Site traffic analytics

Referrers are one of the primary methods a website uses to track inflow. Referrer data shows you the main domains and specific pages that t...

Referrers are one of the primary methods a website uses to track inflow. Referrer data shows you the main domains and specific pages that traffic to your website originates from.

Information on referrers can help show the efficiency of your advertising strategy, how newsletters affect return traffic, and how you can improve your content with SEO.

Senior Web Analytics Consultants build upon the knowledge they have and learn how to utilize referrers and advertisements to the benefit of their client companies.

Reference source structures

When a user visits your site, the referrer information is recorded in a referrer log. Referrers include ads, search engines, social media, emails, newsletters, affiliate links, etc. Knowing which types of referrers are driving the most traffic to your website will help you identify the content that users find most interesting. You can also look at how you optimized the content with SEO to discover the keywords that are most effective.

As one of your most important goals is attracting customers, you need to make sure that inflow is constantly increasing. One way to do this is to understand where your inflow is coming from and use that knowledge to improve your marketing strategies.

Types of Referrers

Access logs store referrer data; that is, information about a page that a visitor was viewing before accessing your website. There are many types of referrers including visit referrers, original referrers, search referrers, internal referrers and external referrers.

We are going to be focusing on external referrers. External referrers are third-party sources through which a visitor is directed to your website. These sources include banners, portals, bookmarks, shops, emails, links and search engines.

External referrers are roughly classified into the following five categories:

Search engines

A search engine referral log includes data on the search phrase or directory used to generate a search.

Social media

A social media referral log includes data from sites like Facebook and Twitter.


A website traffic analysis referral log includes data on the page URL that sent traffic to your website.

Direct traffic i.e. direct navigation or “no referrer” referrals

Direct traffic is inflow to your website from URL’s that visitors have saved in their bookmarks or typed directly into their browser’s address bar.

The relationship between advertisements and the referring source

Each referring source has an advertisement that users follow to a landing page. Ads contained in newsletters and emails are considered non-referrer traffic, keyword ads and product listing ads are considered search traffic, and ads published on Facebook or other social media sites are social media traffic.

The referring source can vary depending on ad placement and delivery method. Access analytics and ad effectiveness measurement tools can be used to measure the effectiveness of each ad published. Please note that the results from different tools and methods can vary, so it is a good idea to perform multiple Analysis.

The User Processes Flow

Understanding how a user accesses a site is one of the methods that can help a consultant improve their client’s advertising campaigns.

Site traffic analytics
There are three stages before a user visits a website: impression, engagement, and visiting.


An impression is created when a user has visited a referrer, seen an ad, but has not yet followed the ad to the landing page linked to the ad. The number of impressions shows how many users are interested in the advertised products or services.

Google Search Console can be used to gather an approximation of the number of impressions and the number of times a particular search phrase has been displayed.


Engagement is often noticed on social media sites when users Like or Share posts or profiles. If users are engaged, their activity will increase and the interest in the business will increase, therefore leading to an improved chance of gaining conversions.

Search phrases can also be used to measure engagement. If the number of times a business name or a brand word is searched for is high, you can assume that there are many users interested in the product or service being advertised.

If users visit the website from a no-referrer source, you will need to analyze the pages that they visit after they arrive on the site and their user attributes. If they engage in the website, they are more likely to become return users.


Visiting the website comes after impression and engagement.

You need to make sure that the content of the user’s landing page matches the advertisement or link that they followed or they will bounce before looking at the content you are offering. Access analytics tools can record the activities of users after they arrive on a website.

Attracting more customers

In this textbook, we will not be looking at any concrete methods of attracting customers. We do however suggest that you look at the number of impressions your advertisements are creating, improve the levels of engagement, and enhance your website’s content if you are not receiving the interest you were expecting.

Query strings

The query string i.e. UTM parameter is the text tag that is added to the end of a URL. For example, when looking at this address,, /?s=xyz is the query string.

Request data can indicate the path a user used to reach a file or landing page you have stored on your web server. If you have a site where dynamic content is being generated, it also includes additional information on the content delivery path. Query strings are often used in association with page tags.

