Online Marketing Blog

Before You Start a PPC Campaign, Use Your Own Data!

One of the most critical parts of setting up and managing a PPC campaign is of course keyword research. This topic has been beaten to death countless times and everyone has their own methods and tools for researching keywords. What I want to discuss here is an often overlooked yet essential keyword research tool… your own analytics goal tracking data. Google provides us with a very valuable yet under-utilized free tool, Google Analytics. Google Analytics can be used for much more than simply seeing who links to you and how many visitors you get, it can also be used to create valuable keyword lists.

There is a lot to be said, both good and bad for the various keyword research tools but there is no better data than your own (organic) conversion data. Remember Google Analytics? You set it up on your site many moons ago when you were writing your first “welcome to our website” page? Did you remember to set up your goals? If you never set up goals, go do it now. Goal tracking is exactly what it says on the tin. It could be a sale, a form submit, a request for more information, an ad click or a new RSS subscription. When you define your goal, analytics lets you track that goal like a just like a PPC conversion but for all traffic, not just PPC traffic. I’ll briefly run through a quick goal setup below. There is usually a lot more to it (e-commerce value tracking) but for the sake of this post, I’ll keep it simple.

1) Set Up Your Goal.
Set your goal name and the page defined as a conversion for you. Think of the page you are going to install your Google Ads conversion tracking code on. The beauty here is that you don’t even need to add any additional code onto your goal page. It’s already there (assuming you have Google Analytics code on all pages of your site).

Goal Setup 1

2) Set Up Your Sales Funnel.
The next part is optional but highly recommended for analyzing your visitor behavior throughout you conversion path. You basically only add the pages a visitor must go through to complete a conversion. On an e-commerce site, that is usually the shopping cart pages. It’s as simple as copying and pasting the URLs from your address bar.

Goal Setup 2

3) Locate Your Organic Keyword Data.
When your goal has been setup and you have left it enough time for analytics to collect the data, you can now go and “mine” your exclusive keyword list for the top keywords. Log into Google Analytics and go to the “keywords” submenu under the “Traffic Sources” parent menu item.

Goal Setup 3

4) Find The Best Keywords To Target.
Now you will be presented with a list of all the keywords (both long and short tail) that visitors typed in to find your site. What we need to do now is find the keywords that we know actually convert. Google has made this very easy for us. Above the list of keywords, there is a “Goal Conversion” tab. Simply click on that and you can sort through all your keywords that resulted in a sale, signup or whatever you defined as a conversion when setting up your goals.

Goal Setup 4

5) Mine The Gold.
On the Goal Conversion tab you can organize your keywords by their conversion rate. See where I’m going with this? View 500 keywords per page using the drop down box below the keyword list and arrange your keywords by goal conversion rate. Now it’s a simple matter of copying all your converting keywords (that you can see clearly convert) and pasting them into your own preferred keyword editing tool or a spreadsheet.

Goal Setup 5

6) A Final Check.
When you have all the keywords modified and pasted into Google Ads, use the duplicate keyword finder tool in Google Ads Editor to make sure the keywords are not in any of your other campaigns, assuming that you already couldn’t stand the temptation and created your campaigns first.

Goal Setup 6

There you have it. A rock solid keyword list that your data shows converts. You even get to see accurate volume information on them (unfortunately not actual searches per month and the likes). Why start off with a list of keywords from costly keyword tools when you already have the best keyword tool right under your nose for free?

It should be noted that I have simplified the process a little above and you should be aware that organic and PPC traffic does not always convert the same. Just bear that in mind. Also, it might be worth pointing out that a lot of the keywords that you copy from your analytics, you will be ranking organically for pretty highly already.

So what are you waiting for? If you have not set up goal tracking in your analytics package, go do it now. If you are looking for the best possible keyword list to kick start your PPC campaign use your own data. You can then expand on your list as you grow your campaign.

*** Hat tip to Mr Gary Lee for the inspiration for this post.

  1. Gary Lee Says:
    November 15th, 2007 at 7:40 pm

    there’s no way i’m gonna say you wasted an hour on this . . great great post! I should have IM’d you before I wrote my post!

  2. Dave Davis Says:
    November 15th, 2007 at 7:47 pm

    Hahaha, thanks Gary. Seriously, it’s lacking a little bit of detail but it was something I wanted to explore for a long time. many people just don’t do this. While the majority of the “100% converting” keywords will be the long tail phrases you already rank #1 for, the smaller % converting keywords with the volume are the ones to look out for.

  3. list building Says:
    November 22nd, 2007 at 2:58 am

    Wow..this post shared some pretty awesome information that can save us all alot of money on adwords!

    I never thought of using the keywords that you gathered from your conversion data and specifically including those keywords in your adwords campaigns.

    This is awesome info, and I plan on sending all of my subscribers to this blog post.

    Thanks again!

  4. alex Says:
    December 22nd, 2007 at 1:42 am

    great post we usually use ppc info for seo but will now be more aggressive with our total analytical data

  5. Dave Davis Says:
    January 27th, 2008 at 12:53 pm

    Thanks Alex and thanks for stopping by.

  6. Travis Liu Says:
    June 3rd, 2008 at 4:40 pm

    As you know competition for keyword are fierce depending on the keyword that you are bidding on for your ad to be display. If this is the case, instead of using “Search” network, use “Content” network to display your ad. You might be able to bid less for “Content” network, however this is not so targeted but you get more exposre.

  7. NIgel Says:
    October 25th, 2008 at 6:44 pm

    Thank you for a useful post.

    Is there an easy way to see whether your goal conversions came from organic or ppc, and to track this over time? I only have one conversion goal, and no sales funnel, so it so it should be easy but I can’t get to it..

    Any help would really be appreciated,

  8. Mayank Gupta Says:
    March 26th, 2009 at 8:05 pm

    Nice Post.

    I Sell Furniture of different brands and the trend keeps changing, in this case it really difficult for me to revise the PPC Campaign. Search Trend seems to changing every month.

    Do I have to manually change the PPC Campaign.


  9. SEO Says:
    September 17th, 2009 at 3:48 am

    Is there an easy way to see whether your goal conversions came from organic or ppc, and to track this over time? I only have one conversion goal, and no sales funnel, so it so it should be easy but I can’t get to it..