The rise of the ‘near me’ search?
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Yet, if you are searching for a service ‘near me’ how do search engines know where ‘near me’ even is?
Once upon a time, the only results a search engine would give a user were based on the words typed into the search engine. And whether those words appeared on a web page. In recent years, search engines have become far more intelligent. Search Enignes can now rank and show pages related to search queries even if the words in that query aren’t included on the website.
Google in particular makes tweaks and changes to their search engine and its results on an almost daily basis. Some tweaks happen so often they are barely noticed. Other tweaks to their algorithm are large and known as Core Updates. Core Algorithm updates can happen at any time. From quarterly and sometimes even monthly.
In 2013, Google released a new algorithm update known amongst the SEO community as ‘Hummingbird’. It was the first stage of moving away from the search query exactly matching the query intent. This was the first stage of the search engine using AI. Rather than thinking about exact match keywords. Google started to think about the users’ intent.
If you were to search ‘SEO in Cornwall’ pre-2013. You would need those exact keywords somewhere on your website for the search engine to show your page. Yet, from 2013 with the new Hummingbird algorithm update coming into play. You could now show up when someone types in ‘Search Engine Optimisation in Kernow’. The search query and keywords are different but the users intent is the same. Google was starting to think more like a real person and less like a robot.
In 2015 another Algorithm update rolled out called RankBrain. This further cemented Google’s intelligence and focussed on the larger context, like synonyms, implied words, and personal search history.
The below image shows the popularity of the search term ‘near me’. Google takes into consideration your location and your search history. When you search a ‘keyword + near me’ it can provide results for what you need. You can see the popularity of words like ‘near me’ increase over time. As Google better understands users. Users change the way they search.
Google trends for ‘Near Me’
How do search engines know where ‘near me’ is?
If you have ever searched for ‘pizza near me’ and wondered how the search results are all hyper-relevant? Then that can be down to the device your using and it’s settings.
If your searching via mobile then there is a chance you are using GPS. The search engines can use this data when you need to search for something. If you are using a desktop device when you connect to wifi. The wifi and IP will be connected to location information.
The rise of conversational search
Ten years ago if you had typed in a ‘keyword + near me’ you would have been lucky to get a useful result. Google is clever. It is using artificial intelligence to understand what you are looking for without even typing it in. It is also using conversational language like you would use with a friend to ask them a question.
In 2019 another algorithm update was released by Google which saw the launch of BERT. Bert was designed to better understand search queries. Interpret text both in a query and on the webpage. Search engines began to understand and identify entities and relationships between entities even better.
A part of learning and understanding SEO is to understand how the search engines work. How they change, and even how users search.
What once worked as an SEO technique in 2010 won’t work in 2021. So it is important to get help from an SEO expert to maximize your efforts.
If you’re looking for an Seo expert near you, then you have come to the right place.
Contact Amanda for a chat to see how SEO could help drive more traffic to your brand.