These Two Words In A Restaurant's Name Can Change Everything

It all comes down to clever real-life search engine optimization.

I don't know about you, but if I'm having a difficult time deciding on what to eat for lunch, sometimes I'll pick a type of food I'm in the mood for, hop into Google Maps, and type in a search string like, "Thai food near me." And that game of restaurant roulette will usually help me pick a place to go visit. But if you're in New York City and type that very same search string into Google Maps, and you might find a result for an actual restaurant with that very name: Thai Food Near Me.

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The Verge recently reported on this Thai food establishment and investigated whether tacking on the words "near me" could actually game Google's search engine results, bringing in some serious foot traffic.

Google search visibility can make or break a business

Just like most businesses, restaurants only thrive when people come in through that front door. And sometimes it takes all sorts of strategies beyond delicious food to make that happen. like in this case, that really cheeky name designed to snag Google Maps searches.

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Verge reporter Mia Sato found that the name "Thai Food Near Me" functioned as sort of a mixed bag. Sato, who lives in Brooklyn, attempted to pull it up on Google Maps using the generic search string (the restaurant is near where Sato lives), but didn't catch it on the list of results. However, a later search, this time from Wisconsin, resulted in finding the restaurant. I tried the same search, though I didn't have much luck. It was only when I typed in the words "Thai food near me New York" that I had any real success.

Sato spoke to Danny Sullivan, Google's public liason for its Search function, to see if this naming strategy was a sound one.

"I doubt it," Sullivan said, later adding, "I've seen these kinds of things over the years, and they kind of make me laugh and have a bit of a chuckle. But I don't think they're really great marketing campaigns."

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But here's the thing: There are a lot of factors that boost search engine optimization, like links from social media, and news articles that refer to the subject matter at hand. That "bit of a chuckle" Sullivan had actually translated into a different effect for the rest of the internet, because Thai Food Near Me garnered plenty of online attention to boost its presence on Google's platform even before it was open.

A photo of Thai Food Near Me's storefront went viral on X, garnering close to 77,000 likes, as brown paper still lined the restaurant's windows during construction. Even Google's official X account responded, saying "very relatable" with a crown emoji. Not a bad start for such a clickbait-y name.

"All of this content, including the story you're reading now, will help Thai Food Near Me's prominence on Google platforms," Sato writes. And yes, that includes what I'm writing right now, too.

That, of course, doesn't matter if the food's no good. But based off the reviews that Google users have left, which average out to 4.9 out of 5 stars, the restaurant seems to be proving to the world that it's more than just a funny name.

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