Given consumers’ reliance on online purchases for the past two years, it’s not surprising to see that, even as they return to in-person shopping, they still turn to the internet to streamline buying experiences. Online searches for businesses “near me” have been on the rise, with Google searches for “open now near me” up 400% from last September.
Given the immense usage of the term, new businesses may think that including the “near me” phrase in their brand name may be an incredible opportunity to capitalize on the extensive search engine optimization (SEO) potential of this phrase. However, Google now ranks these companies below competitors. Thus, including the term in your brand may cause more harm than good for your business’s long-term SEO.
Unpacking the “Near Me” Hype
With moving and vacationing on the rise post-covid, tired travelers are always looking for a quick way to find restaurants, hotels, and everyday businesses in unfamiliar areas. Searching for these places with the phrase “near me” is a quick way to find locations in the immediate vicinity. It’s SEO 101: shoppers keep including “near me” in search queries. Thus, including that phrase in the name of your new business will shoot your company website to the top of search rankings based on name alone.
Notably, the commonly applicable term can attach to any business name, regardless of what you sell. Businesses have certainly tried: from Dentists’ offices to auto repair shops to massage parlors, companies across the country have incorporated the term “near me” into their name precisely for this reason. But do not be fooled: while these brands may have enjoyed a temporary boost in SEO, recent developments by Google will make these brands consider removing the “near me” letters on their store very soon.
Why Businesses May Regret Using “Near Me” in Their Names
Due to recent Google algorithm changes, search queries with the term “near me” will now prioritize business proximity over other factors. This means Google will always suggest businesses that are near consumers over businesses that are more relevant due to having the term in their name. In rare instances, Google may suggest a business that is further away than closer alternatives, but only if it has standout reviews or relevance to other terms in a search query.
New businesses that merely have “near me” in their name will fail to gain much traction under this new SEO ranking unless they’re the closest option to a consumer, which ultimately defeats the entire point of including “near me” in the business name. So, for example, if someone searches “dentists near me,” Google will always recommend the closest Dentist instead of the actual Dentists Near Me business. In other words, while including the term is not explicitly Black Hat SEO, making this optimization is nonetheless a waste of resources and time.
How Your Business Can Still Capitalize on the “Near Me” Search Craze
While weaving the “near me” term into your business name won’t be amazingly effective, there are still other steps you can take to optimize your company’s presence in the current online influx of “near me” searches. While simplistic these strategies can pay dividends in improving your brand’s “near me” SEO for years to come.
1) Encourage Customers to Leave Reviews
As mentioned above, customer reviews are one of the only factors besides proximity that “near me” Google searches take into consideration. If two businesses are equally close to a user, the one with more favorable reviews will appear first on these searches. Both Google and general users value reviews when choosing one business over another, so you should make obtaining positive reviews a priority if you want to appeal to frequent “near me” search users.
Also, be sure to reply to reviews when you get them! Customers that take the time to leave a review should always receive a response for their time. In addition, in the case of negative reviews, replying to their criticism gives future shoppers insight into how your business treats your customers and their experience. Getting customers to leave a positive review may be a challenge depending on your industry, so for more in-depth tips, check out our guide here.
2) Optimize Your Google My Business Page
Google My Business (GMB) is an essential tool for improving your brand’s visibility in “near me” searches. When set up, GMB contains information about your hours of operation, customer reviews, and location, which Google’s algorithm will always check for proximity when users search businesses near them. Be sure that any information listed on your GMB page corresponds with information on your website or social media outlets to ensure Google does not confuse your real figures. For more information on the additional strengths of Google My Business, refer to Premiere Creative’s GMB optimization services list.
3) Optimize Your Website for Mobile Search
Naturally, many “near me” search queries on Google occur on mobile devices, since 63% of all search visits take place on mobile. Your business must have its website optimized for mobile, both in terms of speed and user interface, to ensure users in a rush can get on your website quickly from Google.
Users may look elsewhere if your mobile website is taking too long to load or does not function properly compared to the desktop version. Google also considers site speed as part of its organic search ranking algorithm, and by having a website that isn’t optimized to run effectively on mobile, Google may rank your business’ site below other physically close competitors.
Optimize “Near Me” SEO the Correct Way
These three tips are a great start for your brand’s growing online presence, but fully optimizing your organic ranking for “near me” searches on Google is paramount for staying competitive for location-based searches in your market. Consistently ranking above similar businesses in your area requires the help of a multifaceted Digital Marketing team.
At Premiere Creative, we’ve been helping businesses enhance their online presence since 1994. Our team of SEO specialists sits ready to help your business rank first for not just “near me” searches, but any search query on Google. Give us a call at (973) 346-8100 today to discover how we can help your business achieve long-term SEO growth.