Over the course of 2020 – the use of “near me” in search queries has progressed along with the COVID pandemic. This is evident when looking at trending search queries for each month of the year. One of Google’s ads currently in-market (November 2020) even centers around the use of “near me” in search queries and how Google can help you find what you need near you. This 0:30 spot, Get what you need near you, shows how Google Shopping can help find a wet dry vac and craft supplies, and Google Maps can help find a cat tower. A longer video focuses on how you can Support the places near you and encourages people to get out and support their local community. After seeing these commercials, I had to dive into the data for myself.
Using Google Trends, I took a look at all Rising and Breakout searches in the United States with “near me”, broken down by month. Through this lens, we can see general trends – where the top search queries are relatively stable from month to month. The most popular “near me” queries typically include restaurants, stores, food, pizza, and Walmart. However, Rising and Breakout queries have this designation because they have the largest increase in search frequency – with Breakout queries having had little to no prior searches.
When looking at rising and breakout queries over each quarter of 2020, the story may look something like this:
New year, new you. Going to the gym, eating healthy food and frozen yogurt. Trying to save money after all of the holiday shopping so I’m also looking for thrift stores and $.99 stores.
Time to buy flowers from a florist or flower shop. Filing my taxes soon with help from H&R Block. So much for healthy food, now I am looking for a Sonic.
Are coronavirus and COVID 19 the same thing? Look into testing for each. Gas up your vehicle and stock up on toilet paper and other supplies from your go-to retailers…and check into grocery delivery. Plan to spend time at home – doing home improvement projects. Or maybe take this time to enjoy the outdoors playing golf or hiking.
Antibody testing is really what I need, and a puppy. A puppy grows into a dog that will need a groomer and supplies from Petco. The house needs painting and new mulch and new plants. I can find them from my favorite home improvement retailer. I am on the search for comfort food in the form of wings and Chinese food and ice cream. And with all of the toilet paper I’ve been using, now I need a plumber.
After being home for 2 months I need a haircut, my nails done, and a new outfit from TJ Maxx or Ross or Marshall’s. Still using this time to enjoy the outdoors at the beach or camping; always looking for things to do near me. I am searching for a Planet Fitness or any gym where I can burn off all of the Chinese food.
Are there any fireworks or protests happening? Still looking for things to do – mini golf, strawberry picking, bars, beaches, bowling, breweries, boat rentals, horseback riding, pools. Check into black owned restaurants and coffee shops near me. Coronavirus testing – is that free?
I’ve found everything I need – with the exception of fireworks and rapid covid testing.
Are there fires near me? I will stay in and order Italian food.
Fall is coming. I’m looking for pumpkin patches, apple picking, and Fall sports gear from Dick’s Sporting Goods. Still painting the house and searching for that Planet Fitness.
Looking for different ways to vote early this month. Searching for Halloween stores and activities like haunted houses, pumpkin patches, corn mazes, and something new called a “haunted car wash”. I am looking to support businesses near me.
I did not vote early so I am looking for voting polls near me. I need to pick up some new video games (or next gen consoles) and some craft supplies at Hobby Lobby. Covid testing – regular, free, and rapid are all being searched for.
How can businesses be prepared for the ongoing progression of of “near me” search queries?
Here are 4 things you can do to be sure you are giving these ready-to-convert people the most up to date and accurate information about your business at all times.
- Highlight your virtual offerings as a solution / answer to “near me” queries. Virtual is always near you and many virtual services are easily consumed on mobile devices.
- Use your Google My Business profile to communicate any changes to your operating hours, special safety measures in place, virtual offerings, and other critical information that people need to decide while they are searching.
- Leverage Ad Extensions in Google and Microsoft ads to quickly update your ad copy and keep it relevant.
- Take advantage of structured data markup opportunities on your website – which can help pull specific information directly into the search results.
If a person is searching for something near them, this is a pretty clear sign that they are close to converting. From an ROI perspective, the stronger intent / closer to the bottom of the funnel, the more valuable a user is. Is your business prepared to show up in search results for these valuable queries?