile as much as you can. Put in your hours. Put in all of the information that is asked for, including photos. Make the images be real photos of you and your office and your team.
  • Encourage happy customers to give reviews for you. If you Google your business, you should see it on the right. From there your customer can click on Write a Review and tell the world how happy they are with you.

Blogging and Consistency

You’ve heard the old adage that the road to heck is paved with good intentions. That appears to be especially true when it comes to blogging. During the design and development phase of sites we have customers who are all excited about the opportunity to blog.

Then reality (and life) sets in. And that blogging thing gets pushed to the bottom of the heap. After all, I’ll get to it when I have time. But then you never quite get the time. And the blog grows stale before you’ve even really started it.

Sound familiar?

Here are a few quick thoughts about blogging and consistency.

  1. The bare minimum you should blog – can’t stress enough that this is the bare minimum – is twice a month. Less than that and it isn’t really blogging.
  2. We recommend at least once a week. One of our customers blogs several times a week and their traffic has gone up around 400% in the last year.
  3. Blogs don’t have to be long – they aren’t college research papers. A good blog post can be two to three paragraphs.
  4. Write about what you do – that way you provide good original content AND you use lots of keywords for your industry.
  5. Write about the questions you get asked regularly. If the people you are in front of are asking, you can bet people are also looking for them online.
  6. If you get stuck on what to write, set aside 10 minutes and perhaps bring in one or more people to help you brainstorm a list of topics. Then you’ll be ready for writer’s block.

10 Key Social Media Tools for Small Business

Social Media Marketing, promoting your business through internet social media, is a good idea for any business. One of the questions I’m asked most often is “How much time does it take?” and the companion complaint I hear is “I don’t have time for that.”
My response to that is, what business is doing so well they don’t have to take time to market themselves? So, if you’ve made the decision to spend the time, here are 10 tools you will find quite helpful:

  1. Twitter: Found at twitter.com it is called a Microblogging web site. You have 140 characters per message (the message is called a tweet).  You can follow anyone and anyone can follow you. It’s a great way to connect with people in your industry, in your neighborhood, or even to see what the competition is up to.
  2. TweetDeck: Once you get into twitter, the twitter.com interface won’t be robust enough to manage the people you’re following. TweetDeck lets you categorize and segregate people you follow and makes it easy to reply, forward, or send direct messages.
  3. Facebook: Facebook.com started as a way for college students to connect but it has become big business and is a great way to connect with friends, colleagues, and potential clients. You can create a page for your business and collect “fans”. This provides a great way to communicate with “your” community.
  4. LinkedIn: LinkedIn.com started as a way to connect with others in a business environment and has rapidly begun to grow into a site that lets you form business groups and connect with people in different ways.
  5. StumbleUpon: StumbleUpon.com is a great way to track and share web sites that you come across. Instead of bookmarking them with your browser, bookmark them with StumbleUpon and you can access them from any browser. It’s unique point is being able to “stumble upon” sites that others with your interests have found.
  6. Digg: Another social bookmarking site, Digg is more focused on news kind of things but is a great way to share your sites and find out what others are “Digging”
  7. FriendFeed: Much like dogpile.com brings results from different search engines together in one interface, FriendFeed.com lets you bring all your social media sites into one feed.  You can also take your feed and import it into your accounts – I get facebook comments on my tweets because FriendFeed pulls them into my account.
  8. YouTube: I’m so keyed into the written word that I sometimes overlook the visual. But when we were not having good luck repairing my son’s iPod, he looked on YouTube and got step by step instructions. And that is why businesses can benefit – show step by step instructions on how to use your goods or services.
  9. MySpace.com: As sites like FaceBook and LinkedIn morphed to fit the changing needs of its members, myspace has grown into a “big boys” site with networking opportunities and connections similar to their more business-like counterparts.
  10. Craigslist: OK, its not really a social networking site but it is a key site to find or advertise things on and it’s pretty simple to figure out and use.

Google Continues to Dominate Search

According to Hitwise, last month Google accounted for nearly 68% of all search in the US. Wow. And if you compare the April numbers to March or to April of last year, you see that they are expanding their dominance.  That is the phenomenal part. Typically if a company creates a new niche and dominates it, other companies come in later to cash in on the good times and in the process they steal some of the market share. Google just keeps growing their share of the market.

Can you image what it would be like to “own” your industry or niche like that? Yahoo has less than 21% of the market (which is still pretty hefty) and MSN has fallen to less than 6.5% of the search market. Ask, while holding a smaller share, continues to grow their share. With Google and Ask expanding, MSN and the rest of the search engines are “taking it on the chin”.

Why do you think Google just keeps grabbing more of the market?