The rapid growth in on-site search usage is likely a result of an ever-increasing volume of online content that needs to be parsed through in order to find specific information, and site visitors desire for immediate results, as opposed to navigating several levels deep into a website. As we see later in this report, search on mobile devices is also taking off in a major way- mobile users are more likely to use the search function rather than diving into multiple layers of navigation in order to find information.
As site search usage continues to increase, organizations will need to ensure they have a well implemented and highly relevant search experience in place, or risk alienating their online visitors.
In 2018, the Transportation, Hospitality, Insurance, Technology & Retail sectors saw the highest growth in customer queries and search results clicks. Website and content owners should use these trends to optimize their digital experiences.
For example, in the Transportation industry we see a rapidly increasing demand for information leading to increased search usage. However, the query growth is much higher than the click growth. It's possible that these sites have missing content that is being searched for. Given that it's a highly competitive market, there is a steep cost to not offering an optimized search and content experience.
Hospitality and Technology companies on the other hand, appear to have drastically increased the relevance of their search, most likely by adding relevant content to their websites, setting a new performance benchmark for the companies in those industries.
This confirms that search relevance is highly important. End users tend to select results on the first page (and in most cases, the first 3 results), and they will likely be turned off if the information presented is not relevant to them, or the links they click on do not lead to the information they are seeking.
Given the major growth trend we're seeing in search usage, delivering highly relevant site search results should definitely be prioritized by digital content owners.
The most popular time of day for End Users to utilize website search (in the US) is between 2pm and 8pm, with Monday evening being the most popular day of the week and time.
By taking a close look at what search topics are trending at different times of day, you can personalize the content on dynamic websites to time of day, refine your marketing mix and the timing of your messages, and push time-scheduled banners or online offers at specific times.
This data should also inform the overall content mix on your digital channels. You can base the timing and content of social media posts for example, on the timing of trending topics on your site search platform.
Given this growth in mobile search usage, implementing a fast and relevant search solution is a key component of your website's mobile optimization strategy, helping end users get to the information they are seeking faster than traditional navigation.
Search queries specifically made on mobile devices should also be taken into account when evaluating an organization's digital experience. For example, if the mobile version of the website makes it difficult to find certain pieces of information, then the user is more likely to do a search. If searches are originating from pages that already contain the information in the query, it could mean the site is not properly mobile optimized.
As content marketing continues to grow in importance worldwide, search has become recognized by end users as the most efficient way of parsing through large volumes of content to find the specific information they are looking for, especially on a mobile device.
Percentage of search queries occurring on a mobile device by region:
The Financial Industry has seen the largest growth in mobile queries in 2018. Mobile queries increased by 90%, bringing it to 16% of all searches done on mobile. This trend is indicative of the rapid growth in mobile banking, and should incentivize the financial industry to continue to invest in mobile banking solutions and mobile-friendly content, since a large proportion of their users will be consuming it on a mobile device. Some of the top trending mobile search intents (see below) in this industry is for login, online banking and payments information. These are topics that should be adequately addressed in a mobile friendly interface.
The Healthcare Industry saw a 69% growth in mobile searches, with 32% of all searches done on mobile. This is a clear indication that an increasing number of patients and their families are engaging with healthcare providers on their mobile devices with specific objectives in mind, and possibly even at the physical healthcare locations. Top mobile search intents (see intents section) are various specific procedures, hours, or room and parking availability. This information can be used to optimize the patient experience online.
Throughout the week, mobile searches occur most frequently at night, between the hours of 9pm and 4am. Overall, Saturday and Sunday are the most popular times to perform searches on mobile devices. This logically follows from that fact that most visitors tend to use their computer during the day over the work week, and switch to a mobile device outside of work hours.
Content owners can use this data to schedule mobile-only offers by day-part and device. These tactics should be informed by your visitors' trending search topics on mobile.
Depending on the industry, it's also possible these end users are actually out and about while using search on the weekend- they may even be in physical retail stores or points of sale. In these cases, by checking out the trending searches (such as discounts, offers, or product information). This information can be used to improve not just the digital experience, but also the offline experience for these customers.
