Working With Google's Search Within Search Functionality

Google's new Search within Search functionality has captured the attention of everyone from search marketers to New York Times columnists, and even stockbrokers.  The purpose of this functionality in everyday search engine results pages is to allow users to further drill down their inquiry into specific pages within a site.  However, as Google strives to provide the best user experience, ulterior motives must be evaluated.  After all, Google does make money off pay-per-click ads, so understanding how this development may impact GOOG revenue is a natural query.  Is this change meant solely to improve user experience -- or is it meant to increase revenues generated from typically low average cost per click (CPC) keywords?

The first metric to watch is the impact of this functionality on brand terms within your sponsored search campaign.  The added search capability may reduce clicks on your brand paid search ad, which can create a negative domino effect on your SEM performance.



Fewer Clicks = Lower Click Rate = Decline in Quality Score = Higher CPC = Less Volume at Higher Costs

This change may result in advertisers paying more per click on their own brand terms, which frequently average less than 10 cents per click.  From a Google revenue perspective, the increase in CPC coupled with a decrease in click rate will most likely offset each other.  What really makes this new functionality questionable though is, what happens when the user utilizes an additional search field?   For example, type "Linens ‘n Things" into your Google search bar and then type "bed in a bag" into the Search search bar.  You will see paid listings for anyone broad matching on "bed in a bag."  This introduces Linens ‘n Things customers to,, and, from all of which Google may collect a higher CPC if their ads are clicked.  The Google Traffic Estimator Tool estimates 57 cents to 84 cents average CPC charges for the "bed in a bag" keyword.  This is a premium over the zero revenue they make on any clicks for Linens ‘n Things, which does not bid on brand terms and dominates the organic listings.

Many advertisers are already questioning the impact this new search functionality will have or is already having on their businesses.  Fortunately, online marketers are prone to track and analyze everything.  Here are a few items to check:

1.    Monitor your click rate on search terms that trigger the additional search box.
2.    Monitor your average CPC on search terms that trigger the additional search box.
3.    Check your top on-site search terms in the additional search box to see where your ad ranks in comparison to your competitors.
4.    Evaluate if the subsequent results compromise merchandising strategies that you have employed on your site.

If you feel your SEM campaign is experiencing a negative impact, request that Google remove this feature from your results.  They can and will opt your site out.  As with any changes to your search engine marketing campaigns, analyze your data before making rash decisions.  This feature offers search engine users a more granular option that they may or may not become accustomed to using.

As with any change in this industry, remember to "triple A" your strategy.
    A - Analyze your data
    A - Assess the impact
    A - Adapt your approach

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