Putting all of those “near me” search inquiries to work for your business
Is your business near me? It’s a popular question, asked most often by mobile device users on search engines. Getting found in these more local search results however, requires some planning, and understanding how schema markup fits into this picture is an important first step.
While it’s clearly important for search engines users to find coffee that is nearby, more interesting to marketers is that search volume for “near me” terms in general have skyrocketed, with growth closely aligned with that of smartphones. Google reports that "near me" searches doubled from 2014 to 2015, and have increased 34x since 2011! Moz Q3 2017 data also reveals monthly U.S. search volumes such as:
- credit unions near me: 11,500-30,300
- banks near me: 30,300-70,800
- coffee near me: 70,800-118,000
- restaurants near me: 300,000-1,500,000
What is schema.org and how do near-me inquiries work?
When you ask for nearby banks, restaurants or gas stations, your smartphone’s GPS coordinates are used to define where you are. Your business website and its overall online presence help determine whether your listing is shown in the results. And how can you help influence the results? Using schema.org markup on your website.
Schema.org is a collection of shared structured data markup used on webpages. That might sound too technical for the average marketer to care, but the reason it's used is to help search engines better understand and display common information, like locations, hours of operation, events, products and more.
Once this schema (also known as structured data markup or rich data) is in place, search engines can quickly “see” this data in a commonly understood format, and importantly, websites with schema markup tend to rank better on related terms.
Optimizing your website for local SEO using schema markup
The fastest, most straightforward addition you can make is to optimize local business data using schema markup. For most marketers, this goes beyond their skillset, so you will need to enlist the help of a digital strategist and SEO experts to make it happen. Best practices for schema implementation include:
Request schema.org markup be added to your individual location pages. If your business has more than one location, it’s very important to give each location its own page. Be sure to include details like the hours of operation, physical address and contact information. Once these pages are in place, schema markup needs to be added. While this happens behind the scenes, the results can be significant. ZAG Interactive has seen organic search visits beginning with a branch location spike by as much as 65% when comparing the month before and after implementation.
Optimize your homepage schema markup to strive for a Google Knowledge Graph panel. When people search for a business, they might see information about a business in a panel to the right side of the results (on a desktop or laptop screen). This information can be influenced by a variety of factors, but home page schema markup can help ensure accuracy.
Optimize your organization’s contact information with schema markup on an appropriate page like Contact Us.
Optimize your presence on social media channels and in local listings such as Google My Business. Enlist the help of a digital marketing resource who knows these online channels so that you can maximize results.
If your business has many public events, add schema markup to these too. Create a schedule with the help of your SEO agency to ensure the markup is accurate, timely, and submitted to search engines for crawling and indexing on a regular basis.
Start planning for and actively managing your business reviews. It’s important to do this on your social media channels as well as your website if you have this feature. When planning this process, it’s important to understand:
Not all business review products are viewed equally by Google and other search engines. Costs vary from free to 5-figure investments for most businesses. Depending on your needs, a free option may be right for you. No matter what review solution you select, you will need to plan and execute a strategy to implement a review solution, and develop an ongoing communications plan to solicit reviews and manage the feedback you receive.
Consumers can add reviews about your business in a variety of social media platforms, mapping apps, and local business listings on Google, Bing, etc. It’s important to have a monitoring process in place so you know what’s being said, for better or worse.
There are protocols to responding to reviews, both positive and negative. Get up to speed on these, or have your agency handle the task of bringing these to your attention.
The topic of schema markup can feel intimidating at first, but once you understand why it’s become an SEO essential, you will want to add it to your local marketing mix. Combined with other tactics like geo-targeted ad buys, schema can help make a dent in a very competitive SEO landscape. Reach out today to see how ZAG may be able to assist your organization in amping up local SEO.
ZAG Interactive is a full-service digital agency in Glastonbury, CT, offering website design, development, marketing and digital strategy to clients nationwide.