What is Share of Search and why should you care?

Share of Search is a metric to measure brand strength by comparing the share of the total search volume on Google for brands within the same category. In this article, we will dive deeper into the metric and why you should track your brand's Share of Search.

What can Share of Search tell you?

All marketers, business owners and entrepreneurs knows that measuring a brand's strength is very difficult. There are multiple ways of doing it but most revolve around the most basic way of understanding what consumers think and feel - by asking them.

Share of Search is also a way of measuring brand strength, but it does so not by asking consumers about your brand directly, but by tapping into Google search statistics to understand how much interest a particular brand is generating on the web in relation to other brands in the same segment.

Share of Search can also be compared to another metric that has been used by marketeers for a very long time: Share of Voice (SoV). SoV measures a business share of total marketing expenditure within a segment. However, SoV doesn't measure the outcome of this marketing spend.

The idea is that the more a brand is searched for in relation to its competitors, the more relevant, known or popular it is. This way, Share of Search can also be linked to a brand's market share. Studies have shown that the more users search for a brand the more sales that brand generates. Therefore, Share of Search can in some instances be used as an indicator of market share. We suggest that you at least compare your Share of Search over time with your market share data to validate potential correlation.

How is Share of Search calculated?

There are a few different ways to calculate Share of Search, but the most popular and reliable way to do it is using Google Trends. By fetching the trends data for each brand you're interested in and calculating the relative share of search for each brand at each point in time you can get a timeline chart of the development of different brand's search volume relative to each other.

If you're interested in knowing exactly how to do these calculations yourself, please read our in-depth article on the process here.

The simplest way of generating your share of search is of course to use our free generator tool. Just pop in the brands you're interested in below.


What makes Share of Search different?

Asking consumers about brand knowledge, consideration and preference through panels and surveys are highly qualitative way of measuring brand strength but it comes at a cost, both in terms of time and money.

Share of Search on the other hand is purely digital, without any direct input needed from consumers. This means that you can get real-time information, whenever you need it, for free.

Compared to traditional KPI:s such as Share of Voice, Share of Search is a bit more reliable as it measures actual effect of marketing efforts, rather than just the volume of or investment into marketing.

Drawbacks of Share of Search

No way of measuring brand performance is perfect and Share of Search has some properties that are important to be aware of and keep in mind when analyzing results. It can be tricky to compare certain brands, for example:

  • One or more of the brands you compare has a wide product portfolio, covering multiple verticals

  • One or more of the brands is difficult to spell (e.g. Hyundai, Schwarzkopf), has variations or nicknames (Coke, Coca-Cola, Cola) or a name connected to other common words or categories (Eastern, Norwegian).

  • The brands or category you research is very niche and has low search volume (e.g. specialized B2B brands)

Also, because Share of Search measures the volume of searches, it doesn't say anything about why the volume increases or decreases. This means that a spike in Share of Search can be caused by multiple events or trends and this is important to remember when analysing results. As an example, the Volkswagen emission scandal caused a significant increase in Share of Search, but of course for all the wrong reasons.