Tax Season Searches Become Tell-All Whispers To Brands

How-to searches related to tax preparation rose 37% since 2012, and this year began to trend earlier in the season compared with 2013, suggesting that more people are doing the work themselves, per Google.

Not all taxpayers have the same interests. Google saw searches for "refund" more prominently in the South, whereas searches for "extension" are popular on both coasts. In Florida, people search most for tax-related "identity theft," an issue that has become more prominent in recent years.

Interestingly, searches can reveal a lot. People searching for tax refunds also searched for televisions more than investments six years ago. Last year the reverse was true. Investments took the lion's share of search interest at 31%, compared with 19% in 2008.

In New York and California, the top five searches related to tax refunds were for purchases of televisions and vacations. For marketers in auto, tech, retail and travel, this might suggest where to invest media dollars come tax day.



Searches for "how-to" tax videos on YouTube rose 254% since 2011. Smart brands like TurboTax take advantage of seasonal searches by building a library of helpful content for people to use. TurboTax houses multiple videos on YouTube, its site and other places dedicated to answering questions about taxes.

TurboTax creates "tons" of content from videos to articles and infographics. When it comes to videos, TurboTax focuses on answering general questions like What is a W2? What is a 1040EZ? " Many are related to basic tax questions," said Cathleen Ryan, Intuit's director of online advertising for TurboTax. "Then we have some very specific questions, too. We also focus on how to use our software."

The top tax questions on YouTube are things like how to file a tax return online, how to do small business taxes, how to do your taxes for the first time, how to file your taxes yourself, how to file taxes for free, how to file self-employed taxes, how to use TurboTax, and how to do state taxes. Ryan said many of these questions get answered through TurboTax's videos.

Ryan said the site just published videos on the Affordable Care Act and taxes. Many of the videos are based on the topics of keyword searches on engines and Intuit's Web site. Searches on Google for "calculators" and "estimators" are a few keywords for tax tools in January and February, whereas terms like "extension" and "refund" peaked later in the season.

Mobile also has become an important tool. Aside from desktop, mobile share of tax-related searches rose 80% since 2012. A Google study suggests people are five times more likely to abandon a task if the Web site is not optimized for mobile use.

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