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Cars, Restaurants, Financial Services Top Study Of "Complaint Searches"

Among major brands, those in the automobile, finance, and food service industries attracted the most complaint-related searches in 2010. That’s according to a new study from the marketing agency Web Liquid Group.

The 2011 Customer Complaint Index measures search activity in the Google Keyword Research Tool involving complaints (i.e., broad match results for “(brand name) complaints”) and applies the data to Interbrand’s Best Global Brands report. Web Liquid recognizes some of the limitations in this approach: the study doesn’t reflect non-Google searches and the Keyword Tool also has some drawbacks. But the data is interesting nonetheless.

Raw Complaint Queries


When it comes to raw complaint searches, no one beats the auto industry. Toyota received the highest amount of complaint-related searches in 2010, and four of the top seven brands are car manufacturers. Beyond the top 10, Web Liquid says four others — Hyundai, BMW, Volkswagen and Lexus — were all in the top 30.

Three of the top 10 as shown above were restaurants: McDonald’s, Pizza Hut and Burger King. More on that in a moment.

Complaints Compared to Overall Search Activity

When looking at complaint searches as a percentage of the overall searches for a brand, the financial industry dominates. Even though several car companies are on the first chart above, complaints represent a relatively small fraction of the overall search activity for Toyota, Ford, etc. But that’s not the case with financial services brands.


In addition to the finance brands, the same three restaurants make this chart, too. And that’s not all….

Mobile Complaint Search Activity

Web Liquid says four of the top five brands getting complaint queries from mobile devices were restaurants.


And the same trend exists when comparing mobile complaint searches as a percentage of overall mobile search activity; in that case, the top five brands are all in the food service industry (Burger King, Pizza Hut, Starbucks, McDonald’s and KFC).

The Web Liquid study also looks at complaint searches during the holidays (Amazon.com’s number of complaints doubles then) and who advertises against complaint queries (automotive companies do that more than others).

The study can be downloaded from Web Liquid’s website; your name and email address are required.

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