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Secret Searchers

Marketers panicked when a recent bug led to Google keywords becoming temporarily invisible; however, many searches are intentionally kept secret to the best of the searchers’ technological ability. They are hidden from workmates and family members. What are the subjects of these secret searches, who is making them, and what secrets do they contain for the online advertising industry? A recent survey by revealed some interesting answers.

According to the survey, 64% of Americans have made at least one search they wanted to keep secret. The majority are under 35 and secrecy is slightly more common among men than women. Perhaps surprisingly, only one-quarter of secret searches related to sexual content, with the majority being about medical conditions, followed by job searches. Weight loss information and information about ex-partners were also common.

One-third of those making secret searches at work were looking for items they wanted to buy, 28% were looking at travel and vacation information, and 16% were actively searching for other jobs. People go to quite a bit of trouble to hide their secret activity, with 28% searching while on the toilet. One in ten admitted to searching while driving, despite warnings from motoring authorities about the risks this can pose. 4% admitted to searching in church, with another 4% even doing so at weddings.

Secret searching seems to be most common among highly-educated people with above-average incomes – probably the group with the most to lose if they are caught doing something inappropriate.

What does this mean for the web design business? For a start it means that those promoting products and services in these key secret search categories could benefit for an approach that keeps the desire for privacy in mind. A site that leaves easily-spotted clutter in a browser or ‘helpful’ icons on a phone is likely to put off customers in this situation, while one that loads quickly and silently is likely to prove popular. Most people will be unable to use headphones when searching at work, or in church, so any audio or video content should have an accompanying transcription, which is good practice for accessibility anyway.

Businesses targeting a younger demographic should pay particular attention to the fact they may be targeted by secret searches. Making it easy to download or bookmark information for reading later is likely to lead to a better conversion rate where people do not have time to buy straight away. To learn more about fast access web design, talk to Xcellimark.

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