A beginner’s guide to Share of Search

Discover Share of Search, what it is, and how you can calculate it with this helpful guide.

For decades now, Share of Voice has been a key metric to help marketers set budgets, predict growth, and assess how their activities compare to the competition. However, digital media has made the task of accurately calculating SoV nearly impossible, with previously measures to calculate advertising spend and output masked in privacy.

Instead, more and more marketers are turning to a new metric to measure effectiveness; Share of Search.

What is Share of Search?

In its simplest form, Share of Search measures the total organic searches made for a specific brand, divided by the total searches for all brands in that category.

Speaking at EffWorks Global 2020 Conference, marketing effectiveness expert Les Binet presented this metric to the masses, and in his research found that Share of Search is a leading predictor of Share of Market, with correlations regular occurring between the two metrics. When Share of Search goes up, Share of Market usually follows.

There appears to be a two-way relationship between the two metrics. A brand’s Market Share affects its Share of Search, as people will be more likely to want information on something you already have, and when a brand has a high Share of Search relative to its size, it’s likely we’ll see an increase in Share of Market as a result.

The benefits of measuring Share of Search

There are numerous advantages for marketers to begin measuring Share of Search as a key metric in their reporting.

  • It’s cheap – Share of Search can be calculated using free tools such as Google’s Keyword Planner and Google Trends.
  • It’s quick – the data you need to run a Share of Search report can be gathered much faster than a Share of Voice report.
  • It’s effective – in nearly all cases, Share of Search has accurately correlated with Share of Market.

How to calculate Share of Search?

With the vast quantities of data available within Google’s products, it could not be easier to calculate Share of Search for your organisation.

We’ve put together a step by step guide you can follow to see how your organisation shapes up against the competition.

As an example, we’ve compared some popular automotive brands.

Go to Google’s Keyword Planner Tool, and set the location to the market you are in.

Google Ads Keyword Planner

Enter in your competitors’ names (both large and small).

Select each brand, and add them into a new Ad Group

Export the Ad Group; Plan Historical Metrics

Total up the Avg. Monthly Searches to find the Share of Search % each brand possesses

For more in-depth reporting, you can use the monthly historical searches to record how brand interest has changed over a 12 month period.

A consideration for Share of Search

Whilst in most cases Share of Search can provide an accurate representation of Share of Market, there are times when the report can be misleading – namely when a brand experiences some kind of scandal.

For example, the Volkswagen emissions scandal of 2015 resulted in an extremely high amount of brand searches for Volkswagen, however, these were not consumers looking to purchase a vehicle, but instead existing Volkswagen owners searching to see if their car has been affected by the scandal.

In cases such as these, it can be misinterpreted that a brand could have a commanding Share of Market, when instead they are potentially losing customers due to a negative experience; so it’s important to be mindful.

Searches for Volkswagen saw a spike at the end of 2015 due to the emissions scandal.

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