Revealing the local flavours of Internet search in the country, Google India on Tuesday revealed in its annual Zeitgeist that this year, utilitarian services drove search volumes.

Taking an interesting diversion from the results of 2011, which reflected the emphasis on people and event related searches, Internet users in India have now started using the web for their personal needs – shopping, booking tickets and making informed decisions for their offline purchases.

“Google’s 2012 Zeitgeist reflects data from 1.2 trillion searches in 146 languages globally. With 137 million users, India is the world’s third largest internet market and is a good barometer of trends in Indian society as a whole,” Rajan Anandan, Vice President and Managing Director - Sales and Operations, Google India, said.

An analysis of the top searched travel websites showed that while railways, airline tickets, and hotel booking sites were an obvious trend, a bus booking portal – featured at number three in the list, marking a new trend in how Indians prefer to travel.

“With growing smartphone adoption, mobile searches continued to grow with over 70 million mobile internet users. We expect India’s next 150–180 million Internet users will access the Internet through their mobile devices,” said Anandan.

This means that the information that these users will look for will need to be more local and meaningful as already reflected in the kind of search trends it has seen in the country, he said.

With more institutions moving their services online for greater convenience, searches for them ticked upward accordingly. For instance, banks emerged one of the most popular categories, with net banking being the most frequently searched query within the category.

Exams, traditionally pen-and-ink affairs, are also moving online as Institute of Banking Personnel Selection, Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering and Central Board of Secondary Education came in at numbers one, two and six in the top overall trending list respectively.

This shows that young Indians are showing a great deal of interest in government jobs, the trend report said.

Another interesting trend was the warming up of Indian netizens to e-commerce. There is definitely a positive shift in the user’s perception on purchasing gadgets, books, accessories and more online.

While business brands rode on this trend, celebrities leveraged social media to build their ‘brands’ as well. Users searched for politicians and celebrities who were either present through their own social media channels or in news for their active online presence, it said.

Zeitgeist’s India data also gave an interesting view of what is troubling Indian users - it seems like global economic turmoil kept Indians worried, with Sensex being the top searched event this year.

Prominent deaths – including those of Vilasrao Deshmukh and Rajesh Khanna – made it to the list as well, it added.

(This article was published on December 18, 2012)
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