How To Rank on Google For Near Me Searches


How do you improve your chances of ranking on Google for ‘near me’ searches? It combines optimizing your Google My Business page, on-site SEO, and other localized factors, such as link building.

I will share tactics that have worked with hundreds of local clients so you know what to focus on for ‘near me’ SEO. There are also many misconceptions about near-me queries, which I will dive into.

Related Blog: 15 Amazing “Near Me” Google Search Stats

Importance of Near Me SEO

  • The number of ‘Near Me’ searches on Google has increased by more than 500% in recent years [source].
  • 68% of online searchers prefer to click on the local 3-pack whereas only 27% prefer organic results [source].

There’s no denying that when you rank well on Google for near-me searches, it can bolster your business. ‘Near me’ searches have become so popular that some businesses incorporate near me into their company name.

When my wife and I were in Hilton Head a few years back, the coffee shop across the street from our hotel was named, “Coffee Shop Near Me.” The coffee shop owner named their business with the sole intention of improving their rank for near-me queries on Google. This is how competitive the near-me landscape has gotten.

Note: It is no longer a best practice to keyword stuff the title of your Google My Business page. Continue reading about the Vicinity Update to better understand how Google’s combatting keyword stuffing.

Understanding Intent

It’s essential to understand the intent behind ‘near me’ queries as it varies based on the type of business.

Local businesses like pizza shops, laundromats, or auto repair companies will likely receive more ‘near me’ searches based on the number of times someone intends to visit this specific type of business. Someone will not want to drive 30 minutes each time to pick up a pizza, they desire a nearby, convenient location. Hence the reason why near me would be so relevant in this instance. The ‘near me’ search below shows three pizza shops within a 1-mile radius of my office, where my search is being conducted.

A service-based business like a law firm or marketing agency may not encounter the same near-me search volume. For a law firm, the frequency of visits would be far less than your local pizza shop so near-me optimization wouldn’t be as significant.

This is why when you search for a service-based business, they expand the local pack results to a broader radius, casting a net throughout the city.

I recommend watching my YouTube video on picking the best Google My Business location. This will help you better understand the intent of the localized search. You can also subscribe to The Media Captain on YouTube as I record weekly videos on how small and medium-sized businesses can improve their presence on Google.

We’ve covered the importance of near-me localized search and now you understand intent. Let’s dive into ways you can better optimize to improve your chances of ranking for near-me searches on Google.

Claiming & Optimizing Google My Business Page

If you have a local business, you must claim your Google My Business page. According to Business DIT, the 3-Pack results get 44 percent of actual clicks on a results page. Ranking in the local pack can be a game changer for your local business.

Your Google My Business page pulls in your address so Google knows whether your location is nearby where the search is happening. When someone Googles “Coffee Shop Near Me,” if your Google My Business page is well-optimized and your business is within close proximity, you have a strong probability of ranking within the local pack. Let’s dive into an example so you can better understand.

Example of Google My Business Page and Proximity

In the example below, I searched for “Coffee Shop Near Me” within the 43205 zip code. The local pack displays Little Cat and Too Good Eats as the top two results, both businesses are located in the 43205 zip code. Despite having more Google reviews, Upper Coffee Cafe is the third result. The reason for this is that Upper Coffee Cafe operates in the 43215 zip code, which is farther away from the targeted search location. Google’s algorithm takes this proximity factor into account and emphasizes the relevance of nearby coffee shops in the search results.

Related Video: How to get more Google My Business Reviews

Location Specific Pages

Building location-specific pages is a powerful local SEO strategy that can improve your chances of ranking for ‘near me’ Google search results. When you have headlines on your location pages referencing the city or suburb and other local indicators such as your address, hours of operation, directions, etc, this can enhance your local SEO. Earlier, I mentioned that the local pack gets 44% of clicks on a results page. When people scroll beyond the local pack, a well-optimized page can improve your chances of ranking in the organic section.

If you have multiple locations, I recommend linking your Google My Business pages to your respective location page. We’ve seen an uptick in local pack rankings when clients link to their location pages versus the homepage when multiple locations exist. This makes sense as Google can better associate your Google My Business page with the localized information included on your location page versus more generic information on your homepage. In the example below for Ability Chiropractic, I highlighted the website displayed for each of their Google My Business pages. Each of these links to a respective location page.

If you need help deciding whether to link to the homepage or location page on Google My Business, contact The Media Captain.

Customer Reviews

Reviews are one of the most vital ranking factors for local SEO, according to Whitespark. Google can detect where reviews are coming from. When there are a lot of local reviews on your Google My Business page, this is another solid localized SEO indicator that can improve your local pack rank, which will help you get more exposure for ‘near me’ Google searches.

We recommend GatherUp to our clients to help them acquire more reviews with a consistent reputation enhancement strategy.

On your location-specific pages, I recommend adding reviews to the page as this helps enhance your localized content.

Imagine if there was a dentist with four locations throughout Columbus. If someone searched for “Gahanna Dentist” and found a page with unique content and reviews from Gahanna, this would match the searcher’s intent and be high-quality content, something Google would value and likely rank higher.

Local Backlinks

High-quality backlinks are vital for SEO success. When you get solid local backlinks, this can improve your chances of populating for near-me searches as it bolsters your authority score.

Our marketing agency, The Media Captain, has a solid local presence in Columbus, Ohio. We’ve been featured on the 10TV, The Columbus Dispatch along with the Better Business Bureau (to name a few publications). When these trustworthy local websites link back to our site, it improves our local credibility in the eyes of Google, enhancing your exposure for localized searches.

I recommend you get involved in your local community and find ways to acquire high-quality, local backlinks.

Vicinity Update & Additional Advice

In 2021, Google introduced the Vicinity Update, which impacted businesses that included keywords like “near me” in their Google My Business titles.

Earlier, I illustrated the example of the “Coffee Shop Near Me” business name. Before 2021, the business title carried so much weight with local SEO rankings that it would make sense to include “near me” in your business title.

I don’t advise doing this anymore. I recommend going with a more memorable brand name that will distinguish your company from its competitors. Since Google discredits this sort of keyword stuffing, it’s a double whammy of bad branding and potential Google Penalty risks.

Another piece of advice. You don’t need to overoptimize your title tags, headings, and body copy with the keyword ‘near me’ throughout your website. Google understands your location based on your Google My Business page, your website, and other local indicators, such as backlinks and reviews.

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