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Analyzing Google’s Holiday Shopping Experience Search Data – Jordan Koene // Searchmetrics

Episode Overview: In the spirit of giving this holiday season Searchmetrics is sharing a huge gift from Google with our listeners. Google shared the top 100 products users searched in Google’s Shopping Experience with a select group of SEOs before releasing the data to the public. Join Ben and Searchmetrics’ CEO Jordan Koene as they review Searchmetrics’ analysis of Google’s Shopping Experience data and reveal the greater implications the data holds for the future of holiday search.

Summary:

  • Google shared the top 100 products users searched for in Shopping Experience across various categories including accessories and apparel, toys and games, and more.
  • Apple products dominated the tech category, occupying the top three spots in this year’s category list.
  • More than 50% of the products from various categories are namesake and staple brands that appeared in last year’s lists like Nike, LEGO, Apple and Nintendo.
  • The release of search data from Google may indicate it’s aiming to take on Amazon this holiday season to gain more e-commerce territory and control the end-to-end online shopping experience.

GUESTS & RESOURCES:

Ben:                 Welcome to a holiday edition of the Voices of Search podcast. I’m your host Benjamin Shapiro and today we’re going to look under the tree to see what Google has waiting for us for Black Friday. Joining us is Jordan Koene who is the lead SEO strategist and the CEO of Searchmetrics Inc. And today Jordan and I are going to talk about some of the data that Google has shared with him under embargo until now, but before we hear from Jordan, I want to remind you that this podcast is brought to you by the marketing team at Searchmetrics. Searchmetrics is an SEO and content marketing platform that helps enterprise scale businesses monitor their online presence and make data driven decisions. To support you, our loyal podcast listeners, we’re happy to offer a free trial of Searchmetrics software, including both the SEO research cloud and content experience. To sign up for your free trial, go to searchmetrics.com/freetrial. Okay, on with the show. Here’s my conversation with Jordan Koene, lead SEO strategist and CEO of Searchmetrics Inc. Jordan, happy holidays, ho, ho, ho, SEO and welcome to the Voices of Search podcast.

Jordan:             Hey Ben, you know I don’t have anything to give you yet, but I’m sure I’ll find something before the holiday season kicks in full swing.

Ben:                 But Jordan, you found a pretty outstanding gift under your SEO holiday tree. Tell us a little bit about who contacted you yesterday.

Jordan:             Yeah, so Google reached out or are the folks associated with Google reached out and shared some really interesting data that many of you may have already read about, but they basically released data on the top 100 products growing in popularity on Google Search. And they basically referenced data broken down by categories for us.

Ben:                 So, a couple of different things to unpack there. Dude, the big G reached out.

Jordan:             Yeah.

Ben:                 Talk to everybody about how that happens and what was your reaction when Google Search, not just Google Product Search, not just Google Shopping, but Google Search reaches out.

Jordan:             Well, let’s be transparent here, it is Google’s PR firm, so it’s people working on behalf of Google who reached out. And it’s not something new, right? I mean, for many of us who are working in the industry, Google’s constantly trying to reach out and push their story and their side of how things are unfolding. And this is great timing for them, right? I mean, we’re rolling into the busy holiday shopping season and Google has a lot to gain.

Ben:                 You’re being so modest, it’s ridiculous. So, Google’s consiglieri reaches out to you and says, “Hey, we have some data you can’t refuse.” I know I’m butchering The Godfather here, I know that it wasn’t the consiglieri that made that sound. For those of you who aren’t Godfather fans and don’t know what I’m talking about, it’s a movie. Don’t worry about it. Anyway, so Google reaches out and they shared some data about what the top 100 products are. Now, another thing to unpack is they didn’t share data that was in Google Product Search. Where is this data actually coming from?

Jordan:             Now, I think one of the most exciting things that we receive clarification from Google on is that this data is not just product specific data or data that is only relevant to the Google Shopping experience, but this is aggregated top trending data for all of Google Search in the U.S. And so, that’s really exciting because it gives us a view into where consumers are going and how they’re looking for things in Google Search.

Ben:                 Okay, so we’re looking at the U.S. market, we have search, not specifically products. So, this is generally the level of interest in a specific product is how I would interpret the dataset.

Jordan:             Absolutely, broken down by category. So, I mean I think that’s an important piece here.

Ben:                 Okay, so talk to me about the categories they gave you and what were some of the conclusions you made from looking at that data?

Jordan:             Yeah, so we’ve got categories like accessory and apparel, no surprise there. Home goods, kitchen gear, and then it starts to kind of shift a little bit into things like personal care, sports and fitness, and to round out things we’ve got tech and gaming, and then the much anticipated toys and games, because that’s what holidays is all about for the kids.

Ben:                 All right, let’s go category by category and talk about what some of these ones are. I want to do … Let’s do a guessing game. I want to guess.

Jordan:             All right.

Ben:                 Let’s start off with … Give me a category.

Jordan:             Let’s start off with the gaming category. Let’s get all the gaming nerds going here.