Website visitors often use many different search terms when searching for the same topic. “Search Intents” are broader categories that encompass various different but related terms. These categories help organizations understand what main subject areas their visitors are actually interested in.
This information is highly useful, as it can help the marketing team better understand what the right mix of content should be. Categorizing search terms into broader intent areas helps with both content strategy, as well as search and website optimization. It can also help with the implementation of more accurate synonyms, and with the identification of ineffective searches that fall under these categories.
By recognizing trending intents as opposed to merely keywords, content owners at organizations within various industries can predict emerging issues and opportunities. These top intents can be used to evaluate the completeness of existing content, as well as being used to plan editorial calendars in 2019.
Observations: Mobile banking is especially interesting, with a large number of end users searching for login, online banking, and account information. This indicates that these often-used mobile features need to be optimized for better on bank's mobile sites.
Observations: Aside from "program courses", a number of the the higher education intents are focused on post-graduation opportunities. These appear to be mostly students searching university websites for answers on what comes next, and are focused on specific career objectives. This is an important note for content and student advising departments at higher education institutions, especially since post-graduate career placement is an important factor in college rankings.
Observations: What's especially interesting about the trending intents in the electronics category, is how specific and objective focused they are. Rather than doing more general searches, website visitors are seeking out specific items and models. When analysed at a brand or store level, this can help better organize product categories and offers online, as well as helping to identify trending demand for specific products, even if they are out-of-stock.
Observations: The appearance of "login" and "chat" on the mobile search intents in the energy sector suggests that these are customer needs that are not being readily met by websites in this industry. This is an opportunity to better serve the immediate needs of customers via mobile optimization.
Observations: The appearance of automobile related searches ("car") as well as financing issues ("repo" and "overdraft") indicates a large volume of distressed borrowers utilizing the search function on financial institution's websites. This information could be made more readily available, along with options and services focused on helping these customers navigate their financial situation.
Observations: Unsurprisingly, various housing, parking and municipal issues are trending in the Government Intents category. By digging deeper into these intents at a local level, various government agencies can identify trending issues in their localities in order to offer their residents better services and assistance.
Observations: Healthcare intents were for the most part centered around various specialties, depending on the institution and patients. However, the appearance of "hours" and "parking" information on the list of trending intents indicates that this information could be made more readily available online, especially since these website visitors may already be distracted by their health issues in some cases.
Observations: Insurance intents when viewed as a whole had a larger focus on driving and personal identification. Website owners in the industry should evaluate their digital content to ensure that their customer base is being served with the relevant and easy-to-access information in both of these areas.
Observations: A number of non-profit intents are centered around various types of classes, careers, and training in various fields. At an organizational or industry level, analyzing these trends in a more granular way could help better prepare candidates wishing to enter the field, and help with recruiting.
Observations: The most likely intents in the shipping industry were of course to do with the tracking of orders, scheduling and claims. However, it was interesting to see a set of intents around "carbon tax" also appear, which indicates a growing awareness around environmental issues and regulations. This content should be made readily accessible online for site visitors interested in this topic area.
Observations: The iPhone continues to be the highest-trending intent area in the telecom industry. However, two interesting intent areas were "financial hardship" and "unlock"- especially given the skyrocketing price of mobile devices (such as the new iPhones) as well as legislation ensuring greater number portability between carriers, content explaining customer's rights and options in both these areas has become increasingly important.
Observations: Aside from booking information, almost all the trending intent categories for transportation were centered around how customers can travel with different items such as guitars, liquids, medicines etc. While a lot of this information already exists on airline websites, it can sometimes be hard to find or confusing. Optimizing content around these areas and making it easy to access will likely reduce the amount of calls airlines and other travel organizations will receive from customers.
Observations: Aside from more obvious intent areas like billing and various energy and discount questions, an interesting search intent was "live chat". Both on desktop as well as mobile, it appears a significant number of customers are eager to be able to directly contact their utilities company via online chat, with that intent trending higher than even "contact telephone numbers". This is an important intent to take note of when evaluating your customer service infrastructure.