Google’s Top Local Searches by City

Here’s a list of the top local queries by US city from Google’s year-end list:

What’s striking is how distinct and local they are. I’m sure there are other patterns that exist but with low blood sugar I’m unable to find them now.


12 Responses to “Google’s Top Local Searches by City”

  1. earlpearl Says:

    This immediately grabbed my attention. OMG!!! The “keys to the kingdom”. Alas. It isn’t exactly the “precise list” of most popular phrases in a city; its the “uniquely local” phrases that are popular….as opposed to phrases that are used everywhere or might reflect searches for an entity from outside that city. They seem to eliminate searches such as hospital, restaurant, etc. They have a “local” uniqueness to them.

    Nevertheless the lists are interesting. If one is a local marketer, one might want to “attach themselves” into those particular phrases…in fact one might want to “barnacle” to them…to use a twist of a phrase by a clever local SEO.

  2. Jennifer Dulski Says:

    Interesting Greg. I think the uniqueness has to do with the methodology they used to rank results, which they describe as follows:

    “To compile these local lists, we found the most popular searches for each selected city and then ranked them based on how unique they were to that city. A query is “unique” if it is disproportionately popular in a particular city compared to the rest of the country. This method explains why popular local searches (for example, for a specific movie theatre) may appear higher than a term for which people across the country are searching (for example, for a regional sports team).”

    It is also interesting that they call these “popular” local searches, not “most popular.” I’d have to think that the most popular local searches in each city would still be the classic “pizza in city x” or “Target in city x” kind of searches. Don’t you think? They certainly are very localized…some of them don’t even make sense to me.

  3. Rocky Says:

    These year end lists (across search providers) are all massaged. The real data wouldn’t be interesting (minus, of course, the adult terms which every engine filters out of these lists).

  4. Greg Sterling Says:


    Agree with your thesis re “generic” local searches. Agree re the incoherence of some of the queries.

    Rocky: yes they’re massaged. Would also like to see the “real data.”

  5. Zachary Says:

    “What’s striking is how distinct and local they are.” – So true. I feel bad for my hometown in Portland. #2 Unemployment Claims and #4 Multnomah county jail I wonder if there is any correlation? Thanks for sharing this!

  6. Stever Says:

    @Zachary, while those in Portland are toiling in unemployment lines, or looking for directions to visit family, in jail :), the people in Pittsburgh are marking the time till recession clouds clear by gambling away their savings at the River Casino. Meanwhile people in Philly, New York and Orlando are hitting the books at school and the library. Maybe studying up for a new job. All those hippy weirdos in Phoenix though, who knows what the heck their up to.

    The real data would be so nice to see. I salivate just thinking about it.

  7. Andy Says:

    I don’t believe they did this by ip address or some type of location centered
    control. This list is just what they think people in X town are searching by name alone. So if you are searching for “carmen osu” you must be from
    Columbus OH. I really don’t believe that the couple of million people living in greater Austin TX area third most searched for term in “birds barbershop”. either that or it must be a great place to get a haircut.

  8. Stever Says:

    @Andy, I think they did use some type of location filter to come up with these. As simple as grabbing all search phrases used in one city, delete all the searches that are also commonly appearing in other locations and you are left with a list of search phrases unique to just that city.

    Some of the university and college search may be happening from outside that central location, as some students travel out of state to go to school and get out of their parents hair. But 99% of those searches are still probably happening locally, so end up on the list.

  9. Andy Says:

    That would explain some of the results. The only other case could be
    collage age people don’t use bookmarks 🙂

  10. Matt McGee Says:

    Noteworthy that a hyperlocal blog, the West Seattle Blog, made the Seattle list.

  11. Greg Sterling Says:

    Very good.

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