Ben:                 Gaming category, I’m going with some sort of console, X-Box. Is there a new X-Box this year?

Jordan:             I have no idea. Terrible. I’m terrible, but let’s just put it this way. Almost everything on the list is not console related. Everything on the list is a game. It’s actual games themselves.

Ben:                 All right, World of Warcraft. What was the top search term?

Jordan:             Yeah, so the interesting thing is that two of the Zelda games made it on the list. So, Legend of Zelda is doing quite well. The number one game though for all those-

Ben:                 Nerds.

Jordan:             For all those nerds out there waiting for the number one game, it’s Code Vein. And Code Vein is the most searched game in Google. The only console to actually make it in the list for the console question that you had Ben, was the Nintendo Switch Light.

Ben:                 I think it’s actually Code Vein. Let’s be honest, we don’t know where we’re talking about in this category, but it’s interesting to hear that the games are more popular than the consoles. Give me another category. Let’s take a guess.

Jordan:             Yeah, let’s switch gears here. Let’s jump into something that we’re all more familiar with and talk about tech. And in tech though specifically what we’re looking at for all of those thinking about this, it is really the tech product category.

Ben:                 Apple iPhone.

Jordan:             Yeah exactly.

Ben:                 Did I get it?

Jordan:             Apple iPhone, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding is number one. In fact, Apple tops the list. All top three items are Apple. So Apple iPhone, Apple iPod-

Ben:                 AirPods.

Jordan:             … and Apple Watch. AirPods oddly enough, boy, do not make the list. But the crazy interesting thing that did make the list that I know nothing about but I think it’s very fascinating, is the CrazyBaby Air Nano Earbuds. You’ll have to look them up yourself, but it’s essentially like the equivalent of the Apple AirPods.

Ben:                 For babies.

Jordan:             I’m not sure on that, but I’ll call you the minute-

Ben:                 All right, let’s do one more category. Give me a tough one.

Jordan:             A tough one, boy let’s see here. A tough one. Let’s go with … Well, I’ll let you pick Ben, it’s between accessories and apparel, and home goods.

Ben:                 Let’s go home goods, and I’m going to go with the Roomba i7, or i9, whatever the latest one is.

Jordan:             Oh, that’s actually a really good guess.

Ben:                 Well, I built a home this year, I know a lot about home goods.

Jordan:             I noticed. The interesting thing is that you’re in the right direction, but unfortunately it’s the wrong vacuum.

Ben:                 Dyson vacuum.

Jordan:             It’s Shark, oddly enough.

Ben:                 Shark.

Jordan:             Shark Rocket True Pet Ultra Light Vacuum. It is actually a very impressive looking vacuum that looks similar to the Dyson handheld vacuum that’s on the market.

Ben:                 I’m Googling Shark vacuum right now.

Jordan:             A couple of other interesting facts in the home goods category. A variety of grills top the lists including Pit Boss, the Big Green Egg, which many of you are probably familiar with, Coleman had a grill in there as well as Traeger, so interesting set of grills that showed up on the list here. For those of you who may remember last two years, a product that was constantly in the top of the home good list were the Philips Hue lighting systems, and they significantly dropped down the list and made to the 13th item with their Hue Play Lab. But the season is about to kick off, so maybe they’ve got some clever campaigns up their sleeves to move up the list.

Ben:                 So, as we think about the data that you’ve been handed, top searches by categories, what are some of the conclusions that you make about the type of products and brands people really want for the holidays?

Jordan:             So, one of the most fascinating data points that the team has been able to pull together has been around the namesake or the staple brands that are showing up in this list. So, what we’re seeing is over 50% of the brands that are in this list provided by Google, are brands that were there last year. So, take for example toys and games, over half of the products in there are LEGO related. And LEGOs is in the holiday top 10 list every single year and will probably continue to be for many years to come. And so, it’s a good factoid because we always talk a lot about, here on the podcast, about preparedness and planning in advance. And it was over half the products that you see in this list are products that were there the year before, it’s just a matter of checking into what model is coming out and being ready to promote that product.

Ben:                 Unless it’s the Shark vacuum, which I hadn’t heard of until this year. Sorry, people at Shark.

Jordan:             Yeah, I mean another good example is accessories and apparel. I mean, I think Tumi had three products and the Tumi wallet for men is almost often a top holiday product that’s sold.

Ben:                 That’s actually really interesting to me, when you think about apparel and accessories, I think of that being a very fragmented market and obviously there’s a lot of high fashion brands, which have a lot of brand recognition, but in the merchandising and apparel side you’re seeing sort of a tough time for big box retailers, right? The gap is not the brand that it used to be. J Crew has kind of fallen on hard times and you’re seeing these micro brands, mostly because people are searching for more content online, and online shipping, and there’s a million different brands out there, it’s easier to go direct to consumer. I would have thought that the direct to consumer searches or more general searches were the popular ones. It’s still the big brands that are leading the charge.

