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Using SEO Data to Capture Changing Search Trends with PPC

It’s times like these when you really hope your organic search and paid search teams are talking to one another. Data sharing offers a great way for both teams to understand changing user needs and respond quickly to serve the Total Search Experience that your brand’s audience is searching for.

Merkle's Total Search Technique

Try using Merkle’s Total Search technique for responding quickly to changing search trends to serve more relevant results for your audiences. The methodology leans on Search Analytics for Sheets- this allows for an unrestricted, highly filtered data set as well as quick translations en masse. It should not be revelatory for most digital marketers; our aim is instead to be pragmatic and helpful.


  1. Create a Google Sheets and open the Search Analytics for Sheets add-on. Connect the root domain property of the brand’s site. Consider a relevant date range for capturing search trends- we’re currently opting for a 7-day period. If you can’t access the property, try using an incognito Chrome tab!
  2. Group data by query, page, country and apply any country or page or query filters at this stage if required (beware SA4S uses 3 letter country codes, eg. GBR vs GB)
  3. Sort the data by impressions and collate a varied list of interesting generics which fit with current affairs and client aims- Mapping clicks, landing page, etc. allow for a more interesting and thorough picture. We find checking the news cycle associated with the brand’s vertical provides a great insight into trending terms to look for
  4. Provide translations, if required, by using the formula =GoogleTranslate(cell, "Language", "Translate into language"), eg. =GoogleTranslate(A2, "de", "en ")
  5. Circulate findings with relevant teams after seeking consent from the data proprietor- these are typically the key brand stakeholders as well as paid search operatives and content writers
  6. Rinse and repeat at agreed intervals, measuring efficacy on an ongoing basis. This measurement will also inform when to return to BAU


search analytics for sheets ppc demonstration


How Paid Search Teams Can Use SEO Data in Practice

This organic search trend research should deliver value by providing other related search trends which won’t be captured by BAU paid search activity. Paid search can help brands achieve maximum coverage through broad match bidding on “example breakout term identified from Google Search Console” as a keyword. Refining bids based on real time data offers a way to capitalise on highly relevant breakout topics with lower competition whilst remaining efficient.

As Search Console data is accumulated from every nation, local trends can be identified to inform localised responses. Understanding relative interest between nations can also inform the media spend split between markets, prioritising regions where audiences require support most acutely. An example of this in practice could be the UK’s “flight to quality” for broadband as COVID-19 drove millions to work from home and subsequently realise that cheaper, slower internet simply was no longer tolerable.

It is also helpful that Search Analytics for Sheets provides the URL which currently ranks. Search engines are incredibly effective at understanding what a searcher is looking for and delivering a relevant response. The page which ranks serves as a great indication for which page to assign as the landing page for any paid activities. This is a great time to work cross-channel to improve content and attempt to increase your brand’s share-of-voice across all search features for breakout, trending topics.

Why Google Search Console

This process beats Google Trends and traditional keyword tools as they provide only relative, or average search volumes over broader periods and often overlook more relevant, long-tail terms. Search Console’s responsiveness instead provides data which is personal to your brand and its audiences.

It is imperative to clearly caveat how this method can only collate data for which the site ranks. It is also key to stress the data delay and how impressions data serves as a yardstick for actual search volume, rather than being an immutable source of truth.

Utilising the Technique Responsibly

When undertaking this activity, be careful to exclude any terms which could be construed as somebody seeking genuine medical advice, e.g. “Covid-19 update”. Nobody wants to be the brand capitalising on a global pandemic. Kimberly Dutcher’s piece on the ethics of search marketing is an invaluable guide at this time. Be sensitive, measured, considerate, and focus on helping your audience’s wellbeing as a core priority. If not, Google’s own policy on monetising sensitive events will rightfully disallow the activity.

We hope that this proves useful and look forwards to learning of how it is being deployed in the wild. The brands which respect the present situation and focus on supporting their communities in this should rebound as a result of their accumulated brand equity. Please reach out to let us know how we can support your brand online during this time of uncertainty.