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The accelerating growth of “near me” searches

Local advantage through proximity: local search has experienced significant growth in recent years. As Google’s latest figures show, the “near me” trend continues to gain momentum. 

What do people search for on their smartphone? The answer to this question is the key to any successful mobile marketing strategy. For some time, there’s been an unwavering trend: although users rely on their smartphone for all kinds of purposes, the mobile device is especially used for orientation in the immediate environment. This pattern of “near me” searches continues to intensify and increases at a rate of 146% year after year.

Lisa Gevelber, Google’s VP Marketing in North America, recently shared her tips for a successful mobile strategy. It’s no surprise that she primarily emphasises local search. “If you are unsure where to start, mobile-centric searches are a good start,” advised Gevelber on the website “Think with Google”.

“Near me” searches increased by 130%

image Image: Think with Google on Twitter

The Google Marketing expert named “near me” searches the most prominent example of these insightful local-focused searches. Gevelber provided current figures and according to the Internet giant’s internal evaluations, “near me” searches increased by 130% from 2014 to 2015. Desktop usage only accounted marginally to this phenomenon, as 88% of the “near me” searches were performed on mobile device, and these mobile searches grew at 146% year over year.

Another interesting aspect of these searches, according to Gevelber, is that almost all kinds of retailers and local service providers, including hotels, car rentals, shoe shops, banks or even nail salons and convenience stores can profit from this trend. Gevelber states that “If you have a physical location, “near me” searches are probably popular for your business too.”

The new figures from Google show that the enormous growth of the past has been no bubble. In April 2015, the company announced that the number of “near me” searches had increased 34-fold since 2011 and had nearly doubled since the previous year. Mobile still accounted for 80% of these searches at the end of 2014.

Local search provides conversions

image Image: Think with Google on Twitter

Mobile searches seem to be a great thing, but they wouldn’t add much value to local businesses without visit or sales conversions. According to Google’s data, however, local retailers profit enormously from these searches. Not only will every second person who searches for a business online visit the physical location within a day, but 18% of these searches lead to a purchase within 24 hours.

The continuing and further increasing interest in local search is impressively illustrated by an evaluation of Google Trends. In 2011 “near me” searches were still almost non-existent. By 2014, a rising trend began to emerge and by February 2015, we could see an increasingly steep curve taking shape, which also continues to grow since February of this year.

These figures show how the Internet can strengthen local businesses and help them compete with purely online competitors. In addition to a quick search for the next ATM or an open pharmacy, more and more customers want to implement spontaneous ideas immediately and research before purchasing products and services. “Near me” is therefore the literal local advantage that businesses and services with a physical presence have online.

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