Local search data for the month of January traditionally offers a look into peoples’ New Year’s resolution plans, with searches for gyms, healthy restaurants, winter vacations, and various forms of self improvement spiking during this month.
Unique to January 2021, this set of Google Maps search data offers a look into what people are doing when they leave the home during a time when travel is discouraged.
The data reveals people are doing a lot of the same things they do every January, with a different approach to it this year.
Instead of searching for international travel destinations, people are searching for local travel. Instead of searching for the nearest gym, people are searching for at-home workouts.
Here’s a deeper look into January 2021 Google Maps search trends.
Google Maps Trending Searches
Google’s data on trending searches in Maps compares December 2019-January 2020 vs. December 2020-January 2021 to identify which queries are up (or down) this year.
People are focused more on local travel this year than international travel.
Searches for countries outside one’s hometown stayed flat this January. This can be attributed to COVID-19 travel restrictions.
For comparison, in January 2020 Maps searches for international destinations increased by 65% over the previous month.
Searches for local bed and breakfasts have increased by 20% in January 2021 compared to late 2020, which is a sign that peoples’ travel habits have shifted closer to home instead of across the world.
Google notes that ski resorts are trending “in a big way” on Maps. Searches for ski resorts are more than twice as high as they were in January 2020. This is likely because skiing is a socially distant activity.
New Year’s Resolutions
Search trends in January have historically been representative of peoples’ New Year’s resolutions plans – such as drinking less, eating better, and exercising more.
The query “Dry January” tends to spike in January as people vow to abstain from alcohol in the month following the holiday season.
Many fewer people are taking the dry January challenge this year it seems, as searches for wine shops are liquor stores dropped by 11% and 6% compared to December. Last January searches for both queries were down nearly 40% compared to the previous month.
Eating healthy remains a priority in the month of January, as searches for “healthy” options spiked by 46% at the start of the month compared to December.
However, Google notes people’s appetite for sweets is up this year. Searches for ice cream shops are up by 10% compared to December.
Searches for fast food restaurants tend to plummet in January, but that’s not the case this year.
In January 2020 searches for fast food restaurants were down by 20% compared to the previous December. This year searches for fast food dropped by 1.5% from December to January.
Searches related to workouts and exercise remained high this year. Queries for local gyms increased by about 25% from December to January.
In what may be an example of the popularity of at-home workouts, Google says searches for hiking areas did not see their usual increase this year – a 16% increase compared to last year’s 55% increase. Local restrictions may be a factor here as well.
For more on Google Maps trends, see Google’s blog post here.
Matt Southern has been the lead news writer at Search Engine Journal since 2013. With a degree in communications, Matt has an uncanny ability to make the most complex subject matter easy to understand. When he’s not ferociously following and covering the search industry, he’s busy writing SEO-friendly copy that converts.