54% of people scroll deeper into their search results vs 5 years ago.

A couple of weeks ago we talked about how the insights from the Google leak would change how we all think about digital marketing.

In case you missed it: Google puts a lot more importance on brand and user behaviour than they previously let on. That means smaller brands have a much more difficult time ranking, and for many of us, it makes more sense to try to build an audience on social or email vs trying to get content to rank directly.

This week, Search Engine Land shared some data that gives us more reasons to believe that brand awareness off of Google could be more valuable than we previously though.

The first number that stood out: 33% of searchers say that when they are searching on Google, they are specifically looking for brands they recognize in the results. Which means even if a small business can somehow break through to the first page despite the algorithmic disadvantages, searchers are less likely to click their links.

At the same time, people are scrolling deeper. The majority of Google users said the process is more frustrating than it was 5 years ago, and that they spend more time finding a result to click.

That may explain why we see as many as 60% of young people reporting that they prefer to search on social platforms like TikTok and Instagram rather than traditional search engines.

There was a glimmer of hope for Google, however. 35% of searchers reported that they routinely scroll past ads, which leaves 65% who are at least considering the paid options that appear at the top of their search results.

So What?

After decades of digital marketing that centred on search results as the #1 source of new business for marketers, what we’re seeing is a pretty dramatic shift.

Potential buyers are tired of searching through blue links, which means the first results page is less valuable than ever. Meanwhile, Google is making it harder than ever for small brands to get access to those results.

In a world where we can’t rely on search engines to reliably drive new customers, we all need to be thinking more creatively about how we reach, connect with, and convert new customers.

For many of us, that will mean our email lists, social media audiences, and paid social budgets will surpass SEO as the most effective ways that we attract people to our businesses.