Want to achieve marketing greatness this year? Focus on how to own the 'near me' search. It has literally become a default term for people looking for just about anything. Try it with your product, category or service. What happens? For most companies, third parties like Yelp and Trip Advisor hijack the search or are at least a significant part of the page one search results. This is quite simply the easiest and most effective marketing for almost any retailer, franchise, or brand to win and help their shoppers along their journey with content versus spamming them with ads.
Obviously, this is not an either/or strategy. Local ads work well and are very effective when used with respect for your shopper, but any comprehensive digital strategy now has to go beyond just ads. Locally created content, however, is the gift that keeps on giving. The best way to own the 'near me' search is to feed the search platforms with rich, relevant, and recent media across many platforms. Search platforms are actively seeking to deliver this content to better serve users, and even looking for help. While researching this article, I searched for Southern Tide near me, as it's one of my favorite apparel brands. It has a relatively new store not far from where I live, and naturally Google was seeking to learn more about it.
In this case, Google is seeking human help because its crawlers can't find enough information. Imagine what would happen if there was a variety of content created by Southern Tide at the store level that Google could integrate into its results. I answered several questions, many of which were subjective, but with more content Google could likely figure it out on its own. As shoppers expand beyond search engines, and look for content across a variety of platforms, expansion of content footprints can only serve to enhance findability.
Digital ads have reached and surpassed the point of saturation. No ad-driven digital platform is immune from the onslaught of ads and 'smart' retargeting, and while volume is higher than ever, efficiency is falling like a rock. As shopping simplicity has become the key competitive advantage for retail... shoppers are also seeking to simplify their media. They want helpful content along their path no matter where it might exist. Local content is the fuel that powers shopper journeys at all stages, helping to answer their questions at key points.
Local content will become even more critical with the rise of voice search. Like any other form of search, voice depends on the information it is provided. Given that voice search will seek to be as useful as possible, voice algorithms will seek to deliver the most useful and relevant results possible. This means like any other search, voice agents will use existing content to make custom recommendations for users. Content will be critical to driving results, especially localized content that affects 'near me' results. Pizza 'near me' and other related searches via Siri, return similar results to Google for the same location as they use similar data to populate.
Notice how Siri and Google come to the same conclusion for the same search, with Siri narrowing the initial list to the top result. The algorithms will differ somewhat but the combination of reviews, location, and usage data, and content, help prime the pump for results.
Key takeaway: CREATE MORE CONTENT.
In 2019, search of all kinds will increasingly be affected by content, especially the local variety. Locally created content is the ideal complement to paid search and advertising efforts to win the final 'near me' outcome.