Discover Your Search Universe

Posted by Brian Beltz

The Search Metric You’re Missing

Google and Bing continue to increase the metrics they offer to help online marketers understand the efficiency of their search campaigns. Whether you’re looking at campaign performance metrics such as CTR and CPC, conversion metrics such as All Conversions and Conversion Rate, or competitive metrics such as Impression Share and Avg. Position, there’s a lot to inform you of what’s happening in your campaigns.

One of the most important metrics that we use when discussing search strategy is the search universe, which is not a metric available in the search interfaces. However, it is an easy metric to calculate, simply by dividing the number of impressions by the search impression share. What this metric tells us is the overall opportunity that exists within the search space.

The reason that this metric is so important is that by looking at the trend over time we’re able to see what the future opportunity will look like and what changes should be made to the overall search strategy. For example, this will give insight into whether there’s an overall growth in searches using branded terms or whether you’re experiencing a decline. This also helps to monitor the change of search volume for specific industry nomenclature that evolves over time, such as “user behavior analytics” to “user and entity behavior analytics”.

While metrics such as Impressions and Impression Share can help to tell the story of how the search universe is changing, changes in the competitive space or through optimizations can impact those metrics and mask what’s happening in the larger search universe. By taking the time to calculate the search universe, you’ll have the best approximation of how your opportunity in the search space is trending.

What to Do With the Search Universe Metric

So once you calculate the search universe, what should you do with it? To start with, make sure that the search universe for your top performing campaigns is growing. Many search advertisers have found themselves in a difficult situation of trying to improve search performance with the only opportunity for growing search volume existing in poor performing campaigns. Also look at the search universe of your brand campaigns to see how demand for your brand has been trending over time.

Next, review your SEM and SEO strategy in light of the search universe trends. Are there areas that are growing that could warrant more focus and keyword opportunities? Are there areas that are declining in volume that could indicate a change in consumer demand? Those insights will help to make sure your strategy is reflective of the search environment.

The fact of the matter is there is very little that can be done through search to impact the overall search universe. Most of the communication that impacts the search universe comes from outside influence, such as what’s being covered in the news, what’s trending on social platforms and what is being promoted through paid advertising and PR efforts. And by measuring the search universe you’ll be able to understand the opportunity and impact created by those external factors, assess the success of your campaigns, and use that insight to make strategic decisions to fuel additional marketing initiatives.