Near Me or Best? How to Navigate Emerging Search Trends

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screenshot of map pack for query best marketing agencies

I follow Think with Google on LinkedIn for the search trend factoids they regularly share. These straight-forward data points help marketers keep track of emerging search behavior, like the fact that mobile searches for “best” have grown over 80% over the past two years.

Oh how interesting!

Did you also know that mobile searches for “near me” have grown over 3X in the past two years? Or that “for me” searches have shot up 60% in the past two years?

Again, interesting, but what do we do with this information other than reshare it on our socials? How do you apply it to your marketing strategy? In the examples above, a marketing manager may be asking themselves, “which of the three — “near me,” “for me,” or “best” — is most important?”

To avoid a constantly-changing pursuit of the shiny new search trend, we recommend applying the generality to your business to see how the shoe fits. What’s true for the wedding dress industry may not apply to portable storage containers.

“Near Me” Search Optimization is Still Gold

Looking at Google Trend data, “near me” searches overtook “best” searches in May 2017. The trendline suggests that users have always been interested in finding the “best” of something but didn’t start looking for “near me” results until recently (likely the rise in voice-activated mobile search).

But again, this shouldn’t be a blanket statement. “Near me” and “best” says something about where the customer is in their journey. Using “best” indicates the customer is gathering information at the top of the sales funnel. Using “near me” indicates they are ready to vet local providers in the middle of the sales funnel.

Are you going to brand awareness? Consider writing content about being the “best” in your industry. You should also scrutinize search results to see if there are any lists you can get on. In some cases, you can buy your way onto the list. If you go this route, we recommend tracking referrals from these lists to see if the juice (return) is worth the squeeze (investment).

Are you a local service-based business? Look to see how much search volume there is for “[service] near me.” Is it significant? Consider targeting this keyword on your local business page by using it as a header before your CTA. Also, make sure your Google My Business is up to date with accurate business information and great customer reviews.

Are you a local service-based business with lots of competition? Look to see how much search volume there is for “best [service] near me.” The most consumer choice, the more likely it is that consumers are looking for the best choice that’s near them. For example, consumers are more likely to search for “best pizza near me” than “best ramen near me” because there just aren’t as many ramen restaurants to make the decision overwhelming.

Let’s illustrate an example.

mobile search stat for query

If I was bra manufacturer, I would certainly want to rank for “best bra” queries to introduce my bra to consumers. After consumers know what bra is truly best, they may follow up with a “near me” search, for which a local store that carries the brand will want to show up. Therefore, it’s a two-prong strategy: national brand awareness and local search optimization.

This strategy is especially effective for national franchise systems with a national brands and local storefronts or service areas. In this case, the national brand should be targeting “best” queries — along with other informative brand awareness topics — while the locations optimize their local websites for “near me” searches.

Google My Business optimization also plays a huge role.

What About “For Me” Searches?

Queries like “best bra for me” are certainly on the rise for products and services that have any degree of customization. But still, search volume is minimal. According to SEM Rush, “how to find the best bra for me” has 50 US-based Google searches a month. It’s certainly a trend to keep an eye on as users grow more cordial with their voice assistants.

There is significant search volume for some “for me” queries, both of which seem very quizzy in nature (and search results confirm this). An interactive quiz is certainly a smart way to target “for me” searches.

  • what dog is right for me (4,400 US-based Google searches a month)
  • what job is right for me (4,400 US-based Google searches a month)

For now, when it comes to “for me” searches, Google is only dreaming of a world where users rely on its search engine for making personal decisions.

But the day will come.

Need help ranking for valuable brand awareness keywords? Let’s set up some time to show you our data-driven content calendars. Need help ranking for “near me” searches? Let’s see if you’re due for a GMB audit and local SEO strategy. And if you found this blog at all insightful, give us a shoutout on your favorite social channel!

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