One of the major trends explored in Econsultany’s new SEO Agencies Buyer’s Guide is that user search behaviour is changing.
In this industry, there’s no shortage of information around how and why marketers are using SEO, but to me, there seems to be a distinct lack of research which looks from the other side of the fence at how we use search as internet users.
Best practice is extremely important, but so is understanding how people are actually using search engines.
So I jumped at the chance to check out some recent research out by Performics and ROI Research, where they had surveyed people’s motivations and behaviour when using search engines. The data is US-based, but in my opinion reflect trends that are globally applicable.
Natural search vs. Paid search
When asked if they know the difference between natural and paid search results...
- 63% said Yes
- 37% said No
The age demographics of those who did know the difference between natural and paid search results...
- 18-29 - 80% said Yes
- 30-39 - 59% said Yes
- 40-49 - 63% said Yes
- 50-59 - 58% said Yes
- 60+ - 52% said Yes
When asked how often they click on natural and paid search results...
- 37% Always
- 42% Frequently
- 15% Occasionally
- 4% Rarely
- 2% Never
- 5% Always
- 15% Frequently
- 43% Occasionally
- 29% Rarely
- 8% Never
User search behaviour
4 in 10 respondents (40%) used a search engine more than twenty times in any given week.
The age demographics of those who used a search engine more than twenty times in any given week...
- 18-29 - 54%
- 30-39 - 53%
- 40-49 - 36%
- 50-59 - 28%
- 60+ - 26%
88% of respondents will click on a result that has the exact phrase they searched for.
89% said that they will alter their search query if they don’t find the results they’re looking for.
89% will ultimately change search engines if they don’t find the results they’re looking for.
79% will go through multiple pages of results, if their query isn’t answered in the first page.
53% of respondents said they're more likely to click on a listing if it includes and image.
48% said that they click on a company or brand if they appear multiple times in the SERPs.
26% said they were more likely to click on a search result if it included a video.
Why users are searching
83% use search engines to find specific products or brands.
78% said that they did informational search queries after seeing an advertisement for a product or brand somewhere else.
80% use search engines for informational queries about a specific product or brand before purchasing online.
76% use search engines for informational queries about a specific product or brand before purchasing offline.
78% said that they used search engines to find the best price of a specific products or brand.
74% used search engines to find where they can purchase a specific product or brand offline.
Overall, these findings support what many in the industry have long suspected: that SEO is crucially important, as consumers not only trust natural search results more than paid search ones, but are also more responsive to organisations with greater visibility.
[Image credit: Danard Vincente]