From Keyword to Products Sold: Use Your Data to Gain PPC Optimization Insights

Let’s be honest with ourselves and agree that in paid search we are driven by keywords. It seems obvious, but think about it.

If there is a new product launch, what is the first thing you do in paid search? Keyword research. If there is sale or promotion, what is the first thing you do to ensure that it is supported? Keyword research.

Now, some of you may argue this, but the whole medium is based on the intent driven by a keyword.

The question I’d like to raise here is what is the downstream impact of the keywords you select? If you run out of inventory for a specific product, do you pause the keywords that relate to that product, or do you try to understand what keywords actually sell the product you are out of?

To better understand this, I took data from various clients to understand how often the keyword searched was a part of the actual product bought.

For example, if a consumer searched for “pen”, did the product they ended up buying contain the word “pen.” This certainly isn’t a perfect science, but it does help understand how frequently a consumer knows exactly what they are looking for and buys it.

The findings of this data were interesting. Overall:

  • Slightly more people know and buy exactly what they are looking for via paid search. This is mostly likely due to a consumer knowing what they want and clicking on the top listings vs. reading down further in the page to “find” it.
  • Google actually had the lowest percentage of matches at less than 3 percent. My theory on this has to do with the sophistication of Google’s matching algorithm versus other engines. I believe the complexity here is what is driving this down compared to other engines by 1 or 2 full points.
  • Yahoo has the highest overlap, and is the only engine where SEO has a higher match percentage than paid search. This one is confusing to me. Seeing the search results page and the paid listings having such prominence I would have thought the opposite. This is why data is king. It helps battle against a hypothesis.


So what? What does this mean for my campaigns?

Here are some thoughts to leave you with when you optimize your campaigns:

  • Understanding this relationship overall, and even at a category/subcategory level, can be helpful when thinking about pausing or activating sets of keywords
  • Use this data to find out what things consumers are buying with various keyword sets. If, for example, you find that a large number of people buy smartphones after searching for the keyword “digital camera”, you might have a cross-sell or optimization opportunity. The same can be said when you’re out of stock where you might redirect someone
  • Consider the variances in your data set by search engine. This is true for more things than the keyword to product purchased relationship. It can include bids, ad copy, landing page, and other performance metrics.

Leveraging data is one of the reasons why we all love paid search. Finding new and interesting ways to cut that data up to identify optimization worthy insights is what will ultimately set apart the best performing campaigns.

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