What is personal search?

Simply put, personal search is a query that includes terms like “near me” or “should I” in the term when a person decides to look for something.

According to Google, personal search terms are on the rise, and that means a few things for local business owners – and many local business owners may not understand the significance of these queries.

Over the past two years, here’s the increase in personal search terms:

“Near me” – 60% rise in volume

“Should I” – 80% rise in volume

Not everyone chooses to search this way; autofill often prompts users to end a query with the “near me”, especially on a mobile device.

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Location, location, location…

If you own a local business – one with a brick and mortar component – you already know that getting foot traffic through the door is the single most critical factor in the success of your business.  No traffic, no sales.  More traffic, more sales.

Personal search is one of the most important ways to fill your doorways with new traffic, or to remind previous customers that you exist.  It should be obvious that personal search, as it relates to location and proximity, is also very closely tied to mobile device usage.

The majority of searches today are conducted on mobile devices, and nearly all personal searches start with a user picking up their smartphone to find what they are looking for, in that moment and at that location.

For help locating a late-night pizza joint, the nearest hospital, or the new neighborhood hotspot—people use search to connect and discover with the world around them.

[READ: Do You Make the Most of Your Marketing Collateral? – BLOG ARTICLE]

Better, faster, stronger…

The use of terms like “should I” in personal search is a relatively new addition to the already complex field of search engine optimization and discovery.  However, this type of language in searches is only going to rise in tandem with the use of smart speakers and personal digital assistants such as Siri, Alexa, or Google Assistant.

As more people grow to rely on digital assistants to do the heavy lifting, we’ll start to see them being used to handle more of the small stuff – personally I admit to using Siri to turn on my Do Not Disturb across all my Apple devices.

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Micro-moments are still a thing.

I’ve talked extensively about micro-moments in some other blog articles, and when we define the best practices for using our mobile ad platform across a broad spectrum of industries, we nearly always refer to the fact that providing useful information during a micro-moment is a major component of successfully presenting your business or product to someone who is interested or could benefit at that point in time.

This greatly increases the chances that a user will respond to the prompt and engage or interact with your particular business, instead of with a competitor.

Consumers now believe that answers to their most specific questions are out there, and they trust search to deliver the right response at the right time.

Personal search is gaining in popularity, and it’s being nurtured by the search engines like Google.  People believe that they can find what they are looking for, using natural language search functions and voice commands.  Search engine technology has grown and developed into a platform that inspires confidence among users, no matter what age or demographic group.

How does this affect your business?

Personal search means that you need to actively work on building a bigger presence in search results.  Just because you are a local business owner does not mean you should ignore the digital world.

  1. Make sure your webpages are clean, modern, up to date and fully responsive with mobile devices.  If you do not do this, Google will penalize you in search results.
  2. Participate in social media for your business.  Many people say that Google+ is a waste of time, but the reality is that Google does recognize (it is their platform!) and will skew the search results to include your + content.  LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter – all of these will help boost your results,  but it’s best to pick just one, maybe two, and focus your efforts there, especially if you don’t have a dedicated social media person on your marketing team.
  3. Make sure you are included in review sites.  Whether it’s Yelp, Google Maps reviews (I would suggest that you spend some time reviewing stuff on Maps so that you learn how it works), or other sites specific to your business type or location, it’s important that you are included in the results on these sites.
  4. Take ownership of your local business in Google.  Do it here –https://www.google.com/business/
    Add your contact info, hours, descriptions, etc and keep the information up to date.  If you do not, people will complain to Google and you will suffer in the results returned to users during personal search.

 

If you follow these simple steps, you will find your business included in search results more often and more favorably.  If you don’t do it, then your competitors will, and you will pay the price for their hard work.

 

It’s almost always best to work smarter before you work harder.