Things to do in London: what are you searching for?

As you may know, I live in London, UK. You might have heard the famous quote which says: “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.” attributed to Samuel Johnson, 1777. Sometimes you have the impression that London is like a huge theme park, for those who can afford the rides. People are always looking for things to do in London. My insatiable curiosity brought me once again to the SEMrush platform to carry out my tourism-related SEO investigation.

What are people searching for when planning their night out or family week end?

There are multiple ways to approach the investigation.

Things to do in London: “…London…”

We can start by typing in the very broad “London” query in the SEMrush search box. In the results we can see that the phrase “Things to do in London” ranks pretty high in terms of monthly search volume. It’s actually the 13th most searched query related to London.

things to do in London

“London weather” and “weather London” rank #1 & #2 which can be explained by the fact that London’s weather is always changing. Some people say that you can experience the four seasons in one day in the British capital 🙂 I tend to agree.

Then we have “BBC Weather London”, also well ranked because Londoners trust the almighty BBC for their weather forecast. London visitors also need to find their way through the extensive transport network. The second local preoccupation is how to get from A to B in due time. So we have “London tube map”, “London underground map”, “transport for London”, “London underground”.

Then we have London’s #1 attraction, the “London Eye” (after “Harry Potter World”, geographically outside of London), followed by “Gumtree London”, Gumtree being the #1 classifieds website & app in the city. Another popular attraction comes next: “London zoo”.

And then we have our title phrase: “things to do in London”, an open question to the Google search engine (BTW, as you can see, Londoners know that Time Out is the #1 media when it comes to anything London-related).

And what does Google answer to that query? Well, as you may know, it will all depend on your personal browsing history, your location and some other secret sauce ingredients. But let’s have a look at the result shared by SEMrush.

things to do in London SEMrush

Web diggers were right to rank “Time Out London” #14 in their requests. Time Out grabs positions #1 and #2 as a direct result for “Things to do in London”. Then we have the preferred online resource for customer reviews, Tripadvisor, followed by Visitlondon and Londonist, two local players. Groupon closes the first page with their deal-oriented suggestions.

The online version of The Telegraph seems to have a very strong authority on the subject, probably helped by the size of the listicle they’re offering to the reader (100 of the best things to do in London). A great example of what some SEO specialists would call the Skyscraper Technique. I didn’t know about #7 ( but apparently they’ve got a pretty solid traffic, 755K visits per month, 56% from organic search.

things to do in London Design My Night

Things to do in London: reverse engineering

Now let’s try another approach and start with a domain-based search on for the UK

That would be the search query in SEMrush:

I’ve excluded “Barcelona”, “Paris” “Amsterdam” and “Prague” from the keywords. I’ve limited the results to the queries ranking keywords on Google’s first page. They are sorted by monthly volume. Here’s the list.

Things to do in London, Time Out

Bear in mind that it’s showing a consolidated report for the last 12 months, hence the presence of “New Year 2015”, “Halloween” and “Winter Wonderland” in the list. I could have excluded “Harry Potter World” since it’s not located in London but I’ve left it to show you the popularity of the destination, usually considered as London’s #1 attraction.  The British Museum and Kew Gardens generate a high volume of queries, as well as branded search queries, incl. “Time Out”, present 4 times in “Time Out London” in the top 15, due to the ranking of 3 different URLs.

Time Out also manages to rank 2 URLs for the very broad “London” query. One of them being their general destination while the other one beats The Telegraph’s listicle by one unit: The ultimate London-centric Skyscraper article! 

FYI, the 2 top spots for the broad “London” query go to and the ubiquitous Wikipedia.

Which leaves us with the astonishing #1 spot in terms of volume occupied by the query “not on the high street”. Very interesting. Not On The High Street is a highly popular e-commerce website (which you can visit at The URL ranked by Timeout simply presents their 10th birthday Open Door Event organized in East London in May 2016:

Timeout managed to rank #7 on Google’s first page for the very broad query “Not On the High Street” thanks to the impressive authority of their website. Which shows the value of their online property! They could probably rank for a very wide range of keywords.

One more thing…

Let’s dig a bit deeper in the list of results. “Restaurants” ranks twice, 16 and 17 in terms of monthly volume, with 2 URLs. And then, before the Science Museum (yes, you read me well), we have the Duck And Waffle. A restaurant open 24/7, located at the top of the Heron Tower in the city of London. 90,500 monthly searches for the Duck and Waffle.

If you have a look at their SimilarWeb stats, you’ll see that 73% of their 90,300 visits per month comes from search (the CTR between search results and visits is probably north of 70% when mixing Google & Bing). The popularity of this restaurant is just massive. The next restaurant in the list is Burger & Lobster, with 60,500 searches per month.

things to do in London Duck and Waffle

Duck & Waffle is also a traffic generator for Tripadvisor, Facebook, Zomato, Yelp and Open Table.

So if you don’t know the place, you know what to type in Google 😉 Don’t wait too long though, they are usually booked months in advance. Bon appétit!

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