If you have site search set up in your Google Analytics, you can get some great data on what your current visitors are looking for when they are on your site.

site search terms

This data can be really valuable for not only helping you expand your reach to new users, but also to figure out what creative to show in front of those users. I want to show you a few ways you can utilize this data in Google Analytics to give you new strategies to test in your awareness campaigns in Google Ads.

Use Site Search Terms to Test New Custom Intent Audiences

You may find your site search results to be very broad, or you may find users are looking for very specific products. Either way, you can still use site terms to try custom intent audiences to test new audiences in your display or video campaigns. When you create a custom intent audience for a display ad group, start adding the search terms you want grouped together. Google with then give you ideas of other keywords you could add to our audience. Here’s one example.

custom intent audience for display

Now when you’re creating custom intent audiences for video campaigns, Google Ads doesn’t give us the ideas section. Google Ads also recommends to have at least 50 keywords for your custom intent audiences for video campaigns. But the beauty of custom intent audiences for YouTube is they are based off of broad match searches users have performed on Google.com. Think about it. We’re creating audiences based off of searches people did on your site. Then we’re targeting users with video ads who performed very similar searches on Google.com. You have to try this audience for your YouTube campaigns.

And as always, use creative that relates to the audiences you are creating. If you have enough site searches on specific products, then create display or video ads just about those products. If your site searches aren’t as specific, test out generic branding ads to those audiences and see what kind of engagement you get.

Remember Seasonality

Let’s take a quick look at another example of site search results.

seasonal site search terms

Yes I’m from Wisconsin. And believe it or not, we don’t have ice or snow all year round. The top ten results in the image above are not the same all year round. Most of the products people were searching for were seasonal. We have ice fishing equipment, snow tires, and new car batteries. All really common in the cold months. Look at yearly trends to see if the products people are searching for are an immediate need could be bought all year long.

How can the seasonal data impact your awareness campaigns? The answer is we can use historical, seasonal site search data to help design our content. If I have the ability to see what people searched for last year or the year before that, and I see consistent trends on product searches, I can put those products in my ad creative. Showing potential buyers the products they typically want to buy during the right times of year can have a greater impact on ad engagement and sales.

Site Search Terms Can Be Used to Create Remarketing Audiences

Audience Manager in Google Analytics is the main tool PPC advertisers use to create audiences for our campaigns. But in my opinion, Google Analytics is a lot more valuable for remarketing audiences. You can create audiences in Google Analytics from so many metrics the platform tracks, and site search is one of those metrics. If enough users are looking for specific products, you can create an audience of those site searches, and remarket to those users with display ads showcasing that exact product.

surf green audience

While I would love to use these audiences for YouTube remarketing, that is not an option. You can, however, use site search audiences from Google Analytics on the Display Network as long as your built audience has at least 100 active users within the past 30 days. You may need to play around with the membership duration of the audience depending on the amount of visitors your site gets.

Your Users Are Telling You What They Want

PPC advertisers (to be fair I’m including myself here) love to talk about how awareness campaigns lack the intent the search network offers. I will never argue that display campaigns show greater intent than search. But I will always fight back if someone says you can never find out user intent for awareness campaigns. Site search data is clear information of what your users are looking for on your site. Use this information to get in front of more users and build awareness for the products and services that are the most sought after on your site.


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