SYDNEY: Brand trust holds greater importance than website relevancy when Australian consumers are looking for product information using search engines, a survey has revealed.

Outrider, the search marketing company, and Global Reviews, the research firm, polled internet users in the country regarding their habits and preferences.

They found 66% of consumers started seeking details about goods and services on the web using a search engine such as Google or Bing.

A further 49% clicked on search results that linked to sites of brands they trusted, measured against 39% of people who agreed with this statement in a similar study conducted in 2009.

By contrast, 29% of 2011 participants chose links to sites perceived to be highly relevant to their original enquiry, down from 39% in 2009.

Exactly 33% of contributors selected a website to view because it was included among the top three options listed, improving on the 27% recorded in 2009.

Differences did emerge by category, as 53% of the panel used the web during the purchase process for jeans, a figure climbing to 91% for a furniture suite, and 100% for air conditioners.

Comparing prices assumed increasing importance as the items featured became more expensive, the study added.

Turning to social media, a third of individuals spending more than 20 hours a week online and earning over A$75,000 per year had been influenced by Facebook when making an ecommerce purchase decision.

Such a total almost doubled the score of 17% posted by less affluent and engaged consumers, according to the study.

Similarly, while 46% of high-earning interviewees asserted Facebook had a key role when researching products, the fell to 27% for other groups in the sample.

Data sourced from Mumbrella; additional content by Warc staff