Identification of the inflow from a query string

When your site receives a referral from Page A, the URL for Page A is the referrer URL. If you add a query string to the end of the referrer URL, you can identify the source and the URL that sent traffic to your website. Note that the first question mark is used as a separator and is not part of the query string. The following is an example, but there are others that have their own query string rules from various analysis tools.

Example 1

Example 2, including a plurality of values

Google Analytics allows you to read the entire URL and track the referrers. The URL builder allows you to add your campaign name, target media, promotional slogans, keywords and messages.

Improving Traffic for Each Referral Type

There are many methods you can use to increase inflow to your website. One of those methods includes analyzing referrer data.

Press Releases

New information about a product or service is released as a “press release,” which may be introduced on media such as news websites, magazines or on TV to attract customers. There are press release distribution websites and services or you can hire a publicist. You can deliver press releases for free or at a low cost through mass media through these services. While a press release can attract customers at a low cost, you cannot control if it is actually published (that is determined by the media company).

Note that the company cannot control how the contents of the press release are introduced to the public.

Social Bookmarking

A social bookmark is an online service, different from usual bookmarks registered to a user’s browser. A representative social bookmark in Japan is “Hatena Bookmark.” A social bookmark shows just how many users have bookmarked certain pages. A page bookmarked by many users means they have been attracting attention with highly popular content.

Do not Forget About Offline Referrers!

Posters, business cards and billboards when planning your marketing strategy. Offline promotions are just as important as promotions done online. For example, you can use free services to attract customers. These include banners, game applications and a program called “widget” that can be attached to blogs. It is also possible to form a contract with a medium website or portal site to publish articles or introduce the company’s products or services to the public.

You can also register to a category on Yahoo! for a fee.

Note that cost and labor are also required for means other than ads. You will need to use web analytics KPI dashboard to measure the ad effects and optimize them.

Referrer sources

Referrer sources give you a deeper look into how users are accessing your website. Analyzing referrer sources allows you to figure out which places inflow is generating from and can help you develop your marketing strategies.

Mutual linking & Reciprocal Linking

Mutual linking is where the content of each link has a mutual benefit for both sites. If your website sells lamps, you might have links to other sites that sell light bulbs or extension cords. You can even link to electricians. This information is beneficial to your visitors and to the other websites.

Mutual links can improve SEO and attract customers, but you must be aware that hosting mutual links can negatively affect you position on search engines and lower your inflow rate. If the negative affects become obvious, advise your client to stop hosting irrelevant links and focus on their own website.

On the other hand, reciprocal linking, or links your trade with other sites in order to build link popularity, tend to affect search engine rankings in a more positive manner. Most search engines still tend to count links as links regardless of the subject matter of the originating site. Just be aware that link relevance does affect your ranking and you may be penalized if a link you host is part of a linking scheme, hiding links or text, or cloaking.

SNS and BBS sites

Social media sites, SNS sites and BBS sites often act as referrers. Posts to these websites can be seen by followers. If you notice a sudden increase or decrease in inflow, check social media sites to see how your company is being portrayed. If the posts are positive, that is great, but if the posts are negative or malicious, you will need to take steps to refute the issue.

Referrer spam

Referrer spam i.e. log spam and referrer bombing contaminate Analysis. Spammers create a fake referrer URL and then begin making requests to the site they want to advertise. While the spam does not negatively affect the infected websites, it will taint their analysis statistics. Once referrer spam has been logged, it leaches data as a referrer source and links your website back to the spammer’s website. The spam links are also indexed by search engine spiders as they peruse infected access logs. The act of spamming servers and search engines is known as spamdexing.

You can exclude malicious referrers from your Analysis by filtering them out. If you include them in your Analysis, they can influence your user rates and user activity results. Make sure to add a notation to your report if you choose to include them in your analysis.

