Generational search trends you should know

Sep 21, 2022

Gen X man searching on a laptop and Gen Z woman searching on a phone

People of different ages search differently. In fact, Google’s search data shows that search term lengths are growing with each new generation. Boomers average about 4 words per search, while long-tail search loving Gen Z averages 5 words per search.

As a smart marketer, you should be keeping an eye on generational search trends. When you know how each of your different customers search, you can make sure you’re meeting their expectations and creating a good user experience.

In this article, we’ll look at generational search trends across Gen X, Gen Y (also known as millennials) and Gen Z.

Gen X

Born between 1965 and 1980, Gen X are natural self-starters. They didn’t grow up with search, but they quickly mastered it. While it can be hard to earn a Gen Xer’s trust, once you have it, they’re typically loyal customers.

  • 72% research businesses online 
  • Less likely to search for “best”, “top” or “popular”
  • More likely to look for an article that compares products before purchasing
  • 95% use Facebook
  • 35% use LinkedIn
  • 25% post regularly on Twitter
  • Value independence and prefer to make their own assessments of a product, brand or service
  • Content should educate and excite (how-to videos, tutorials and in-depth explanations)
  • Consistent brand messaging across your website and business directories is key
  • Make sure to reward loyalty with discounts, a thank you email and excellent customer service
  • If you’re looking to do some social advertising, focus on Facebook

Gen Y

Members of Gen Y — commonly referred to as millennials — were born between 1981 and 1995. Often considered digital natives, millennials are very comfortable using technology to search for everything across multiple platforms.

  • Tend to care more about searching for what is “best” or “top” ranked
  • Search for very targeted, concise keywords
  • More about connections than engagement
  • High customer service expectations, and they use social media to reach out if they can’t find what they need
  • Connect with Gen Y by associating your brand with a lifestyle
  • Tie your marketing seamlessly together with your website, socials and your other digital spaces
  • Use chatbots wherever you can (Gen Y would rather try to solve problems on their own before asking a human for help)

Gen Z

Born between 1996 and 2015, Gen Z is the youngest and largest generation of renters in history. The internet has been part of every moment of their lives. Gen Z inherently understands search engines, how to use them and how to quickly evaluate SERPs to find the best answer. Learn more about Gen Z apartment search preferences from this survey of 12,544 young renters.

  • Want their questions answers immediately
  • Use more than one device or platform for that purpose
  • Tend to care more about searching for what is “best” or “top” ranked
  • Use more long-tail keyword searches
  • Attention span of 8 seconds (but can scan through a ton of information in that time)
  • Optimize your website for long-tail keywords
  • Be sure your website is mobile friendly
  • Use video on your website and social media channels
  • Prioritize content that sparks a conversation/interaction (use polls, user-generated content, quizzes, etc)

Bonus: Cross-generational search marketing tip

Every generation of renters wants to have a good experience when looking for their next home. You should use Google Lighthouse to regularly to assess your website performance. This will help you meet the expectations of search engines and your customers. If you don’t know how to assess your website performance, this free guide to using Lighthouse will help.

Learn more about how renters search, including the the difference between active and passive search.

Gretchen Walker

Gretchen Walker is the central manager of REACH by RentCafe. She has over a decade of experience in digital marketing and over six years of experience in the multifamily industry. She loves marketing the most when she gets to use data to measure results and make decisions. When she’s not marketing something, you can find her playing with her kids and seeking out friendly competition wherever possible.

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