20 most profitable Google queries revealed during antitrust trial

Ever wondered which search queries drive the most revenue for Google? It turns out that iPhone, insurance and cheap flight queries drove the most revenue for Google in the U.S., at least for one week in September 2018.

The list of search terms appeared on a heavily redacted slide that was included in a PDF released this week as a trial exhibit during the ongoing U.S. vs. Google antitrust trial.

Why we care. We know Google makes a lot of money (a modest $116.46 billion in 2018, when compared to the $224.47 billion Google made in 2022) and know which CPCs are most expensive. But we’ve never known which search terms were the most lucrative for Google because Google has never before revealed this information.

The 20 most profitable Google searches. The top search terms for the week of Sept. 22, 2018 in the U.S., ordered by revenue, were:

  1. iPhone 8
  2. iPhone 8 plus
  3. auto insurance
  4. car insurance
  5. cheap flights
  6. car insurance quote
  7. direct tv
  8. online colleges
  9. at&t
  10. hulu
  11. iPhone
  12. uber
  13. spectrum
  14. comcast
  15. xfinity
  16. insurance quotes
  17. free credit report
  18. cheap car insurance
  19. aarp
  20. lifelock

All other information was redacted on the slide – specifically:

  • Revenue (how much Google made off each search term).
  • Queries (number of).
  • RPM (ad revenue per thousand impressions).

The slide. It appears in this PDF. Here is a screenshot:

Top Us Queries Google Revenue Sept 2018 1

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About the author

Danny Goodwin

Danny Goodwin has been Managing Editor of Search Engine Land & Search Marketing Expo – SMX since 2022. He joined Search Engine Land in 2022 as Senior Editor. In addition to reporting on the latest search marketing news, he manages Search Engine Land’s SME (Subject Matter Expert) program. He also helps program U.S. SMX events.

Goodwin has been editing and writing about the latest developments and trends in search and digital marketing since 2007. He previously was Executive Editor of Search Engine Journal (from 2017 to 2022), managing editor of Momentology (from 2014-2016) and editor of Search Engine Watch (from 2007 to 2014). He has spoken at many major search conferences and virtual events, and has been sourced for his expertise by a wide range of publications and podcasts.

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