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No. 1583
August 24th, 2012

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Why You Shouldn’t Get Bent Out of Shape About Siri Rankings (Yet)

Siri, and by extension Apple Maps, is a hot topic these days.  With good reason.  Siri is such an awesome technology that even my Mom–who doesn’t even have a Google OR a Facebook OR a Twitter account–“made me” get her an iPhone 4S for Christmas 🙂  And all indications are that Apple Maps is going to be pretty darn slick.

But I think it’s important to take a step back and not fall victim to “shiny object syndrome,” as SEO’s (including your humble author) so often do.

Sadly, I see it happening in our industry already.  I realize that there’s plenty of value in being an early adopter as a marketer–and establishing yourself as an expert–in an up-and-coming niche early in the game.  But the number of questions I get, and chatter that I see, about Siri seems to be way out of proportion.

What should that proportion be?  My gut has said all along that the percentage of Siri searches compared to overall Local searches (the vast majority of which occur on Google properties) had to be less than 10.  But today I finally had some time to sit down, do some research, and come up with the actual percentage:

Siri represents somewhere around 4.875% of all Local searches. (And just 1.196% of ALL searches.)

How did I arrive at this number (please note that all numbers below are rounded off)?

  1. 20% of all desktop searches are Local
  2. 20% of all searches are Mobile
  3. 50% of all Mobile queries are Local
  4. 33% of smartphone users have iPhones (note: a small percentage of mobile search queries likely come from stupidphones, so if anything, this is an overestimate.)
  5. 50% of iPhone users own the iPhone 4S
  6. 87% of iPhone 4S owners use Siri at least once a month (note: if anything, this overestimates the number of Siri users who use it for Local searches)

Back to 3rd grade multiplication, .20 * .50 * .33 * .50 * .87 = .01436.  This means 1.4355% of all queries are Siri Local searches.  And since 30% of all queries are Local, we divide this number by .3 to arrive at .04875, or 4.875%–an aggressive estimate of Siri Local searches as a percentage of all Local Searches.

So, again, although for marketers, there’s plenty of value in establishing yourself as an expert in a technology that is bound to be a growing niche for a long, long time, the average iPhone-toting small business owner should not work herself into a frenzy if her rankings are subpar on Siri.  Not to mention that claiming your listings at Yelp and Localeze–the two primary data aggregators feeding Siri, possibly in addition to Acxiom and TomTom–is already a best practice.

  • Numbers don’t lie, but it is also important to point out (as you did) “I realize that there’s plenty of value in being an early adopter as a marketer–and establishing yourself as an expert–in an up-and-coming niche early in the game. ” but this is why I have always promoted hitting EVERY angle – look at all we do in marketing as a “puzzle” Siri is just one piece of that big 1000 piece puzzle for marketers. Thanks for sharing this.

  • I agree with Matt. But the next thing – deciding how much time you allocate to every piece of the “puzzle” for every project – is even more important.

  • I’m sure I am one of the people that fall into the “use Siri once a month” category, but I know myself and most of my friends only use Siri for texting (when driving or on the go) and setting alarms/reminders. Never for local searches. Would much rather open up Chrome and punch in what I am looking for in there.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if just a very small percentage of that 87% actually used Siri for local searches.

  • Along the lines of your “Shiny Object Syndrome” I found myself using Siri a lot at first due to the novelty of it, but I rarely utilize her services these days. I suspect the same is true of others, but time will tell if it really catches on as a means to search. We’ve obviously had voice recognition technology for a long time now, but few seem to truly latch on to it I suspect due to lack of privacy and perhaps a fear of being considered a little crazy. Mobile platforms (especially in the car) change that paradigm quite a bit, but I think it’s going to take a while still for people to truly embrace it.

  • This is kind of like those graphics about how big the earth is in comparison to the solar system. Obviously, there are plenty of people who have access to Siri and use it, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s just a speck on the map. If you just follow strong holistic optimization practices and diversify, everything will take care of itself.

  • I agree that you shouldn’t get bent out of shape about Siri. I’m an Android user and my wife has an iPhone. We have these “search fights” from time-to-time where she’ll do a local search using Siri and I’ll do the same search using the standard Android browser. I’ll get accurate results in seconds while my wife is arguing with Siri because Siri misunderstood her. And when Siri does understand her, the results are awful in most cases. Now the running joke in our house is whenever my wife has a question I’ll tell her to ask Siri…I’m sure she’ll be able to answer that for you:) In short, I think Siri is a joke for local search right now. I’m still going to make sure all of my clients are on Yelp because I’m sure down the road Siri will get better.

    Travis Van Slooten

  • I think you hit it on the head as being an early adopter. That being said, I wonder what kind of shift we will see with the next version of iOS and Siri. Will dependency on Siri increase? Time will tell, but my gut tells me that with the success of Siri and the integration of Apple Maps we will probably see an increase in these numbers in the next year or so.

  • I only use Android, but I do want to know what the poor folks are using [ :)- ] so it’s good go keep up. Great perspective on the topic. The comments helped too. I’ll keep searching for news about this new niche, but on my droid for now.


  • Personally i user SIRI atleast once a week. I think our dependency on SIRI will increase over time but mabye not as quickly as some users will think but I imagine it will be the future.

  • Loved the graphical representation of Siri search. I’m curious to see if the number grows as the masses upgrade to iPhones with Siri software. Definitely agree at this point, Siri rankings should not be a major business concern for small businesses. If you’re correcting and claiming your Yelp! and Localeze listings, you’re already ahead of the game!