How geo search improves search and discovery

Relevant search results are paramount for creating a rewarding search journey that feels personalized and thoughtful. Today’s users search from many different devices with different restrictions, so having a strategy to get users the best results as quickly as possible is key. With many people searching on the go, search tools and features that serve the unique needs of mobile users are particularly important for reaching business goals and improving the user experience.

In this article, we’ll discuss the ways geo search or location-based search can bring increased relevance to the search and discovery experience on your site or app.


What is geo search?

Geo search, also referred to as location-based search or local search, gives users specific results based on a particular location. A person may use location-based search to find nearby businesses or services, often through sites like Google or Yelp. Alternatively, businesses can enable geo search on their sites or apps to allow users to find relevant results based on the user’s location. 

From restaurants, social media, and search engines to entertainment, banking, and personal care sites, many businesses benefit from providing users with location-specific results. 


Why does geo search matter?

As Google Maps, Apple Maps and other services have become standard for seamlessly locating things, location-based search has become a user expectation.

Additionally, with the huge increase in online shopping, consumers often start shopping from mobile devices. Using the phone as a browsing tool, they then proceed to make purchases in brick-and-mortar stores. For other use cases as well, people use geo search for research purposes with the intent to take action in person. 

Google’s own research makes a strong case for the link between geo search and mobile use: 

  • 95% of mobile users searched for local search results
  • 61% of users called the business and 59% visited the location after searching 
  • 44% made a purchase (26% online and 36% in the store)
  • 88% of these users took action within a day of searching 

If you have a business with both a physical location and an online presence, you need to have geo search. Customers want to know what products and services are close and readily available, and geo search bridges the gap between your online presence and physical location. If your business doesn’t provide this, you are missing out on capturing valuable business.


How to implement geo search on your site or app

Implementing geo search on your internal search depends primarily on your search provider. 

If your search-as-a-service provider is Algolia, it’s as simple as adding the `_geoloc` attribute with the given latitude and longitude:

"_geoloc": {
"lat": 40.639751,
"lng": -73.778925

If you don’t have a search provider with geo search available out-of-the-box, you may need to obtain a third-party wrapper. Unfortunately, this will likely be a tedious implementation process as the vendor will need to model your data, and you might need to drastically change the schema of your database.


2 ways to use geo search in your search and discovery strategy 

Here are two key ways you can use geo search in your overall search and discovery strategy:

1. Develop and refine your omnichannel strategy 

Forward-thinking brands know the importance of integrating and connecting the customer’s experience across different platforms and locations, including apps, brick-and-mortar stores, sites, and anywhere else consumers can interact with the brand. A comprehensive omnichannel retail strategy is all about creating a unified experience, and geo search is a great tool to help you bridge these different platforms. 

For an e-commerce retailer, this might look, but is not limited to, allowing online users to search for products at locations near them. The possibilities for implementing geo search in your omnichannel strategy are only limited by your creativity and knowledge. The better you understand how your users prefer to shop and what you can add to improve their experience, the better the experience you can provide. Serving location-based results strengthens and expands their engagement with your brand.

2. Deliver accurate and fast real-time results 

Whether it’s rentable scooters and bikes, food delivery, rental car pickup and dropoff, or something else entirely, real-time data is paramount for some business models. Customers need relevant and accurate geo data to figure out where to find what they need, and businesses need to be able to track valuable assets. 

Often companies like car rental services have trouble updating and maintaining databases of car location data. With a geo search tool that’s part of a robust search engine, this whole process can be seamless. Data is updated quickly, and customers and business users can search with a speed and agility that keeps operations running smoothly. 


Navigate users to their needs with geo search 

Geo search can be a great tool to supercharge your search strategy and layer location-based context on search results. If you’re fine-tuning your search geostrategy, you need a partner who can work with your use case. From geo search  to Instant Search, Algolia provides the UI and backend search components you need to create an effective search out-of-the-box without using significant development resources.

To learn more about designing a search that meets and exceeds your users needs, read our eBook “7 ways to get more out of Algolia search.”

About the authorRobert Mogos

Robert Mogos

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