A recent article by The Verge highlighted businesses trying to get an edge in local search rankings with clever names like Thai Food Near Me.
So, I set out to find out if this strategy could impact local rankings and, more importantly, if other local businesses could replicate it.
Before I begin, I have to preface this with some good and bad news.
Bad news: Distance is an important ranking factor
Most restaurants will not qualify as best restaurants near me unless they are physically located near the location of the searching user.
The reason? One of the three critical factors for ranking local search results on Google is distance.
Suppose a restaurant owner wants people in Phoenix, Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York to discover their eatery with the term best restaurant near me.
For this they need to optimize for best restaurant And have a physical location in those cities. And not only in these cities, but also in the exact location of the searcher.
The real question: is there a restaurant must be ranked number one in the search results as the best near someone in Philadelphia if their only physical location is in San Diego?
Maybe – if the restaurant has something to offer beyond the sit-down dining experience, such as a physical product to go.
Or if it’s the best restaurant in the region, diners would be willing to travel more than half an hour or even plan a getaway to try it.
With hundreds of thousands of monthly searches for terms like the best restaurants, the best breakfast, the best foodetc., close to meit’s hard not to want to optimize for these phrases.
But as noted by the keyword difficulty (KD%) indicators with orange to red hues next to each phrase, it can be challenging to rank for many of the best ____ near me conditions.
Good news: Relevance and notoriety also matter
The good news is that many local businesses don’t must to rank as the best thing outside of the area in which they are located.
Most restaurant owners only need the attention of customers who are close to them to generate profit.
The better news is that there are ways to help your local business increase relevance and exposure using popular keyword phrases.
Focus on review sites with keyword-optimized listings
Encourage customers to review the restaurant on sites such as Tripadvisor, Yelp or similar networks that are already ranked by terms such as best restaurant near me with pages like Top 10 best restaurants in your city.
Promote keyword optimized reviews
Find key phrases in customer reviews that you’d like to optimize for and share them on your restaurant’s website and social media pages.
If the restaurant discussed above has a blog, for example, they can create a post that includes the phrase the best restaurant in India in the title and mention this review.
Contact local media
Contact local journalists, reporters and reviewers to be featured in articles or features on the best restaurants in your city.
Specifically, find the people who have created similar content – and their editors – and start engaging with them on the social networks they use the most. Not the social networks they post the most on, but the ones they engage with others on or the ones they have the most reach on.
Connect with social media influencers
Remember that Google is not the only name in search. 40% of Gen Z have turned to TikTok and Instagram as an alternative search engine. As such, some of the same search terms are also popular on social platforms.
Use the search bar on each relevant network to find the influencers who create content matching key phrases like best restaurants near me or the best restaurant in phoenix.
Start engaging with these influencers and look for content partnership opportunities.
Create a new brand to target more keywords
What if you want to target more key phrases than the restaurant ranks for?
Denny’s, a restaurant that often ranks for best breakfast near mealso does not qualify for best burger near me.
Although it wasn’t about ranking for a keyword phrase, the company created two new virtual brands.
One – The Burger Den – comes up when searching for best burger near me via Yelp’s listing with Top 10 burgers in my list of regions.
This can allow a brand traditionally known for one product to become equally known for another.
It takes more than a clever company name
In summary, the local search ranking landscape is more dynamic and multifaceted than ever.
While distance remains a constant factor, there are other creative strategies that local businesses can use to optimize close to me and other local search terms.
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