Every 13th SERP on Google Shows a Map

Mike Blumenthal showed me a Google blog post I’d missed. Among other data from Google it said, “Proportion of Google result pages that show a map in search results: 1 in 13.” If you do the simple math, that’s just over 7% of pages, but it’s hundreds of millions every month out of about 9.7 billion search queries coming through Google in the US in December. 

This is a striking number but it’s important to note that it doesn’t define the entire universe of “local search” on Google. In the past comScore has said about 12% of search queries are local. But the company uses what I would describe as a conservative methodology to calculate this number. In particular it doesn’t capture general search queries without a geographic modifier (e.g., “dentist”), for which Google is now often showing a map and local results. 

My belief and argument is that “local intent” searches should be counted as those that result in an offline transaction or must be fulfilled offline. That’s hard to measure of course. But it would encompass all or the overwhelming majority of real estate, restaurant, events/entertainment and services type searches at the outset.

I would also argue that because 96.3% of US retail is offline, that more than 90% of product related queries are ultimately local. They may not be “inherently” local because one can buy most goods online. But product research typically results in an offline transaction and so these searches should be considered local or implicate local at least.

As the inventory database proliferates online and in mobile this consumer behavior will become increasingly transparent. Smartphone user behavior again confirms that consumers are looking for places to buy things offline, in the real world (click to enlarge chart):

Source: Compete, Inc., Q3 2009

Once again it doesn’t matter what percentage of search queries are local as an abstract principle, the vast majority of consumer spending is offline. The Internet (and mobile) are instrumental in that consumer shopping and research process. The Internet is a marketing platform that influences offline consumer buying.

That’s the bigger picture that we need to focus on.


14 Responses to “Every 13th SERP on Google Shows a Map”

  1. earlpearl Says:

    Greg: Lets assume that while the 1 of 13 drives a map in google, due to the fact that a large number of searches w/ local intent don’t generate maps: ie those w/out a geo modifier, those w/ a state name modifier in many cases, and others: The % of google searches is larger…for simplicities sake say 10%. That equates to 970 million local searches in Google ~almost 1 billion in the month. (per your comments it would be more).

    What are the monthly totals for various local entities in search: the IYP’s, Yelp, and all the others? (It would be great if you could add some of those numbers for comparison’s sake)

    It appears to me that Google’s dominance of local search is extraordinary….it has the feel of monopoly.

    Google’s power over local search…and its impact on local businesses is extraordinary. I believe that is something to keep a close eye on.

  2. How Often Did a Map Show on Google.com in December? 868 million? | Understanding Google Maps & Local Search Says:

    […] searches. This number is lower than the usual estimates of local searches and as Greg Sterling points out, many searches that show no local intent in fact are. Share and […]

  3. Greg Sterling Says:


    I’ll look for those numbers but in the meantime, see: http://bit.ly/4MtIfF

  4. earlpearl Says:

    Thanks for the Compete data, Greg.

    27, 19, and 10 million unique visitors for the 3 referenced sites in December versus about 1 billion local searches in Google. Most of the google searches, per my estimates are accompanied by a map. Some of those searches start in google and may end up on Yelp or either of the IYP’s you referenced.

    Google’s dominance of the local landscape is extraordinary. Its monopolistic in scope within the internet…and at 1 billion searches/month it probably dwarfs any other media.

    Its no wonder so many entities are chasing advertising and developing products for the local landscape. Still with Google’s dominance its frankly scary to me.

    Relative to everything else on the web Google can make or break businesses. About 1 out of 13 searches turn up a map. We know, via Mike Blumenthal that problems abound in G Maps. Lets hope they fix those problems pronto.

  5. David Mihm Says:

    Presumably these data mean that there is still HUGE upside to the number of Local results shown in Google going forward, even if they are not the standard 7-pack of business listings. Real estate, product inventory, news…I think we’ll start to see a number of different “types” of 7-packs across several key verticals in the next 12-18 mos…

  6. Jason Hyman Says:

    from Google’s post:
    Proportion of Google users in the United States making more than one query per day: 7 out of 10
    so approx. 70% are repeat. how does that play into the comparison?

    @ Greg Sterling
    27, 19, and 10 million unique visitors for the 3 referenced sites in December versus about 1 billion local searches in Google.

    that’s comparing the number of searches to the total unique visitors of the other 3 sites. we need to compare the unique numbers against uniques not total searches.

    if 70% (of the 970 million) are making multiple searches, then is it fair to say the unqiues for local searches is 270 million not 970?

    nonetheless, they still dwarf everyone, but i am trying to make it an apples to apples comparison.

    am I missing anything?

  7. Greg Sterling Says:


    Here’s more apples to apples: http://bit.ly/4xk3xm

  8. Jason Hyman Says:

    thanks for the comparison; a scary number.
    does “maps.google.com” count the data displayed on the page one of the SERP when a map is displayed in any way whatsoever? (I don’t think so)
    I took out local.com and put in yelp.com since it’s a ‘hot” property too.
    maps.Google.com has double the uniques as yelp last month.
    when the Map appears on page 1 of the SERP, a user can get to “maps.google.com” by clicking in the actual map or the “More” link. If they click on the Company name, it goes directly to that company’s website (unless they don’t have a site and then it goes to the maps page via Places).
    My point is that the unique numbers for Google are even higher because of the number of users that click a name in the Map and bypass the maps.google.com page.
    If all links from the Map took you to the companies Place Page instead, Google’s unique visitors would be substantially higher.

  9. Greg Sterling Says:

    quite possibly so . . .

  10. Greg Sterling Says:

    And here’s G vs. Mapquest: http://bit.ly/58wuob

  11. Jason Hyman Says:

    if you compare “visits” instead of “uniques” http://bit.ly/7spn9S which would take into consideration multiple visits, etc., it’s a large gap.
    Google has the ability to shut down a large number of companies or industries if they so choose. (that’s not new info…)

  12. Jason Hyman Says:

    For some reason that last link was not working, try this http://bit.ly/7spn9S

  13. Greg Sterling Says:


  14. uk directories Says:

    uk directories…

    […]Every 13th SERP on Google Shows a Map « Screenwerk[…]…

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