What Percentage of Search Is Local?

Nico Brooks

November 18, 2010

What Percentage of Search Is Local?

What percentage of search is local?

I’ve had a hard time finding a good answer to this question: what percentage of searches on web search engines such as Google and Bing are local? I’ve heard wildly different statistics, possibly due to the fact that “local” is a difficult concept to define. Is a search for an area code a local search? Is a search for “the white house” a local search? A search like “invesco field, denver, colorado” is unambiguously local, but what about “denver broncos”? Below are a few numbers that help answer the question:
  • Google has stated that “20% of searches on Google are related to location.”
  • Comscore/TMPDM do an annual study of local search behavior. This year’s indicates that 8.3% of search engine queries are local.
  • Me – I did my own analysis of query log data AOL released back in 2006, and found that 14.9% of queries related to finding a business, organization or place. My litmus test for defining local was: can the search result be placed on a map? So, by my definition “denver broncos” is not local, while “invesco field” is. Based on the numbers, I think Google used a similar definition to mine. Our numbers aren’t that far apart, and it stands to reason that more people are searching locally on Google in 2010 than were on AOL in 2006. I also identified a subset of local queries that relate to finding a local business, which constituted 5.5% of total query volume.

So, while the definition of “local” is decidedly inexact, we can infer that roughly 10-20% of queries on search engines are local, depending on how strict your definition is. And based on my analysis, approximately a third of those are related to business/commercial interest.

If you know of any other good data sources for this metric, please comment below!