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How Consumers Find Content Online - Today vs. 2 Years Ago

How Consumers Find Content Online - Today vs. 2 Years Ago

The popularity of social media challenges is constantly changing as new platforms emerge. 


Mobile devices are taking over traditional laptops as the method of choice for searching the internet. 


Artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms now tailor content recommendations to individual users’ preferences, making content discovery more personalized.


How consumers find content online is changing … and changing rapidly.


While inbound marketing continues to be the go-to comprehensive strategy for both B2B and B2C marketers, in just two years, we’ve seen a shift in how businesses are distributing content and how customers are consuming it.


Why is this important if you’re a business owner or marketer? Staying on top of these trends is crucial for remaining competitive in a marketplace where technology is constantly changing and consumer behavior is evolving. Let’s take a closer look at how consumers find content today. You might be surprised at how much has changed in just a couple of years.



Search Engines Are King, But One Wins In A Landslide



Search engines are an everyday part of life. From Google to Bing, Yahoo and Ask.com, there are several from which to choose. search engines


Yet when internet searchers type a search engine address into their browsers (or choose a default browser for searching on their electronics), one stands apart from the pack, and that’s Google. 


Google currently holds 80% of the desktop search engine market share worldwide. The next closest is Bing at just over 11%.


Interestingly, Google’s share is down from two years ago, when it held almost 85% of the market share. Bing has made up some ground over the past two years, rising from just over 8%. While that may be a bit of good news for Bing and other search engines looking to vie for users, the news isn’t as great when it comes to vying for mobile users - unless you’re Google.


Google holds an enormous 95% of the mobile search engine market share worldwide, and has held that significant advantage for several years. The closest competitor is YANDEX, the largest search engine in Russia, with 1.3% share.


So why does this matter? Understanding the dominance of Google in the search engine market is crucial for businesses and marketers. It highlights the importance of optimizing content for Google’s search algorithms to maximize visibility and reach. 


This also shows the necessity of a strong mobile strategy, given Google’s overwhelming presence in mobile searches. Being aware of these dynamics can significantly impact how effectively you connect with your target audience.

Organic Search Getting A Boost From AI



That’s what marketers believe. Hubspot research found that 75% of marketers think AI-enabled search engines will positively impact their blog posts, and 68% believe that will help their websites get more traffic. 


When potential customers open a web browser, many are now getting assistance from artificial intelligence, whether they realize it or not. 


AI is revolutionizing how people search for content in several ways. Search engines like Google use advanced machine learning algorithms to understand and interpret user queries more accurately. These algorithms analyze the context and intent behind search terms, providing more relevant and personalized results. 


For instance, Google's RankBrain and BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers) models can comprehend natural language queries, making the search experience more intuitive.


AI also powers voice search technology. With the rise of virtual assistants like Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant, more users are conducting searches using voice commands. These AI-driven assistants not only understand spoken language but also learn from user interactions to improve the accuracy of future responses. This shift toward voice search is changing SEO strategies, as businesses need to optimize their content for conversational queries.


Lastly, AI enhances the user experience through personalized search results. Search engines track user behavior, such as browsing history and past searches, to deliver customized content that matches individual preferences. This means users are more likely to find what they are looking for quickly, increasing satisfaction and engagement.

More Searchers Are Turning to Social Media 



While traditional search engines are still dominant when it comes to people looking for answers on the web, the number offind content online users turning to social media has increased.


In fact, Hubspot research shows that 31% of consumers use social media to answer their questions, and 15% say they prefer using social media over search engines.


However, that number rises among younger generations to a whopping 31% of Gen Zers who say they like using social media to find answers to their questions over using search engines. Just 3% of Boomers feel the same.


When thinking about future strategies, consider that these numbers are likely to grow. As Gen Zers reach their full buying power potential, that could fundamentally shift the landscape of digital marketing, making social media platforms increasingly critical for customer engagement, brand visibility and driving traffic to your website.

What To Expect 2 Years From Now



As we look to the future, the digital landscape will continue to evolve at a rapid pace, driven by advances in technology and shifting consumer behaviors. 


One significant trend that will persist is the rise of visual and interactive content. Platforms like Instagram, TikTok and YouTube have already shown how powerful short-form videos, live streams and interactive features can be in capturing audience attention. It should come as no surprise then that 56% of marketers said short-form video was the top trend they planned to invest in during the year 2024.


In the next two years, we can expect these formats to become even more sophisticated, incorporating augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) to create immersive experiences that engage users on a deeper level. 


Brands that harness these technologies will be able to create compelling, memorable content that stands out in a crowded digital space.


The role of influencers in content discovery will also continue to grow. Influencers, with their dedicated followings and authentic connections with audiences, will remain key players in the marketing ecosystem. 


As their influence expands, we will likely see more brands forming long-term partnerships with influencers to build sustained engagement and loyalty. 


Micro-influencers, in particular, will become increasingly important due to their highly engaged niche audiences. These smaller-scale influencers can offer more targeted and credible endorsements, which can be incredibly effective for brands looking to reach specific segments of the market.


The integration of AI and machine learning in content personalization will continue to evolve as well. AI will not only enhance search engine capabilities but also provide deeper insights into consumer preferences and behaviors. This will enable brands to deliver hyper-personalized content that resonates with individual users, increasing engagement and conversion rates. 


The continued emphasis on data privacy will require a balance between personalization and ethical data use, with brands needing to be transparent and respectful of consumer privacy.


While we’ve seen many advancements in how consumers find content online, there’s no doubt that the next two years will see additional advancements in how content is created, discovered and consumed. 


Hiring a marketing agency that specializes in leveraging emerging technologies and trends will be important for staying on top of the rapidly changing digital landscape. Brands that stay ahead of these trends and adapt their strategies accordingly will be well-positioned to thrive in the dynamic digital marketplace.


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