'Near-Me' Searches Become Dominant On Mobile

Some eight in 10 searches looking for the "best time" to visit a location are initiated on a mobile device, 72% are searches looking for places to see, visit or stay, and 75% of searches are for things to do in a specific city, according to recent data.

Mobile devices have become the go-to tool to query all types of questions, such as who designed Michelle Obama's dress worn at the Democratic National Convention, or whether Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer will join Verizon when the acquisition closes. But the most-asked questions on mobile devices tend to trend toward location.

Findings from the study suggest that searches using keywords or terms such as "near me," "hours," "24 hour" and those that begin with "where to buy" or "how to find" have become among the most heavily initiated on mobile devices, according to Hitwise, a Connexity company. Some 56% of these search queries on a smartphone or tablet result in a visit to a store on the Hitwise Retail 500 list, a collection of the top 500 retail Web sites.

The study examined hundreds of thousands of online search queries on all search engines measured by Hitwise across 3.5 million smartphones and tablets on the AudienceView platform between April 10, and May 7, 2016.

Travel searches that include the word "near me" are among the most mobile-dominant, with 87% initiated on a mobile device. Another mobile-dominant search theme is queries that include the words "where is," which suggests the earliest stages of planning either a long or short trip.

About 82% of searches that contain the words "near me" and 85% of "restaurants in" are conducted on smartphones or tablets. Searches for a restaurant's "hours," "specials" and "reservation" requests are also above average for mobile, according to the Hitwise data.

Optimizing Web site pages for local searches requires knowhow. Bill Slawski, director of search marketing at Go Fish Digital, suggests including location information on pages in a postal mail format, making sure to use Schema.org vocabulary on the Web site pages that include local business and latitude and longitude information, and contact point and phone information.

"Finding a way for local blogs and news to mention the business name or site, as if you are a member of their community, can be golden to your efforts," Slawski said, advocating the need to acquire local citations from business directories that indicate where the business is located.

Services such as Whitespark or Yext will set those up in bulk and make sure all citations one consistent name, address and phone number.

Slawski also suggests to participate in local charities, become a meeting place for local groups, and show the community that the business cares. "Open yourself up to where you live, and it will embrace you for the effort," he said.

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