Situations when there is no referrer

Direct traffic i.e. direct navigation or “no referrer” referrals


When a user clicks a link in an email, they are taken directly to the website and no referrer data is stored in the logfiles as there is no previous URL data for your website to look at. This problem is becoming less common as more and more users are switching from email programs to viewing and storing emails and newsletters on the cloud.

In this case the cloud refers to web mail servers like Gmail and Yahoo! Mail. As these websites have URL’s, any links clicked from an email viewed will show their URL as the referrer.

Note that if an email client is used to receive the e-mail, the access is logged as direct traffic.


If a user directly accesses a website from a stored bookmark, the access is logged as direct traffic.

Address bars

If a user directly accesses a website by typing or copy/pasting a domain name into the browser’s address bar, the access is logged as direct traffic.

More examples

If a user is on their mobile phone, accesses a site from an organic search, transitions between SSL encrypted and non-encrypted pages, accesses a website from links within applications like Word, Excel or a PDF file, clicks a link from an RSS feed, or uses links embedded within Flash or JavaScript, the access may be logged as direct traffic.

*In Google Analytics, when a user visits a campaign website once and then accesses a bookmarked website, the access is not regarded as direct traffic but as “inflow from the campaign.” It is shown as “(direct)/(none)” in Google analytics and “no link source” in analysis tools like Visionalist.

Issues Found from Direct Traffic Access

When a newsletter works, direct traffic accesses increase. Since you cannot tell where the visitors came from when analyzing direct traffic access, you need to figure out how to get this information.

General methods include attaching a parameter to the URL link in the newsletter and preparing a separate landing page. If you funnel users through this new page, you will be able to gather the data you need. Be aware that direct traffic access ratios are high and may cause issues.

When this happens, ratios of accesses from search engines and referrers are naturally low. This means that accesses from channels which provide new visitors (prospects) with ways to access the website are limited.

That is, the current customer attraction strategy is not sufficient and inflow from search engines and referrers (e.g., blogs) are insufficient.

If you have a substantial amount of direct traffic accesses, thoroughly test your hypothesis with various possibilities and outcomes.


You can also attract customers by newsletters. The newsletter is a method to distribute an e-mail to many subscribers at a time. A newsletter has two purposes:

Acquiring prospective customers

There are a variety of methods you can employ to acquire prospective customers. Social media is a good way to let users know about targeted information and limited time campaigns. You can also use campaign sites to ask users to register their email addresses or fill out application forms.

Supporting existing users and customers

While acquiring new customers is important, keeping your current customers happy is vital. Return customers are valuable sources of income and brand loyalty. If your customers are happy they will tell their friends and that can create an influx of new customers as well.

You can do many things to interact with current customers. Delivering newsletters, coupons and emails can keep your customers interested and communicating directly with them over social media sites can be a wonderful source of information.

Points to note about newsletters

Newsletters are a common way that business communicate with customers that have purchased products and services from them in the past.

Transmission time

If you are going to send out newsletters, analyze your site demographics and try to narrow down the best time of day to interact with your customers. Sending out a newsletter in the middle of the night or during work hours will not result in an influx of customers. Also make sure that the links you provide are mobile-friendly.

Newsletter frequency

If you send too many email or newsletters to your customers, they may decide you are spamming them and either unsubscribe or just delete your messages without reading them. Finding that balance is essential.

Delivery settings

Make sure that your settings are all correct before sending out any messages. Always check to make sure that your distribution list is working properly and that your newsletters have been checked for content, spelling and grammar errors.

Add query strings to any links in your newsletter

As newsletter links are logged as having no referrer, add a query string to the end of the URL link you send out.

Using query strings to identify referrers in no referrer logs

Usually, the referrer log shows you the referrer URL, but sometimes no referrer data is available. If this is the case, the user may have reached your site from a bookmark, their address bar (if they typed your URL in by hand), may be using privacy protection software, or the referring site blocked the referrer information from being sent.

If you receive a high number of no-referrer users, user inflow from organic searches, or many internal referrals, you will need to figure out ways you can use query strings to supplement your request data. Knowing where your referrals are coming from is very important to PR and keeping track of social media reactions.

