In the vast realm of the internet, where information flows like a river, not every search is a money-making opportunity for Google. Some search queries, such as “US president in 1836” or “Facebook login,” are far from lucrative. In fact, Google openly states that it serves ads on only about 20% of its total queries. So, what are the searches that line Google’s pockets? These golden nuggets are known as “commercial queries.”

Commercial vs. Non-Commercial Queries

Commercial queries are the Holy Grail of search engine profitability. They are the searches where Google can seamlessly integrate advertisements. Examples of such queries include “cheapest flights to London” or “best phones of 2023.” This week, we received a rare glimpse into the treasure trove of Google searches that bring in the most revenue, thanks to the ongoing US vs. Google antitrust trial.

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The Revelation of Lucrative Queries

It was during this trial that Google was prodded by Judge Amit Mehta to disclose the most revenue-generating search queries for a week in September 2018. This list, ordered by revenue, remained a well-guarded secret until Judge Mehta’s intervention. The curtain was lifted, and the top 20 money-making searches for Google in the US were unveiled.

The Top 20 Money-Making Google Searches

  1. iPhone 8
  2. iPhone 8 plus
  3. Auto insurance
  4. Car insurance
  5. Cheap flights
  6. Car insurance quotes
  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

The actual revenue figures from these queries remain undisclosed. However, these queries provide insight into the dynamic landscape of Google’s profit-making endeavors.

Factors Behind These Profitable Searches

These queries are a reflection of the times and market dynamics. For instance, the presence of three distinct queries related to the iPhone is logical, as the iPhone 8 was launched during that period. Competing retailers, carriers, accessory manufacturers, and others were striving to secure top spots in these search results.

The Competitive World of Insurance Queries

Moreover, the list features several insurance-related entries, which is not surprising, given that the insurance industry has always been fiercely competitive in the United States. If you search for car insurance, you’re likely to encounter four ads before seeing any organic search results. This illustrates the cutthroat nature of advertising in the insurance sector.

It’s essential to note that these findings are specific to a single week in 2018. The landscape of profitable queries might have appeared quite different throughout the year, but this comprehensive data remains under wraps.


In the world of online advertising and search engine profitability, not all searches are created equal. Google’s revenue hinges on a select few “commercial queries” that enable the seamless integration of advertisements. The top 20 money-making searches offer a glimpse into the business dynamics of Google. These queries are a snapshot of a single week in 2018 and reveal the intricate web of advertising and competition within the digital realm.


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