Google’s autocomplete function is designed to help searchers save time by suggesting queries as you type. These suggestions are, according to Google, based on “what other people are searching for and the content of Web pages.”
Autocomplete has been accused of evildoing in the past; it’s true that some of the suggestions it comes up with seem right out of left field (and more than a few have been offensive). What you have to remember, though, is that it’s indicative of the searches real people are actually performing.
If you get a bizarre autosuggestion as you’re typing your search query into Google, the simplest explanation is that other people have already searched for that very thing.
It was with great interest, then, that I reviewed this new study from Fixr. They published a world map visualization showing the first autocomplete result that comes up when you search for the cost of “x” in any given country.
The question is: Which products or items do people search for the costs of most in each country?
The answers may surprise you (and give you a good belly laugh, in some cases).
Each search was entered as follows: “How much does a * cost in [country name]”? The asterisk tells Google to fill that in with the top product or item searched.
Let’s start with North America — there isn’t much spice here, really. Canadians are mostly interested in the cost of a passport (yawn). As you make your way south, Americans are searching for the cost of a patent (this is what Shark Tank will do to a country). Further south into Mexico, the cost of a tummy tuck is the burning question on people’s minds.
Europe shares the same level of search boredom as most of North America, with many concerned about things like the cost of living, beer and food.
But not everyone is as tame with their online searching habits. In Brazil, for example, the cost of a prostitute is the top autosuggestion for this search query. Here are some other eye openers:
Most people use Google’s autocomplete function and never think twice about what it says about them. As you dig deeper, you will discover a variety of country-level trends, from the mundane to the insane.
Cool keyword research takeaway: Use the asterisk to help you identify unknowns via Google Autocomplete, like this:
Use this to find creative new angles for your PPC campaigns, based on what real people have been searching for lately. For example, say you’re a statewide travel portal in Arizona. You’re running a campgrounds promotion, and you know which regions are most viewed on your website, but you want to make sure you’re investing your content and PPC budgets in the right areas.
Boom. Or, say you’re a sportswear store, and you want to know which keywords might best answer common questions about running shoes, so you can point people to answers on your site.
The possibilities are endless.
What do you think? Are you surprised by anything in the Most Googled Products map, and will you use autosuggest in your keyword research? Share your comments below.
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