Last week we dove into some surprising consumer search trends in How Real People Use Search Engines, Part 2. Now, Mayra Mari breaks down how real people supplement their Google searches with some outside advice, especially when purchasing large items online.

From our experiences, we found that many business owners assume Google is the end-all be-all of the internet. Obviously, Google is obviously a force to be reckoned with, but as we looked into how real people use search engines, we found that it is not necessarily the go-to site for every situation.

As we showed last week, Google was unsurprisingly top-of-mind for almost all respondents when asked to find a certain brand’s product or a local service online. For one question in particular though, we were delighted to see other sites creeping up the ranks.

As a reminder, we asked survey respondents the following three questions:

  1. If you saw [a branded Converse sneaker advertisement] and wanted to buy the product online, how would you go about finding it?
  2. If you were in the market to buy a new flat-screen TV, how would you go about buying it online?
  3. You just bought a house and want a security system installed. Using the web, how would you find the best one?

For Questions No. 1 and No. 3, respondents cited Google 68.86 percent and 53.29 percent of the time, respectively. That’s hardly a surprising discovery. We already know Google is the far and away the most popular search engine, so we expected users to automatically refer to Google, even if we didn’t specify it as the search engine of choice in our questions.

Google is king for finding quick fixes, but what about for more nuanced choices?
Google is king for finding quick fixes, but what about for more nuanced choices?

However, Question No. 2 showed where respondents clearly think Google results fall short. Only 25.75 percent of responses mentioned Google when discussing how they would find a new flat-screen TV. With no brand specified and a typically higher price point, respondents seemed more concerned with conducting thorough product research and comparisons before making a purchase.

Rather than citing a search engine for their research, respondents more commonly referred to Amazon as well as other retailer, manufacturer and review sites instead. In fact, 40.12 percent of respondents would visit Amazon in their search for flat-screen TVs while 46.11 percent of respondents would visit other sites like and

The respondent answers clearly show that Amazon has become an authority on price comparison and customer reviews of products – both extremely important factors in the purchase of a big-ticket item like a flat-screen TV. In a space where consumers have a lot of options and information to learn, generic search results for “flat-screen TV” just won’t cut it.

More often than not, respondents stated they would read through reviews on Amazon before making a purchase. Of the 60 respondents who mentioned reading reviews in their answers to this question, 30 mentioned Amazon as part of the online TV-purchasing experience.


It’s important to understand the ever-growing importance of sites like Amazon and what they represent: simply put, Google doesn’t provide all the answers in Internet search, especially when it comes to e-commerce. Yes, Google is absurdly popular for search and users have incredible comfort with its services, but it’s not the end of your business if your product doesn’t appear in the first page of Google results.

Google may be the best way to help potential customers find your website, but as savvy consumers search directly for individual products you may want to leverage other resources like Amazon, or other online shopping platforms. Google isn’t a magic bullet for showcasing your products, and e-commerce companies would do well to take advantage of  other online opportunities to help users find their products. Don’t let an over-reliance on Google limit the reach of your business!

Next week, we’ll show how social experience and user reviews help drive search and purchasing decisions in How Real People Use Search, Part 4. 


Christa Garcia oversees operations at 352 and has been a leader in media-related jobs throughout her career, even back to the ol' college newspaper days. She is a fan of good books, good beer and SEC football.