Stephen Kenwright

Stephen Kenwright

Director of Search

I don’t want to tell you where to eat ramen. I’m not even sure we eat ramen in the UK so I’m not going to pretend this is anything other than an experiment.

Back in 2008 Patrick wrote about Google trialling advertising with a search focused call-to-action. More brands have been doing this more recently and it’s been working really well. It makes perfect sense – if more people are searching for your brand + a keyword (e.g. “used cars autotrader”) then Google should naturally assume that your brand would be a good result for the keyword alone (e.g. AutoTrader showing for “used cars”). We have a case study on the blog to follow in the next week or so that shows that this does indeed seem to be the case so I think we can expect to see more search-led CTAs in above the line advertising in the coming months and years.

Right now Google is running the below ad in the UK. It’s called ‘How to Ramen’ and it features a CTA instructing viewers to enter a search for “show me ramen places nearby”.

What ranks now?

Here’s a screenshot of the current search results on desktop. The top three results are arguably pretty good (although London is 200 miles from here – not exactly nearby) but wherever I’m searching from Markham, LA and London aren’t even nearby to each other. This should be easy right?

Show me ramen places nearby search query

Do you want to see ramen places nearby?

We’re about to see if that’s obvious to Google or not. There are some authoritative sites ranking for “show me ramen places nearby” – probably the kind of sites that you’d be looking for if you entered this query. They probably don’t want to see a search agency.

These also don’t feature the keyword exactly – and this search agency’s blog does. Has Google really moved on so far when it comes to satisfying user intent? Would this blog post rank on desktop but not on mobile? Will it even rank at all?

I’m hoping to find out whether clear and obvious user intent can be beaten by a post optimised for keywords around Japanese noodles in your vicinity and published on a decent domain.

Let’s find out.

Edit 23/1/16

So far I’ve made it to around 4th on desktop, which is interesting in itself. Looks like it’s pretty easy to breeze past those junk results in 4th and 5th (remember I said that LA and Markham weren’t exactly close to me?) – of course you could argue that actually “nearby” signals intent that my main aim is to get the address of a Japanese restaurant or noodle bar close to where I am, so I might not want to see listicles anyway.

You can see from Dan’s tweet below that Google knows where he is (Manchester) but that doesn’t seem to affect the organic results.

Edit 24/1/16

I’ve managed to make it to number 2. As Rikki Lear pointed out it really does ramen to be seen if it stays there as there’s an element of freshness – but I will point out that this post has no links and the other 3 results in the top 4 have plenty.

Show me ramen places nearby ranking 2

Update 25/04/16

3 months after originally posting this article Google has understood that there is local intent behind the query “show me ramen places nearby”, although it hasn’t quite understood what a user might see as an acceptable distance when they’re searching for something “nearby”.

Either way, the Local Pack is now showing at the top of the results and this page has moved up into second (London clearly isn’t nearby enough).

Show me ramen places nearby with map

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