Marketing Insights From Search Funnels

As explained in my last article, search engines can tell you a lot about your customers. Specifically, I shared a few tools that enable marketers to identify buyer needs, emerging market trends, and competitive threats.

Today, I’ll cover another (free) tool that can help you understand your customers’ entire search process, and the best ways to capitalize on this data to improve marketing results.

Expand your keyword focus

One of the most common mistakes B2B search marketers make is researching only those keywords that are directly related to their company. A tremendous amount of time and energy goes into analyzing keywords associated with their brand, products and services.

Perhaps it is not intuitive to think beyond your own keywords. But, marketers should really be asking, “What else are my customers looking for, and how can I address their broader set of needs?”

Understanding the relationship between searches related to your company and all the other things your prospects look for – can provide some valuable marketing clues.

The search funnel

One of my favorite tools, the search funnel, is part of Microsoft AdCenter Labs. This type of tool shows what people searched for either immediately before (incoming) or after (outgoing) a specific query.

Here is what the Microsoft Search Funnel interface looks like:


Search funnel data

Let’s take a look at some search funnel data related to Verizon, a company regularly listed as one of the largest B2B advertisers.

By running a series of search funnel queries for outgoing searches, you can see that the most common search made immediate after a query for “verizon” is a search for “verizonwireless”. This makes sense. People start with the brand name, and then move to a search for the service.


Perhaps more insightful is the data for a search oerformed after “verizonwireless”. Amazingly, four out of five of the most popular next searches are for a competitive service. This type of data really verifies that prospects do indeed use search engines for product comparison purposes.

How can a marketer capitalize on this? Think about how to best meet peoples’ needs as they move through their search process. What about promoting a wireless service comparison chart in your PPC ads and on your landing page? This clearly seems to be what most Verizon wireless prospects are looking for. This type of marketing message anticipates prospects’ needs and will likely boost response and ultimately, conversion rate.

Another example

Let’s review some search funnel data for the popular small business accounting software, Quickbooks.


By looking at outgoing search data, you can see that people who search for “quickbooks” are also interested in these four things:

  1. Learning about the parent company (Intuit)
  2. Understanding the differences between various Intuit products (Quicken, QuickBooks, Quick Books Pro)
  3. Finding where to purchase the product (Staples, Office Depot, Office Max)
  4. Comparing Quickbooks to competitive software (Peachtree)

How could a marketer capitalize on this? My first thought is that the PPC ads and corresponding landing page for the keyword “quickbooks” should include items like: a table that allows people to quickly compare features and functions of various Intuit products, a competitive comparison chart, a retailer locator function, and a link to information on Intuit.

Capitalize on the search process

Searching is (usually) a process. This is especially true for B2B companies and firms with long, complex sales cycles.

Search funnel data can be used to anticipate needs, provide truly helpful information, and associate your brand with prospects’ needs as they move through the process.

Marketers must strive to learn more about how their customers search. In addition to keywords directly related to your company… what are your prospects looking for?

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: B2B Search Marketing Column | Channel: Search Marketing


About The Author: is president and founder of SmartSearch Marketing, a Boulder, Colorado-based search engine marketing agency. You can reach Patricia at The Strictly Business column appears Wednesdays at Search Engine Land.

Connect with the author via: Email | LinkedIn


Get all the top search stories emailed daily!  


Other ways to share:

Read before commenting! We welcome constructive comments and allow any that meet our common sense criteria. This means being respectful and polite to others. It means providing helpful information that contributes to a story or discussion. It means leaving links only that substantially add further to a discussion. Comments using foul language, being disrespectful to others or otherwise violating what we believe are common sense standards of discussion will be deleted. Comments may also be removed if they are posted from anonymous accounts. You can read more about our comments policy here.
  • Maggie@losasso

    Very Cool! This could be a very useful tool to get inside the thought processes of searchers


Get Our News, Everywhere!

Daily Email:

Follow Search Engine Land on Twitter @sengineland Like Search Engine Land on Facebook Follow Search Engine Land on Google+ Get the Search Engine Land Feed Connect with Search Engine Land on LinkedIn Check out our Tumblr! See us on Pinterest


Click to watch SMX conference video

Join us at one of our SMX or MarTech events:

United States


Australia & China

Learn more about: SMX | MarTech

Free Daily Search News Recap!

SearchCap is a once-per-day newsletter update - sign up below and get the news delivered to you!



Search Engine Land Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors

Get Your Copy
Read The Full SEO Guide