Well, like it or not, the summer is upon us. That means many of us will be trading in our 40-60 hour work weeks for vacation destinations. Something to keep in mind if your business attracts a significant amount of seasonal clientele is to ensure you actually show up in the moment when someone is looking for you.
Google does a lot of talking about “Micro Moments” wherein they break down a consumer’s buying process by questions they ask or searches they make. The gist of it is that you have to be prepared for whatever your potential consumer is searching for, whether it’s “Who makes the best pancakes” or “Wetsuit rentals near me.”
When it comes to vacationing, I’m personally the go-with-the-flow type. Not my wife. She plans everything. Well, almost everything. If we’re taking a long, multi-state road trip (which we do on an almost annual basis), she’ll typically plan things like what cities we will stop in for gas, food, playtime for kids, etc. While that’s great and all, my wife isn’t most people (lucky me).
My mind goes back to two trip experiences–a good one and a poor one.
First, the good one. On a road trip we took about three years ago when we drove cross-country to visit my in-laws. One of our most notable stops was in Nebraska (Kearny, if I remember correctly). She’d planned our hotel for the night, but we hadn’t figured out where to go for dinner. Naturally, what did we do? We asked our phones where we should go (even though we could see six separate restaurants through our hotel window). In our moment of need, we searched “restaurants near me”. We ended up visiting a local diner nearby on common recommendation from many online “friends” (aka people who left Google reviews).
Now, the one that left me sick to my stomach–literally.
Back when I was probably 15 (-ish), my parents and my four siblings decided to make a trip out to northern California to visit San Francisco, the Redwoods, etc. For the journey, we’d rented a HUGE Class A motorhome. It was probably 35-40 feet long.
We’d stayed in Eureka, California to visit Redwood National Park and were driving south to the Bay Area. On the prior recommendation of a friend, my dad decided that we should take the scenic drive along the Pacific Coast Highway (Highway 1–nicknamed “Dramamine Drive” by the locals). It started out fine, but after a while that huge RV was weaving and waving along a thin strip of road that followed the coastline. By the time we finally pulled over at a small store (I had to look it up, it was the Anchor Bay General Store), we were all green in the face and about to lose our breakfast–me, especially. I’d been on the big bed in the back room playing video games on the TV. The mattress literally slid off the frame on one turn.
Had Google and smart phone searches existed back then, my dad might have taken a little better look at the route and decided it wasn’t a good idea in such a big vehicle. Just thinking about the memory is making me a bit woozy.
So, these examples highlight why it might be important to have relevant information available to potential customers for organic searches. And why wouldn’t you? Organic = “free”, right?
According to Google, in 2014-2015, 88% of “near me” searches occurred on mobile devices.
What does it mean for you? Well, here are a few recommendations:
- Make sure your Google My Business listing is claimed and accurate. Sometimes a business can get mis-listed by bots or well-intentioned customers. If you haven’t claimed it, that would be my absolute first step.
- Check to see what categories your business is listed under on platforms like Google My Business, Yelp, and TripAdvisor. Is it tagged correctly? Are you labeled as a Mexican restaurant instead of Cuban by accident? Does your business rent ATV’s in addition to selling them? It’s worth double-checking.
- If you’re not already, encourage your existing customers to share their experiences with you via reviews and social media. Hang posters around your store that tell them where they can find you online.
- Expert tip: If you invite customers to “Check In” at your location on Facebook and post about what they’re doing, they will automatically receive a prompt within a few days to leave an official review.
If you’re not doing these things, you’re not going to show up nearly as well as you could when a wandering traveler around the corner searches “coffee house near me”.
That’s great for organic. What about paid traffic?
Well, you certainly don’t want to leave that one hanging either, do you? As a business, you thrive on revenue–whether that comes in the form of in-store sales, reservations, downloads or whatever. So you want to drive activity that contributes to that. In paid search, you can take numerous approaches that leverage your location and the “near me” search intent.
Cover your bases. I would advise a location-based business to target both keywords that use the “near me” terminology so long as they have their location dialed in. Make sure that Google actually knows the physical location of your business. Simply sync up your Google My Business account with AdWords, or have an agency like us make sure it’s done correctly. Depending on how your business functions, you may want to set up campaigns that target potential clients based on their proximity to your business. For example, if you are one of several fishing charters in a 20-40 mile stretch of coastline, you may decide to focus on trying to catch those searchers closest to you by setting up different “tiers” of bids by location. You could set up three different campaigns that adjust the aggressiveness of your bidding based on distance. One campaign (say 70% of your budget) that targets only people within a 3-5 mile radius of your business, one that bids lower (say 20% of your budget) and targets 5-10 miles out, and a final campaign that bids much lower (the remaining 10% of your budget, next to nothing, really) and covers 10-20 miles out while excluding those who were in the previous two tiers.
But, what if your business is even more driven by reservations and planning ahead? Your customers generally aren’t spur-of-the-moment searchers like me. That’s easy. Create some campaigns that focus heavily on location-based keywords like “in [your city name]”, “near [your city name]”, “in [your county name]”, and “near [neighboring city name]”.
Whatever you do with paid search, just make sure that you set up your campaigns to only focus on traffic from people who live in or are showing interest in your targeted location and exclude traffic that’s interested in other locations that might be confusing (i.e. Portland, Maine vs. Portland, Oregon, etc.).
The bottom line: As a location-based business, I don’t want you to miss ANY opportunity to show up for a relevant search where you could be “discovered” by a customer–whether they’re simply passers-by or planners like my wife. To use a fishing analogy (like my dad would do), you should have as many lines in the water as you can. Follow these best practices and you should have a bumper summer this year!