That's not the usual address or business name you'd put into a navigation app, but many of us are starting to use Google Maps like we do the Google search bar. Instead of searching for "Coco's Ramen" or some other specific business or address on a map, we're trying to find any ramen spot for dinner.
Google Maps keeps stuffing more and more into its navigation app, which can be overwhelming, but can also make it a one-step process. Instead of toggling between a review app, a search browser, and directions, we're now taking a more direct approach to search, especially with over 150 million businesses on Google Maps.
Just last week Google Maps added deals and offers to the pictures, reviews, menus, hours, booking info, and location that comes up when you search for businesses through the map.
A colleague's boyfriend has embraced the direct-search-in-Google-Maps approach. He told her, “I have literally typed 'food' into maps before.” I've also gone straight to Google Maps and typed "restaurants open late" after 9 p.m. in sleepy San Francisco.
Google has seen these personalized, but vague searches increase. Since the beginning of 2018, the search engine said there's been a 50 percent increase in "Near Me" searches. Also, we're searching for descriptions rather than a specific experience. So "late-night cocktails on a roof" is more common than a specific rooftop bar.
A direct Google Maps search extends beyond restaurants — though bars, food, coffee, brunch, and types of cuisines and meals are common search terms, especially if you're in a new place or on a trip. Hotels, yoga studios, gyms, or liquor and wine stores are just some of the other types of searches Google Maps can handle right in the app.
Just last week The Wall Street Journal exposed rampant Google Maps abuse with fake business listings. Those listings target the exact type of user who is searching in the map app more broadly for a "locksmith" or "car repair shop" instead of a known, specific business. With more people skipping the traditional Google or other search, a fake listing on the map app doesn't set off as many alarms.