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By Chris Avery, Founding Partner of digital marketing agency Mickey Llew

’Near me’ searches make it possible for brands to reach targeted users in their moment of need (and should be a key area of focus in your search strategy for 2020) as South African’s turn to them for everything from pizza to plumbers, shoes to electronics, and even for longer term purchases like vehicles.

These searches are generally motivated by a need to act now, or in the near future, so ranking high in these results is a must for brands looking to strengthen their chance of converting that person into a lead or sale.

That’s why we’re seeing an increase in the adoption of hyperlocal online marketing strategies, with brands gunning for their spot in the ‘snack pack’ section of the search engine results page (SERP)! 

However, brands and digital agencies still direct the bulk of their resources into promoted ads, paid search activities, and running paid social campaigns in an attempt to play (and win) in the snack pack system, ignoring the vital role of organic search in a truly holistic (and successful) online strategy.

Successful hyperlocal strategies are those that include a combination of Google My Business and locally-centric original content pushed by the brand’s website, and other supporting social channels, to further increase its rankings and exposure in geographically-driven searches. 

To put it simply,  people resonate with brands that are invested in their local presence. For example, someone searching ‘pizza outlet near me’ expects to be served a page customised for their nearest store, with recent man-on-the-street user-generated reviews and images. If executed correctly, they’re bound to be more inclined to accept the relevance of its high search ranking, but also more inclined to support that outlet.

Mobile search is another element gaining popularity, more so now with developments in voice search. This combination means that Google has had to become better at understanding potential customer queries – delivering the best possible hyperlocal results further than simply listing results close in proximity.

For example, a search for ‘pizza near me now’ is looking for stores close in proximity, and that are open for business at the time of the query. As developments in tech speed up so do our expectations – we want instant, qualified information, and  to trust that Google will deliver it.

Most phones are GPS-enabled, and most apps rely on some form of location-based information,  which has made it easier for Google to understand, process and identify what’s most relevant to the search, ensuring that the result is always locally focussed. This makes it more important than ever for brands to ensure that their online presence is supported by local organic content, regardless of whether they’re a provincial, national or international brand.  

If you’re looking to implement a hyperlocal strategy that will best achieve your desired position within Google’s search results in 2020, take note of the following:

  • Check that all business sites or locations contain the information that a ‘near me’ search is likely to expect, including trading hours, specific address, and an idea of available products and services.
  • Optimise the pages to ensure quick serving, so that users don’t have to wait for slow websites to load, and that they’re rather given the exact information they need, quickly.
  • Prioritise creating fresh and up to date content in your Google My Business data, supported by citations and reviews.
  • Create and curate local-centric content from internal and external sources  that focuses on the area, the brand, and the outlet that will feature in a search result.
  • Amplify the entity in question so Google knows it is best in class locally for specific and related search queries, building local authority around that business.

The internet is global, but your online strategy needs to be hyperlocal as brands walk a fine line with consumers who want the convenience of online shopping, but also instant gratification and enjoyment in that moment. Without reliable same-day delivery options, and the complexities around our postal service, the demand for products and services available ‘near me’ and ‘near me now’ will continue to grow, and brands slow to acknowledge this and adapt accordingly will find themselves distanced from those looking closest to them.