We don’t use search engines the way we used to. That’s according to Biren Kalaria, Head of Performance at Google UK, who says that as search engines have improved, our search queries have become more confident. We use “how to” and “why” queries, not just “what is” or “who is” while, with the increasing use of smartphones, the incidence of “near me” search queries is 34 times that recorded in 2011.
Kalaria was joined by speakers from 7thingsmedia at the recent Consumer Search Behaviour event held in London. Attendees were told that there are over one trillion searches on Google a year (that’s 137 searches per person). We spend just four seconds on the search results page — unless we are over 60, when we tend to spend twice as long.
Men and women search differently, according to 7thingsmedia’s Gerald Murphy and Sandra McDill. Men spend more time on search result pages than women, are more likely to look at results further down the page and, on average, view three more pages of results.
Women, on the other hand, are less likely to scroll around, and are more likely to fixate on positions 2 and 3. They are likely to have more browser tabs open, and to be using more devices at one time. They also browse sites for longer.
Voice search is growing in usage, particularly amongst younger people. And younger people tend to use longer search queries.
Why should you care?
If your primary audience is women and your site’s not ranking well on Google, you’ve got work to do. And content marketers should be asking themselves if there’s popular and relevant “how to” and “why” content they should be adding to their sites.
Event attendees also learnt that in the UK half the people who do a local search on mobile will visit the store on the same day. If the numbers are anything similar here (and we think that likely), then as search marketers we need to renew our attention on paid search messaging and geo-targeting.
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Jeremy is a Partner and Senior Consultant at SureFire. Jeremy has been working in search since 1996, when he joined the Australian search engine, LookSmart. After relocating to San Francisco, he was instrumental in development of the company’s paid search ad platform. At analytics company Coremetrics (now owned by IBM) he established an in-house search agency managing campaigns for Coremetrics clients such as Macy’s, Bass Pro and Lands End. At Acxiom he managed members of the pioneering SEO firm Marketleap and worked with clients such as Capital One, American General Finance and Kaiser Health. Joining SureFire in 2009, he develops search strategies for SureFire clients and helps them make sense of their website data.
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