The Wingmen of Search Relationships

By Tara Nofziger, Account Strategist, Client Solutions

Keywords and human beings have more in common than some might think. For starters, they have serious relationships (whether messy and dramatic, or solid and transparent) with one another. Also similar to humans, each keyword has its own unique value and deserves to feel appreciated for the role they play within these relationships. This is not always an easy task with humans or with keywords, but doesn’t mean it’s any less important to try for. Now, before you go thinking that I’m trying to become the Dr. Phil of Search Marketing, let me explain a bit more into why I’m drawing this comparison.

When we look at the Traditional Search Funnel, it’s key to realize that users will typically begin searching on “Upper funnel” (e.g. online dating ) broad terms that are high volume and low converting. Users then gradually drill down to more specific terms as they are still in the consideration process; where they tend to complete the purchase cycle on specific “Brand” (e.g. terms that are low volume and higher converting. Knowing this, it’s important to recognize the role of each keyword in the path to conversion and give proper credit where credit is due. This means that the last click might not really deserve all the credit, considering users might have found your Brand in the first place through an upper funnel/general keyword.

In keeping with this keyword/human association (this instance is for all you sports fans), think of a General keyword as John Stockton and a Brand keyword as Karl Malone. John Stockton and Karl Malone are arguably one of the most successful tandems in NBA history, with Stockton leading the league all time in Assists and Malone delivering almost 37,000 career points. Chances are, without having played on the same team, neither Stockton nor Malone would have been as successful without attributing credit to each other. This same mentality reads true for Search.

Benefits of knowing which roles keywords play in the path to conversion include, providing valuable insight for optimizations, when defining which keywords perform and which do not , as well as helping make smarter assessments with budget allocation. More and more, Technologies are helping Search marketers better understand these relationships, shown through advances in tools such as the Search Funnel Report within Google Adwords, Exposure to Conversion Report within DoubleClick, Cross Visitation report within Omniture or the Path to Conversion report within Kenshoo. These reports are helpful as they break down different pathways, showing all the keywords that are clicked along the way, leading to a conversion.

Once these relationships are clearly understood, and the proper value is allocated to these “wingmen” (e.g. upper funnel, general keywords) marketers are better equipped to make more intelligent, data driven decisions. Again, similar to humans, if a keyword (e.g. boyfriend or girlfriend) isn’t pulling its weight and falls short of expectations, despite being optimized (e.g. working at it) then, perhaps it’s time to call it quits and remove it altogether (e.g. break-up). To the opposite effect, maybe the realization has finally set in that you’ve been overlooking that special keyword all along, and they could just be “the one.”


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