The latest comScore numbers are out and the news is good. Total explicit core search, the number of queries processed by all search engines, was up a pretty healthy 14% over last year.
OK, that’s not the +50% we saw back in the glory early days of search, but as the total number gets larger every year, percentage points get harder to earn. So where is the growth coming from? Is the overall population growing that much? Is online penetration growing that much? No, both are reasonably static.
The fact that core search is up probably means that on the whole we are searching for more stuff or using more search than we did in the past. Google has told us that at least 20% of all the traffic they see is local, and much of that is commercial, i.e. local people looking for or researching local products and services.
As search becomes ubiquitous and thus is leveling out in terms of growth through new users (and it pretty much nearly is) there is going to come a time when it may be reasonable to say that one very sensitive and potentially leading economic indicator is search. More searches directly equating to more people looking to buy – sounds like a new measurement of consumer confidence. Could be a great Ph.D. paper. Any takers?