Search is Much Bigger Than Google

Google is the dominant search engine in the U.S., but “search” behavior has become much bigger than the volume in a search engine alone. Social and commerce platforms’ search features are very popular and powerful business tools. Depending on the category, there is more “search” behavior happening outside of Google than inside of Google.

In our proprietary research, we surveyed over a thousand consumers to uncover their search preferences across categories. Non-Google search is certainly at critical mass in a number of those categories. It’s even more prevalent behavior in the youngest age range surveyed, 18-34 year olds, which account for about 77 Million people in the U.S.

When asked which platforms they regularly use to search for information about a product, service, or company, Google still holds the top rank, but other platforms deserve some strategic focus as well.


Comparing the data above to the wider sample, there are some notable shifts that hold statistical significance:

  • Amazon is significantly more popular with ages 35+ than those under 35, posing a challenge for Amazon on the horizon
  • Instagram and TikTok search features are significantly more popular for younger adults, roughly 2X the importance vs. adults 35+

Keep in mind, this is all in the context of product/service/business search. Indeed, client search programs we’re running in social platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest show very healthy results in sale conversion rates and total volume.

The research looks entirely different from one category to the next. In some, Pinterest or DoorDash may rise, while in other service-related categories, Facebook still floats near the top. Then of course commerce platforms like Amazon, but also the increasingly popular Walmart, and to a lesser extent Target, all are mandatories for discovery in categories where products are sold on-“shelf.”

It’s certainly past time for brands to think more broadly about their search campaigns and how to integrate search learnings across platforms to drive their overall business performance.