You Are Not Near Everyone

So, one of the reasons I keep full moderation on comments on this website is black hat backlinks. Shady SEO operators will place comments on unrelated websites containing links. The hope is that Google will then recognize these links and raise the authority of their site.

Most of the people resorting to these tactics aren’t exactly selling anything above board. Bitcoin scams, pornography (much of it underage, racist, or transphobic – I don’t have a problem with porn, but…), lots of stuff in Russian that’s probably one or the other, and website traffic. Today, though, I got one trying to sell me drywall. In Texas.

Which brings me to what this post is really about. The comment trying to sell me drywall also included a keyword ending in “near me.”

Every so often I get a client who asks me to do this. I’m trying to save time by telling everyone: Don’t.

Do not ever do this!

Let’s drill down to how location-based search works. Let’s say I’m in another city, hungry, and craving pasta. I pull out my phone and tap “Italian restaurant near me.”

My phone queries GPS and servers to establish it’s location. It then goes to Google Maps and finds all the Italian restaurants, if there are any, within a few miles of my current location. Oh, look, there’s a good one only half a mile away. 4.5 stars.

My phone is not looking at people’s websites for “Italian restaurant near me.” In other words, this keyword is completely worthless.

Except it’s worse than that. Anyone with any understanding of how location search works is going to be laughing at you. Even if it did work, would you want to be fielding calls from people in another state?

It is also impossible to work into anything grammatically.

Please stop doing this and stop asking content marketers to do it.

So, what should you do instead?

  1. All brick and mortar businesses should claim their Google Business Profile. I don’t have one because they are only for people who have a store front and opening hours, not purely online businesses like mine. Claim it and make sure it is up to date, including phone number, opening hours, etc. Add photos of your business. This profile is what is pulled up when somebody does a “near me” search.
  2. Sparingly use “Italian restaurant in Alexandria” or wherever your location is on your site. Sparingly. Put it in the metadata. This will help you rank if people are typing the specific location (let’s say I’m going to the other city and will be there at dinner time and know I want Italian, so want to make a reservation now).
  3. If you provide services where you go to a location such as, you know, drywall, have a service area page on your website. This should simply list the neighborhoods you serve and how far you are willing to go. Some people get fancy and do a map. As a customer I find this annoying. Just list them. Or do both. Don’t make your site’s visitors mess around with a map to establish whether you will serve them. A service area page will help you show up for those locations and reduce the number of phone calls you get from people who aren’t sure if they’re within your range.

But don’t offer freelance writing services near me. Of course, I do…online only businesses can be near everyone. Including you, if you’re interested in seeing what content marketing from an experienced human writer can do for your business. Contact me today to discuss your needs.

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