Google AdWords Search Funnels: how they can help your paid search campaigns

Hi I’m Andy, currently on an internship at Leapfrogg but due to join full time. I haven’t got a profile quite yet but that hasn’t stopped me contributing to the blog with a look at one of Google’s latest releases, Adwords Search Funnels…

Google is on fire at the moment. Not only have they recently added exciting new features aimed at improving the quality and relevancy of their search results, such as social search and personalised search, they are now launching a new reporting feature in their paid search advertising platform AdWords, called AdWords Search Funnels.

What are AdWords Search Funnels?

AdWords Search Funnels are a set of reports which show all of the keywords and impressions in Google that assisted in leading up to a conversion (such as a purchase). Up until now, Google could only show the last keyword before a conversion action.

How do they work?

When someone clicks on your ad in Google, a funnel is created. The funnel data will then track any Google AdWords paid search activity for 30 days thereafter in relation to your ad, from impressions, keywords and clicks. If the user clicks on one of your ads again and then converts within this 30 day time period, a search funnel report is created.

The search funnels consist of a number of useful reports, including a Top Conversions report, Assisted Conversions, First and Last Click Analysis, Time Lag (the average number of clicks and impressions prior to conversion) and Path Length (the amount of time it takes a customer to convert after seeing or clicking on your ad for the first time).

How useful are they?

Search Funnel Reports will provide a clearer picture of the performance and true value of your paid search campaigns, ad groups and keywords.

During the shopping cycle, people tend to perform multiple searches before making a purchase. For example, let’s imagine someone runs a search on a generic term such as ‘mobile phones’ and clicks on your ad (a funnel is created). It is highly unlikely they will convert first time round, so they go away and research other sites.

After spending some time researching mobile phones, they run a new refined search a few days later on the term ‘iphone.’ They end up back on your site by clicking on your ad and eventually make the purchase.

The search funnel report is now created (as long as your ad is showing against the term ‘iphone’) and will show that the term ‘mobile phone’ assisted in the conversion.

This kind of reporting provides great insight into the behaviour of your consumers and can really help you to make more informed decisions on your campaigns, ad groups and keywords.


It is important to note that the tool will only report on keywords that your ads are showing against, as a result there could be potential hidden keywords that would convert for you which are not selected in your campaign.

Another consideration is that the reports only relate to Paid Search ads in Google therefore no natural search activity is tracked in the funnel. Finally, the search history tracks a maximum of 30 days – meaning any buying cycles (from first click to conversion) which take longer than 30 days will not be included in the reports.

How can I set it up?

As this feature is only available in your AdWords account, you must have either AdWords conversion tracking set up or import your goals/transactions from Adwords from your Google Analytics account for it to work.

This exciting new feature is gradually being rolled out into Adwords accounts over the next few weeks, so make sure you keep an eye out for it. Until then…

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