BrandVerity Study Finds 63% of Consumers Are Unaware of How Search Engines Work

Research Examines How Confusion & Distrust Drive Online Journeys


Seattle, WA – January 21, 2020 - As brands and their marketing departments deploy strategies to capitalize on record ecommerce spending -- which soared to $586.92 billion in 2019 -- new research from leading provider of brand protection solutions, BrandVerity, has brought to light important findings and hidden risks pertaining to the journeys consumers are taking online.


In order to give brands a better understanding of the search experiences their customers are having and how they are impacting brand perception and customer experience, BrandVerity commissioned the “BrandVerity’s Online Consumer Search Trends 2020” research study in Q4 of 2019 to over 1,000 US consumers, balanced against the US population for age, gender, region, and income.


Amongst the many findings, three main themes stood out:


Consumers are confused by how search engine results work

Only 37% of consumers understand that search engine results are categorized by a combination of relevance and advertising spend. The other 63% of consumers believe that Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) are categorized by either relevance or spend, or they simply “don’t know.” Additionally, nearly 1-in-3 consumers (31%) say they don’t believe search engines (e.g. Google) do a good job of labeling which links are ads.

Consumers are more inclined to click on the result that appears first

Without a clear understanding of how search results are served up, consumers are more inclined to click on the result that appears first, believing it to be the most relevant option. And with 54% of consumers saying they trust websites more that appear at the top of the SERP, this isn’t just an assumption.

Consumers feel misled by the websites they find in the search engine results

51% of consumers say that when searching for information on a product, they sometimes feel misled by one of the websites in the search results. An additional 1-in-4 (25%) report feeling misled “often” or “always.” Even further, 1-in-4 also say they often end up somewhere unexpected that does not provide them with what they were looking for when clicking on a search result.

“Against a backdrop where consumers have increasingly high expectations of the brands they do business with, and are holding them to equally high standards, companies must ensure that the entirety of the experiences they provide meet customer expectations,” said Dave Naffziger CEO of BrandVerity. “As these findings show, a general uncertainty of how search engines work, combined with the significant occurrence of poor online experiences, mean oversight of paid search programs is more important than ever for brands today.”


The full report and findings can be downloaded - here.


About BrandVerity

BrandVerity protects the world’s leading brands online by safeguarding their marketing programs and ensuring they remain compliant in today’s ever-evolving digital landscape. BrandVerity uses proprietary technology to automatically discover and remediate online infringements while monitoring partners, affiliates, and third parties to maximize revenue and improve the customer experience. For more information, visit