Google Still Doing At Least 1 Trillion Searches Per Year

Danny Sullivan on
  • Categories: Channel: Industry, Stats: comScore, Stats: Popularity
  • How many searches does Google handle per day, month or year? The company is notorious for not regularly sharing such figures. But we now know that it remains at least more than one trillion, the first update since Google last shared over two years ago.

    A stat in Steven Levy’s excellent story on Backchannel yesterday, How Google Search Dealt With Mobile, said that Google handles over 3 billion searches per day.

    1 Trillion Served

    It was a rare sighting of a queries-per-day figure presumably from Google, which had search executives quoted extensively in the story. At 3 billion queries per day, that has Google doing 90 billion per month or 1.1 trillion searches per year.

    However, it turns out that Google didn’t provide a figure for 2015. Instead, that stat is the same Google previously released back in August 2012. Then, Google revealed it was doing 100 billion searches per month, or 1.2 trillion per year (the 100 million difference is effectively due to rounding).

    Google confirmed to Search Engine Land that it did give Backchannel the 2012 figure — over 100 billion per month, which Google rounds to 3 billion per day — for its story. Google told us that the figure still holds for today since “over” leaves things open-ended (and by implication, higher). Google also said not to expect an updated figure any time soon.

    Can We Guess At Google’s Query Growth?

    If Google’s not talking growth, how about we make our own guesstimate?

    comScore provides its own third-party estimate of how many searches the major search engines handle. For 2012, comScore had Google doing roughly 110 billion searches per month worldwide — not that far off what Google itself was claiming.

    Unfortunately, comScore hasn’t released updated worldwide figures since then. We’re checking on this. But it does release figures for the US each month. That provides a fairly conservative way to benchmark Google’s growth.

    comScore’s most recent figures for December 2014 have just come out (the link might not work because comScore oddly pulled the figures soon after they were published), showing that Google handled 12.4 billion searches on desktop in the United States. Two years ago, for December 2012, Google was at 11.8 billion. That’s a five percent gain.

    Working from that, if Google’s seen a similar five percent gain for its worldwide searches, then it would now be doing 105 billion searches per month or 1.26 trillion per year — 1.3 trillion rounded.

    That’s actually not much of a gain over two years — which may cause some to start wondering about “peak search.” Thus, two important caveats:

    • Google’s growth in countries outside the US might be higher
    • Google’s growth with mobile searches, which comScore doesn’t count, might be higher

    Either of these could be giving Google more growth that our guesstimate. Or not — only Google really knows, and it’s not telling.

    Postscript (Oct. 20, 2015): An interesting article from Charles Arthur looks at how on a per device basis, Google searches on mobile devices seem to be fairly low.

    That articles uses the now familiar 100 billion searchers per month figure which Google gave out again this month.

    That means for over three years now, Google has been claiming exactly the same amount of searches per month. That’s incredibly unlikely. More likely is that growth has grown to some degree. Of course, it’s possible there’s been a dip, and Google is sticking with the 2012 number to mask that. It almost certainly hasn’t stayed flat for over three years.

    About The Author

    Danny Sullivan
    Danny Sullivan was a journalist and analyst who covered the digital and search marketing space from 1996 through 2017. He was also a cofounder of Third Door Media, which publishes Search Engine Land, Marketing Land, MarTech Today and produces the SMX: Search Marketing Expo and MarTech events. He retired from journalism and Third Door Media in June 2017. You can learn more about him on his personal site & blog He can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.