Jordan:             Absolutely. And man, I just think it’s just a huge change in consumer behavior though, right? The expectation is to be able to find these brands online, find them quickly, purchase them quickly. I think one of the big reasons why Google is reaching out and creating a story here on the shopping holiday season, is because Google wants to control more of the digital wallet and they want to be able to control that end-to-end. They’re not here to just promote search data and have us search people geek out about it. They’re actually here to promote a core product, which is the Google Shopping experience and the ability for consumers to be able to do an end-to-end shopping experience within Google.

Ben:                 So, Jordan, that leads me into the big question, why the hell is the big G in the sky, were reaching out to you to share this data?

Jordan:             Yeah, I mean, well Google is reaching out to a variety of outlets here.

Ben:                 But specifically, you.

Jordan:             Specifically me. Because specifically me, largely because I have a deep history with e-commerce, right? I mean my work at eBay and even prior to eBay is very e-commerce related, and Google is looking for individuals who are deeply connected to the e-commerce sector to promote the buying experience on Google. They want to be able to ensure that more of that consumer focus is on buying products within Google Shopping and only in Google.

Ben:                 So, the idea here is that Google wants people to shop and purchase on Google, which to me sounds very much like it is their way to try to be competitive against Amazon and other major online retailers.

Jordan:             I think in particular here, I think Amazon, right? Because Amazon in many ways, they’re building an entire ecosystem unlike other traditional retailers. And that digital ecosystem, whether it be the use of voice search and the consumer experience through that, or just the entire Amazon platform itself with its two-day shipping, is really where Google is going after stealing mindshare and users.

Ben:                 I understand the rationale for Google wanting to share some data with the search community and they’re trying to promote their e-commerce products, and that’s why this is happening now. I guess the last question for me is, when you think about how big Google is and the search volume that’s happening, what data did you get to understand, not only what the popular products are, but how popular are they?

Jordan:             I mean these are erratically popular products, and individually from a very, very isolated product view, these are items that have well over 10,000 searches a month. In many cases, many of these products have a hundred plus thousand searches per month. Obviously there’s the outliers like the Apple iPhone, right? That’s a clear outlier. But even if you take that, roll that back, and you look at certain products, like say Rain’s backpack or if you look at very specific products like L.L. Bean insulated tote, even these products are holding some serious search volume weight in the five digits. And I think that, that’s … It’s a testament to validating that Google did certainly provide some very high search volume products. But also from a search strategy perspective, you can start looking at that next layer down from the outliers like the Apple iPhones and start identifying some real opportunities to generate traffic and awareness to your brand and your website.

Ben:                 Jordan, what’s the most searched products in the United States this year?

Jordan:             Well then … I mean, I don’t think this is going to be a shocker to any of our listeners here, but it’s the Apple iPhone 11. And they have such strong brand presence, and many of these tech products and devices have such strong brand presence as well as affiliated searches along with it, that they carry a ton of weight. But by this point, and many of you are already looking at these lists and have found the list provided by Google and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised that Apple aside, there’s tons of opportunity within the top search products to build your own footprint and secure traffic from these other brands.

Ben:                 Just like everyone else Jordan, I want an Apple iPhone for Christmas. Joe, if you’re looking, if you haven’t bought anything, hey, just keep in mind I’m just a regular guy like everybody else.

Jordan:             Unfortunately, it’s not going to come from me. As much as I love doing this podcast with you, you’re not going to be getting any iPhone 11 from me. I’m still using a pretty old model, I think I’m an eight, maybe even older. Who knows? You’re going to have to hold your breath.

Ben:     It looks like it’s going to be a rough Christmas here at the Shapiro house. Jordan, I’m very excited that Google was so generous with sharing the data with you. I’d love for you to pass that generosity on, maybe buy some phones for your buddy podcast hosts, but I’ll keep working on you and I’ll give everybody an update in our post Black Friday episode. So, that wraps up this episode of the Voices of Search podcast. Thanks for listening to my conversation with Jordan Koene, the lead SEO Strategist and CEO of Searchmetrics Inc. We’d love to continue this conversation with you, so if you’re interested in contacting Jordan, you can find the link to his LinkedIn profile in our show notes. You can contact him on Twitter where his handle is, J. T. Koene. J-T-K-O-E-N-E. Or of course you could visit his company’s website, which is searchmetrics.com. If you have general marketing questions, if you’d like to talk to me about the show, or if you’re interested in being a guest on the Voices of Search podcast, you can find my contact information in our show notes or you can send me a tweet, my handle is Ben J. Shap. B-E-N-J-S-H-A-P. And if you’re interested in learning more about how to use search data to boost your organic traffic online visibility, or to gain competitive insights, head over to searchmetrics.com/freetrial for your free trial of our software suite and content experience platform. And if you like this podcast and you want a regular stream of SEO and content marketing insights in your podcast feed, hit the subscribe button in your podcast app and we’ll be back in your feed soon. All right, that’s it for today. But until next time remember, the answers are always in the day.