Welcome to Josh Baker's Practical Advice for Optimizing Your Internet Marketing blog. Here you will find internet marketing optimization and online strategy articles full of tips, tricks, discussions, and thoughts to help you take your marketing and business to the next level of success.

The Value of Upper Funnel Keywords in PPC


Upper Funnel Keywords in paid search (or even in organic search by definition) are those keywords that do not bring in visitors that convert in a traditional sense into an immediate purchase or lead, but rather are the keywords that convert the potential customer to the next stage of the “interest cycle”. These Upper Funnel Keywords typically bring potential customers or leads into your website that have not made up their mind to make a purchase (or fill out a form or take a trial) because they are still in their “considering their options stage” of decision making and are possibly not yet familiar with you or in some instances not familiar enough with you to complete a conversion during that visit.

You are going on vacation to a cold climate (let’s say the North Pole). You know you need to buy something to keep yourself warm, but you’re not sure exactly what options are out there because you live in a year round warm climate. So you do a search on the keyword phrase extreme cold weather coats. You end up at a website by clicking on a paid search ad that appeared when you typed in the phrase and notice that they have a section for cold climate coats and even list the temperatures they can withstand.  You think to yourself, wow this is great, now I have a better idea of what’s available and I kind of like Brand X Model 4567, but I am not going on the vacation for another 4 months so I am not going to purchase anything today because I don’t have the extra money. Forty-five days later you win $200 on a scratch-off ticket that you found and decide that you are ready to purchase a coat with your extra money, you do a search on Brand X Model 4567 since you knew the exact coat you wanted to buy now and end up back on the same website as before and purchase the coat.

The difficulty in measuring the value of these Upper Funnel Keywords is that they don’t produce single visit conversions -you can’t see the whole picture of entrance to conversion in your analytics data in a linear fashion.

For instance, a single visit conversion would show start to finish in one visit from entering your site to making the purchase. Here you easily have the whole picture from the PPC keyword that triggered the ad that they clicked on to enter your website and their entire path to the purchase.

With Upper Funnel Keywords, a typical scenario would be that the visitor arrives at your site from these keywords or phrases,  looks around, leaves, comes back another time reads more information, exits your site again, then finally comes back a 3rd time and makes a purchase.

Most only know how to measure the keywords that produce single visit conversions and thus deem these Upper Funnel Keywords more or less valueless because their value isn’t easily seen in a typically known fashion. The ROI isn’t easily visible.

In the example given earlier, the keyword phrase you searched on first, extreme cold weather coats, was the Upper Funnel Keyword phrase. You didn’t purchase during that visit of your initial search, but you did eventually go back and purchase based on the information you learned during that first visit. Had another website come up with a different but possibly similar featured coat that you liked, you would have purchased from there and a different coat. So there was definite value in that first search as it gave you the information you needed to make a decision, but you just didn’t purchase then. Now imagine if you were only looking at single session conversions, you would only be able to confirm that Brand X Model 4567 was a valuable keyword because a sale was associated with it. But in reality, without having a presence in paid search for extreme cold weather coats a sale wouldn’t have been made – thus showing the importance of being able to look at multi-session conversions to contribute back value (and ROI) to the Upper Funnel Keywords.

Avinash Kaushik on his Occam’s Razor blog this week made a powerful and very instructionally clear post on how to measure the success of Upper Funnel Keywords and I suggest you read his post for the details on how to do so.


Leave a Comment