The Power of Communication

Online content has become more important than ever before. With over 88% of adults using a search engine at least once a day, internet users rely on online searches to discover every piece of information they need on a daily basis. Well, maybe not every piece of information, but we do look up pictures of cute little cats at least once a day…

Just think about it! Without the latest news, medical information, and online shops, the way we find and use new information would be entirely different. We wouldn’t be aware of the current events in other countries, GPs would be inundated with minor ailments that could be treated at home, and we wouldn’t be able to access the creative talents of independent retailers across the globe.

We have produced a report looking into consumers' online journey. We asked internet users exactly how they used search engines and what information they regularly looked for. Using a YouGov survey, over 2,000 participants told us about their internet habits in addition to how believable they felt the information they found was.

Download the report here

The impression of fake news

Fake news is false or misleading information that is presented as news, often with the intention of damaging an individual’s reputation or making money through advertising revenue. In recent years, the internet has been flooded with various fake news stories, often found on social media and article sharing websites.

The last year has been rife with such false information. From Donald Trump tweeting that he had won the US election before Biden was announced as the winner, to false news about the coronavirus vaccine altering people’s DNA circulating on social media, it has become easier than ever to spread false information online. We know your great-aunt Mildred means well but telling her Facebook friends to share a status to prevent the social media platform from having access to everyone’s data is actually just misleading – go spend some time with her and teach her about privacy settings instead!

With the ‘latest news’ being the most searched topic for 20/21, having false and misleading information posing as a news article is alarming. The number of fake news and content available online has resulted in just 1% of UK adults believing every piece of content available online. More worryingly, only 25% of adults believe content that is produced by experts and is located on professional and industry websites.

In fact, when searching ‘fake news’ on Google, the first suggestion provided by Google is for a ‘fake news generator’. Whilst many people may use this tool to be able to produce examples of fake news, it does make us question people’s more disingenuous intentions for using a generator like this…

With false information distorting our beliefs in the information we find online, we came up with how leading websites would look if they only purported fake news:

Download the report here

Government

Searches relating to the government were also popular, with the adults asked eager to find out the latest information about our MPs and political parties.

Fake news in this area could easily misconstrue the public’s opinion of political figures and even influence how they would vote in an election. We have implanted some fake news stories relating to political parties into these Google search results, demonstrating the danger of spreading false information.

Latest news

The latest news was the most searched topic of 2020/21, with 75% of adults asked reporting that this topic is something they frequently searched for. Yet, we can’t help but think about what would happen if the latest news stories we found simply were not true?

We have added in some fake news stories to this BBC news homepage, demonstrating how easy it is to be deceived by fake news. Fake stories such as these spread fear and skew beliefs based on false information, leading to polarised opinions and split communities.

The impact of no content

This highlighted the importance of content and communication teams producing truthful and useful content. With 78% of internet users using search engines to look for specific information such as to get directions or find opening times of stores, it is essential that content and communication teams create content tailored to the needs of their readers.

If we didn’t have the creative and informative input of content and communication teams, there would be nothing to search for and find across the internet. We would have no product descriptions, interesting stories, or information about our favourite restaurants. Life would take a startling step back in time, making it harder to buy your loungewear online, scroll mindlessly when working from home, and order take-out from the nice Greek restaurant you went to on your first date.

Yeah, our lockdowns would’ve been a whole different experience…

Without structured and insightful content, carefully crafted website designs would have no purpose or meaning behind them, providing leader value to readers lives. We imagined exactly what websites on the internet would look like without informative and valuable content:

Download the full report here

We asked web browser users how often they searched online each day. Out of 2,161 adults asked, 79% said that they used the internet to search for any type of information more often than once a day. Only a small 1% searched the internet once a week, showing how using the internet has become a frequent habit for the majority of us.

Download the report here

Medical

Just under 50% of adults admitted to using the internet to search for medical information. The internet has useful websites from legitimate sources such as the NHS, that provides us with helpful information about minor ailments. Without it, we’d just find scary images like the one below that make a small issue seem much worse than it is!

Without information about symptoms and treatments, it is very likely that our health services would be inundated with minor issues that could be treated at home. This would lead to people suffering from major medical issues, such as cancer, being prevented from accessing the medical attention they need.

Food and drink

Food and drink’ was the third-highest topic searched, with 47% of adults asked using the internet to look for restaurants or research a recipe.

There is a wealth of websites on the internet that provide us with recipes of our favourite foods, allowing us to create something new, share a delicious meal with family and friends, and try tasty delicacies from different cultures and countries.

Without adequate information on how to make these dishes, we would have to rely solely on images to know how to recreate them. We would have no information about measurements for ingredients, methods for cooking, or serving sizes. Essentially, we would have to guess and hope that our food came out tasting somewhat edible!

Retail

62% of the adults we asked regularly sued the internet to research or purchase products. This got us thinking about what retail pages would look like if they did not have any corresponding content.

Typical clothes pages like this one from Pretty Little Thing have surrounding content to inform us about the colour, style, and fabric of the item available. It also provides information relating to the cut and fit of the item, the proportions of the model, and recommendations for styling. Further, information is usually provided about delivery and returns to set our expectations and tell us more about the process.

Without this information, choosing new clothes to wear would be difficult! Not only would we not be able to search for items as there would be no keywords for the search function to pick up, but we would also not have the necessary information required to make an informed purchase.

Download the full report here

We asked web browser users how often they searched online each day. Out of 2,161 adults asked, 79% said that they used the internet to search for any type of information more often than once a day. Only a small 1% searched the internet once a week, showing how using the internet has become a frequent habit for the majority of us.

Download the report here

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