Local SEO Twitter was slightly a flutter yesterday after my bud John Mueller apparently mentioned you should avoid placing “Near Me” in titles if you want to rank for “Near Me” searches:

Back in the day when Google reps were a bit less vocal, we crazy SEO types had to come up with ideas based on what we were seeing on Google and test them. Sometimes, to our surprise, they worked wonders. For example, I discovered that putting phone numbers of local businesses in the title tags of their yellow page profile pages would reliably generate an extra 2-3% traffic lift as it would help that page rank for phone number queries. That one worked for years. I probably put my kids through college with it and got some of our clients nice end of year bonuses to boot.

So a few years ago when we noticed that Google was basically forcing people to search “near me” by making it a top suggested search for almost any query that had local intent, what did it expect us to do?

Near Me Local SEO Ranking Factors

So we rolled out “near me” strategies to any client that targeted local queries and it worked. A few % lift every time. And it was easy. We always used to show Trip Advisor’s very subtle Restaurants Near Me page as the canonical example:

Restaurants Near Me

I get why Google wouldn’t want to reward sites that use this tactic as a “near me” query is basically just a geographic search that should show results near the searcher v. documents that use the phrase “near me”, but Google created this by forcing users into “near me” searches and showing documents that use the phrase “near me” at the top of the results for years.

And while Google definitely seems to be tamping down on these results, I am still seeing plenty of “near me” documents showing up:

And if “near me” really is the same as a geographic search, why would Google show different results for this query?
chase atm pleasanton

The problem is Rank Brain still doesn’t think these are exactly the same queries. And I don’t think it’s because “near me” suggests a different radius than “pleasanton”. I think it’s because Google’s algorithm isn’t always sure if you want something near you or a document.

Of course you could take the position that these pages are ranking for “near me” queries despite their titles because they are on strong domains like Thumbtack and Angieslist but Homeguide.com?

No offense HomeGuide, but you need get going on the linkbuilding…your welcome.

And how much do you want to bet that Savior Plumbing would move up this SERP if it added “near me” to its homepage title tag?

As long as Google leaves gaps like this, SEOs are going to step in and fill them. Why wouldn’t they?

You can rant all you want about how it feels icky,  but your feelings probably aren’t a ranking factor. Oh, and here’s a search you might want to check out.




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