Search modifiers, both those used by Google and those frequently used by searchers are interesting. In the case of the former, a change in how Google handled the phrase “near” led to some overstated numbers. In the case of the latter, I wondered whether any of them are effective proxies for measuring the increase in voice based mobile search.
The one that came to mind in this scenario was the modifier: “Nearby”. At least for me it is a phrase that I only use when searching on my phone via voice and when I am away from home. It is a modifier that I rarely ever use in desktop search (although I can imagine its use in Maps). Who knows whether that is true broadly but I was still curious.
In that vein I proceeded to Google trends and queried on the frequency of the use of the phrase Nearby in the US as to what I would see and what it might show.
This chart is interesting in several ways.
The hockey stick curve largely parallels the growth in smart phone usage although purely circumstantial as to validating my theory. The other interesting data point in the chart is the seasonal peaks. Every peak occurred in July which would correlate to peak tourist travel season and the increased need for these sorts of searches when away from home, particularly in restaurants and hotels.
Here is the list of search phrases where the term is used the most and it also reinforces the that the use of this phrase is both mobile and travel related:
To some extent there is a dialectical relationship between the searcher and Google. If a users tries something and if it works that use creates more use and one presumes, better Google subsequent results. Thus reinforcing a given way of searching. As such it is hard to know whether this increase is a function of searcher learning or of increased use of mobile voice search or both or some other factor all together.
Ah well… I don’t have access to the data to answer that question only Google does and they are not saying. 🙂"Nearby" - A Proxy for Voice Based Mobile Search? by Mike Blumenthal