Every year, Google publishes a summary of the most popular search terms and most popular topics of the previous twelve months. This “year-in-search report” can be used to regularly identify changes in people’s search behavior and derive possible trends for one’s own marketing strategy. What does this have to do with (online) print shops? Plenty.
It’s neither new nor surprising: companies that can’t be found on the Internet today don’t exist – at least in the perception of an ever-growing number of potential customers. Since the emergence of the first search engines in the mid-1990s, and at the very latest since the World Wide Web has become something you can take with you wherever you go “in your pocket,” Google, Bing and the like, and the results they spit out, have been the basis and starting point for the further actions of countless people.
Whether it’s a visit to a restaurant, comparing the latest camera models, or booking the next vacation, everything today starts with a search query on the Internet. Unsurprisingly, Google is the dominant search engine with a market share of almost 97% for smartphones and just over 80% for desktop computers (Statista, as of January 2023, Germany). Not for nothing is “googling” now a synonym for Internet search. Only very far behind Google follows Bing, Ecosia, DuckDuckGo and Yahoo.
Print shops also need to be visible online
The results that the world’s most widely used search engine lists for a query therefore carry particular weight – or at least those that can be found on the first results page, the Search Engine Result Page (SERP). Consequently, online marketing with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Advertising (SEA) has long been part of the core of modern advertising campaigns – as, incidentally, has social media marketing.
Whether print shops like it or not, online marketing is essential today if they are to successfully build a brand and be perceived by potential customers as a service and solution provider in the first place. This of course applies to online print shops that use the Internet as their most important sales channel – but it also applies to print shops that do not operate their own online store. Because even if someone searches for a print shop in the region, they wouldn’t even be listed in the search engine results without their own website and a minimum of SEO and SEA. In other words, if you don’t move with the times, you move with the times, as the saying goes.
What Google’s Year in Search report reveals
The algorithm that search engines use to display and weight the results for the various search queries is a complex interplay of hundreds of criteria that are also adjusted at regular intervals. It is therefore all the more important to keep up to date with the SEO and SEA criteria as much as possible and as far as your own capacities allow.
It is also helpful to think outside the box from time to time and to know what the trends were in terms of search queries in a particular time window and to draw conclusions about people’s needs from this. Google’s Year in Search report aims to help with just that. What is interesting here is not so much the absolute ranking of the most popular search terms, but the extent to which individual queries have developed compared to the previous year and what the background for this might be.
The current report on the year 2022, for example, reveals various trends, of which only two are mentioned here as examples:
- people are paying more attention to their budget, questioning familiar brands and re-evaluating them. Among other things, this is about trustworthiness and credibility – and also about what other people have already experienced. Priorities are sometimes reordered.
- People are looking for ways and opportunities to support each other and others. Helpfulness and connectedness are taking on a new significance.
And what can print shops conclude from this?
Generally speaking, if you know what issues move people, you can influence the way your company is perceived. When people scrutinize their budgets more closely, topics such as sustainability and longevity become more important. When people are looking for trustworthy service providers, customer reviews can play an important role – as can presenting oneself as an open, approachable company where people make the difference.
When people’s willingness to help increases, it also means that values in general become more important. What values can and does a company want to reflect – far from the performance of its own machinery? How does it want to be perceived? Exactly such topics can be played wonderfully not only on the company’s own websites, but also via social media. And anyone who regularly supports others anyway, in whatever form, can dare to show it – as long as it’s authentic, of course. True to the motto: Do good and talk about it.