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Does Optimizing for “Near Me” Work?

We asked this question at a LocalU Advanced event: “Does adding instances of “near me” terms onto a website increase its ranking for “near me” keywords”.  The vote was very divided with 44% of people saying no and 56% of people saying yes.

We have done a ton of testing on optimizing for “near me” terms (ex: “plumber near me”) and have found that adding instances of “near you,” “nearby” and “near me” to the content of a page (including meta tags) does have a positive impact on ranking. Here is an example of a client’s homepage traffic for near me terms after we added some instances of “near me” terms to the page.

Here is a ranking tracker for another client of ours that we did this for. 

We have found this optimization has a much more drastic positive impact on organic ranking and traffic for “near me” terms than it does for local ranking and traffic from the 3-pack.

We also see, contrary to popular belief, that the majority of near me searches are happening on desktop (not mobile).

While a lot of small businesses have yet to pick up on this strategy, a lot of the major local directory sites are doing a solid job of implementing it.

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And See These Other Articles By SEO Joy Hawkins:

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Joy Hawkins

Joy is the owner of the Local Search Forum, LocalU, and Sterling Sky, a Local SEO agency in Canada & the USA. She has been working in the industry since 2006, writes for publications such as Search Engine Land, and enjoys speaking regularly at marketing conferences such as MozCon, LocalU, Pubcon, SearchLove, and State of Search. You can find her on Twitter or volunteering as a Product Expert on the Google My Business Forum.

This Post Has 22 Comments

  1. Joy, I look forward to your weekly newsletter and enjoy reading your articles. Thank you for your dedication, hard work, and love for our industry.

  2. We’ve been doing this for years. It works best for organic rankings if you include city names as well. Not so sure about the GMB rankings though – mixed results. However, I believe it decreases the click through rates. In testing Google Search Ad headlines, adding “Plumber Near Me” (or …You”) to a headline has a significantly lower CTR than a headline like “Plumber Richmond VA”, even if “Richmond” is elsewhere in the ad.

  3. Thanks Joy! I will experiment with this and track near me searches in Moz Pro. Interesting to know that the directories use it and that’s whey they rank so well for those searches!

  4. Hey Joy, thanks for sharing this post. I was about to start a “near me” seo optimisation campaign and I was uncertain whether or not to go with it given the efforts necessary. I am glad that it worked for you.

  5. Hi Joy, great article, it has been a suspicion of mine for some time now. We are in Australia and I know that the “near me” modifier has been popular in search in the US for a number years. Now it is turning up in Google’s auto suggest a lot more, so people are getting educated to the idea of that type of search phrase – so it may be time to do some experimenting to see what comes of it.

    Thanks for putting your research out there – very generous of you. : )

  6. Hi Joy, thanks for sharing these inasights for near by terms. Now, that i know, it works. I am gonna apply these techniques on our travel website. Let’s see hoe it goes.

  7. How is this working in 2023? Seems like the business directories have not been penalized for using Near Me. Are individual service websites still having success with this ?

  8. Great, it sounds like it’s worth a try. Now, what’s the story with long title tags? So you are a huge fan? Why and how is it done?
    Thanks much for the valuable info.

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