Google searches "available near me" grew by 100% over the year

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Over the past year, the number of “available near me” searches on Google has grown by 100% worldwide. Reena Nadkarni, head of Google Local Ads, spoke about this in an interview with Search Engine Land.

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SEL editor Greg Sterling asked Nadkarni to answer a series of questions to find out how retailers (small and medium-sized) can maximize their local sales.

Most shoppers nowadays plan ahead when and how to shop, Nadkarni said. This is in contrast to past behavior where consumers went out to shop and visited multiple stores looking for something that would interest them. Now they want to feel safe and try to avoid crowds.

What Helps Support Offline Sales

According to Nadkarni's observations, sellers are now being helped by such things as the introduction of contactless payments, the ability to pick up goods near the store, displaying up-to-date information about the range and online communication about the security measures taken in the store.

These observations are corroborated by Google research conducted in 2020:

  • 80% of shoppers combine purchases to visit fewer outlets than in previous years;
  • 67% of shoppers plan to confirm the availability of a desired item online before going to a store to buy it.

Retailers are helped by Local Inventory Ads and local campaigns, the functionality of which has recently been significantly updated. The latter allow you to highlight the products available in the store, talk about the security measures taken, special promotions, as well as important changes in work. The main goal of local campaigns is to provide offline sales.

Nadkarni also recommends using smart store visit bidding, which allows you to optimize your campaigns to drive offline traffic.

Options for "very small companies"

About 90% of companies verified in Google My Business have only one location. For those entrepreneurs who cannot replace local sales with online transactions, Nadkarni also advised using local campaigns.

In case of a limited budget, she recommended using the functions available in Google My Business:

  • Fill in the profile to the maximum (including images);
  • Add relevant attributes (including the ability to pick up goods near the store);
  • Publish profile entries;
  • Add information about the range (if possible);
  • Regularly update opening hours and security information to keep customers informed of changes.

Finally, it is important for companies of all sizes to actively manage their reputation on Google and other review platforms.