Google Study: 34X Increase in “Near Me” Searches Since 2011

The internet and the personal computer brought a world’s worth of information to our homes. Today, smartphones have brought that information to our pockets. As a result, consumers are searching for events, products, stores and other things nearby no matter where they are.

According to research from Google, search interest in “near me” has increased 34X since 2011, and nearly doubled since last year.  The driving factor behind this growth: mobile. 80% of these kind of searches came from mobile in Q4 2014.

These “nearby” searches on mobile aren’t the same in nature as the desktop search. The biggest differentiator between the two is what happens after the search. Where desktops are often the device of choice for researching a purchase, mobile is where consumers get the information they need, then take action.

Google’s data showed that 50% of consumers who conduct a local search on their smartphone visit a store within a day and 18% of these searches lead to a purchase within a day. Given the fact that the majority of purchases still take place in brick and mortar locations, a store visit is an extremely valuable result.

To help conceptualize what consumers are doing, Google coined the concept of “micro-moments” – intent-rich moments where decisions are made. In other words, the moments where consumers act on a need to learn something, do something, discover something, watch something or buy something. And mobile appears to be the enabler of these moments.

Looking beyond just nearby searches, this year mobile surpassed PCs for all local information lookups. We are long past the point where adopting a sophisticated mobile strategy would be classified as innovative.

However, Google is making the decision to embrace mobile in a meaningful way much easier for brands big and small. Next week’s mobile-friendly algorithm change, also referred to as the “mopocalypse” by industry experts, will boost mobile friendly sites and punish those that aren’t, impacting more websites than the company’s previous “Panda” or “Penguin” algorithms.

Given the data, pushing the importance of a mobile strategy is an easy thing to do. But how to actually start reaching consumers, capturing leads and driving purchases is another story.

At the 2015 LSA Conference next week, we have a long list of mobile related topics and sessions planned that will provide the practical and tactical insight needed to make some meaningful changes at your organization.  Join us in LA to learn more.

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