Revealing Word Search

December 4, 2008

What Google search term do Oregon residents use more often than people in other states? That’s what I wondered as I tried out a search application that ranks popularity of queries by state.

Rainfall immediately came to mind, but Oregon ranks third behind Hawaii and New Mexico. Bicycles is a sure winner, I thought. Nope, second behind Colorado. Sustainability? Second to Vermont.

No way any other state’s residents are more interested in all things organic. Damn that Vermont! Oregon finishes second again. Same goes for marijuana. Vermont also finishes atop all states for peace, climate change, hippies, granola, recycle, and farm. You get the picture.

Think interest in salmon is high in Oregon? It’s higher in Alaska and Washington. Speaking of food, Oregon ranks second, again, this time trailing  North Carolina. Another second for brewing, behind Montana.

This is starting to feel like Trivial Pursuits or some other board, or bored, game. Gather your friends around the old computer, choose your term, and have at it!

The state-by-state comparison search, called StateStats, is the work of Doug Beeferman. According to the site, the data comes from Google Insights for Search, “which provides aggregate statistics for all Google search activity from 2004 to the present.” But many search words produce no results, and the servers are often “too busy.” I suspect the kinks are still being worked out.

The only number one rankings that I could find from Oregon for search terms of general national interest are, drum roll please, assisted suicide and Prius.

Finding Oregonians’ least-searched words isn’t easy. After nearly one hundred tries, the best I can do, at number forty-eight, just above Louisiana and Hawaii, is Republican.

I try a few more words and finally find one that ranks the state below all others: garbage.