The No. 1 Local Search Query is…?

Filed in Local Search, MY BEST POSTS by Matt McGee on July 24, 2007 7 Comments

SearchThis post was supposed to be about the most popular local search terms across U.S. cities of all sizes, from New York to Bakersfield. I was planning to show that hotels, dining, and entertainment — what we generally consider the pillars of local search — aren’t universally popular local search terms.

I chose four big U.S. cities, four mid-sized cities, and three small cities — 11 cities in all. I used Keyword Discovery and searched for the 11 city names, with no modifiers. I grouped similar results in each city, and the data proved my original premise — that there’s a lot more variety in local search than we might think. “New York car insurance” is substantially more popular as a search term than “New York restaurants,” for example.

But then, as I went through the 11 cities, I stumbled upon something I found much more fascinating: Generally speaking, the most popular local search term of all is … Craigslist. Have a look at this:

New York

new york hotels (34,349)
craigslist new york (28,927)
new york car insurance (20,493)
new york city tours (5,216)
cheap flights to new york (4,942)

Note: The above keywords includes related phrases. “new york hotels”, for examples, includes that exact phrase, plus “new york hotel,” “hotels in new york city,” “new york city lodging,” and so forth. The keyword “new york city tours” includes related phrases like “new york city attractions” and “things to do in new york.” I’ll use similar combinations in every city list presented here.


craigslist chicago (28,769)
chicago hotels (18,673)
chicago jobs (9,036)
chicago museums (7,873)


dallas hotels (220,074)
craigslist dallas (8,439)
dallas zoo (8,427)
dallas schools (6,869)


craigslist seattle (57,627)
seattle university/schools (11,680)
seattle attractions/space needle (8,068)
seattle hotels (5,409)


university of pittsburgh/pittsburgh schools (7,740)
craigslist pittsburgh (6,771)
pittsburgh zoo (5,856)

San Diego

craigslist san diego (31,460)
san diego state university / schools (24,400)
san diego zoo (17,579)

As you move toward smaller cities, though, Craigslist becomes less popular.

Salt Lake City

salt lake city entertainment (1,745)
salt lake city hotels (1,684)
salt lake city real estate (1,626)
salt lake city school district (1003)
salt lake city escorts (833)
craigslist salt lake city (764)


jacksonville university (6,083)
jacksonville zoo (4,080)
jacksonville real estate (3,402)
jacksonville jobs (2,356)
mayo clinic jacksonville (1,554)
jacksonville apartments (1,476)
(craigslist jacksonville (1,364)


If your business is able to advertise on Craigslist, and you’re not doing it, you’re missing a huge opportunity.

Comments (7)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

Sites That Link to this Post

  1. | July 25, 2007
  2. Local Search and Craigslist | August 6, 2007
  3. The No 1 UK Local Search Query is? | Vertical Leap Blog | April 2, 2012
  1. earlpearl says:

    Research of that ilk is really great. Aren’t your findings amazing. Another way to look at it….is that my business site generates in excess of 1,000 visits/mnth from SE phrases that combine a version of a key business phrase and a key geographical phrase (typically city or state). Any one phrase might only generate 20-30 visits…so it does take a lot of phrase variations to reach that total.

    Alternatively we place an ad in craigslist on a continuous basis and it alone can generate in excess of 100 qualified local visits.

    Craigslist is our BEST keyword phrase!

    On the side of the coin….if I wanted to monetize for a local city regional/portal–how vital is that type of research.

    Thanks Matt


  2. billkruse says:

    Yeah, but which segment of the community is it that’s doing the searching that way? It’s good as far as it goes but it needs further research. Offhand, I don’t know how you could do that research but it’s late so maybe I’m overlooking something obvious here…


  3. Matt McGee says:

    Thx for the comments, guys. Bill – not sure what you’re asking here. I don’t follow Craigslist enough to know the demographic breakdown of their users.

  4. billkruse says:

    Which demographic group uses Craigslist the most? Oldies? Youngies? Hippies, Yuppies, Dinkies, (Dopeys, Sleepys, Grumpies)?


    (Smilies :-)?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *