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SearchDex Survey: Targeted Ads and Outdated Search Results Top List of Americans’ Annoyances with Online Searching

SearchDex Survey: Targeted Ads and Outdated Search Results Top List of Americans’ Annoyances with Online Searching

New survey data from digital marketing tech company SearchDex sheds light on how consumers shop and search online

DALLAS – SearchDex, a digital marketing technology and service company, announced the results of its 2017 Google Game Survey. Fielded to more than 1,000 American adults, the survey revealed American behaviors around online searching, shopping and browsing incognito.

“What many people don’t realize is that today’s search engines are using sophisticated algorithms to determine what people are looking for”

Searching Before Shopping

When it comes to how Americans are searching for their next purchase, more than half reveal that they do in fact use a search engine (58 percent), with more than a quarter admitting that they use search engines to read product reviews (27 percent). Other search strategies include:

  • Seeing various online retailer options – 26 percent
  • Comparing prices – 25 percent
  • Finding physical retail store locations – 19 percent
  • Finding coupon codes – 15 percent

Additionally, a third (32 percent) of Americans say their online shopping efforts begin with a search engine. This is followed by:

  • Online-only retailer website – 20 percent
  • Retail store website – 18 percent
  • Brand website – 15 percent

Only 3 percent of Americans say their first search happens through an online shopping portal.

The Truth Will Set You Free

Online retailers take note: a third of Americans (31 percent) said that misleading search results would make them less likely to buy from a particular website, and another third (31 percent) said they would worry that the retailer might be a scam. Another 27 percent said a misleading search result would push them back to a more familiar website.

“This survey reaffirms something we at SearchDex already know to be true: for brands and retailers to succeed, it’s not just about showing up in search results—it’s about how they show up in search results,” said Dave Chaplin, CEO of SearchDex. “An online search is the first conversation a consumer will have with a brand or retailer—it’s potentially the beginning of the relationship. And if that brand or retailer comes up in an irrelevant search, the relationship has already been damaged. Winning the SEO game is not about getting in front of the consumer whenever and however possible but about using sophisticated SEO to get in front of consumers who are looking for what you have to offer.”

How and What We Search

A majority of Americans (68 percent) approach their internet searches with a strategy. Prime among these strategies are using strings of keywords (41 percent), using full-sentence questions (31 percent) and utilizing category searches (20 percent).

“What many people don’t realize is that today’s search engines are using sophisticated algorithms to determine what people are looking for,” added Chaplin. “So, full-sentence questions can actually be a more effective search strategy than keyword searches.”

While 76 percent of Americans believe themselves to be talented at internet searching, surprisingly few say their internet search strategy involves higher-level search functions like Boolean searches (5 percent) or even just simple quotation marks (13 percent).

Americans say search engines are most useful for finding general information (47 percent), reading the news (30 percent), and online shopping (27 percent). Thirteen percent of Americans say they regularly consult their search engine of choice to figure out acronyms, 10 percent turn to their search engines to find out the time in different time zones, and 11 percent use their search engines to do math.

Online searching does come with its frustrations, however: 68 percent of Americans admit to being annoyed by some aspect of online searching. Top annoyances include:

  • Targeted ads – 39 percent
  • Outdated search results – 21 percent
  • Desired result not on first page of search results – 18 percent
  • Slow load times – 17 percent
  • Description of search result unclear – 12 percent
  • Key search term labeled as missing – 10 percent

Going Incognito

Unsurprisingly, a majority of Americans (68 percent) have concerns about their browser history being sold to big companies. Top among these concerns are that it would cause an increase in annoying ads (44 percent), that their data could fall into the wrong hands (43 percent), that their private searches could be made public (40 percent), or that a security breach could cause their browser history to be exposed (40 percent).

Perhaps for this reason, Americans prefer to use incognito windows to access their bank accounts (21 percent). Americans also prefer to use incognito windows to research and buy gifts (14 percent), watch embarrassing movies and TV shows (13 percent), download confidential work documents (12 percent), and check social media (11 percent).

Survey Methodology

SearchDex commissioned this survey of more than 1,000 American adults from April 25-28, 2017, via Google Surveys.

Google Surveys makes use of the inferred demographic and location information to employ stratified sampling by distributing the surveys based on the targeted audience to their publisher network and/or android smartphone users. They infer demographics through respondents’ browsing history, then they match them against existing government statistical data. Google Surveys uses post-stratification weighting to compensate for sample deficiencies to remove bias among the survey sample. This gives a more accurate result with lower root mean square error, which also makes the results better represent the Current Population Survey. Google Surveys performs equal to or better than existing probability- and non-probability-based internet survey panels. A full description of the Google Surveys methodology can be found in this product overview.

About SearchDex

Specializing in search engine optimization (SEO) and digital brand connections, SearchDex provides a strategic method for organic SEO and online brand visibility which solves e-commerce challenges and achieves online revenue growth goals. Its proprietary platform directly addresses a fundamental enterprise SEO challenge—the gap between buyer and seller—with a unified solution that offers a distinct and integrated approach to digital marketing for e-commerce companies of all sizes. Visit SearchDex at www.searchdex.com for more information.