Report: Google insights for charities and charitable giving

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An overview of Q3 2020 search marketing trends for charities and charitable giving looking at data for queries, impressions, clicks and more.

In our latest industry report, we take a look at Google insights for charities and charitable giving. As a Premier Google Partner, we get access to key reports and trends, allowing us to adapt search marketing strategies for our clients. Here’s a review of the latest search insights we’ve received directly from Google.

Key insights from the report

Before we analyse Google’s search data related to charities and charitable giving for Q3 2020, let’s quickly review the key findings from this report:

  • 21% search growth for charities & charitable giving
  • 13% increase in clicks
  • 56% of searches come from mobile
  • 51% of clicks from mobile

The findings reveal continued YoY growth for search activity related to charitable giving and they also reveal some clues about the influence of the coronavirus outbreak and lockdown measures in the UK. Overall, interest in charities is on the rise and we can use this data to speculate how interest might change over the winter months.

In the rest of this report, we look at search insights including key metric trends for Q3 2020, seasonality trends and device usage for search activity.

Metric trends for Q3 2020

First, we have an overview of key search metrics related to donations and charitable giving for Q3 2020, showing YoY growth rates compared to the same quarter, the previous year.

charities - search metrics snapshot for Q3 2020

Overall, we can see a 21% increase in search queries, accompanied by a 4% lift in impressions and a 13% boost for clicks compared to Q3 2019. The only notable decline in search activity shows that searches, impressions and clicks are all down on tablet devices, which is something we’re seeing across most industries.

What we’re seeing here is the declined use of tablet devices with an increasing majority of sessions taking place on mobile – although desktop activity continues to grow.

The other metric in the table above is Ad depth which shows how many ads show every time a query triggers ads in Google Search. This is calculated by dividing impressions by the number of queries that show ads and this table shows us that roughly the same number of ads are showing for related queries, compared to Q3 2019.

21% increase in searches for charities & charitable giving

With a 21% increase in search volume for charities and charitable giving, we can see consistent growth in terms of interest and opportunities for organisations in this industry. From the graph above, you can see a sharp rise in April, which coincides with the height of lockdown measures in the UK, following the coronavirus outbreak.

charities search queries for Q3 2020

This has affected growth rates for 2020 but we can see steady growth was already happening prior to the pandemic. Looking at search data from the previous year, Covid-19 doesn’t appear to have dampened interest in charitable giving. If anything, the challenges of lockdown and increased needs of vulnerable people inspired a greater interest in charitable giving among the British public.

charities search impressions for Q3 2020

Conversely, impressions have only grown by 4% across all devices with a 16% increase on desktops being countered by a 6% increase on mobile and a -32% on tablet. In any normal situation, it would be strange to see a disproportionate lack of impressions growth compared to increasing search volumes but 2020 hasn’t been a normal year by any measurement.

One possible explanation for this could be that a significant number of charities – like many other businesses – reduced their ad budgets during lockdown, resulting in fewer ad impressions relative to search volumes.

Clicks up by 13% with 51% of all clicks on mobile

charities search clicks for Q3 2020

Despite modest impression growth, ad clicks increased by 13% in Q3 2020 compared to the previous year. During this quarter, 51% of all clicks came from mobile but the biggest area of growth was actually desktop clicks, which saw an impressive 33% increase in clicks.

While search volumes provide a good indication of interests, clicks are a much stronger signal of intent – and the rate of growth is partially offset by the relative lack of growth in ad impressions.

These three signals combined tell us that there’s an increased interest in charitable giving, a greater number of people clicking on ads, but fewer organisations competing for these for the opportunities. Although natural instinct may tell you to pull back your ad budget during times of uncertainty, this can be a false economy when a significant number of organisations all have the same idea.

Increased opportunity coupled with reduced competition isn’t something you often see in the search marketing game.

Seasonal trends for donations & charitable giving

By looking at seasonal trends and comparing them to previous years, we can gain a deeper understanding of what Q3 2020’s growth figures really mean.

charities seasonal trends Q3 2020

When you see the spike in queries across March and April, the impact of coronavirus on search volumes is obvious. This graph also illustrates how 2020 was on course to achieve YoY growth, even before the pandemic, but the overall growth figures for this year are likely to be inflated above expectation.

An important takeaway from this graph is the British public’s response to national crises. Both Covid-19 and the lockdown that followed continue to affect everyone in the country but interest in charitable giving peaked when the needs of the most vulnerable were at their height.

Another important trend from this data is that searches for charities and donations typically increase during the winter months. In previous years, queries were at their highest in November and we can see that search volumes are already on the rise towards the end of Q3 2020.

With winter’s usual challenges combined with a second wave and renewed lockdown measures, we could see a significant increase in relevant queries in Q4 2020.

