Tough Economic Times Reflect in Online Searches

Times are tough economically these days. More and more people are pinching pennies, clipping coupons, and staying home (I know I am at least!).

The financial situation in the United States is at the top of political agendas, a major concern in the auto and real estate industries, and a growing worry among many Americans who are trying to make ends meet. The worry is even becoming apparent in what people are searching for online these days.

ComScore, a global internet information provider, published a study yesterday outlining the number of searches for terms related to the current economic struggles and just how much search behavior has changed in the last year.

The study compares various search terms related to the economic downturn from December 2007 to December 2008, and the results, not surprisingly, show significant gains.

As you can see in the chart below, searches on money saving terms like “coupons” have increased by 161% year over year. Another notable change in search behavior relates to the deteriorating job market with searches around “unemployment” and “unemployment benefits” increasing 206% and 247% respectively.

This upward trend shows that online behavior is directly associated and changing with the interests and concerns of the public in regards to financial situations and personal well being.

Another direct correlation between people’s more financially oriented searches and the down economy is the substantial increase in visits to and search queries related to job hunting. According to ComScore, during the 2008 holiday, when job searches typically die down and more and more people start their online holiday shopping, job-related searches became some of the most heavily trafficked search terms; the majority of them coming from people under 35 in households earning less than $50,000 per year. Another ComScore tidbit: these searchers were most likely to use Yahoo!, Live.com, or Ask.com over Google or AOL to find job opportunities.

Unfortunately, this is a dismal reflection of the times and struggles that many people are facing. It is nice to know, however, that many e-commerce companies are trying to help, offering more promotions and discounts, and incentives like free shipping.