Why is geosearch needed?

This guide is part of our series about geosearch.

Why is Geosearch Necessary?

Using a search box sounds simple: the user thinks of a word or phrase, types it in the search box and the result appears. But searches are often made more complicated by the unique ways users input search terms.

When it comes to finding a location, rarely do people use the full location names or addresses in their search. Instead, users are more likely to input search terms with:

Abbreviations: they might use "CA", which could stand for California, Canada or another location.

Geographic context: users often conduct searches for "x near y" (e.g., a store's locations near a certain city) or "x near me" (e.g., pizza places near their home).

Unofficial, incomplete or incorrect place names: users might input a location's nickname instead of the official name (e.g., NYC instead of New York, New York) or they might write a location name phonetically.

Autosuggest technology paired with the right database can quickly complete searches with the above characteristics with no visual interruption to the user's search. Without geosearch, the user might be met with a frustrating, "0 results found".

Benefiting Consumers and Businesses

Hospitality, retail, navigation systems and other industries have embraced geosearch tools on their customer-facing websites and applications. Customers are growing accustomed to the aid of autocomplete or predictive search when they reach certain data entry fields, such as a form requesting their address.

Geosearch helps the consumer have a better user experience. It requires less time for the user to enter their data, removing friction in their buyer experience and lessening the chance that they'll get frustrated and abandon their purchase.

In addition to making data entry quicker, geosearch also ensures that the data provided by the user is entered correctly. This is especially beneficial for retail sites where incorrect data input can be a costly mistake.

Consumers leave nearly 70 per cent of online shopping carts abandoned, and poor user experience is often cited as the reason why. When businesses can offer quick checkout processes that ensure the user's data is correct, they increase the likelihood of completed checkouts on their site.

Integrating Geosearch with a Map

Those familiar with consumer map applications or who shop online have likely encountered geosearch. For example, using geosearch on a national retailer's website could look like this:

  • The user sees a map that includes all of the retailer's locations.
  • They begin typing their search, such as for locations in a certain city.
  • Autosuggest shows a list of relevant answers based on their input.
  • The user selects the best answer.
  • The map zeros in on the selected location.
Screenshot of the OpenCage geosearch on a map
OpenCage geosearch service on a map.

Integrating geosearch with a consumer map adds a visual element that confirms the location for the user, and it also helps them visualize the selected item in relation to other options in the map's coverage area.

The Right Tool for the Job

Context is key to any search. Geosearch can draw connections within a user's search to pull the results closest to what they intended. Users with only partial data are still able to find what they're looking for, making geosearch a powerful tool for location searches - where accuracy is especially important.

That said, geosearch is used as a component of larger solutions, and it's often used with other geolocation tools such as geocoding or browser geolocation. Each tool performs a different function, but they're all needed to find the right answer for the user and give them a positive experience within an application or site.

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