Impressions also typically peak during the winter months, as charities and organisations ramp up their paid advertising strategies for the holiday season. The question is, will the usual increase in ad spending happen again this year or will organisations keep their spend limited?

If you look at the monthly search volumes and average CPCs for the previous four years, an interesting pattern emerges. While searches for charities, donations and charitable giving consistently peak in November, CPCs are at their lowest during the same month.

charities queries and CPC for Q3 2020

At their highest in late spring, CPCs drop from an average $1.42 in May to just $0.88 in November.

As a result, October and November offer the perfect mix of high search demand and low CPCs. This year could see record disparity, too, if search volumes increase more than usual due to the second wave and a significant number of organisations keep their ad spends lower than previous years.

Device trends in Q3 2020

charities device trends for Q3 2020

The device trends for charities and charitable giving in Q3 2020 are within expectations for the general movement across all industries. Mobile continues to see the largest share of growth although the tablet decline is stronger than many other industries and the growth of desktop searches is higher than some, too.

charities device trends for Q3 2020

With 55.7% of all donations and charitable giving searches taking place on mobile in Q3 2020, the key takeaway is that desktop holds on to a large chunk of sessions. This emphasises the importance of running campaigns for both mobile and desktop while optimising ads and the post-click experience for both devices.

charities queries clicks and impressions for Q3 2020

If we look at the relationship between queries, impressions and clicks on mobile devices, we can see how the seasonal peaks in interest result in relative increases for ad impressions and clicks.

charities search queries clicks and impressions for Q3 2020

However, the same report for desktop sessions shows that clicks are disproportionately higher than search volumes and impressions – especially during peaks of interest. This is particularly interesting as the data suggests desktop users are seeing fewer ads from their queries but, when they are delivered ads, they’re significantly more likely to click on them.

Advertisers can’t ask for much better conditions in terms of campaign performance and this shows that optimising for desktops is still important, even if 51% of all clicks come from mobile.

These trends show that desktop campaigns could be the most efficient performers in this niche. Not to mention that high CTRs and low impressions are an ideal combination for improving your Quality Score in Google Ads.

charities search queries clicks and impressions for Q3 2020

If we combine this data for all devices, we get an overview of the key search metrics and clicks remain higher than queries and impression data for most of the year. This shows that searchers are likely to click on relevant ads, which suggest that anyone who’s looking to donate already has a strong intent to click through and complete the action.

There aren’t many industries that enjoy the same level of conviction when it comes to parting with money.

It’s crucial that you use this to your advantage and optimise the post-click experience to ensure your organisation wins the donation. You don’t want to be paying for clicks that don’t convert, especially when intent is this high. The click data for charities and charitable giving is highly promising but it can hurt you if you’re unable to turn paid clicks into conversions.

With an unpredictable winter approaching, charities and organisations need to decide whether they’re going to try and capitalise on the increased interest and (potential) reduced competition. If you’re looking at this report and thinking you missed out on a big opportunity during Q2 2020 when competition was so low, you probably don’t want to make the same mistake this winter.

With so many unknowns ahead for the remainder of this year, predicting trends is difficult and historical data can only tell you so much. To respond to opportunities, as they emerge, you need a constant stream of live data to understand what’s happening in real-time and adapt your strategies to respond faster than your rivals.

Want to capture this traffic before your competitors?

Then talk to us today. We have a highly-experienced team of SEO and PPC specialists who, with the help of our software Apollo Insights, will ensure you make the most of these search trend opportunities and capture as much of the opportunity as possible. Contact us on 02392 830281 or drop us your details and we’ll call you.

You can also visit our charity marketing page to read about our experience in the sector.

Marie Turner profile picture
Marie Turner

Marie has a varied marketing background, first starting out in advertising in 2008 at creative agency HSI London as a runner. After a gaining a degree in Broadcasting in 2013, she worked in the radio advertising industry managing Group M Content Solutions ad campaigns for Coca-cola, Universal Pictures, Paramount Pictures, Disney Retail UK, Unilever, Johnson & Johnson and more across the 8 national radio networks at Global Radio. She then sidestepped into SEO after finding her calling writing online content whilst working in radio and joined in 2017 as an SEO Executive. She then spent 3 years contributing to Amara’s highly successful organic channel managing the SEO Outreach and Inbound team, and part of the UK Search Awards’ nominated Best In-House Team 2 years running. She has spoken at Brighton SEO and often speaks at Tech SEO Women and other UK SEO and marketing conferences. She relocated to Hampshire from Essex in 2019 and now lives in Southampton with her boyfriend and cat, Percy. She loves running, drawing portraits, nature walks, live music and watching Star Trek. When she’s not doing SEO at work, she’s doing SEO on her food blog.

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