Study: 43 Percent Of Total Google Search Queries Are Local

Ad network Chitika has just released some new data — you’re seeing it here first — that compares local search volumes on Google, Yahoo and Bing. The study examined both PC and mobile traffic to determine an overall number. (Chitika has now informed us that these numbers are incorrect; see postscript II below.)

Chitika looked at “millions of online ad impressions seen between September 21st and 27th, 2012.” To ensure it was measuring “local search,” Chitika compared the queries it was seeing from the engines “against its extensive database of local keywords and phrases (e.g. “near me,” “in Boston,” “around St. Louis,” etc.).”

What Chitika found was that 43 percent of the overall query volume coming from Google (mobile and PC) carried a local intent. That compared with 25 percent on Yahoo and Bing.

Roughly two years ago Google reported that 20 percent of PC queries “were related to location.” Since that time Google has put considerable effort into its local and map results, both online and in mobile.

In 2011 Google said that 40 percent of mobile search traffic is local. And last week a Google representative at an event informally said that now 50 percent of mobile search carries a local intent.

Obviously mobile search has raised the overall local percentage reported by Chitika (see postscript below). But these figures argue that local search volumes across engines are now quite massive. Indeed, they represent billions of queries monthly on the PC and mobile web. In addition they’re very high-value queries because local searchers are more likely to covert than others, especially mobile users.

Postscript: I asked Chitika to provide a breakdown of PC vs. mobile search in these findings. Chitika said that nearly three-quarters of Google’s local queries are in fact coming from mobile. It’s the opposite for Bing and Yahoo. However this is logical given that their mobile query volumes are so small compared to their PC volumes and to Google’s mobile search volume.

Postscript II: The numbers above are incorrect. Chitika contacted me today and said there was an error in their methodology. It resulted in an inflated Local and Local-Mobile total for Google. They’re providing revised/corrected figures and an explanation of what happened. I’ll do a new post exposing those shortly.

Related Topics: Channel: Mobile | Features: Analysis | Google: Maps & Local | Google: Mobile | Google: Web Search | Top News


About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog Screenwerk, about SoLoMo issues and connecting the dots between online and offline. He also posts at Internet2Go, which is focused on the mobile Internet. Follow him @gsterling.

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  • Andy Langton

    I don’t really buy it, personally. This seems to totally ignore informational searches that don’t trigger ads, and also includes this murky idea of “intent”. Search pretty much any generic product on Google these days and you see local listings – because of “intent”, right? I suspect judging intent is a little trickier than pattern-matching location keywords, and is trickier even than Google’s model which goes some distance beyond the method implied by this article.

  • Online Yeti

    Wow crazy to see how much Google dominates mobile and how much it is actually being used. Who would have ever thought the PC search would be on the way out. Makes you think what is next?

  • atatata

    Google is not good in local queries often showing wrong businesses, remote locations and irrelevant result. if Bing and Yahoo! were smarter that would work harder on local search rather than competing with Google head-by-head. Quality of local will be decisive who will be the king of search for mobile

  • Elangovan

    Google is redefining its value proposition. No more search engine , it’s an knowledge engine.

  • karunverma

    Google is receiving more mobile search because is a default search engine for android devices. And android devices are in a big count now.

  • Steven Moody

    The story here isn’t local: its whether search engines are used more for new searches or repeat searches. If I search for a cafe near me, I likely already know where i want to go and the search is a means to get the fastest route not to discover a new place. This leads to lower success from advertising because the eyeballs are less likely to click on a paid ad. The ZMOT in this case already passed.

  • Durant Imboden

    I’m not clear what “local” means in this context. If I live in Chicago and I’m searching for hotels and restaurants in Boston (where I’ll be spending my vacation), does Chitika count those queries as “local” since they’re limited to a place (“hotels in Boston,” “restaurants in Boston”)? If so, the study’s results strike me as being deceptive, or at least muddled, since Boston isn’t “local” to somebody who lives in Chicago.

  • Scott Ensign

    The study is now updated to say 24% of Google searches are local. Click through to the link for the update.

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