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Using Web Analytics for PPC Optimization: Advanced Techniques

mackey-melissa
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OK. You now understand how to use some basic web analytics metrics to optimize your PPC campaigns. What's next?

Now it's time to take your PPC optimization to the next level with some more advanced analytics. By intelligently analyzing advanced web analytics data, you can glean new insight and optimize your PPC campaigns like never before.

Site Search

Site search is a gold mine for PPC data. It’s common for PPC managers to use site search data for search query mining. But site search data is also a rich source for:

  • Negative keywords. Are terms showing up in site search that aren’t relevant to your business? For example, are people searching for things you don't sell on your ecommerce site? These should definitely be added as negatives!
  • Landing page optimization. Site search is like a window into the psyche of your customer. It tells you exactly what they’re looking for. Really drill down into site search from PPC at the landing page level – it’ll show you where your visitors might be confused, and give you an idea of optimizations you need to make.
  • Possible product or service additions. In addition to adding negative keywords for products you don’t sell, site search is also a goldmine of customer research data. Your customers are actually telling you what they want to buy from you! If possible, consider adding some of those products to your line.

Remember, companies pay big bucks for “voice of customer” surveys to learn what their customers think and want. With site search, you get a lot of that data for free – so take advantage of it!

Multi-Channel Attribution

If you use Google Analytics and have multi-channel funnels set up, you’ll find another treasure trove of data. Multi-channel funnels show you how many online channels your customers utilize, and in what order, before making a purchase or completing a goal.

The data can be quite eye opening. You might find that some of your broad, awareness-focused keywords that look like they aren't converting really are contributing to the sale – they’re just not generating a last-click sale. However, you may not have ultimately gotten the sale if not for that initial touch.

For example, let’s say you’re a vacation rental owner. In the early stages of vacation rental shopping, people might start out by searching for really broad keywords like “summer travel ideas,” “beach vacation spots,” etc. These terms probably don’t generate a lot of bookings for your destination – but they do give people ideas and options to consider.

Later in the research process, people might search for “beach condo on Lake Michigan.” Now they’re getting closer. And finally, they may end up converting on “Paradise Condos Michigan” – your brand.

If you’re just looking at conversion data in the PPC engines, broad keywords like “beach vacation spots” probably generate lots of clicks and few conversions; and your brand terms generate tons of conversions at a low cost.

You might be tempted to pause your broad keywords in favor of branded terms. This would be a mistake. You could be eliminating consideration terms that are contributing to conversions later on – they just aren't converting on that initial visit.

Here’s an example of actual client data:

multi-channel-attribution-example

The two campaigns with arrows next to them have a significant number of assisted conversions – more than twice as many assists as last-interaction conversions! If you were to pause these campaigns, you’d be missing out on sales.

Advanced Google Analytics Segments

One of the reasons I love Google Analytics, in addition to the fact that it’s free, is its user-friendliness. Google Analytics users can create advanced segments to slice and dice PPC data like never before, without requiring any technical assistance.

If you’ve used smart naming conventions for your PPC campaigns, you can get a bounty of detailed analytics data on your campaigns by using advanced segments. Let’s look at an example.

Let’s say you’re an international advertiser, and you’ve created distinct campaigns for each country or region, like this:

campaign-structure-international-advertiser

In this example, the naming convention is Continent -> Country -> Language -> Brand/Generic -> Search/Display.

Let’s say that your EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa) campaigns aren't performing as well as they should be, and you’re not sure why. Instead of running a bunch of PPC reports and Google Analytics reports and mashing them up, you can just create an advanced Google Analytics segment:

advanced-google-analytics-segment

This segment will show you all EMEA campaigns with “transactions less than 1,” or in other words, no sales. Then, you can review all of your key analytics measures to see why the non-converting campaigns are under-performing.

What are some ways you use analytics data for PPC? Share in the comments!


SimilarWeb Search and traffic sourcing are both crucial to luring shoppers to your website. In this article, "2 Successful Holiday Strategies for Online Retail", you'll learn how to use a two-pronged approach for your holiday search campaigns that combine top keywords with the best referral sites. Data in this article comes from SimilarWeb.

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