Brad Geddes / PPC Geek
Official Google Ads Seminar Leader.
Author of Advanced Google AdWords.
Co-Founder, Adalysis.
(703) 828-5811‬
Brad Geddes's Theories on Marketing Your New PPC Secret Weapon: The Search Funnel and Keywords

Your New PPC Secret Weapon: The Search Funnel and Keywords

Is your PPC keyword research feeling a little uninspired lately? Keyword targeting in search engines can be accomplished in a number of ways. Most commonly by focusing on products and services and/or themes and functions. Enter your new secret weapon: targeting via the search funnel.

Designing your PPC campaigns around the search funnel helps to reach buyers at different stages in the purchase decision-making process. The search funnel demonstrates that searchers’ queries get more specific as they get closer to the purchase. Understanding how to integrate this into your current PPC strategy can help to take your campaigns to the next level.

The primary stages of the search funnel (also known as buying funnel):

  1. Awareness: At this stage, the consumer is just beginning to venture out on search engines to better understand who may offer the product, service, or information they are seeking. Typically the keyword searches will be very general such as “new computers”, “laptop computer”, “plasma tv”, “shoe stores”, etc.
  2. Research and comparison: Once the consumer has gathered a bit of general information about what they are seeking, they will continue to research the product or service. Often this will include reading reviews or comparison-shopping online. Searches will begin to include qualifiers that indicate they are researching, such as “laptop computer reviews”. Qualifiers may include: “reviews”, “ratings”, “compare”, “comparison”, etc.
  3. Buying: After having gathered information and researching their purchase, the consumer is ready to buy. Now they may be simply checking prices or shipping options. At this stage, we expect to see searches focusing on “Buy / Purchase/ Order” keywords and searches that contain brands, delivery options, “sale” keywords, specific model numbers, and geographic modifiers in search queries.

Search Funnel Diagram

How can the search funnel work for you? Segment your keyword themes as you normally would, but add further segments for the search funnel stages. This gives you the opportunity to laser target your keywords and customize the experience to the searcher.

Tips to integrate other elements of your PPC strategy to reach buyers across the search funnel:

  1. Use specific messaging in your ad copy like “learn more” in the research stage, or “in stock, free delivery” for the buying stage.
  2. Serve specific offers that sweeten the deal as the searcher gets closer to the purchase.
  3. Determine bids based on your campaign performance at each stage.
  4. Determine program ROI by funnel stages to get most bang for your advertising buck.
  5. Customize landing pages to inform the purchaser or close the deal.

Considering the search funnel in your PPC campaigns will add a new layer of strategy and complexity, but your efforts should pay off. As your new PPC secret weapon, it will allow you to take your search engine marketing strategy to the next level, with a competitive advantage in the marketplace.


  1. ppcguy
    April 12, 2011 at 1:17 pm · Reply

    This concept is used for affiliates for affiliateprophet…how can this be used with google analytics?…take each keyword and assign a category of AWAR, RES&C, BUY and review our visits traffic by these stages.

  2. Lisa Raehsler
    April 14, 2011 at 8:16 pm · Reply

    ppcguy, yes since your keywords for each stage of the funnel will be organized into campaigns, you can simply look at the campaign data for an overview. In Google analytics this is viewable under traffic sources > Adwords > Campaigns. You can also use the filter to segment groups of keywords, or example, look at all keywords phrases containing “buy”. Good luck!

  3. ppcguy
    April 15, 2011 at 9:30 am · Reply

    Hi Lisa,
    I like you case study example for e commerce keyword variations. I don’t see as clear cut separation for lead gen. For example I am building a campaign around “management consulting” and most of the terms are general in nature..primarily research type phrases…some drill into areas consulting like IT consulting, etc. Any feedback on breaking these campaigns up?

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