When potential customers are looking for a local shop or service provider "nearby", that’s a strong signal of intent. Last year, Google discovered that smartphone users in particular were dropping location qualifiers like postcodes, towns and counties from their local searches. So old searches like “web designers eastbourne” were being dropped and replaced just by “web designers”. Why? Because users assume the results will be automatically relevant to their location thanks to their devices GPS system.
And people have continued to adapt to advances in search technology. If you want a crystal clear example of purchase intent, “near me” mobile searches that contain a variant of “can I buy” or “to buy” have grown over +500% over the last two years. These include things like “where can I buy stamps near me,” “places to buy scrubs near me,” or “where to buy vinyl records near me.”
+500% growth in near me mobile searches that contain a variant of “can I buy” or “to buy” over the last two years.
“Near me” is no longer just about finding a specific place. It’s now about finding a specific thing, in a specific area, and in a specific period of time. People now expect search technology to find the places in their area where they can get what they need. This more-informed shopper no longer has to waste precious time driving around town to multiple stores.
You might typically associate a “near me” search with something like “restaurants near me” or “petrol station near me.” But we’re seeing growth in “near me” searches for very specific items, from “chelsea boots near me,” to “where to get a facial near me,” and “tarragon near me.”
A few other examples. In the past two years, Google have identified:
- +200% growth in car-dealer related searches “near me” e.g. “car dealerships near me”, “used car dealerships near me”, “mercedes benz dealership near me”
- +600% growth in mobile searches for dress-related “near me” e.g. “wedding dresses near me” or “evening dresses near me”
Right here, right now
Today’s expectations on instant gratification and impatient consumers wanting things in the moment they need them - which is typically “now.”
In the past two years, Google recorded:
- +150% growth in mobile searches for “___ near me now” e.g. “food near me now,” “petrol station near me now,” and “delivery near me open now”
- +900% growth in mobile searches for “___ near me today/tonight” e.g. “open houses near me today,” “cheap hotels near me tonight,” and “movies playing near me today”
- +200% growth in mobile searches for “Open” + “now” + “near me” e.g. “restaurants near me open now,” “stores open near me right now,” and “pharmacy near me open now”
See the below graph which shows the growth in “near me now” searches from May 2013 to April 2018
It’s clear that expectations for finding exactly what people want, exactly when they want it, are growing.
You’ve probably done a version of these searches yourself. And when you type in something like “open now near me,” what you want is hours, a specific location, and available inventory, not a slow-to-load website that buries the relevant information.
The challenge for marketers is to make sure you’re giving people the answers they’re looking for as quickly as possible. And the opportunity is capturing their consideration - and the sale - by doing so.