“Does Alaska have polar bears?” and other popular Google search queries in 2016

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Google search’s autocomplete function is an interesting feature; as well as helping to save time, it can also be very revealing of the zeitgeist. The feature has been in the headlines recently for reasons that probably didn’t make Google particularly happy, but autocomplete can also be the source of some amusement.

Marketing company WebpageFX has come up with an entertaining lookback at the most popular searches in the US, broken down by state. This fairly simple piece of research shows that people are asking questions such as “does Idaho exist?”, “does Florida have zika?”, and “does Arizona have pee in it?” (yep… we’re lost too…*). Some searches are serious, some silly, some weird. Here’s how they break down.

WebpageFX started off by typing the names of each state into Google and logging what the most popular autocomplete suggestion was. Some states are unfortunate in that they share names with other famous people and things, so a search for “Maine” throws up the suggestion “Maine Coon”, while “Indiana Jones” pops ups further to the west. Things get rather more interesting when the search term “Does [state]…” is used.

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We’ve already pulled out a few of the highlights for this search above. Some of the queries(“Does New Jersey have an airport?”) are clearly genuine queries about the state in question, while states with names adopted by companies crop up for different reasons — “does Kentucky Fried Chicken deliver?”. The most common query about Louisiana is whether it allows open carry, while for Connecticut it is whether there is an open container law.

There are a bunch of amusing searches using the queries “is [state]…?” and “why does [state]…?” — who hasn’t asked themselves “why does New Jersey smell”?

Skip over to WebpageFX to see all of the search details.

  • In case you were wondering, Webpage FX does have the answer: “…it turns out people aren’t looking up the state of Arizona — they’re looking up AriZona Tea. There was a rumor in 2015 that AriZona Tea products tested positive for human urine.”

Image credit: Fotokon / Shutterstock

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