Search data reveals growing business concerns over Brexit

Oct 31, 2018 | Search engine marketing

Spikes in searches for business-related Brexit issues coincide with key political landmarks such as the triggering of article 50 and the Prime Minister’s calls for a post-Brexit transition period, according to new research.

As the Brexit deadline looms, trends data provider SEMrush reveals the numbers on searches relating to business concerns since the July 2016 decision to leave the EU.

The findings point to public concern over Brexit’s implications for business, with a series of dramatic peaks in search terms mirroring landmark moments in the process since the 2016 referendum.

Key findings include:

  • Brexit and business-related searches more than tripled in the month prior to the referendum
  • Huge surge in searches for business implications of Brexit coincide with High Court decision and article 50 triggering
  • Major spike in similar searches in September 2017 – coincides with Prime Minister’s calls post-Brexit transition period

Searches for the term ‘Brexit impact on business’ for example, more than tripled in June 2016, the month before the referendum was held. Meanwhile searches for the term ‘Brexit effect on business’ increased more than five-fold in the same period.

There was also a dramatic surge in interest when the High Court ruled that the government must consult Parliament before triggering article 50, in November 2016. For example, searches for the term ‘how does Brexit affect businesses’ doubled between September and October 2016 and then doubled again in November that year.

When article 50 was actually triggered in March 2017, a similar pattern emerged. Searches for ‘how will Brexit affect businesses’ more than doubled between February and March, while searches for the term ‘Brexit impact on business’ has grown by 49% in comparison to the previous month before.

The most recent spike in Brexit and business search terms came in September last year, when Prime Minister Theresa May gave a speech in Florence outlining a proposal to delay full Brexit until 2021. During that month searches once again more than doubled for terms such as ‘impact of Brexit on UK businesses’ and ‘Brexit affecting business’. Interestingly, searches for the term ‘Starting a business UK’ fell during this period, hinting at a lack of confidence in the region.

Overall, the figures show a trend towards more interest in the subject across the board in the 18 months following the decision to leave, with a slight dip in most search terms in the first half of this year. Notable exceptions to this trend are the terms ‘Impact of Brexit on UK business’ and ‘Impact of Brexit on small business’ suggesting ongoing concerns and questions among these groups.

In the build up to the referendum, there was also an interesting spike in UK searches related to starting a business abroad.

Ahead of the vote, the data recorded a huge surge in search activity regarding founding a business in Dubai, followed by another larger, sustained spike when the result of the referendum was announced. The data suggests that British entrepreneurs are looking to Dubai and a number of other countries to found their businesses, including Australia, Ireland and France.

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