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Local Memo: Forbes Further Verifies Gen Z is Using Google Less


This week’s post discusses research indicating that Gen Z uses social media over Google; Apple announcing it’s jumping into the AI game with Apple Intelligence and a partnership with OpenAI; and new research showing a correlation between SERP ranking and the number of backlinks.


Forbes Further Verifies Gen Z is Using Google Less


The News


Our Consumer Behavior Index (CBI) found that 67% of those 18-24 (older Gen Zers) said they use Instagram most frequently to look for local businesses, with TikTok coming in at 62% and Google Search in third at 61%.


A recent online survey from Forbes Advisor and Talker Research further supports this notion that Gen Z prefers social media platforms to conduct online searches. A few noteworthy takeaways include:


  • Nearly a quarter (24%) of people said they primarily use social media to search online. Gen Z leads the way at 46%.


  • Although 84% of people continue to use search engines for brand-related searches, there's a noticeable 30% drop in this behavior between Baby Boomers (94%) and Gen Z (64%) in 2024.


  • Some 44% of Gen Z find new brands on social media daily, and 33% do so weekly.


  • Gen Z often uses TikTok to find information on gift ideas and hair and makeup. Surprisingly, though, they mostly search for restaurants and bars and local services (car repairs, cleaners, etc.) on Google at 66%.


Why This Matters


Forbes’s research further underscores the need for multi-location businesses to have a local social media presence and strategy. 


The fact that 24% of all respondents discover new brands daily via social media reveals that social platforms actively shape consumer habits and preferences. This is particularly true for younger generations, like Gen Z.


TikTok and Instagram’s visual, interactive, and real-time nature allows brands to engage more dynamically with their audience, leading to higher trust and engagement. These search trends can help inform your multi-location social media strategy.


Apple Releases Apple Intelligence at WWDC 2024 Event


The News


At Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), the company revealed it’s joining the AI game with “Apple Intelligence,” which will be in beta for several Apple devices — iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max, iPad and Mac with M1 chips — this fall.


A notable aspect of Apple Intelligence is its integration with OpenAI's ChatGPT. This integration is more of an add-on rather than a core component of Apple Intelligence, but it seamlessly brings ChatGPT's powerful capabilities into the Apple ecosystem. Users will have control over when ChatGPT is utilized, with the ability to give explicit consent before sharing information.


Example of a bedtime story written and refined by ChatGPT on a MacBook Pro

Courtesy of Apple


Apple Intelligence will have these noteworthy features:


Apple’s Writing Tools will include features like proofreading, rewriting, text summarization, and smart replies in the Mail app.


Apple Intelligence Writing Tools Example with choices such as, proofread, rewrite, friendly, professional, concise, etc.

Courtesy of Apple


Produce original images in seconds with Image Playground based on a description or image from your photos library. Or create a new Genmoji directly in a message to someone.


Record and transcribe audio by hitting record in the Notes or Phone apps. Apple Intelligence can then generate a summary of your transcript.

Transcript Notes Recorded overlaid on two iPhones

Other updates:

  • Priority notifications will appear at the top of your notifications stack and, in some cases, be summarized for a quick glance.


  • Search for photos with a simple description or create a memory movie with a simple written prompt. 


  • Image Wand in your Notes app on an iPad will allow you to analyze an image or text and create a complementary visual.


It’s noteworthy that Craig Federighi, Senior Vice President of Software Engineering at Apple, mentioned in an interview that Apple is open to working with other AI models, “And so we may look forward to doing integrations with different models like Google Gemini in the future. I mean, nothing to announce right now, but that’s our direction.”


Why This Matters


With the rollout of Apple Intelligence, the main question that comes to mind is whether these updates will impact iPhone and other Mac users’ Google usage.


Google’s current $20 billion annual payment to make it the default search on Apple likely only disappears based on court rulings. However, these new capabilities may do two things:


First, they will undoubtedly make ChatGPT even more of a household name. Second, they will reduce the number of Google searches that iPhone and other Mac owners do. To what extent will be unknown until Apple Intelligence is fully rolled out.


Research Finds Extreme Correlation Between SERP Rankings and Number of Backlinks


The News


A recent study by Internet Marketing Ninjas analyzed 200 search phrases and over 1,000 websites to determine if backlinks are a crucial Google ranking factor. For consistency, all of the local queries centered around Las Vegas.


Surprisingly, 96.3% of the sites that ranked in the top 10 had over 1,000 unique domain backlinks. Furthermore, for the lowest 10 sites out of the 1,113, an average of 164 unique domain backlinks appeared to be the minimum required to rank in the top 10 for local search terms.


Table with columns showing referring domain ranges for backlinks, number of sites, and percentage in range ranking in the top 10


Why This Matters


Gary Illyes from Google has previously stated that links aren’t even a top-three ranking factor. However, this research and data refute this notion. It’s also worth noting that not all links are equal. Variables such as anchor text, clicks to a link, and authoritativeness matter. 


That said, it’s surprising that the researchers didn’t find one unicorn site with very few backlinks but that ranked well for commercial phrases. 


The findings suggest that multi-location businesses should not ignore backlinks despite evolving SEO trends. Instead, they should focus on acquiring high-quality backlinks from trusted sources, using content creation and promotion to attract valuable links.

Chi Whitley

Chi Whitley is a content marketer who specializes in local SEO. He’s passionate about helping multi-location businesses grow their brands and online presence in the ever-changing world of localized marketing.

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