Measuring your organic market click share
A lot of the time, we get clients who let us know what sorts of keyword they want to get rank in Google for. It’s great to know they have thought about performance goals for their website, but understanding how rank translates into business is a crucial step that has to be assessed as well. Here’s an example of why ranking for a few keyword phrases is just not enough:
Let’s say an accountancy business wants to rank for “accounting services Auckland”, because that’s what they do and where they are. They also want rank for “accountant Auckland”. Great stuff, these are probably two excellent keywords to show up for if you are an Auckland based accountant, but you need to do the math on both of these.
Now let’s say there are 100 searches per month for the first phrase, and 120 searches per month for the second. A total of 220 searches that they could get exposure for.
Now let’s say they manage to rank #1 in Google for both of these. They worked very hard to get to that position, did a lot of SEO work on their site, and invested a tidy sum in having an agency apply the SEO work for them.
This is starting to be an ROI (return on investment) exercise, but mainly I want to point out an important factor that might sway the way you think about keywords and rank.
If the business ranks #1 for 220 searches, then about 44 (est 20%) of the search traffic might consider clicking on the organic search results. The 20% figure varies wildly depending on who you talk to, plus whether there is a significant Google Adwords presence on the same page. This study (here) back in 2013 reported that as little as 6% click on paid ads in Google search. And this study (here) from 2014 suggested that Google Ads on the page could influence an increase or decrease in clicks based on position and co-presence of organic and paid results. For argument’s sake, I’ll stick with a 20% CTR figure for #1 rank. That means the business could get approximately 44 visits from these two keyword phrases.
Now let’s say they can convert around 2% of all website visitors into clients. That would give them about 11 new clients per year from these two keyword phrases. Is that enough? We don’t know without doing a whole CPA analysis, but here’s what I want to point out:
Getting #1 rank for both keyword phrases might get the business 11 new clients per annum, from a possible search volume of 220 per month x 12 months = 2640 searches. The final actual conversion figure is 11/2640 = 0.4%. Many business owners imagine they will convert as much as 50% of the search volume from being on position 1. There’s clearly some discrepancy here. Am I being pessimistic, or is the business owner being optimistic, or both? Frankly, I think my estimate is more realistic. But what does that imply for the business owner? The answer is simply this: They must try to get rank for hundreds of keyword phrases, not just two. And while position #1 in Google organic search is the goal, getting a website to rank #1 for all commercially relevant searches is completely unrealistic. From my experience, a website that’s performing well organically gets an average rank position of between 4th and 8th place on Google’s first page. Plus, can we discover anything about the number and range of organic searches they are actually getting search impressions for? Yes, we can.
Performing the market share analysis:
To investigate your organic market share of clicks from possible searches, follow these steps:
Check Google Search Console: Access GSC data for your website, and go to the Search Analytics tab to bring up the performance graphs. Select Clicks and Impressions in the top menu, and select Your Country, Web and Last 90 Days in the second menu. This will give you a 90 day window of data for search impressions and clicks and show as a blue and red line on the graph. Scroll to the bottom of the list of words and hit the Download button.
Open up the CSV file in Excel or equivalent software. The sort the results by the words column in alphabetical order. Remove any lines that are for keyword searches that are not relevant to you. Also remove any commas or other punctuation from any of the remaining words. While you could leave these in, I also suggest you remove all evidence of brand searches. You really should get maximum impressions and clicks through brand search anyway, plus many brand searches occur when you or your staff type part of your domain name into the search box, instead of the browser navigation bar. This means brand search data is unrealistically skewed and not very useful for analysis.
Now select and copy the remaining words column, and go to the Google Adwords Keyword Tool.
Paste the column into the “enter keywords” box to “plan your budget and get forecasts”. Google will respond with figures for each of the keywords. Ensure you have it set to match country target of the country you selected when downloading the data from GSC.
Select all of the keywords you added by using the blue “add to plan” function.
When you have added all of the words, download the plan as an Excel CSV document. You will now have a new CSV file with actual search data for the keyword list you exported from Search Console.
Sort this list alphabetically by keyword. You’ll now have a word list that exactly matches the order from your GSC downloaded file – this is important to align the data so that the calculations correctly correlate to eachother.
Copy the search volume column and create a new column in your original file called “Market 1 Month”. Paste the data you just copied. Make a new column and fill with Formula: Market 1 Month column x3 and call this column “Market 3 Months”. This is so that it matches the length of time that you exported from Google Search Console. You could have used just 1 month’s data, but over a shorter period the data is less accurate and therefore less meaningful.
In a new column, set a formula to calculate your Clicks column divided by the Market 3 Months column and format as %. This is your %Clicks Market Share. Your target should be somewhere around the maximum expected clicks for a #1 ranked website = approx 20-30%. But as I mentioned earlier, a realistic goal is actually 4th to 8th average position, so a target of about 3%-10% is more realistic.
In a new column, set a formula to divide your Impressions column by the Market 3 Months column and format as %. This is your %Impressions Market Share. Your target should be 100%, because this is the figure you get when your website appears in Google search for every time a person searches any of the keywords in the list. You may find the figure calculates to over 100% in comes cases. This can happen for many reasons like seasonality, but suffice to say, if it is somewhere around or above 100%, it’s a good result. If it’s significantly less than 100%, then investigate which words are not reaching that target. Improving optimisation for those words could be an easy win for SEO generated traffic to your website.
Here’s a few problems with these figures:
The target click share varies dramatically from genre to genre. Your goal is merely to improve them for this keyword set with no specific % figure in mind, because it’s too hard to state for sure that any particular figure is the right one.
The other issue is that this analysis shows keywords for which you are already getting search impressions, but it doesn’t reveal opportunities where your website is not getting search impressions at all. To generate that list, go back to the Google Keywords Tool, but this time place the keyword list from your first spreadsheet into the “find new keywords and get search volume data” (ensure you still have it set to match country target of the country you selected when downloading the data from GSC). You can append these results from that to the Market 1 Month column and also calculate the Market 3 Months column. Obviously for those, in the Clicks and Impressions columns your figure is zero. Your calculated Market Share column will show errors there because it’s trying to calculate zero divided by Market 3 Months. Just replace the errors with a zero.
Now you can calculate TOTAL market share by doing the following:
Sum all the contents of Clicks column.
Sum all contents of Impressions column.
Sum all contents of Market 3 Months column.
Now divide Sum Clicks by Sum Market 3 Months. This is more of a true market share. It will be less than the % figure you got earlier.
Also divide Sum Impression by Sum Market 3 Months. This is more of a true impressions market share value. Your goals is to reach 100%. The easy win here is to begin adding words for which you got zero search impressions into your website by writing new content focused on those words.