Is Google Instant the PPC Click-Thru Rate Killer?

Written by Formstack on September 9, 2010

Posted in Lead Generation

For many small businesses, PPC advertising through Google Adwords plays a crucial role in providing qualified traffic to their websites. One of the important factors that determines the placement and cost of these PPC ads is quality score. Quality score is based on a number of factors including the quality of your landing page, relevance of the keyword to the ads in its ad group, relevance of the keyword and matched ad to the search query and your click-thru rate history.

When we learned of Google’s latest innovation, Google Instant, we became a little nervous about whether or not the new search feature would have a negative impact on our PPC click-thru rates, thus impacting our quality score. We’re constantly testing our PPC campaigns to achieve the best results so we made sure to do our research to see if developing new testing methods was necessary.

What the heck is Google Instant?

You may or may not have heard about Google’s latest feature called Google Instant and that’s ok. We’ll get you up to speed so you can sound really smart in front of your coworkers and have a great conversation starter at parties.

In a nutshell, Google has added an enhancement to its search feature that displays results as you type. It predicts what you’re going to type and displays search results based on that prediction. Google claims it will save you 2-5 seconds per search, equating to 3.5 billion seconds per day globally. Your boss will be ecstatic to know you’re saving seconds everyday while searching for the latest fantasy football advice and news.

"Google Instant Screenshot"

But what about my PPC Impressions?

When using Google Instant, not only do the search results change with every letter a user types, so do the ads. This could do some serious damage to your click-thru rates if impressions were counted during that millisecond your ad was displayed on irrelevant search terms. However, rest assured that Google figured that out ahead of time and has rules for how impressions are counted.

An impression is counted if the user does one of the following:
• Types in search terms then clicks somewhere on the page
• Clicks the search button, presses enter or chooses one of the predicted queries
• Stops typing and your ad is displayed for at least three seconds

Should I do anything different?

It’s hard to say what type of effect, if any, that Google Instant will have on your PPC campaigns. In fact, Google doesn’t even seem to be sure, stating on their site that your impressions may increase or decrease. Our advice is to simply monitor your PPC account closely and note any significant changes.

What type of impact do you think Google Instant will have on your PPC campaigns? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.