Making Search Funnel Reports Actionable

I’ve been messing around with the new Search Funnel Reports in AdWords trying to figure out how to use the data that it provides. Here are a few conclusions that I’ve come to that I think are actionable.

Path Analysis
Under Top Paths in the left hand column, drill down to “keyword path (clicks)” under the dimension drop-down box. This will show you the keywords that people used to click on your ads and how many times that happened before a conversion. Different paths can mean different user behavior which can give you clues on things to change on your landing pages or site. For example:
1. Head Keyword to Tail keyword Paths: Are visitors able to easily find what they are looking for on the site? Maybe improve site browsing and site search would keep them from going back to Google to refine their search.
2. Tail Keyword to Head Keyword Paths: May mean merchandising problems. If you don’t have very much specific product for the keyword, include more general product on the landing page too.
3. Same Term Multiple Times Path: Maybe they are comparing you against other retailers with the same product. Urgency in the offers may help close the sale sooner.
4. Unrelated Terms Path: Is there enough cross selling on the site? – you like Nike shoes, you might also like Nike shirts.

So with these ideas in mind take the top 500 rows of Top Paths and export it into Excel. This is where the manual part starts. What I do is build out the spreadsheet so I have a column for each one of the example paths above, then I look at the path and put a number one in the column that matchs the kind of path (see the image below). Once you go through this and add up the amount of conversions each path has you can get an idea of where the PPC landing pages are strong or weak.

Assisted Conversions
If you want to go out on a limb and try some broader keywords, the search funnel report will help you see if those keywords are helping to get more people started in the conversion funnel. Keywords can be either introducers, influencers or closers. Instead of only giving credit to the last click closing keywords, you can give some credit to the broader introducer and influencer keywords that educated and lead the user to the sale, which is worth something. Using the Assisted Conversion report in AdWords can also help define which keywords fall into the three categories. Keywords that do a lot of assisting should be given credit by building an assisted conversion metric into the CPA calculation like below. The tricky part is deciding how much credit to give those assisting keywords. In my example I gave 30%.

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