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Understanding Google My Business & Local Search

Search Trends for Mapquest & Google Maps –

Many folks in the search marketing world, myself included, have noted that, in most Hitwise reports on Map usage, Google Maps was gaining on on Mapquest and would soon surpass them in user visits. In a recent interview (soon to be published at SEL) I asked Mark Law what he would say about the Hitwise reports of Google Map’s market share gains?

Mark: We see Google Maps in many ways an endpoint of a Search query and because of that, their growth is inherent to their business.  The people that come to MapQuest are here for the explicit purpose of finding Where is it, How do I get there and What’s nearby.  Google Maps may be gaining ground in terms of UVs but our user engagement and value proposition is very different than Google Maps.  Visitors to MapQuest are far more engaged as we’re actually a destination website.  

Consumers actively look and search for MapQuest.  In fact, MapQuest is the 8th most searched term, according to Hitwise.  Google Maps is 57th.

MapQuest also has a deeper level of User engagement as demonstrated by 113% more pages viewed per visitor per month than Google maps and visitors spending 78% more minutes (13.8 compared to 7.8 minutes) on MapQuest verses Google Maps. 

I was curious about his response and wanted to explore the idea of what people were in fact searching for and did the trends bear out Mark’s optimism. Google Trends, while not a perfect source for data, seemed a reasonable source of the information and a good proxy for user intent if not action.

It appears that in North America, Mapquest is very strong and has not given an inch to Google Maps on the search front. World wide that doesn’t appear to be the case. The following chart was generated in Google Trends using the branded phrases: Mapquest, Map Quest, Google Maps and the more generic phrase: Maps.

Search Trends – Mapquest, Map Quest, Google Maps and Maps – US Only

This search seems to reflect the fact that Mapquest has very strong brand equity and loyatly in the U.S. The chart for Canada shows very similar trends. The trends for the phrases Mapquest & Map Quest, have shown consistent strength and even some upward direction over the past 4 years. The search on Google Maps, after the initial spike, has not had a dramatic upswing and does appear to be moving in a direction to overtake Mapquest.

The charts worldwide however show a dramatically different trend that very much mirrors the Hitwise charts.

Search Trends – Mapquest, Map Quest, Google Maps and Maps – Worldwide

Mapquest obviously has the strength of their brand, a strong user loyalty and strong support in the North American markets. Google Maps seems to be doing better in search phrase battle in much of the rest of the world. Google has the incredible power of their own search engine to bring to bear on passing searchers onto their Maps product with both links on the main page, Universal Local results and for searches on phrases like the  more generic, non-branded phrase Maps.

So the question is can Mapquest stave off the pursuer, Google? Is brand and engagement enough or will control of the search world ultimately give Google the tools to take over Mapquest in North America as well?