Top Searches Roundup
There's an annual PR ritual of most of the engines — the top searches of the year. Not all are out yet, but here are the lists or tracking tools:
A9, AOL (here's its ongoing list), Ask Jeeves IQ, CNet's Search.com, InfoSpace's Dogpile, Lycos, MSN (needs to be updated), Google's Zeitgeist, Yahoo!; and here's the Buzz Index, more generally.
Here's the Google Zeitgeist for 2004 (includes local — scroll). You'll notice that these are all brands and stores without geographic modifiers. I don't know whether they originally included them. For example, how did Google determine they were local? Did they originally contain geo modifiers or was it that fulfillment largely happens offline? That would be what we refer to as an "implicit local search."
If one takes an expanded (arguably more accurate) look at local in terms of implicit local intent (e.g., any searches falling in the top YP or classifieds headings), then user intent starts to open up and we see that the Internet and much of what users want from it is really local information: where to go, what to do, where to buy it.
Even product and retail searches (see the Zeitgeist for 2004) are in some large measure local. For example, if only 2.5% of U.S. retail is happening online (2005), then people are searching online and buying offline (see the comScore/Overture study) — and some large number of product searches ultimately have a local intent.