You for sure must have noticed those “near me” queries that pop up on your mobile device when you conduct a search. That’s no accident. In their eternal search to deliver the best results, the Google brain trust realized that a huge swathe of the population is in the process of leaving the house, or maybe they’re already driving around when suddenly a need to search occurs.
Google calls this the “micro-moment.” It’s when search interest is highest and the imperative is to deliver the most accurate results that target the searcher’s intent. Marketers know that it is at this moment people are most interested in the Local 3-Pack, address, business hours, and directions.
With the above have you got a brief idea? That is what hyperlocal marketing is all about.
The Evolution of Local SEO into Hyperlocal
The goal of the search is to dig to the heart of user intent and show them the most relevant content for their search. This has only gotten more difficult as the volume of content online has increased. Today, it’s rare to find a business that doesn’t have a website and a listing in Google Maps. But it isn’t enough for Google to show every pizza place in a city when you’re looking for a slice for lunch. Results need to be catered to the individual who is searching, based on location and search preferences.
For this reason, local businesses are encouraged to optimize for:
1) Hyperlocal Keywords: More than just any city, a well-optimized pizza place website should target the neighborhood or even the street on which it operates.
2) Business Address: Your location information needs to be consistently listed across your website and any other owned media you operate. That includes as many pages of your website as possible, your Facebook Page, and any directory listings you operate.
3) Directory Listings: Make sure your business is listed in all relevant local directories, including Yellowbook, YellowPages, TripAdvisor (when relevant), and Google My Business. If a listing exists that you don’t own, claim it and make sure all data is consistent across these listings.
Optimizing for local searches is important, but Google wants to be as specific as possible when providing results to its users.
Take advantage of this to optimize for hyperlocal searches, based not only on neighborhood searches but location-supported searches on mobile devices.
What is a micro-moment?
Google calls the moment when a searcher turns to their smartphone to find information about a place they want to go, a thing they want to do or a thing they want to buy, a micro-moment. It is an intent-rich sliver of the consumer journey and an opportunity for the brands savvy about these moments to capitalize on the chance to interact with the consumer. It also offers a chance to shape the decision-making process in that crucial fraction of the buyer cycle.
The consumer shift to mobile devices offers a huge opportunity for brands, allowing them to be closer to customers at the precise moments of intent. For marketers who want to understand consumer behavior and meet changing expectations, a deeper understanding of micro-moments is crucial.
How to harness micro-moments:
1) Access the micro-moments knowledge center and locate the data relevant to your industry. A number of sectors now have their own collection, which correlates case studies, consumer behavior research, infographics, and articles.
2) Study your own data and analytics to see how your consumers are finding you, what devices they are using for search and the type of device driving conversions. With some number crunching (coupled with data from the Think With Google micro-moments research papers if needed), you should be able to determine patterns of behavior. Is there a high percentage of intent rich purchases from mobile? Are conversions from the desktop as frequent as orders from mobile devices?
3) Armed with an understanding of where mobile fits into your consumer’s decision making processes, you now need to formulate a strategy to be there in the micro-moments that matter. This means ensuring you are taking all measures necessary to show up in mobile search.
4)A very obvious step is checking the mobile-friendliness of your site. Considerations such as page speed can have a big impact on whether or not your SERP positioning is strong on mobile. You can find all of our best practice advice for mobile search here.
5) Making your content visible is also a great way to make inroads into the handsets and tablets of your users just when they’re looking for answers. This means you are present at each stage of the funnel, from the initial “I want to…” discovery phase through to purchase. Using AMP markup will serve your content quicker on mobile devices, giving you the chance to snatch eyeballs from competitors. Find out more about AMP and what it means in our article here.
6) Now, consider your content. With all that you know about micro-moments, you may need to revise your content creation strategy so that it meets the more fleeting needs of consumers using mobile devices, Content can bridge the gap between the start and end of the sales funnel. Offering useful content means you are more likely to be present in more of those all-important micro-moments at the start of the purchase journey. Useful content gives consumers the information they need at that particular moment. If you sell lightbulbs, useful content could be a simple calculator which shows compatible energy-efficient replacements for common older bulbs.
Optimizing for Hyperlocal Micro-Moments
How do you make sure your search listings contain the information people need when they have these now moments on a mobile device?
In addition to the harnessing micro-moment tips outlined above, there are several other things you should keep in mind:
1) Mobile-First Mindset: With more than half of searches occurring on mobile devices, this makes sense anyways, but for local businesses, in particular, it is an absolute must. Contact information should be visible on every page of your website and supplemented whenever possible with click-to-call buttons.
2) Utilize Local Features: Google’s local search results are designed to provide key information for those micro-moment searches. Hotel searches, for example, include reviews, the star rating, and the cost per night based on upcoming dates. There are additional filters as well, including “cheap”, “top rated”, and “luxury”. Optimizing your Google Business listing allows you to provide this key information, whatever type of business you operate.
3) Develop Relevant Content: Create pages on your website that reflect the types of “right now” questions people would search for when ready to make a decision. People may not search for “pizza place in Hyderabad”, but rather “pizza near the IIIT Campus”. When standing at the college gate, they search based on location and situation.
4) Customize per Location: Create custom landing pages based on each location you are targeting. Each landing page should contain the location information (address, ZIP code, local neighborhoods), as well as relevant information related to that location.
5) Use Structured Data Markup: Structured data markup, or schema markup, allows you to include vital information on your pages in a format that Google can more easily pull directly into SERPs. This includes business type, hours, address, phone number, longitude and latitude, and several other factors that can influence your hyperlocal search results.