Rebound in Organic Search Continues in Q3

November 13, 2020

Merkle Google US Organic Search Visit Trends Nov2020Essential goods retailers’ Google organic search visits were up some 56% year-over-year (y-o-y) in Q3, according to Merkle’s latest Digital Marketing report [download page]. The report takes a look at recent figures charting the state of Google organic search since the COVID-19 pandemic, highlighting the varied effects on sites in different verticals.

After positive year-over-year changes in Q3 2018 (6%) and Q4 2018 (2%), followed by a steady decline into Q1 of this year, organic search visits rebounded significantly in Q2 2020, with a 33% y-o-y increase. This rebound has continued into Q3, with Google US organic search visits to brand sites climbing by 28% y-o-y.

That this rebound is in part a product of the rise in e-commerce since the pandemic is even clearer when looking at organic search trends by vertical. Where retail and consumer goods saw some 42% y-o-y growth in organic search visits in Q3, travel saw a stark 37% drop in the same period. Financial services fared slightly better with a +10% change, while insurance saw organic search visits increase by 20% y-o-y.

Trends in retail categories paint a similar picture with a 56% increase y-o-y in essential goods in Q3, though this is somewhat of a decline from the 70% y-o-y growth experienced in Q2. And, while apparel suffered an 11% decrease in Q3, other non-essential retail was up 54% y-o-y.

Over time, daily search visits have illustrated the ongoing effects of the pandemic on these key verticals. While daily organic search visits to travel sites have risen across Q2 and Q3, they are currently at levels 25% lower than the January 2020 average. And, after spiking to over 100% change in April at the peak of the pandemic, essential retail daily visits have decreased but remain some 35% higher than in January. Likewise, overall retail visits remain a notable 20% higher in Q3 than they were at the start of the year.

For retailers, both clicks and click-through rate have trended between 30-50% and 0-20% y-o-y growth respectively. Though both metrics appeared to dip in July and August, they have seen improved growth in the latter half of Q3 reaching 28% growth for clicks and 5% growth for CTR.

When it comes to the devices related to organic search visits, mobile (comprising phones and tablets) accounted for the majority (64%) of Google organic search visits in Q3. However, the report does note that this share is somewhat smaller than mobile’s share of paid search clicks, due to the limited opportunities for organic listings to sit above-the-fold on mobile.

Read the full report here.

About the Data: Findings are based on an analysis of Merkle clients who have maintained active programs with Merkle for at least 19 months and have not significantly changed their strategic objectives or product offerings.


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