AdWords Search Funnel Reporting – Part 1: Overview

I’m a huge fan of conversion reporting – it’s an essential aspect of PPC marketing. If you don’t have conversion tracking set up in your account, you will have no idea where your ad dollars are going. But even if you set up basic conversion tracking, you may still be in the dark about how your customers really behave. Fortunately, Google has some advanced conversion reporting in AdWords that is seriously under-utilized by PPC managers. In this four-part blog series, I’m going to go over the Search Funnels conversion reporting, and how they can be used to optimize PPC performance. Here are the parts:

Part 1: Overview
Part 2: Assists
Part 3: First/Last Click Analysis
Part 4: Paths

Now, let’s get started by showing you how to access these reports. First, go to your “Tools and Analysis” tab and select “Conversions”:

Search Funnels - Step 1

If you have multiple conversion events set up, then you’ll see stats for them on this page. But that’s not what we’re looking for right now. Look for a link titled “Search Funnels” on the left navigation bar and click it:

Search Funnels - Step 2

This will take you to a page with a lot of useful search funnel conversion reports:

Search Funnels - Step 3

In this post, we’ll go over the Overview and Top Conversions reports. The rest of the reports will be covered in following weeks.


This report will give you a general overview of your total conversions, and how they fit into your search funnel metrics. You’ll get a nice chart to illustrate daily trends, a few important metrics to look at (total conversions, days to conversion, ad clicks per conversion, and ad impressions per conversion) and a breakdown of conversions by type.

Like most other reports in AdWords, you can change your stats on the chart, compare two metrics on your chart, or change the data range. But don’t forget some of the other options in the upper right corner:

Search Funnel Overview Options

The “All Conversions” drop-down allows you to filter down to individual conversion events if you have multiple custom conversions set up. For example, if you have two conversion events (a purchase and a newsletter signup conversion) set up, then you can look at only one of those conversions on the report. Very helpful if you’re trying to get stats for only one type of goal.

On the “History Window” option, you can choose to look at 30, 60, or 90 day paths. This could be helpful if your lag time between initial visit and complete conversion is longer than usual. This is common with a lot of industries with a high price tag or a long decision process.

The last option is “Complete Paths.” Selecting this checkbox will filter out conversions from paths affected by a user’s cookie deletion. You might see fewer conversions, but you’ll see more accurate conversion paths.

Top Conversions

This report has much of the same information as the Overview, but there are a few more options to help you analyze each individual conversion event. Notice that there’s a new button at the top right of your chart:

Top Conversions chart button

The left side of the button toggles regular chart display. The right half takes you to an interesting visualization. You can play animations that display your total conversion or total conversion value over time. You can display it by moving dots:

Top Conversions - Dot Graph

Or as a bar graph:

Top Conversions Report - Bar Graph

Press the “play” button below the graph to start the visualization.

This report depends entirely on the multiple conversion events you customize, so it’s hard to give specific advice. Each conversion setup is going to have a different use for it, so play around with the report to see what makes sense for you.

That’s it for this week. Stay tuned next week, when we’ll cover assist reports.

About Shawn Livengood

Shawn Livengood is a search engine marketing professional based in Austin, Texas. He has extensive experience managing pay-per-click ad campaigns for clients in various industries, from small home-based businesses to large international companies. You can connect with Shawn on Google+.
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