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From Analytics to Action Part II: Insights from Search

Insights from Search

In Part I of our Analytics to Action series, Building a Data-Driven Organization, we touched on the meaning of the popular term and manner of thinking required to find success.

For the remainder of the Analytics to Action series, we’ll be diving deeper into specific customer interactions that you can use to gain insights into your customers’ goals, fears, and pain points. You can collect information at all stages of a customer’s life cycle, from the very first touch point to a complaint from a long-time customer.

At the earliest stages of customer interaction, search data can provide incredibly valuable insight into how your customers think and talk about your product. Here are three tools that can help you and how:

Google Analytics

Google Analytics, one of the most popular free analytics tools, can provide fantastic insight into customer journeys (if you use a paid service such as Omniture, you can find the same information therein).

With respect to search, Analytics can tell you which keywords people searched for and how those searched led them to your website. To find this data, head to traffic sources, open up the sub-menu for search, and then click organic search.

Here’s an example of a keyword report from our own website:

As you can see, (not provided) is our top referring keyword. If you weren’t aware, Google does not display keyword data for users logged in to a Gmail or another Google account.

It’s easy to be frustrated by this glaring hole in your data, but all is not lost. You can assume that the available search data is a representative sample, as there’s no reason to believe that users signed in to a Google account behave differently than people who aren’t.

A customer’s search journey has obvious implications for SEO, but this data can also inform many other aspects of your marketing strategy. High-referring keywords may surprise you, and should inspire you to adjust the way you create content, email marketing, and even sales pitches.

For example, ‘what is retargeting’ is one of the most common search queries driving traffic to our site.  We’ve used that knowledge to inspire blog posts, a dedicated page on our site, and various iterations of sales and marketing emails with some variation of ‘what is retargeting’ featuring prominently in the subject line.

AdWords Keyword Tool

If you use Google AdWords for paid search, you can leverage insights from the AdWords Keyword Tool not only to improve AdWords performance, but to get insight into your consumers’ intent.  To find this tool, head to campaign view while in your Adwords account, click the keyword tab, then keyword details, then select all.

The Keyword tool can be used to determine the precise keywords people used that led them to view your ads, which if particularly enlightening if you use broad match keywords (i.e. your ads will appear regardless of the specific search query so long as the keyword is included in the query). The Keyword Tool can tell you which search terms have the highest volume and which have the highest conversion rates.

Here’s what ours looks like: 

This tool provides significantly more data than the Google Analytics dashboard, and can help you discover all the myriad ways customers think and talk about your product or about your space. These insights can help you better align both ad copy and SEO copy with the language most often used to search for your product. But in addition to the benefits for SEO and SEM, that knowledge can help inform the way you talk about your product in all forms of outbound communication.

The New Google Trends

Even if you don’t use AdWords, you can still derive insights from search data. Google does have free keyword research tools accessible to anyone.

Two of Google’s most useful free tools, Google Trends and Google Insights for Search, have recently been merged into one super tool: the new Google Trends.

Previously, Google Insights for Search allowed you to measure and compare the popularity of different search terms both over time and across regions, while Google Trends allowed you to measure trends in search. The new Google Trends incorporates features from both tools, and is, frankly, really fun to play with.

Setting aside endless possibilities for amusement, here’s an example of how it can actually help you from our own experience. Earlier this year, search retargeting increased significantly in popularity, so we updated our editorial calendar to make sure we were part of the conversion, featured search retargeting in our marketing emails, made sure our sales people were well versed in the talking points, and let them  know they could expect an uptick in inbound interest around search retargeting.


Insights derived from search are some of the most powerful customer insights you can gather. Most marketers use search data exclusively to inform search marketing, but don’t limit yourself to these narrow application. Use search behavior to gain a fuller, better understanding of your customer that can in turn shed light on all your interactions.


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