A survey conducted by About.com has identified the following three reasons behind why people do online searching-

  1. They want answers
  2. They want to be educated
  3. They want to be inspired.

Tracy Raiser, senior vice president for sales, About.com, explained the findings in the following way –

These findings offer advertisers and marketers a better understanding and valuable insight into the way consumers search online. The Three Mindsets of Search study aims to improve the understanding of how consumers search. It’s a real opportunity for marketers to think about campaigns in a whole new light.”

A key significance of these findings is that they can provide a clue to marketers on how to connect more effectively with people doing Internet searching.

Internet searching for answers

People doing Internet searching for answers

There are people who do the online searching either to find a quick solution to a problem or to get some details about something. The questions they are looking answers for can vary like anything, such as “how to fix a broken radio” and “who is the villain's sidekick in the movie that I saw last evening”. And yes, the questions concerned are not necessarily important ones all the time. Nevertheless, people like to search for the answers to them.

About.com suggests that marketers can tap this type of searches, by presenting ads talking about clear benefits, such as “coffee in under 5 minutes”.

As per the survey, 46% of the total number of people doing online searching do the same to seek answers to some question.

People doing Internet searching for getting educated

People doing online searching to get educated over something do the same to get better command over a topic or subject, with Health and Finance being the most searched topics/subjects. These people look for relevant information, with the objective being getting as much detailed information as possible.

About.com suggests marketers to provide such people with informative ads that cover a topic from various angles. For example, a company into selling organic foods can allow such searchers to track the food as it travels from the farm to table. And that can be accompanied with detours discussing health, safety and economic factors.

As per the survey, 26% of the total number of people doing online searching do the same to get educated over something.

People doing Internet searching for getting inspired-

This type of searching is done with the objective to kill time. The popular topics for this type of searchers are travel and home, with the other ones being books, movies, new images, games, etc. The motivating factors behind such searches are creativity and world of possibilities. About.com suggests marketers to approach these searchers with something captures imagination, like the video trailer for a new book or the images of an ice hotel.

As per the survey, 28% of the total number of people doing online searching do the same to get inspired for something.

The survey also reveals some interesting data. For example, contrary to general belief, people doing internet searching for an answer do not feel it is very important to to talk to an expert.

  • People doing Internet searching for answers said that all that they bother about is getting an answer, irrespective of the fact it comes from an expert or not.
  • People doing Internet searching for getting educated appreciate the value of expert inputs, but are equally open to learning from online friends and followers.
  • People doing Internet searching for getting inspired simply do not bother about experts, but just depend on their friends and social networks.

Another notable revelation of the study is the evolution or broadening of the meaning of expertise, thus giving validity to multiple types of expertise. As per the study, people feel the type of expert in a given situation is defined by the type, category and intensity of the search. As far as defining the experts is concerned, 96% of the surveyed people said they accept “self taught allies” with high level of experience and motivation as experts. However, 87% of the surveyed people said they accept as experts those people who have formal education and traditional credential. 89% said they recognize the knowledge of crowds or other experienced users they come across in social or other networks.

The people surveyed have given a positive feedback about brands as experts. 64% of them have said that ads have been helpful in finding great options or deals. 86% have said that they love to take notice of ads that prefer teaching something useful rather than teaching something useful. 77% have acknowledged that ads are helpful when they are adequately relevant to their search. And 88% feel that those ads are the best ones which in combination with the information source help the searchers get what they need.


Navneet Kaushal is the Editor-in-Chief of PageTraffic Buzz. A leading search strategist, Navneet helps clients maintain an edge in search engines and the online media. Navneet is also the CEO of SEO Services company PageTraffic which is one of the leading search marketing company in Asia.