The alphabet according to Google

Quick, head to Google.com. Sure sure, there’s that playable Pacman logo there today, but while I was there for that, I noticed something interesting, similar to what Slacy posted about bit.ly recently.

Type a letter in the Google search box. Immediately after just one letter, the auto-search populates, and you can see the most popular search term for that letter. (It’s not case sensitive.)

Here’s an example with the letter a:

Auto-search results for the letter a at google.com: amazon, aol, american airlines, apple

It’s important to note that the results appear to be regionally specific. Here in the Bay Area, when I type “b,” I see “bart” (for Bay Area Rapid Transit) third. My brother, in Canada, sees “bmo” (Bank of Montreal) third at google.ca, or “bed bath and beyond” third at google.com (whereas for me “bed bath and beyond” is listed sixth).

Even the first place is regional, since x for me is xkcd, but for my brother it’s xm radio.

Nonetheless, owning the first result is definitely an indication of local mindshare. I find the results very interesting and in some cases very surprising.

Now, before you look at the list below (after the break), you can play the Google Alphabet Guessing Game! Just choose a letter and predict what will appear on top. Did you guess correctly?

Numbers and a handful of punctuation characters also work.

Character First Comment
a amazon Apple is 4th. I’m very surprised to see AOL second.
b bank of america “bing” is 7th; who uses Google to search for Bing?
c craigslist I bet other regions have CNN first instead of third.
d dictionary The first letter with a generic (non-branded) result.
e ebay “earthquakes” does well in California, but probably not elsewhere.
f facebook Second is facebook login, which was recently a problem for people who rely on googling everything they want to do.
g gmail Naturally. But “google” itself is high up there. I’m trying to imagine why you’d go to google.com and then type in the word google. Pre-coffee users only, I suspect.
h hotmail It’ll never die.
i ipad Betcha it was ikea a few months ago.
j jet blue Betcha it’s justin bieber in a few months.
k kaiser permanente Local result, if you wanted to dominate the world, start a company with a good k name.
l linkedin Could be “lady gaga” outside of Silicon Valley.
m myspace M is full of formerly-hot properties.
n netflix Sorry, Nordstrom, New York Times, NBC, NFL and “news.”
o olympics Wonder if that changes a year from now.
p pandora Today only: Pacman is third.
q quotes And several other entries are for specific quotes. You know, about life, love, quicken.
r round table pizza This one just blows my mind. Really? Round Table? Hot internet properties apparently lack an R entry. Opportunity here.
s southwest skype is third, and sfgate/san jose mercurty are local winners.
t target Brick and mortar represents.
u united airlines All the airlines do well, people don’t bookmark those sites, I guess.
v verizon wireless Is this a paid result? Do people really type in “wireless” after typing “verizon”?
w walmart Brick and mortar re-represents.
x xkcd Blows my mind. Go Randall go.
y youtube Naturally, but Yahoo and Yelp make Y a crowded space.
z zillow Pretty good for a site no one had heard of a few years ago.
1 106.1 kmel Your results will vary. Here’s how you find out your most popular local radio station.
2 24 hour fitness Beats out the year and the TV show.
3 30 rock Tell me, in your location, is “3 idiots” (a Bollywood movie) second?
4 4chan lol
5 511.org Probably varies wildly by locale.
6 60 minutes Olde skoole.
7 7zip Probably relatively easy to capture the top spot here.
8 826 valencia A local writing center in SF. Definitely easy to capture the top spot here.
9 94.9 Insert local market radio station results here.
0 0 balance transfer America is in debt.
. .net framework So .net programmers are more forgetful than average?
@ @font-face CSS programmers are forgetful too.
_ _ Self-referential. Interesting that in turn the number one result for _ is emoticons.

I didn’t try any extended ASCII or other unusual characters, but these last three were the only non-alphanumeric characters that had auto-search results.

3 Responses to “The alphabet according to Google”

  1. michii Says:

    my japanese 1a teacher decided he’d like to show me a book he found on amazon (back in 2001?).. so he opens his browser and the homepage is Yahoo. He uses the search bar to find “Google” and follows the link to Google.. Then he googles “Amazon”.. must be a culture/generation diff?

  2. Louis Gray Says:

    This is a good story to trot out every 12 months or so. 🙂

    My version from September of 2008:
    Google Says Apple Owns the Letter “i”, and Craigslist the “s”

    http://blog.louisgray.com/2008/09/google-says-apple-owns-letter-i-and.html

  3. Zatz Says:

    In my region and logged into my Google account, ‘za’ found me. In my region and not logged into my Google account it took all of ‘zatz’. Hm. 🙂

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