Geocoding vs Geosearch

The difference between geocoding and geosearch

Software developers have an array of different tools at their disposal to build location based services.

It's important to understand the pros and cons of each technology and use the right tool for the job. In this guide we look at the difference between geocoding, geosearch, and other location technologies like browser geolocation and IP address geolocation.

Make sure you use the right tool for the right job. You will be frustrated if you try to use a screwdriver as a hammer.


Geocoding is the process of converting geographic coordinates (latitude and longitude) into a geographic reference - such as an address, a place name, or locality - or vice versa. Going from address to coordinates is known as forward geocoding, coordinates to address is known as reverse geocoding. Forward geocoding expects a full address or placename as the input.

For example: Philipsbornstra├če 2, 30165 Hanover, Germany (the OpenCage office) is converted to the coordinates 52.387783, 9.7334394.

OpenCage operates an API for geocoding based on open data. You can test the OpenCage geocoding API on our geocoding demo page, or sign up for a free trial.


Geosearch is often confused with forward geocoding. Geosearch takes any string of text as input and tries to extract locations from that string or to expand the string and return a list of possible location matches.

For example: given the input of par geosearch might return Paris, France.

Geosearch is often encountered in, as the name suggests, a search form, where it is provided via an "autosuggest" or "type-ahead" tool to help users enter correct geographic input. You can test our geosearch offering on our geosearch demo page.

Learn more about geosearch in our detailed geosearch guides.

OpenCage Geosearch

If you need a location autocomplete for forms or maps, please have a look at our geosearch service.

Screenshot of the OpenCage geosearch service
Screenshot of OpenCage geosearch service on a web form.

Browser geolocation

Browser geolocation is a technology in most web browsers to enable users to share their location. If the user gives their permission developers can use browser geolocation to get geographic coordinates which can then be geocoded. Please see our detailed guide to browser geolocation.

IP geolocation

IP geolocation is the process of converting an IP (Internet Protocol) address like into location info. You can roughly think of an IP address as a computer's address on the internet. OpenCage does not offer an IP address to location API. It's a challenging problem to solve, and there are other companies that provide such a service. Please see our detailed guide to the differences between IP geolocation and geocoding.

Regardless of the geotechnology your service needs, Good luck!

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