How Customer Search Habits Have Changed and What You Can Do About It

John Suder
Oct 13, 2022

If you like stories like this, be sure to sign up for SUMO Heavy Insights, our monthly roundup of tech and retail news. Sign up here.

Users expect search to be simple and fast. They also want it to be more natural. Users are less inclined to use “keywords” and instead prefer a conversational style. With this shift in user behavior, other trends have also changed. Users are looking for useful information. They’re also looking for trustworthy brands with strong reputations that meet their needs. 

Customer search habits are changing—and businesses need to change with them. Gone are the days when businesses could rely solely on Google to drive website traffic. 

What do these changes mean for you as an online seller, and how can you better cater to your customers, so they stay on your website longer and return more often?

The Basics of the Customer Journey

In marketing, we use the customer journey model to understand where our customers are in their buying process at any time. This model gives us insights into what customers think and how they feel so that we can customize our marketing efforts to best reach our customers. This helps you stay top-of-mind when customers are ready to buy. To achieve this, you’ll want to understand the following steps of the customer journey. -

  • Problem Recognition
    This is the beginning of the customer journey. At this point, your customer doesn’t yet have a problem. But they will very soon. This is when your customer realizes they have a problem—something they aren’t happy about.
  • Problem Investigation
    Now that your customer has recognized a problem, they will start looking for ways to solve it. During this phase, they examine options and ask others what they would do in that situation.
  • Problem Evaluation
    Now, your customer has finally decided on a course of action. They’ve chosen a solution to their problem. The problem is that the solution isn’t perfect. So now they’re looking for other options.
  • Purchase (or no Purchase)
    After evaluating a few options, your customer has settled on one solution to solve their problem. Now, they just have to purchase it. 
  • Post-Purchase Experience
    After your customer has purchased a product from you, they expect it to be delivered on time and easily. They will also expect that you have a good customer service team to assist them with any problems.

How User Behavior Has Changed

Remember when you used to use the word “keywords” when creating content? Now, using keywords just doesn’t cut it. For one, the volume of searches using keywords is down. People now make fewer searches, but they search more often. This is because users no longer rely solely on search engines to find what they’re looking for. They use tools like Amazon, Google Home, Social Media, and voice apps on their phones to get quick information when needed. But this means that your content needs to be more than just words. It needs to be rich in visuals and useful information, and if you want to rank at all, it needs to have your target keywords in it.

Customers are just as likely to start their product searches on Amazon as they are on Google. 

This shift in customer behavior has major implications for businesses. First and foremost, it means businesses need to have a presence on Amazon if they want to be visible to potential customers. Secondly, it means that businesses need to rethink their SEO strategies. Keywords that might have previously been effective on Google might not be as effective on Amazon. 

For example, let’s say you’re a clothing retailer and want to rank for the keyword “men’s jeans.” On Google, you might try to rank for that keyword by creating blog content about men’s jeans—style guides, advice columns, etc. However, you would be much better off optimizing your product listing for that keyword on Amazon instead. 

To do that, you would need to ensure that your product title includes the keyword “men’s jeans” and that your product description is filled with relevant keywords and phrases related to men’s jeans. You would also need to make sure that your product photos are high-quality and show the product in use. 

Optimizing your product listing for the keyword “men’s jeans” would increase your chances of showing up in Amazon search results when someone searches for that term—which would ultimately lead to more sales. 

Voice Search Continues to Grow

Users are now more likely to use voice search on their devices. This has resulted in a change in the way we write content. Now, we need to write for both humans and search engines. And we know that one-third of all clicks go to the top three results on page one of Google. So, you must have your content optimized for voice search. But you also need to make sure that it’s written in a natural way.

Local Search Is More Important Than Ever Before 

Another big change we've seen this year is an increased focus on local search. With so many people working from home, there's been a corresponding increase in the number of people searching for local businesses online. This trend is only going to continue in the future as more and more people rely on the internet to find information about local businesses. 

What does this mean for businesses? 

If you want to stay ahead of the curve, you must ensure your business is visible in local search results. The best way to do this is to claim your business listing on popular directories like Google My Business and Bing Places for Business. These listings make it easy for customers to find your business when they're searching for something specific online. 

Social Media Is Playing a Bigger Role in Search 

Social media has always been a big part of SEO, but this year we've seen an even bigger focus on social media as a source of information about businesses and products. In particular, platforms like Tik Tok, Instagram, and Pinterest have become product research and discovery resources. 

If you want to stay ahead of the curve, you need to make sure you have an active presence on social media platforms. This means creating high-quality content that accurately represents your brand and providing value to your audience through helpful tips, product recommendations, etc. 


With the shift in user behavior, it’s also important to remember that customers want to be entertained and engaged. So, the next time you sit down to create content, remember these trends and make sure to address these changes in user behavior to grow your website’s traffic and your brand’s reputation.

While adjusting to these new realities may take some time and effort, the rewards are well worth it. By staying ahead of the curve, you can ensure that your business remains visible and accessible to potential customers.

Photo by Nathana Rebouças on Unsplash

More from SUMO Heavy:

GenZ is Using TikTok and Instagram for Search

Increase Revenue By Making Your Store More Accessible

Google Rolls Out Retail Search for eCommerce

Learn more about SUMO Heavy

If you’d like to learn more about SUMO Heavy, drop us a line, give us a call or contact us on social media.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.