With most of us carrying almost all of the world’s knowledge at our fingertips, in the shape of our smartphones, the way we navigate the world has completely changed.
This is vividly illustrated by the way we search for things on the go. Where you might previously have had to pre-plan where you’d have coffee with your friends after a bike ride or where to eat after a business meeting, you can now figure it out on the fly.
As more South Africans start using ‘near me’ searches, what are we using it for? The answer, it turns out, has a lot to do with food and medical assistance. That much is evident from looking at the top 10 “near me” Google searches for 2019 so far:
Top 10 “near me” searches for 2019 to date:
- restaurants near me
- pharmacy near me
- kfc near me
- dentist near me
- jobs near me
- parks near me
- doctors near me
- spar near me
- mcdonalds near me
- postnet near me
The searches reveal how South Africans have come to rely on this location-based search function to find businesses near them. In fact, the only non-business related searches in the top 10 are for parks and jobs.
While there is clearly a fair amount of brand love — “kfc” and “mcdonalds” win the fast food wars, while “spar” is clearly our favourite supermarket — the number of more generalised searches shows that South Africans are open to exploring their options. Where previously they might have been stuck going to the first doctor or pharmacy they came across, they can now see all the alternatives available to them.
Importantly, they can also get information like the opening hours of the businesses concerned, ensuring they don’t waste time driving around trying to find an open pharmacy in an emergency, for example.
When it comes to picking which of these options to take, Google’s Local Guides programme makes things a lot easier. Local Guides allows users to review, add photos, answer questions or add unverified locations and be rewarded with Guide Points.
Whenever people search for locations near them, they can see the reviews for those places. Having this information at hand can be the difference between a great meal out and a total disaster.
While there will always be chancers, the fact that Google uses its reviewers’ location history to determine if they’ve been to a location goes a long way to increasing the accuracy of the available reviews.
Ultimately, what the rise of “near me” searches shows is that location-based search has come a long way from the days when people would look for a specific place on a map.
By having all the available options laid out, we become much more powerful consumers, capable of finding what we need when we need it, saving us effort and giving us time for the things that really matter.
Google’s mission is to organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. Through products and platforms like Search, Maps, Gmail, Android, Google Play, Chrome and YouTube, Google plays a meaningful role in the daily lives of billions of people and has become one of the most widely-known companies in the world. Google is a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc.