Getting on Page One of Search, Hyperlocal Basics
by Ron Burgess
As the term implies, hyperlocal is extremely local information on a search or in a mapping application, especially on a smart phone. Therefore, your business might show up on page one of a search when someone is interested in your town or neighborhood. Google is clear: the number one priority is “We believe users come first. Search is about giving people the answers they’re looking for – whether it’s a news article, sports score, stock quote, video, or map.” You will not be on the search results if you are not located in the town that someone is searching in. Nothing can be done about this, and nothing should be done.
The user has the desire to filter your business out because they are asking for “local.” Google puts weight on the address of your office location, but may, or may not, give a list of cities you serve much weight in a search just because you list them.
The newest and most important change to the term “hyperlocal” has evolved from the increasing number of searches on smart phones. Because your location can be identified, Google will know which neighborhood you are in, so it can provide better hyperlocal search responses.
If your business is a restaurant, retailer, tow company, or other local service provider, you want to be found by both locals and travelers. Smart phones are enabling this new ability to match where you really are with hyperlocal businesses you need now. This is a revolutionary development that is gaining steam fast.
Currently 77% of mobile searches occur at home and 17% on the go. But shopping queries are twice as likely to be actually in the store! What does this do to the actual transaction? Well, three-quarters of all mobile searches cause some follow-up action: a new search, store visit, phone call, interaction with a friend, or the final purchase. The average follow-up action is two, and 55% happen within an hour.
One might think that people would use a PC for search, but three-quarters of the time that a computer is available to the searcher, they use a mobile device instead.
Another emerging behavior of mobile searches is that they tend to be in context. For instance, shopping searches occur mostly in the store, while restaurant searches happen on the go. The context here reflects the interest level and intent to buy or participate, making many mobile searches more valuable for creating engagement and business. The highest outcomes are in the beauty industry, followed by the auto, travel, food and restaurant, and technology industries. See Google Think Insights for the full stats.
If you still are not convinced, smart phones are now more plentiful than all other cell phone. The smart phone will continue to grab a larger share of search activity.
Page One of Search
So what does hyperlocal have to do with getting on the first page? First, some kinds of businesses will need their websites to besearch engine optimized. In addition, capturing multiple screen sizes must be considered, or visitor bounces will increase. But in addition to taking advantage of the follow-up actions of smart phone users, you need to make sure your site addresses what they are searching for and enables further engagement. The pages also need to be carefully written to the appropriate key phrases.
Carefully study your sales cycle from the customer’s point of view. Understand what hurdles the customer must overcome before making a decision, and design your website in this way. For example, if you are a restaurant (the location will be automatic), make sure to be clear on each page that you have an “Italian restaurant.” Next, list further specialties and price ranges. Then, if you have a good Yelp rating, link to that. Finally, for those who have not made the decision, be sure the website matches your theme, décor, and image. If this is done well, Google will give you a shot in your town under your specialty.
Many searches for some of these categories are being replaced by directory sites, such as Yelp, Google, and Facebook. In the restaurant category, they collect information and photos to display along with their rating systems. On a smart phone, the bottom two-thirds of the list are difficult to see unless you are unsatisfied with the results. If your friend rates a restaurant high in that town, it might be on top of the results in Google because you have personal results turned on.
In this case, you need a good website with information easily found and copied by directory sites. In addition, you must “claim” the directory site and add your information to be sure it is accurate. Work hard to get your happy customers to rate your business so you do not have a random despoiler rule your new business.
If all this is foreign to you, get professional help. It is just too important to the future of your business. One day, you may wonder why all the customers are across the street. It’s because you forgot to tell mobile customers where you are.