Google Instant’s effects on PPC
Over the past few days, great debates have arisen over the unveiling of Google Instant and how it could potentially harm paid search advertising. As Google explained during the launch how eye tracker information had encouraged them to launch Instant Search, former Financial Times journalist Tom Foremski stated that ‘the eye tracker did not show any activity on the right side of the page where Google text ads are placed.’ This has raised the question – if Google Instant is so effective at encouraging a user to use the suggested terms and top dynamic results, what will happen to the sponsored ad?
Well, my initial reaction was also one of concern. Would people who initially intended to type in a long tail keyword now only type part of their query instead and make cpc’s, demand and competitiveness soar on head keywords? Would the increase in impressions generate a lower CTR and therefore lower quality scores? And lastly, would this all occur at the expense of the long tail keywords? At the end of the day, Google has killed two birds with one stone – making it quicker and easier for its users to find what they are looking for as well as benefiting from increased bids on competitive head keywords and therefore more revenue.
As soon as I heard about Google Instant, I cracked on with monitoring keywords that I thought could be affected by users finding what they wanted earlier in their search. Looking at daily trends and search query report over the past few weeks would enable me to analyse any possible threat that Instant may have on my PPC campaigns.
Has Google Instant affected PPC?
On the day of Google Instant’s launch and the day after, we did see an increase in impressions. I did predict in my last post The big speculation revealed – Google Instant that this may happen as novice Google users could potentially stop searching mid-search through curiosity over what the new Google is and unknowingly count as an impression for advertisers. Although this did mildly affect click through rates for a day or two, we saw no change in clicks, position or conversions.
As impressions have now evened back out to an average, I thought it was time to share with you my finding from search query reports and keyword data. After running a search query report for the week before and the few days after launch, I can see no difference in the way people are searching; probably due to the fact that Google suggested terms to users way before Instant Search was launched. This could also be due to the people searching being at a stage in the buying cycle where they know that it is a good idea to refine their search as much as possible and use longer search queries to find what they want easier. Perhaps Instant hasn’t really changed the way people search unless they are researching and not sure what they are looking to buy or find? Or perhaps users are getting wise to the fact that Google’s dynamic results may not be entirely relevant to their search unless they enter their full intended query?
With lots of businesses putting their time and effort into ranking for head keywords, it could well be that these are the keywords that will start to suffer as advertisers up their bids to try and secure a higher position on a wider range of head keywords. As long tail keywords are generally less competitive and therefore easier and cheaper to get a top position on, I would definitely suggest not dropping the long-tail. As Google suggests terms for users to click on, many of these terms are highly relevant long-tail versions of their initial search query, so in no way do I think that Google Instant will bring death to the long-tail!
So, as far as I can see, the impact has been minimal but I will continue to monitor impressions, click through rates, quality scores and the use of long tail/head keywords like a hawk.
How advertisers can use Instant Search to up their game
Despite the majority of marketers mainly having concerns over Google Instant, some savvy advertisers can see huge benefits behind the change.
Google is essentially presenting us with a keyword research tool showing us niches in the market that we could capture. Argos for example are bidding on the term ‘telev’ as they know that Google predicts that people searching for ‘telev…’ will be looking for televisions. If the searcher was to stop their search on telev and press search, the results shown would not be for televisions but for ‘telev’ instead. By bidding on the term ‘telev’, Argos will be paying very little for a keyword that could capture potential sales even quicker than Google predicts. I would suggest that all advertisers run through a list of their top performing keywords and start typing each search query into Google until the keyword is showing in the suggested searches to see what new keywords you could add.
To summarise, I definitely don’t think Google Instant is to be feared. Google are constantly changing their algorithm’s and as with people using Google to search, we just have to adapt to monitoring and optimising new strategies in order to make the most from what Google is telling us.
In the mean time, keep your eye out for further updates on our findings and feel free to share your thoughts below!Tweet