Search Queries and Results

Organic search results are listings on a search engine results page that are shown to a user because of their relevance to the keywords input into the search bar. They are not the result of advertisements. In the following section, you will learn how to analyze an organic search.

Access analysis and organic searches

Google Analytics allows you to analyze keywords, but there are very few access analysis tools that can analyze organic searches. Many of the main search engines are SSL, and access analysis tools have changed to reflect that fact. SSL sites do not allow analysis tools to access phrase searches and keywords.

SimilarWeb is one of the only tools that can acquire information on phrase searches. Another is the Google Search Console, but that can only analyze phrase searches from websites visited prior to the user visiting Google.

Search queries can help you discover frequently searched for keywords and any hidden intentions a user may have.

It is commonly accepted that there are three different types of search queries:

  • Navigational search queries
  • Informational search queries
  • Transactional search queries

What Is a Navigational Search Query?

A navigational query is a search query entered into a search bar with the intent of finding a particular website or webpage. It is also called a search word. For example, a user might enter “Gmail” into their search bar to find the Gmail site instead of entering the URL into the navigation bar our using a bookmark. YouTube and Facebook are the most popular navigational queries to date.

What Is an Informational Search Query?

This type of query covers a broad topic, like recipes or weather, for which there may be hundreds of thousands of results. This type of query is made by a user looking for answers or directions.

What Is a Transactional Search Query?

A transactional search query is a query that indicates an intent to complete a transaction, such as making a purchase or requesting information. It is also called a phrase search. Transactional search queries may include product or brand names (like “Microsoft Surface Pro”) or be generic (like “warm winter gloves.”) They may also include terms like “order,” “purchase,” or “buy.” This type of search allows a user to search for an exact phrase or sentence rather than a keyword or set of keywords in random order.

Differences in language processing in the search engine and access analysis tool

While this problem does not happen when using English, you should be aware that other languages sometimes interact with access analysis tools in unexpected ways. When using languages that use characters instead of letters, the search engine will search for results by combining the intent of the word as well as its spelling. Access analysis tools process the characters as they are entered.

For example, when searching for “Web” and “???” (read as web in Japanese characters), the search engine will output the processed results as if they are the same words; access analysis tools normally treat them as separate words.

Google Analytics calls a search phrase a search query. You can view a report for search keywords with this program, however, many of the keywords used in organic searches are shown as “(not provided).” This is because Google adopted SSL and changed the specifications so that access analysis programs cannot acquire search keywords entered by users. There is not program available currently that can acquire this data. The occasional web master program can gather some rough data regarding accesses from organic searches and CTR, but it’s only a rough estimate.

What is SEO?

Search Engine Optimization, or SEO is the process of affecting how visible a website is in an organic search. The higher your site is ranked, the more visitors it will receive. SEO works with a search engine to optimize keywords, images, links, etc. that will allow the search engine spider to index their pages easily.

There are both onsite optimization and off-site optimization that can be taken when working with SEO. Both help SEO increase user inflow from organic searches. It should be noted that access analysis is helpful in determining Keyword selection.

Overview of onsite optimization

If you want the target user to look at your website’s contents (On-page factor), you need to tell a search engine about your content, structure, and the intentions of each of your web pages. When you are coding your website, remember to:

  • Assign a title tag and keyword to each page. Make sure they are concise and descriptive.
  • The title tag of the HTML code is one of the most important elements of a web site. Write the text concisely and put the target keywords at the beginning.
  • Set a description statement for each page. Make sure that it matches the content.
  • These description sentences i.e. metadata are displayed below the title in the HTML META tag. Although they do not affect the display order, they can affect the click rate.
  • Set alt text for each image.
  • Alt text tells a spider what the image represents.
  • Create header tags.
  • Header tags, like the <h1> tag, stand out on a website and tell a search engine what you think is important about your website.
  • Utilize HTML tags to emphasize text. The <p> tag is for normal text, the <em> tag is used to emphasize text, the <strong> tag is used to denote important text, the <b> tag is for bold font and supports events and global attributes in HTML, and the <mark> tag is used to mark or highlight text.
  • Use target keywords to attract users.Make sure that the text is visible on your page. You might even want to weave target keywords and similar words into a sentence. CTR and click rate are an example of similar words.
  • Make sure that the keywords you choose are not synonyms and that you have checked for spelling errors.
  • Create a content tree so that the search engine spider can index internal links more easily.
  • Make sure to install breadcrumb links. Breadcrumb navigation allows a user to keep track of their location within a website, document or program.
Typical breadcrumbs look like this: Home page > Section page > Subsection page

