Using AdWords Search Funnels For Keyword Success

Google recently introduced a new reporting feature in AdWords called Search Funnels. This new reporting allows advertisers to see the sequence of keywords a user used before they completed a conversion. There are a lot more bells and whistles than that for advanced users, but in this post we’re just going to focus on the high-value basics to get you started.

To access this new report, follow these steps:

  1. Log in to your AdWords account.
  2. Click on the “Reporting” tab
  3. Select the option “Conversions”
  4. On the left side of the screen, you should see a link titled “Search Funnels.” Click on it.

You should be on a screen that looks vaguely similar to your Google Analytics interface. There are a lot of options here, but I want to look at the two most useful ones: Path Length and Top Keyword Paths.

Path Length

Many users type in multiple search queries before they finally convert. This report will show you just how many of these users visit your site. To view this report, select the “Path Length” link from the left-side navigation menu in the Search Funnels screen:

Path Length on Menu

This graph will give you a breakdown of how many clicks users made on your ads before they converted. Results will vary by advertiser, but chances are that you will see the majority of your customers performed one click, a smaller percentage did two, an even smaller percentage made three, and so on and so forth further down the line. This may give you insight into how to make your AdWords costs more efficient. If you have an abnormally larger percentage of users performing multiple clicks, you may want to find a way to make your ads more targeted (i.e. state clearly your products are for business customers instead of consumers), or more closely align the message on your landing page to the one in your ad. If your customers aren’t finding what they are looking for on their first click, they’re probably going to do a different search and try again. If you meet that more specific need on the next click, you get yourself a customer, if not, you lost your opportunity on the first click. This Path Length report can help you diagnose this issue and take steps to solve problems with your account.

Keyword Paths

Now that you know which percentage of customers are using multiple keywords, let’s take a look at how to discover what those different keywords are. There are a few ways to access this data in the Search Funnels report, but for now let’s focus on top keyword paths. Select the “Top Paths” link from the nav menu:

Top Paths on Menu

Next, we need to filter this report down so that we’re looking at keyword paths only. Below the graph, look for some drop-down fields. We’re going to select “2 or more paths” from the “Path Length” drop-down and “Keyword Path (clicks)” from the “Dimensions” drop-down:

Keyword Path Selections

Now, you should see how user’s search queries changed (or didn’t change) as they refined their searches before the conversion. If you don’t see a lot of queries, try increasing your date range of the report. Chances are, you’ll see a lot of duplicates as a user searched the first time, mulled their purchase over, then returned with the same search query later. But, you’ll also see a few where a user started with a broad query (i.e. “computer training”) and then refined it after some initial research and consideration (i.e. “A+ certification classes”).

So how can you use this information? This report can give you insight on keywords that you thought weren’t working, but are actually helping other keywords convert. This is known in the industry as an “assist,” and so far, Yahoo has been the only search engine that actively reports it as a metric. These keywords may seem like they’re not working, but they’re actually pretty valuable. While you may not see these keywords getting conversions, they’re actually capturing customers early on in the buying process, introducing them to your company, and priming them to complete a conversion on a later search. Before you start pausing keywords in your account, double check your keyword path reports to make sure they are not assisting other keywords and adding unseen value to your account.

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+.
This entry was posted in Analytics, Google AdWords, Keywords, Yahoo Search Marketing and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.