Visualizing the Search Patterns of Investors

When investors need to quench their thirst for the latest news or knowledge, they turn to the all-knowing power of Google.

Whether it is something as simple as searching for “S&P 500 today” or it’s more of an information-finding mission to discover the “Best Dividend Paying Mutual Fund”, search data provides an interesting lens with which to view the topics investors are focused on.

Investor Search Data

Today’s infographic comes to us from New York Life Investments, and it shows investor searches for various investment-related keyphrases by month.

The data starts in January 2017 and goes until November 2018, giving an almost two-year picture into investor search patterns. It enables us to see macro trends of which searches are becoming more popular, as well as a window into certain time periods in which behavior changed dramatically.

Not only can we see increases or decreases in searches for specific keyphrases year-over-year, but we can also see how patterns changed when the market went into corrections or saw increased levels of volatility.

The Macro Picture

Here is a data-driven look at wider categories of search phrases, showing which terms saw the biggest increases or decreases year-over-year.

Category: Investment Strategy Biggest Changes in Search Volume (2017-2018*)
Balanced investment strategy +200%
Maximum diversification portfolio +120%
Define investment portfolio -57%
Aggressive investment portfolio -71%

*Data for 2018 goes until November only.

In terms of general investing strategy, it seems investors were increasingly looking at how to build a “balanced” strategy, rather than having an “aggressive” allocation. The latter was much more popular in 2017.

Category: Generic Biggest Changes in Search Volume (2017-2018*)
Simple investment +182%
Short term investment definition -21%

*Data for 2018 goes until November only.

Looking at more generic keyphrases, people have been increasingly looking for “simple” investments.

Category: Mutual Funds Biggest Changes in Search Volume (2017-2018*)
Large cap index +400%
S&P 500 index today +340%
U.S. stocks +124%
Growth mutual funds +53%
Absolute return funds -38%
Small cap value fund -56%

*Data for 2018 goes until November only.

Investors looked more for “large cap index”, as well as the current status of the S&P 500. Further, they wanted to know less about “Growth mutual funds”, “Absolute return funds”, and “Small cap value funds”.

Category: ETFs Biggest Changes in Search Volume (2017-2018*)
Money market ETF +140%
Emerging markets value ETF +88%
Short term bond ETF +82%
Smart beta ETF -21%
Currency ETF -23%
Define exchange traded fund -38%

*Data for 2018 goes until November only.

Lastly, on the ETF front, investors wanted to know more about “Money market ETF” as well as “Emerging markets value ETF” and “Short term bond ETF”. On the opposite side, fewer investors needed to know the definition of an exchange traded fund.