Overview of off-site optimization

External measures encourage websites and social media sites to link to your website or post articles and content relating to your business (inbound link). They can be extremely useful, but beware of allowing the links to increase without monitoring them.

You can also use the Google Search Console Help: to improve your SEO. If there is anything wrong with your website, the issues will be displayed for you to see. You will then be able to go in and modify anything that may be causing problems.

Search marketing and paid advertising

Search marketing i.e. search engine marketing is the process of using paid and unpaid advertisements to gain visibility and traffic on a search engine. Paying for advertisements can increase the exposure and effectiveness of your website.

Black hat, white hat, and grey hat SEO techniques

Black hat SEO is the method in which a webmaster attempts to improve their ranking in illegal or deceptive ways. They might use hidden text, invisible devs, or cloaking. Search engines that find a site using black hat methods may penalize them by reducing their ranking or by eliminating their listings altogether. Black hat methods can be discovered during manual reviews and by search engine algorithms.

White hat methods are considered to be safe. They comply with search engine guidelines and are generally regarded as sites that write content for users and spiders rather than attempting to trick the algorithm.

Grey hat SEO employs methods that are focused on improving search engine rankings but do not really produce great content for users or use methods that will result in a penalty.

SEO and organic searches

If your site has a high ranking on a search engine, it will have a higher inflow than lower ranked sites.

In order to make your site more attractive to users, make sure that your meta descriptions are both attractive and represent your website correctly.

Recently, Google performed two major updates to their algorithm, and implemented measures that ended up affecting websites in higher positions negatively. The Penguin update negated meaningless links ( link farm) while the Panda update penalized websites without useful content or with copied content.

There are companies that do not care about the penalties they may receive and end up spamdexing or utilizing black hat SEO.

If you want to keep up to date with SEO measures, you can check Google’s official blog. They update regularly.

Google Search Console

Differences between Google Search Console and Google Analytics

Google Search Console is a tool you use to monitor and maintain your site’s presence in Google’s search results. It is a free service that can also help you understand how Google views your site and help with SEO.

Google Analytics is a tool used to analyze how users who visit a website behave.

As a web analytics consultant, you will need to be intimately familiar with these two programs as they will be cornerstones to your success.

Overview of Google Search Console

Here are some of the things you can do with Google Search Console:

Find out if there is a risk of the site getting penalties

A warning will be displayed if the registered site is facing any problems. This could include them discovering that you have used black hat SEO, your website has been displaying a number of 404 errors, a lack of content, your site is spamdexing, or any number of other issues. If you receive a warning, fix the problem as soon as possible.

Find out your content keywords

Under “Search Analytics” in Google Search Console, you can receive a report on the most frequently used and important keywords on your website. Since the search phrase information is excluded from the referrer, you cannot determine inflow keywords from search engines or from Google Analytics. Furthermore, it is also possible to show results by filtering users accessing from mobile devices.

Fetch as Google

Fetch as Google allows you to simulate how Google renders your website. Google crawls with a spider and then displays the page they indexed as a browser would. You can use this feature to detect differences between screen sizes and how various browsers render the page through Google.


You can create and edit your XML sitemap (by specifying a list of the webpage of the site, an XML file which can tell the configuration of the site content in Google and other search engines). You will be able to see the differences between the number of submitted and indexed pages and you will be able to view any sitemap errors.

Cooperate with Google Analytics

Google Search Console can work with Google Analytics to check organic search keywords, rankings and frequency.

