30% Of Google Searches Are Definitely Not Job-Related. Really.

“30% of Google searches, or around 300 million searches in the US, are job-related each month” according to dozens, even hundreds, of articles touting the popularity of job-related search on Google. Can that possibly be true?

Nope.

No way.

Not. Even. Close.

This stat has been thrown about for years. It came to light for me as I was digging into the market opportunity for Jobiak. We took it as fact, referencing the oft-cited Business.com article in our video, messaging and pitch deck.

Later, I took a minute to think about that number. If 300 million and 30% is accurate, that implies Google is only processing around one billion searches in the US in a month?

Even a casual sniff test says that has to be wrong. A little deeper research puts the number of Google searches in the United States at 11.7 Billion searches per month. (See Graphic)

Google Monthly Searches in the US

Whoa. Let that sink in for a minute. If 30% was accurate then that would mean that something like 4 Billion searches in the United States would have to be job-related each month. With just 325 million people of all ages living in the country, I think we can agree that can’t possibly be true!

So, Where Did That Number Come from?

Armed with the information that the number is fatally flawed for 2018, we went out to figure out just where this number had come from. If we could determine how it was generated, then we could figure out how to update it. After all, it’s a pretty useful number, and a lot of people are using it. (A Google search for the start of this exact phrase “30 percent of all Google Searches” returned nearly 1000 results, some from as recently as this August – see image below. Remove exact match and add the 300 million number and the results jump to 69 million!)

I won’t bore you with my internet sleuthing, but I managed to trace the stat as far back as a 2012 presentation by Jennifer McClure, the CEO of Unbridled Talent, at a Northern Kentucky SHRM Meeting.

I reached out to Jennifer to ask if she could recall where she got it from. Here is her reply (posted with permission).

Jennifer McClure, Unbridled Talent

Really, don’t feel bad Jennifer, people rarely post sources, even today.

That meant the number is at least as old as 2012, and probably older since Jennifer likely didn’t get it hot off the presses. That is where I stopped digging. If someone else wants to go deeper and find the actual origin of the stat, be my guest, I would love to see your results!

But as they say on Mythbusters:

“Myth, BUSTED!”

If not 30% or 300 Million, Then What?

The question remains then, what is a better number? People seem to want to use it, heck, *I* want to use it.

So, I partnered up with our crack search team and sought to build a methodology that was defensible and to come up with a more reasonable “jobs-related searched on Google” in 2018 number that could also be updated over the ensuing years.

The following is a step by step detail on what we did. We lay it out here because we really want this number to be directionally accurate. I am sure readers may have additional ideas on how to improve this number, or areas where perhaps we took a hypothesis too far. Please weigh in on our methodology in the comments, and we will continue to improve this model with your inputs.

Research Methodology 

Using Google’s Keyword Planner tool in the New Ideas section, our SEO specialist generated 5000 job-related search keywords for the United States using keywords like:

  • Jobs
  • Find jobs
  • Jobs website
  • Look for work online
  • Find new jobs
  • Jobs near me
  • Local jobs

(You can see the full keyword results in this shared Google Sheet.)

This sorta-kinda-comprehensive list of 5000+ job search keywords reported a volume of around 52 million searches per month in the U.S. Our SEO experts and colleagues commonly see Google underreporting search volume data by about 1/3rd on average. So that puts the average monthly Google job-related searches somewhere between 50 and 150 million searches per month. 

150 million job searches on Google divided by 11.74 billion total U.S. searches on Google means that about 1.28% of all U.S. Google searches are job-related.

As a percentage of the monthly total, 1.28% is not that big. But as a discrete number? 150 million job searches on Google each month in the United States is still a massive number.

So what does this mean? Net net, Google is a major factor in the job search market. And Google for Jobs is their move to become directly relevant in that search opportunity.

Feel free to use our number in your articles, (with a citation and a link back if you don’t mind). And keep an eye on this space, we will continue to refine the number and publish updates to the number and our methodology right here!

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