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Does Google Instant Generate Query Shares?

MagGlass-Search

The idea that search queries appear as they get typed generates more query traffic, and it seems people tend to interact with the traffic more. That's according to data released by comScore late Tuesday.

The September 2010 comScore data shows slight positive growth for both Google and Yahoo, according to Piper Jaffray Analyst Gene Munster. Google drove more searches through Google Instant, but Yahoo maintained what Munster calls "meaningful" year-on-year query growth.

In the report, the first to account for Google Instant since the launch in early September, comScore defines how it will factor in Google Instant search queries. Since Google introduces query results as searchers type, Munster believes technically each typed letter could become a query.

Making Google search data comparable with competitors, comScore defined Google explicit core queries as "searches where a user hits enter" and "clicks on an organic or paid result, a refinement link (ex. "Past 24 hours"), or on a vertical search tab (ex. News or Images)." Total Core Searches account for "query pages without explicit user action, but with a pause of three seconds," which is the three-second rule determined by Google to serve up a paid search ad.

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Google increased explicit search share, defined as searches entered with user intent, to 66.1% in September from 65.4%, sequentially, and 18% for the month, compared with the year-ago month.

Search marketing firm Covario noted earlier this month has led to click-through rates that are up nearly 20% on the Google engine, with the overall proportion of paid search clicks up by 4% at the expense of organic search.

Craig Macdonald, senior vice president and chief marketing officer of Covario, doesn't believe Google Instant generates additional overall queries, but the feature does channel more of the actual click-throughs to paid search.

Macdonald states two reasons why:

1) During the initial 3 seconds of the entry for a search query, Google Instant shows a rotating set of paid listings that are generated from the 'autofill' technology they use to determine what people will ultimately type. This attracts the user's attention, serving them multiple paid listings and begging them to 'try one out.'

2) The information gets formatted on the screen, so that during the time when Google Instant is rendered, the autofill box below the search box and the paid listings dominate the page. Google pushes at least two to three organic listings off of the page and paid ads take their place. The consumer has almost no choice but to click on paid ads. 'It's like trying to throw a stone in the ocean you cant miss it!'

As a result, we Covario sees an approximate split of paid clicks vs organic clicks move from 18/82 before Google instant, to 22/78 after. This was based on first analysis from the three weeks after Google Instant announcement, compared to the 3 weeks before.

Covario's report points out the integration of Yahoo and Bing, which included consolidation to Bing's algorithmic search platform in the middle of the third quarter, led to additional paid search spending on the combined platform as advertisers invested more to compensate for decreases in organic search ranking declines on Yahoo.

According to comScore Yahoo lost meaningful share to Google in September, but Munster believes the underlying data still represents "slight" positive growth for Yahoo's search business. Yahoo grew queries 30.5%, including slideshows, which demonstrates traffic continues. Yahoo's explicit search share fell to 16.7% in September from 17.4% in August.

Microsoft, Yahoo's search partner, saw domestic explicit core search market share grow slightly to 11.2% in September from 11.1%, sequentially, J.P. Morgan Analyst Imran Khan wrote in a research note. Microsoft sites grew September explicit core search volume by 40.0% year on year, up from 37.5% in August.

Total U.S. explicit core search volume rose 16.1% year on year in September, up from 13.0% growth in August, according to comScore. Ask Network domestic explicit core search market share fell slightly to 3.7% in September from 3.8% in August.

Ask grew August explicit core search volume by 9.6% year on year, dropping from 10.5% year on year growth in August.

And, all the changes at AOL couldn't budge domestic explicit core search market share. For the month, share remained flat at 2.3%. The company's September explicit core search volume declined by 13.1% year on year vs. an 11.8% decline in August.

1 comment about "Does Google Instant Generate Query Shares?".
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  1. Andries De villiers from adMarketplace.com, October 14, 2010 at 8:54 a.m.

    What was the effect on conversion rate? It's one thing to increase volume, but does this come at the cost of performance? It's about time to look for additional search traffic outside the big 3 engines.

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