When Google Instant launched on September 8, 2010, paid search marketers and SEO experts were nervous of its implications on their respective businesses. It’s been several months since its launch and now we have some data to figure out how Google Instant effects paid search. Based on Marin Software and Google research, here are the top five stats you should know about:
Google Instant is changing the playing field — Google Instant saves users an incredible amount of time by auto-filling search queries in real time, while simultaneously retrieving relevant ads. If everyone uses Google Instant globally, Google estimates this will save more than 3.5 billion seconds or 11 hours daily and 350 million hours or 500+ human lifespans annually. Users are going to more quickly find resources relevant to their search query — therefore narrowing the search time. Accordingly, webmasters and advertisers need to be more cognizant of how relevant they are to end users.
Google Instant decreases CPC — Cost per click (CPC) is dropping for many Google search phrases, making paid search more cost effective. Marin reports after Google Instant launched, CPC decreased by 2.68 percent for short search phrases (e.g. “mba programs”) and 7.62 percent for long search phrases (e.g. “top online mba programs”). As existing keywords cost less, marketers can expand and test larger keyword lists.
A focus on short search phrases — Google Instant queries prefer shorter over longer search phrases. Impressions increased 9.5 percent for short and 6.65 percent for long search phrases. For the keyword phrase, “top online mba programs,” users see ads for Top Chef after typing “top,” ads for top online games (due to Google’s auto-fill) after typing “top online,” and finally see ads for top online mba programs after typing “top online mba.” That’s three sets of ads before a user can view ads relevant to their query. Therefore, impressions for “top” (which yields Top Chef) and “top online” (which yields top online games) will receive many more impressions than “top online mba programs.” Accordingly, as a paid search advertiser, short-term phrases are going to have many more impressions than long-term phrases.
Paid clicks are on the rise — More users are clicking on paid search ads, potentially due to the constant refresh of content — drawing users’ attention to the ads section. Paid search clicks increased 5.76 percent for short queries and 4.31 for long queries. The deeper the search, the longer-tail the search query and the less number of search volume. Therefore, ads on pages with short search phrases will get much more visibility.
Click through rates decrease — Clickthrough rates (CTR) have decreased due to the rise of impressions. The gap between impressions and clicks is greater for shorter than longer phrase searches — therefore making the CTR worse for shorter than longer phrase searches. CTR for short phrase terms decreased by 3.42 percent and 2.19 percent for long search terms. Lower CTR’s can significantly decrease an advertiser’s Quality Score, so paid search advertisements will have to balance ad groups with long and short search phrases.