As all marketers know, there is no crystal ball, psychic, or voodoo witch doctor that can help us predict the future…but we do have magic on our side that helps: mounds and mounds of data.

Share of Voice has been a key data metric we’ve used for decades to help predict growth, set budgets, determine user intent, and assess SEO effectiveness compared to competitors. However, Share of Search—another metric that’s also been accessible for well over twenty years—has only recently been capturing the attention of the marketing world as its merit continues to grow, particularly for its use in predicting Share of Market.

In short, more businesses are turning to this new metric as a crystal ball of sorts…but you may be asking yourself what share of search is and how can you possibly calculate it in order to predict things like market share and brand strength?

Look no further. Gaaaaaaze into our crystal ball as we tell you everything you need to know…

What is Share of Search?

Share of search measures the total organic search queries made for a specific brand, divided by the total search volume for all brands in that category. Therefore, it’s useful for tracking the relative level of interest in your brand and comparing it to others in your category. It falls somewhere between a measure of brand salience and brand consideration.

Now the idea that you can use searches to predict buying behavior is not new. In fact, digital marketers have always used search data to predict what someone’s going to do, but they rarely look at timescales longer than a week. So what is new and different about this metric? Share of searches can be a predictor of long-term trends in market share because the lead times are surprisingly long. More info on this below…

Share of Search and Share of Market

Marketing expert Les Binet, a leading thinker within the industry, spoke about this metric to an audience of thousands at the IPA-led EffWorks Global 2020 Conference. One of the most important pieces that he found in his research was that Share of Search is a leading predictor and/or leading indicator of Share of Market; as in, when Share of Search rises, the indicator of market share usually follows.

There is additionally a dual relationship between Share of Search and Share of Market. For example, a brand name’s Market Share affects its Share of Search, as people on the customer journey will be more likely to look for info on something you already have.

Furthermore, the lead time for Share of Search on Share of Market can be quite substantial too, sometimes up to months or a year before. This means that marketers can calculate share of search and then use it as an early warning system for a brand’s market share and see exactly when they can expect a slump.

Share of Search and Share of Voice

In his presentation, Binet also talked about the relationship between Share of Voice and Share of Search. Namely, that SoV has two effects on SoS:

A large, short-term effect that dies down quickly

A small, long-term effect that decays away slowly BUT still accumulates over time

For example, if you perform a one-month burst of advertising that achieves a significant rise in Share of Voice, you may see that the share of search goes up immediately… but decays away very quickly.

However, after that initial short-term effect dies down, there is still a much longer life, with 60% of searches coming from the long-term effects versus 40% from short-term effects.

In short, sustained advertising drives the growth of Share of Search; however, that’s not to say you should always do sustained advertising, but rather, you should mix both short bursts of advertising and sustained as part of your marketing activities.

Advantages of Using Share of Search

There are many reasons why marketing teams should begin measuring Share of Search in their marketing strategy:

  • Strong predictor – According to Binet, Share of Search has correlated accurately with Share of Market in most cases.
  • Cheap and accessible – Share of Search can be calculated using free and easily accessible tools such as Google and keyword planner.
  • Quick – Versus a Share of Voice report, the data for Share of Search report can be gathered much quicker.

How to Calculate Share of Search?

Previously-used ways to calculate advertising spend output and SoV was masked in privacy in the past. Now with the vast quantities of share of search data, it’s easier to calculate Share of Search for your organization using Google Trends.

As Google is a rich data source on what people are going to do, what they think, how they feel, and what they’re going to buy, the search engine likes to think of itself as the world’s biggest database of human intentions. Therefore, this is a great place to start measuring share of search.

  1. Go to Google Trends, and find your brand.
  2. Do the same for your competitors
  3. You need to aggregate the search data to produce the total volume of branded searches in your category.
  4. Add the exported data into a table, and find the average volume
  5. Divide your total number of searches by the searches for all the brands in the category

Voila! That’s your share of Google search queries and you can now use this information to forecast!

Note: Share of Search is not a perfect predictor though. This data doesn’t tell you why people are searching, it just tells you that people are interested in the brand and doesn’t tell you whether that interest is positive or negative. For example, bad press for a brand might make the share of search go up significantly when in reality, people have no interest in buying the product, they just want to hear more about the story. Again, it could look like the brand has a great share of market when instead they are potentially losing customers due to negative brand awareness. Therefore, Share of Search should not be a brand’s only source of forecasting.

Need help? Contact Digital Strike

We may not be psychics, but we know our way around the crystal ball of data. Contact us today to help with all of your search needs!

Kelly Hebron

Learn more about Kelly Hebron

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