You can confirm the multi-device support and global support status of the website

If there are problems when the website is viewed through devices like smartphones, Google Search Console can tell you so that you can address the issue.

There are many other useful functions, so please add Google Search Console to your arsenal of web statistics analysis tools.

SEO measures using Google Search Console

XML Site-maps

Sitemaps are useful tools for correctly indexing your website. They also help search engines during the crawling process. A sitemap helps search engines understand your site structure, so make sure that you upload an XML site map to your website.

HTML Sitemaps

HTML sitemaps are text versions of the site menu or navigation panel. They allow users to directly link to pages attached to the anchor text displayed in a bulleted outline format. The sitemap can be used to locate content that is difficult or impossible to find on the site.

Confirmation of the search phrase word and target selection

Use search analytics to figure out display frequency and CTR display rankings.

The display frequency is also called impression, and it refers to the number of times users have searched for a search phrase on a search engine. CTR refers to the click through rate, the ratio of clients visiting owned media by clicking on displayed search phrases.

Let’s look at a few examples:

  • A. This keyword is ranked fairly high and it is displayed often, but you need to increase the CTR. You should improve the description.
  • B. This keyword is ranked fairly high and it is displayed often, but the website has a low ranking. You should work on tweaking your SEO.
  • C. The display ranking is high but the number of impressions is low. This is good for long or niche words. If the keyword is something other than those two types, you should reconsider your keyword and change it to something that will have a higher number of displays.
  • D. The display ranking is low and the display number is also low. You will need to improve the website through SEO; that should improve the amount of displays and increase the ranking.

Perform a Mobile-Friendly test

Google has recently performed an update to their Mobile-Friendly Test. The test analyzes a URL to check to see if it has a mobile-friendly design. Having a mobile-friendly website will help your ranking. Note that a mobile-friendly site is not the same thing as a mobile site.

Keyword tools

There are a number of different free keyword tools available for you to utilize. These tools analyze phases and keyword trends, determine product posting times, and allow you to find keywords that will differentiate you from your competitors.

For example, Keyword Planner, a part of Google AdWords, can tell you the competitiveness and search volume of a keyword, as well as keyword candidates, just by entering a keyword and a URL.

If you enter the desired bids, you can find out click numbers, display numbers, costs, and the average display ranking as predicted over the course of a set period. If you set conversion tracking, you can also find out the estimated total conversion rate.

Note that while you need an account registered with Google AdWords, the Keyword Planner is available for free.

Google AdWords Keyword Planner .com/KeywordPlanner)

While Google AdWords is great for English websites, there are other keyword analysis programs for websites in other languages. Google JAPAN and Yahoo! JAPAN use a program called goodkeyword. It allows you to search keywords on search engines, Amazon, and Rakuten. Note that since goodkeyword is a free tool that uses external APIs provided by each website, it can be affected by specification modifications.


Take advantage of tools that track trends

There are a number of different tools available that can help web analytics consultants track user trends online. Google Trends, found at, is one of the most popular examples of a trend-tracking tool. These tools can analyze text written in a blog, examine the frequency of particular phrases, download trends, keyword trends, help you figure out how search trends change over time in specified geographical locations, etc.

It is important to remember that the results of an analysis with one of these tools is going to be presented in relative values. For example, the following figure shows a comparison between content marketing, net marketing, and web marketing trend data. The reader can see that while there has been a constant rise in content marketing over recent years, net marketing and web marketing actually decreased in popularity for a number of years before beginning to make a comeback.

Another type of trend tracking tool, this one used exclusively in Japan, is the Promotional Calendar created by Asahi Orikomi. It can be found at This promotional calendar can show weekly and monthly event trends, seasonal event trends, and unique user event trends.

This type of tool is useful because it organizes and tracks events in a manner that allows a company to understand how their events and promotions are received by consumers. Understanding trends enables a marketing department to quickly and efficiently improve their promotions, an IT department to enhance content on a website and for SEO, and web analytics consultants to discover what is web analytics and what users want so they can add that information into their marketing strategies.

