Search Click Path Data Analysis and PPC Marketing

We often talk to people who approach Goldladder after experiencing a drop-off in clicks and/or conversions from highly targeted keywords. Further questioning reveals that at some point previously, a decision had been made to axe ”all keywords that had not been producing conversions”. If the point of tracking in PPC is to channel your money only into areas that produce sales, this can come as a shock, and advertisers rightly want to know what is happening.

The answer is that a conversion consists of more than just one click. A failure of PPC reporting is that traditionally, only the last contributing keyword and click is associated with the conversion, producing a narrow view of pre-sale visitor search behaviour. An example is this:

“annuities consultant exeter” is a keyword regularly winning business, ahead of other keywords like “pension types”, “pension services”, “annuities advice”, “Pension devon” etc. This much is expected.

But when these non-producing keywords are removed from the campaign, conversions tail off significantly. Why?

It’s all to do with the searcher’s decision making process. In this case, a large segment of searchers begun their journey with the costly, generic terms such as “pension services”. There is then a redefinition of search terms as the user whittles down the options with product types (Pension > Annuity), locality (Devon > Exeter) and services (advice > consultant). This all happens on thier way to the “goal” keyword of “annuities consultant exeter”.

In this approach, some of the generic, early terms are clicked on, and in other cases, ads are read, producing a mixed view of impressions and clicks but no directly attributable conversions values. However, at all times the searcher is consistently exposed to the brand and offering, an is also educated to make the final targeted searches often by seeing material generated by the client’s various ads and landing pages.

Once the searcher has arrived at the goal keyword, confidence in the product and and brand are high, and a conversion is ready to occur.

So how can these elusive search paths be identified and optimised to produce better results? The answer is to ensure your analytics package does at least three things:

1. Identify at least the last 5 clicks prior to a conversion

2. Ensure conversions are attributed to all clicks in the path, on a percentage of value basis

3. All cookies should have at least a 30 days tracking period.

Goldladder can help further with implementation of this, so do not hesitate to contact us for further info.

By the way, if the term Click Path Data Analysis sounds familier, it’s because it’s often used in the context of ‘on-site’ analytics, whereby you try to discover the pages people use within the website to acheive a goal. Search Click Data Analysis is a mostly external view from the search engines concerning keywords, and is very relevant to how shoppers use the internet today. It’s a big ask to think that within the first click onto your site, users will settle down and base thier entire shopping decision on just the info you present them, ignoring the 236 other results Google has standing by with one click of the back button.

While some users may take this route, basing your analytics policies on just the on-site experince can be dangerous. Its a bit like a high street shop only opening it’s back door to shoppers who arrive via the multi-story car park, and ignoring anyone who has wandered up the high street to see what else is on offer first! A good reason why Search Click Data Analysis can be so important in addition to the PPC costs element.

Happy hunting!

By | 2016-12-19T15:34:39+00:00 July 27th, 2009|Search Engine Marketing | Goldladder Blog|3 Comments

About the Author:

Matt is a Goldladder co-founder and Director, and is not afraid to get his hands dirty on any project! With a technical background and healthy dislike of marketing in general, Matt looks towards data and conversions in a project rather than jumping on the latest bandwagon. He is Exeter based, often in London, and enjoys visiting the sharp end and exploring how the online world translates into real business for his clients. Matt has Google and Microsoft accreditations, enjoys Basecamp’s project management approach, and refuses to believe anything is real until it can be tracked in Google Analytics.


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  3. Rob Jackson July 28, 2009 at 11:19 am

    Good article – I was just blogging on the very same subject myself yesterday!

    I’d be keen to hear which tools you guys use.

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