Competing for search results

Report finds 90 percent of searches don’t involve a brand

When consumers are searching for a product, is it more advantageous to be known or to be found? A recent report from Uberall, a platform that manages digital experiences for local businesses, found that 90 percent of searches don’t involve a brand.

The report found that global brand visibility grew in the year from August 2018 to 2019: Branded searches increased by 136 percent and unbranded search increased by 75 percent. “Companies need to optimize for both types of search and especially unbranded queries,” says Greg Sterling, vice president of market insights at Uberall. “If you’re Bank of America, for example, you need to rank for your own terms but also for searches like ‘best 0% APR credit cards’ or ‘lowest mortgage rates.’”

Most consumers start their search with what they’re looking for — i.e., “coffee near me” — versus a specific brand name.

Unbranded search infographic

Uberall’s study found that industries vary widely as related to branded search rates: 88 percent of B2B searches are unbranded, while 62 percent of hospitality and travel searches include a brand term.

Retail is a bit more open, with only 35 percent of searches involving a brand name, ranking below insurance (43 percent) and services (39 percent).

For small and medium-sized businesses, the unbranded search rate is about 81 percent. That compares with about 58 percent of global brands.

The company notes that its findings do not reflect any shifts caused by habit changes forced by the pandemic. It does note, however, that use of third-party services can buoy efforts when competing for unbranded search results.

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