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STUDY: Branded Search Highest in Travel (62%), Lowest in B2B Vertical (12%)

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New Uberall report involving 22 global brands, SMBs and nearly 500,000 total locations examines key consumer search trends

Uberall, Inc., the platform managing digital experiences for local businesses, released two new reports examining branded and unbranded search trends. A branded search is when a consumer looks directly for information about a particular company or product; unbranded search doesn’t feature brand-specific terms (e.g., “car insurance” vs. “Geico”).

Google data reflects that 90% of consumers typically don’t have a brand in mind when they begin their online research. That’s why it’s critical to be visible throughout the consumer journey and in unbranded search results in particular.

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To better understand the relationship and frequency of branded and unbranded search, Uberall looks at 22 global brands, with 48,000 locations and more than 450,000 SMBs, between August 2018 and August 2019.

Branded grew 136%, while unbranded search is up 75%

Consumers discover global brands more often through unbranded queries (58%), which can be highly competitive, versus branded searches (42%). However, during the study’s one-year period, Uberall found that branded search increased by 136%, while unbranded searches grew 75%.

“Companies need to optimize for both types of search and especially unbranded queries,” said Greg Sterling, VP of 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.’”

Nearly 90% of global B2B search unbranded

Uberall’s study found that branded search rates vary considerably by industry. For example, 88% of searches in the B2B segment were unbranded, meaning buyers were higher in the funnel and potentially more open to discovery and persuasion.

By comparison, in hospitality and travel, the majority of queries (62%) feature a brand term. But hospitality and travel is the only vertical where branded search exceeds unbranded queries. This is likely due to a high degree of brand familiarity and loyalty among travel searchers.

“It’s critical to understand how potential customers are discovering your business and locations — or your competitors,” said Brad Fagan, Senior Content Strategist and author of the report. “The more branded queries the better, but most consumers are searching without a specific name in mind, which translates into a battle for visibility; and that’s even more true among SMBs, where awareness is much lower.”

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Additional findings include:

  • The percentage of unbranded search in the SMB market is roughly 81%, compared with 19% of queries which feature a branded term
  • Brands better able to satisfy unbranded, general searches early in the funnel are more likely to drive branded queries in later sessions
  • A number of best practices, including working with third-party providers, can substantially boost both unbranded and branded search visibility and engagement

“Brands often assume people seek them out directly, but failure to address unbranded searches means they could be missing out on a lot of potential exposure,” added Sterling. “Having a clear understanding of consumer search behavior is essential in optimizing your digital marketing. And in a time of budget constraints, that’s more critical than ever.”

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