The Local Businesses Search Dilemma

You have a business that caters to your local community. You’ve often looked at getting your business to rank higher on Google but it never seems like it works. And, you really don’t have the time, money, or the people to really dive into full-blown search marketing campaigns.

It seems like there just has to be something that you can do to attract customers that are local to your location, without spending huge resources to do it.

Ok, it’s quite possible that you’ve not heard of this type of search before, and that’s OK. We’re going to review what a near me search is and why your business can benefit from this type of search.

First, what is a near me search?

A near me search is a search trend that is one of the fastest, if not the fastest, trend that we’re seeing with search. Basically, these searches are done when people are searching for something that is close to them.

A near me search will generally contain zip codes, cities, neighborhoods, or the phrase near me. Here are some examples:

  • “dentist Detroit”
  • “coffee shop miracle mile Chicago”
  • “shoe store downtown Cleveland”
  • “lawyer 48502”

You get the idea.

Then Came Mobile

With the explosion of mobile devices, we started to see the phrase near me pop up in the search trends. In fact, a quick look at Google Trends shows that searches with the phrase near me started to increase around April of 2013.

And, just like everything else with search, mobile is impacting the near me search trend, as well. According to Google, nearly 1/3 of all mobile searches are now location focused.

Amazing Growth

In September 2015, Google said that near me searches had grown 2 times in 2 years. That was in 2015. From 2015 to 2018 the growth in near me searches has grown by over 50%.

But, change is now happening with these location-based searches.

Now, with the geographic positioning features of mobile devices, we’re starting to see the qualifiers near me, zip codes, city names, and even neighborhoods being removed from the search phrases. Users are now realizing that the search engine will recognize where they are, geographically, and show them the results that are in the same geographic area that they are in. In fact, people searching for places of local interest without using geographical qualifiers like near me have actually grown faster than local searches that are using the near me qualifier. Google states that over the last 2 years comparable searches without the qualifier near me have grown by 150%

Now, Near Me Is Changing Too

The way that people are using their phones is changing how they are using search. People who initially would use the near me qualifier in their searches for things like pharmacies, bars, and restaurants are using their phones to find products that they are interested in buying.

Now, near me mobile searches that have a variant like “to buy” or “can I buy” in the search phrase have grown over 500% over the last 2 years. A couple of examples

  • Where can I buy running shoes
  • Places to buy office supplies near me/
  • Where to buy tires near me

Near Me no longer has to be about a place…it is becoming about where to find a thing, too.

What Does All Of This Mean For You?

There are a number of implications that this trend will have on your business.

First, if you haven’t gotten serious about making sure that your website is mobile-friendly, you need to. In fact, this near me search trend in conjunction with Google’s mobile-first indexing, dictates that if you want any chance of bringing customers into your business, you must get serious about mobile. Google has been telling us to get serious about mobile for a while now and now that time is here.

Here are some suggestions for what you can do to get started attracting your local customers.

  • Website: Start with your site. Having a mobile-friendly site is mandatory if you want to attract local customers. There are a number of different ways that you can make a website mobile-friendly. We talk about the best way to do mobile, here.
  • Google My Business: This is a tool that Google provides businesses that will help you manage your business information like, location information, contact information, hours that you’re open, and a host of other features. Keeping this information current will help you show up when someone is in your area and searches for what you provide. Here’s a link to get started with the Google My Business tool.
  • LocalSEO: Optimize for LocalSEO. Unlink regular SEO where you are optimizing your site. LocalSEO is optimizing your business for search engines. Here’s some information on what LocalSEO is and how it will help your business get found.


The trend is clear, people are searching for local things as well as local places and they are doing both on their mobile devices. In fact, you’ve probably done a near me search and maybe didn’t even realize that you did. If you have, you saw how powerful showing up for this type of search can be.

Your customers are performing these searches, too. And if you get serious about this, their searches will lead them right to your front door.