Understanding Search Funnels: Gaining a Leg Up on the Competition

I am often asked, “What is one tool that is overlooked even by paid search pros?” Typically, Google’s Search Funnel is near the top of the list of items that come to mind.

Google provides advertisers with gobs and gobs of insights that can be deciphered, analyzed, optimized and leave you drunk on data. Google is continually creating new tools, segments, filters and features. Large advertisers are testing new betas that give them unfair advantages in click-thru rates and conversions.

How do you compete against the experts? Start by understanding your Search Funnel reports, and you will immediately gain insights that your competitors are likely overlooking within their own accounts.

Why Search Funnel Reports Exist
AdWords assigns conversions to the last ad clicked; however, this last-click attribution can mislead your decision-making process. If you haven’t had a chance to invest in attribution modeling, you need to turn to the Search Funnel reports.

A Few Questions Search Funnels Can Answer

  1. What happened before the conversion took place?
  2. Did the searcher see your ad multiple times?
  3. Did the searcher click on multiple ads before converting?
  4. How much time lapsed between the first ad seen and the conversion?

In short, Search Funnel reports help you understand how your keywords and campaigns work together to lead up to conversions.  Understanding conversion paths or the sequence that took place before a conversion can be even more important than just understanding which keyword converted.

You can find Search Funnel reports using the following path: Tools & Analysis  >> Conversions, Search Funnels are in the left-hand navigation.

 Showing the Power of Search Funnels

Search Funnel analysis can get complicated quickly, but in an effort to show the power of this tool, I’ve provided a simple example.

Using the Time Lag Report, I can quickly see that 83 percent of the conversions come within one day of clicking an ad.

Then I can pull the Path Length report for another quick insight.

From this report I can see that 76 percent of conversions happened on the first click, but 23.79 percent on sequential ad clicks. Now the fun begins. I know the bulk of my conversions happen on the first day the ad is clicked, but 24 percent need to click on more than one ad before converting.  As a savvy search marketer, I can deduce that I need to run two tests:

Test #1:

Ad Delivery Method — Standard vs. Accelerated: Testing delivery method may increase the number of searchers who see my ads more than once in the first day. This could then increase conversions, because I know the bulk users are deciding that day to convert.

Test #2:

Re-marketing for Search Ads: This test will allow me to alter my keyword bids on people who have already clicked on my ads but didn’t convert.  This would allow me to bid more aggressively, knowing that almost 24 percent of my conversions need to visit the website more than once before converting.

Keep in mind: This is just a simple example of the data and insights from the Search Funnel reports that can give you a leg up on the competition.

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Dave Werner
Dave Werner