By Laura Gleadhill

With the ongoing rise of mobile searches and “micro-moments”, we find searches including the term “near me” are becoming more and more commonplace. According to Google, every month people visit 1.5 billion destinations related to a search. Here, I provide some insights into these searches and top tips for optimising your account to deal with them.

  • Search
  • Mobile

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Near me phone screenshot

It has never been easier to organise after work drinks, dinner with your partner or popping to the bank on the way back from your meeting. Since 2011, Google reports that searches containing “near me” have increased by 3400%, and unsurprisingly 80% of these searches have come from mobile devices (Have you heard it’s finally the real year of the mobile?)

“Near-Me”

Micro-moments are moments on mobile delivering information we need to consume or act upon that occur throughout the customer journey. These micro-moments are an increasing phenomenon that have an effect on how people are searching and therefore how we approach Search advertising. Customers have never been in a more powerful position to get what they want, immediately, a phenomenon we see reflected in their Search behaviour. 

Google Trends Graph

Increase Across Industries

Within Merkle | Periscopix we work on accounts across a range of industries. This allows us to look into this trend through different verticals, and we can see that the increase of near-me searches is pretty widespread. 

Restaurants Near Me Screenshot

Importantly, the term “near me” is now suggested by Google as people type their queries into the search bar if Google feels there is a benefit to adding geographical specificity. 

Near Me Graph Retail Trend
  • In the retail sector, “near me” searches began to be popular in February of 2016.
  • December saw a peak in searches, due to the Christmas period. 
  • The beginning of the year saw a decline, with fewer people shopping after Christmas, but we would expect to see this pick back up.
Near Me Graph Restaurant Trend
  • Near me searches for restaurants began the trend, with accounts seeing this since the beginning of 2015.
  • Again, it was the beginning of 2016 when these searches saw a large uplift, with a 1062% change in the 6 months between November 2015 and May 2016. 
Near Me Graph Property Trend
  • Near me searches for property seem to have seen their uplift later, not until the middle of 2016, where they went suddenly from below 100 into the thousands. 
  • The dramatic drop in November/December time was due to a mixture of decreased interest in property at this time and also internal account activity. 

Behaviour Across Devices

The breakdown in volume of “near me” searches per device is shown in the graph below. The increase of these searches on mobile as compared to on desktop is approximately 3X. It is definitely not a surprise to see that these searches are more often made on mobile devices, slightly more surprising is that they are sometimes made on desktop. Therefore, to bid on these keywords only for mobile wouldn’t be advised. 

Graph Of Search By Device
  • 65% of near me searches within the agency took place on mobile, 25% on computer and 15% on tablet.

Brand vs. Generics

Graph Showing Generics V Brand Searches
  • When we first saw a rise in near me searches, the difference in brand vs. generic terms was negligible for this retail client. 
  • After the first month of these searches, generic near me searches seemed to become more popular rising by 300%.
  • Brand searches lost popularity and in 2017 are almost non-existent for this retail account. 
  • When the Christmas boom occurred, the increase in near me searches was seen dramatically in generic, with a volume of over 550 “near me” searches. This was not reflected in Brand.

In these “micro-moments”, loyalty is forgotten and convenience often triumphs. Google reports that 65% of people look for the most relevant information, regardless of the company providing it, when they search on their phone. This means you should be aware of what your customer needs, and give it to them quickly. 90% of phone searchers are not aware of the specific brand they are interested in when they search, making it all the more important that your business is the first thing they are seeing. 

What can we do?

Considering this style of Search has seen such a large uplift, and is showing no sign of stopping, it is worth paying attention to. How (and whether) we can optimise to this fully, based on the fact that your position will depend on how close your business/store is to the person searching, is currently debatable. However, there are a few basic things that everyone who has seen a “near me” search should be considering.

  1. Most obviously, make sure you are ready for everything mobile.  It is expected that by 2020 mobile will have a role in 80% of purchases. 
  2. Ensure you have Google My Business set up and optimised. 
  3. Definitely, definitely, definitely have location extensions.
  4. Make sure you are not missing those generic searches. Do not rely on brand only searches when it comes to near me’s.
  5. If you rely a lot on offline conversions, consider location based campaigns.
  6. Customise your landing pages for location, there are some pretty nifty ways to do this now.
  7. Make sure the copy you are showing is relevant to people who are coming into your store – consider IF functions to customise copy for mobile.
  8. Always think about your customer. If you are a restaurant looking for telephone bookings – have a call extension.
  9. Get in touch with us today to found out how we can help you optimise for near me searches, demanding millennials and the increase in mobile searches.

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