Using Web Analytics For Paid Search Research

You’ve now learned a lot about the keyword landscape of your advertiser. You know their goals for paid search marketing, what their expectations are from you and how to best proceed. You also have some of the logistics down such as timing, budget, an initial keyword list and who their competitors are. Last week, I dove into some of the keyword monitoring tools on the market and how they can help during the research phase. This week, I’ll focus on how an advertiser’s very own web analytics tool can help discover more intel that will help you with their paid search campaign.

In short, web analytics is the process of tracking of activity on a site. For example, some things that a web analytics platform will tell you are the number of visitors to your website last month or how many people went to a certain page. It can tell you how many people downloaded something from your site or how many people purchased through your shop ping cart. Although each platform is different, there are some common metrics, called Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), which virtually every web analytics solution will track. We will get into more web analytics later this year when I move into the reporting and optimizations phases of this course, but for now, just know that a site’s web analytics tool can provide a world of data for you.

One of the most popular analytics platforms is Google Analytics, a very powerful and free solution which is used to track and report on literally billions of web pages.

Here’s an example of the Google Analytics dashboard you see when you first sign in:

There’s a ton of information here for whatever date range you’d like to see, including metrics like visitors, referring websites, bounce rate (which is one page visits where the user “bounces” out without seeing another page), etc. Let’s take a look at the search traffic that drove users to the site.

As you can see, Google Analytics can detect the difference between paid and organic keywords. It’s important to look at both as paid terms will probably already be on your radar once the advertiser has granted you access to their current account, but organic keywords can be a great place to find keywords that may have been overlooked. If you find a keyword that is already driving a lot of users to the site but isn’t on the paid list, then you have potentially found a gem! Just know that you will test all keywords to make sure they are efficient and drive profitable traffic once the campaign starts.

Another great spot to look for keywords is in the site’s own internal search engine. I couldn’t find the stat, but I read a few years ago that only five percent of all internet searching is performed on a search engine such as Google or Yahoo (if someone can source that stat, please post!). That means ninety-five percent (i.e. virtually most searches) are done on internal site engines. That makes sense if you think that one or two Google searches may land you at eBay but then it may take ten or more searches on the site itself to find the product you really want to see.

Not every site has an internal search engine—and not every internal search engine is being tracked by a web analytics tool. However, if your advertiser has this feature available, the wealth of information to be gleaned is tremendous. You may find regional jargon that users have queried which you may not be clued into. For example, here in Chicago, the term “pop” is used for soft drinks. If you’re in California, you may not know that. Or, you may find some common misspellings for your core keyword list. Remember, misspellings could potentially be seen as completely different keywords than the correctly spelled term in the eyes of the engine—so be on the lookout.

For more information about the nature of visitors to a website, check the various geographic reports. It’s very important to understand where the website visitors are coming from because that may completely change how you build your keyword campaigns. For example, a website where half of the traffic is coming from South America may obviously require you to include many Spanish terms and ads. You may also need to recommend Spanish language landing pages to your advertiser. What if you’re seeing a lot of visitors from Europe or Asia? You may recommend to your advertiser to expand the paid search account to target the countries in those regions.

Finally, one last thing to check is the referring sites report. When a visitor enters a website, the browser passes the information of the user’s previous page to your web analytics tool. Thus, you know which websites your users are frequenting before coming to yours. You may see competitors showing up as users jump from site to site browsing products or comparing prices. This could be very useful to find competitors that you might not have uncovered in your initial research.

Here’s an example of a referring sites report:

Once the campaign launches, web analytics reports are going to be invaluable for you to better understand the quality of traffic that you are sending to the site. You will be able to track the behavior of the visitors and decide whether or not the traffic from individual keywords are helping to drive your advertiser’s goals or just wasting money. But more on that later on in this course.

This week’s question: “What are some other ways that web analytics can help during the Research Phase of PPC?”

PPC Academy is a comprehensive, one-year search advertising course from beginning to end. Starting with the basics, PPC Academy progressively explores all of the varied facets of paid search, and the tactics needed to succeed and become an advanced paid search marketer.

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

Related Topics: Channel: SEM | PPC Academy


About The Author: has been a search marketer since 2003 with a focus on SEM technology. As a media technologist fluent in the use of leading industry systems, Josh stays abreast of cutting edge digital marketing and measurement tools to maximize the effect of digital media on business goals. He has a deep passion to monitor the constantly evolving intersection between marketing and technology. You can follow him on Twitter at @mediatechguy.

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