Google Adwords Search Funnels Reporting, put speculation to rest

Last month Google released their long anticipated mixed campaign attribution reporting.  The reporting functionality goes by several names depending who you’re talking to (or which search engine), but the Adwords team dubbed the new reporting “Search Funnels“.  What’s great about this increased transparency?  For one, it puts the speculation to rest about the value of those dog campaigns you keep around for branding purposes.  Guess what?  All those campaigns with zero conversions actually do contribute to assisting other campaigns, and now you can prove it!

Here’s a quick YouTube video the Google Adwords team put out to describe the new reporting:

Testing several combinations of “helper” campaigns can often substantiate hypotheses about the existence of assisted clicks and assisted impressions, but until now there really wasn’t a way to easily substantiate user behavior in a “Search Funnel” beyond more than one helper.  Thankfully, Google’s finally caught up to Microsoft and Yahoo in offering search funnels, and the results are somewhat soothing.

In many of my managed Adwords accounts, I now see what was plainly obvious but tough to prove:

  • Visitors start searching using very broad, generic terms. Takeaway: make landing pages friendly to the first time user, answer more questions and don’t shout for conversions.
  • Visitors may repeat their queries numerous times to find the same ad/business.  Takeaway: prompt visitors to bookmark or share your initial landing pages.
  • Visitors often refine their search queries to long tail keywords and convert on those campaigns. Takeaway: make sure you are advertising on long tail keywords, and make sure those landing pages promote conversion over research/learning.
  • Branding campaigns are not useless.  Visitors will often research, refine, decide, but then only recall your business or product name.  Takeaway: you won’t pay much for branding keywords, but they can make a huge difference in your visibility in the SERPs.  Make sure your business or products dominate the SERP for both organic and paid placements.

Although some have criticized search funnel reporting for not going into greater depth, it is a good first step in Google providing additional value to online marketers.  I’m not going to look a gift horse in the mouth, but do hope they take development of reporting features a little farther, and integrate search funnels into Google Analytics.  Blue sky?  How about interplay between paid and organic?  Pretty please?


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