The Ultimate Guide to Share of Search for 2021

Traditionally, Share of Voice was a key metric for marketers. It influenced budget allocation, spending and tactics. However, the rise of online media means it can no longer be calculated accurately. That’s where Share of Search comes in.

In the age of eCommerce marketing, Share of Search is a great alternative to Share of Voice. More and more brands are using this new metric to measure the effectiveness of their campaigns and stay ahead of the competition. Here’s everything you need to know about it.

What is Share of Search?

Share of Search shows the number of organic searches a brand has received as a proportion of the total number of searches made for every brand in its industry.

As well as gauging brand health, Share of Search can be a reliable indicator of market share. This makes sense because if more people are searching for your brand, you’re probably going to land more sales. Most consumers only search for a brand by name if they plan to buy one of its products or they already own one.

So, if your Share of Search is rising, you can expect to see an increase in market share later on too. In fact, research by marketer Les Binet shows a clear correlation between them. When searches are large relative to your size, it’s a positive sign of growth.

Share of Search vs. Share of Voice

Before the internet disrupted the media industry, Share of Voice was used to predict market share success.

Brands would compare their advertising spend with the total media expenditure within their industry. For example, if a brand spent $5 million advertising its hairdryers, but $50 million was spent on advertising them across the entire market, then that brand’s Share of Voice would be 10%.

A high Share of Voice increases brand awareness, sales and influences market share. If your Share of Voice increases, you would expect your market share to go up too. Since the days of ‘Mad Men’, marketers have used this information to determine their budgets.

However, you can only calculate your Share of Voice if you know how much is spent on advertising within your niche. With the rise of online advertising, this is no longer possible. Reliable data just isn’t available.

From retail media through to OTT advertising and product listing ads, there’s just too many platforms to keep track of. There’s no way of knowing how much has been invested in each one either.

Share of Search is based on the same idea as Share of Voice and can be used to predict market share. The only difference is that it is based on how many times a brand’s name is typed into Google, rather than how much is spent on advertising. This is great because search data is much more reliable.

The rising importance of Share of Search

Calculating your brand’s Share of Search, rather than its Share of Voice, comes with a number of important advantages. As consumer behaviour changes and increasing amount of advertising moves online, these advantages grow.

Here are the most significant ones.

1. It’s easier and quicker to calculate Share of Search

All you need to figure out your Share of Search is a calculator and some search volume data – the latter of which is available for free with Google’s Keyword Planner 

This data can be pulled together much faster than a Share of Voice report. You don’t need to spend much time researching competitors either. Your SEO tool will highlight them for you.

This means Share of Search reports are accessible to brands of every size and can be assessed on a regular basis. To keep track of your brand’s health and growth, you may even want to make it one of your key eCommerce KPIs.

2. It’s more reliable

Advertising budgets can only say so much about a brand. It doesn’t take into account the quality of the advertising or any PR crises that a brand may be going through. It also ignores the fact that 96% of consumers simply don’t trust ads.

However, measuring Share of Search instead of Share of Voice allows you to track consumers who are actually engaging with your brand through Google. By tracking activity that takes place a little further down the conversion funnel, you will have a more accurate predictor of your market share.

3. It’s useful to more marketers

Because Share of Search isn’t based on advertising spend, it is a more universal metric.

It applies to industries, like B2B, where advertising isn’t hugely important. Brands that don’t invest in traditional advertising can also use it. These include CostCo, Primark, Trader Joe’s and Zara – just to name a few. Share of Search would be a more accurate metric for their competitors to use too!

Share of Search is also better because many brands invest in modern marketing tactics that don’t require any ad spend. Think video, social media and email. Back in 2012, Dollar Shave Club managed to take a piece of the razor market and it all began with a viral video.

How to calculate Share of Search?

To calculate your brand’s Share of Search, you simply take the number of organic searches your brand received during a specific period and then divide it by the number of searches all the brands in your industry received at that time.

Share of Search = Number of searches for your brand ÷ Number of searches for all competitors

Make sure to include big and small brands in your calculations. When you gather the search volumes for each brand, be sure to change the location to the market where you operate too.

It’s a good idea to calculate your Share of Search on a monthly basis. But if you’ve just started tracking it, you can also delve into historical search data to analyse your past performance. If you notice a surprising spike, you might be able to find out what happened and replicate it in your current strategy.

How do you improve Share of Search?

Like Share of Voice, advertising is a key driver of your brand’s Share of Search. The more people that are aware of your business, the more searches you’ll receive.

TV advertising has been shown to impact brand search volume. That’s why so many online D2C brands have sharply increased their investment in it.

But any other marketing activities that can increase interest and awareness in your brand will help too. Influencer marketing, social media marketing, PR and even old-fashioned billboards can all help improve your Share of Search and, ultimately, your market share.

Beyond this, you can use CTAs that call on your audience to search for your brand online. Plus, if you’re launching a subsidiary or secondary brand, be sure to choose a simple name. This will increase the likelihood of audiences remembering it and searching it.

Final thoughts

Digital advertising will continue growing worldwide. As this happens, Share of Voice will become less and less relevant.

Luckily, Share of Search can provide insights into your brand’s performance at the early stages of the sales funnel. Monitoring this metric will let you know when you need to invest more in your marketing budget – before you lose out to your competitors.

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