Challenge Your Clients to Shift Focus from SEO Importance

BY Rachel Cagle
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Is search engine optimization (SEO) still as important as in the past? According to an article from Forbes, SEO importance may be declining with other media taking its place. Here’s what you need to know.

Challenge Your Clients to Shift Focus from SEO Importance

Declining Search Engine Use

Now, before you tell your client to start pulling their SEO funding, know that there’s no immediate need. Forbes says that 84% of U.S. consumers still turn to search engines to perform brand name searches. However, the younger generations are once again making a splash in the digital world.

94% of baby boomers still use search engines to perform brand name searches. But that percentage goes down along with the age of consumers. For example, only 64% of Gen Zers use search engines for brand name searches.

While older generations still support SEO importance, the tides are shifting with younger generations. And who knows? They may have some influence over older generations. Let’s not forget that TikTok used to only appeal to younger generations.

So, what are younger generations doing to conduct searches instead? Forbes says they’re turning to social media.

The Rise of Social Media Searches

Forbes says that younger users are pivoting “to alternatives that better suit their informational needs and lifestyles.” TikTok, Facebook Marketplace, and other social platforms have become vital search and shopping tools for Gen Z. And don’t dismiss them; they’re about 25% of the U.S. consumer population.

Right now, search engines are being supplemented by social media searches. But Forbes suggests there may be a chance that social media searches could replace search engines in time.

As of 2024, the percentages of each generation that are more likely to use social media to search over search engines are:

  • Gen Z (consumers born between 1997 and 2006): 46%
  • Millennials (consumers born between 1981 and 1996): 35%
  • Gen X (consumers born between 1965 and 1980): 18%
  • Baby Boomers (consumers born between 1946 and 1964): 7%
  • Silent Generation (consumers born between 1925 and 1945): 2%

What’s Causing the Switch?

So, why is this happening? The shift from desktop to mobile devices has played a significant role in the decrease in SEO importance.

Most U.S. consumers carry around a mini computer in the form of their smartphone. So, they use it to access the internet since it’s already on them rather than firing up a desktop/​laptop. How consumers are accessing the internet has a direct link to their search habits.

Forbes says that “those primarily accessing the internet via cellphones show a slight decrease in search engine use for brand discovery—down from the average to 79%.” An average of 10% of U.S. consumers at least begin their brand searches via social media. The percentage increases for Gen Zers (21%) and millennials (14%).

Right now, 4% of U.S. consumers as a whole exclusively use social media to discover and interact with brands. 11% of Gen Zers agrees.

Why? It’s convenient. Consumers opt to conduct search via social platforms because:

  • They’re already active on the platforms, so integrating search into social is seamless: 29% of consumers agree
  • Social searches provide quick results that are engaging (e.g., videos compared to text): 22%
  • Social provides more personalized search results: 19%

Which Platforms are Consumers Using?

It’s important for your clients to meet their target audience(s) where they’re most engaged. According to Forbes, by generation, in order, that’s:

  • Gen Z: YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat
  • Millennials: YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok
  • Gen X: Pinterest, YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok
  • Baby Boomers: Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and Pinterest

Want to see which social media platforms your client’s target audience, specifically, engages with the most? Check out their profile on AudienceSCAN on AdMall by SalesFuel.

But remember to tailor content based on the generation that is most likely to see it. Social media content will most likely engage younger audiences. Older generations haven’t forgotten SEO importance.

Photo by: Vitaly Gariev