Remember that in addition to presenting the data in relative values, these tools are also available to competitors and the data they can show you is not unique.

Off-page and Onpage Search Engine Optimization

Millions of searches are conducted each day on search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo. Being well placed on these search engines can increase your site inflow exponentially. Search rankings can be improved through off-page and onpage SEO efforts.

Off-page SEO can include: link building, social media profiles and posts, public relations work, etc.

Onpage SEO is useful for establishing site architecture and making a spider’s job easier. A well-organized website will allow for a user-friendly navigation system, help establish an information hierarchy, and establish a crawlable link structure.

Support tools

SEO support tools and ranking tools can report on both your website and your competitor’s websites. If you use them in conjunction with access analysis you will get a clear picture of your company’s presence on the web and how to increase visibility. Understanding how your site works and how it is ranked will allow you to improve your website and increase profit.

  • Google Analytics enables you to sort the search terms that are being searched within your website.
  • Two popular tools SEO Rank Acquisition Tools are the Rank Reporter and GRC. Search engine rank acquisition tools can be used to improve both SEO & SEM, obtain set keywords and the ranking number of the URL as the search results, and check ranking transitions.
  • There are also cloud-types SEO tools that can analyze rank acquisition, links, and onpage efforts.

Analysis of Keyword and PLA Advertisements

Online paid search advertising is a marketing resource used by most advertisers. Knowing which keywords to bid on and the terms your prospective customers are searching for will allow you to create a budget, improve results, understand how everything works together to increase profit, and build new marketing campaigns that will reach larger audiences for the same amount of money.

Look at the following categories in Google Analytics when you are analyzing ads:


  • Campaign duration
  • Day(s) of the week
  • Devices
  • Location on website
  • Banner size
  • Design


  • Keywords
  • Assist click and assist impression.
  • Advertising phrases used.


  • Age
  • Gender
  • Interests

User Behavior

  • Devices
  • Frequency (number of contacts)
  • The gap between contacts
  • Interest level in content and various webpages
Remember to set a max amount to your CPA and use the analysis results to improve your marketing campaign.

Traffic via PPC Ads

As with an organic search, having a higher ranking product listing ad leads to more impressions and clicks. If you want to attract more users from your PLAs, you need to create a strategy that aims to rank the ad higher.

The difference here from an organic search is that raising the cost per click to bid makes it more likely to rank the ad higher. It can be said that the PLA results can be seen sooner than with SEO.

Since a search ad, display ad, remarketing ad, etc. are all charged (per click), cost-effectiveness is important. Indices for cost-effectiveness include CPA and CPC (mentioned later).

The PLA addresses quality. The keyword quality score is generally said to be affected by the click rate. The higher the click rate, the higher the quality. To raise the click rate, review the title and description of the ad.

Quality can also be improved by reviewing the grouping of ads. Managing companies pride themselves on creating attractive titles and knowing the most effective ways of grouping ads.

Manage ads by focusing on quality and cost (CPA and CPC) in order to get conversions.

Pay Per Click Ads

This text uses the term product listing ad as a general term for the various ads listed below. In general, multiple types of ads are combined and published. Based on the characteristics of each type, choose an ad which will give you the best business results.

A Search Ad

Ad display: the results of a keyword search

In search engines like Yahoo! or Google, ads related to the search keywords can be displayed.

For example, if an online shop selling soy sauce publishes a product listing ad with the keywords “buy soy sauce,” users who search for websites with those keywords will see an ad for the aforementioned shop in their results.

Even when raising the ranking is difficult with SEO, search ads allow you to display your website at the top of the search results page. This type of ad is also called a search network ad.

A Display Ad

Ad display location: In an ad frame on a partner website

Unlike the product listing ad, a display ad can use images in addition to text to appeal to users visually. By specifying conditions, you can narrow down the target users to publish the ad to. You can specify keywords, topic, website category (e.g., FAQ website, fool portal website), age, and gender, among others, to narrow down the target users in order to avoid fruitless clicks.

A Search Targeting Ad

Ad display location: In an ad frame on a partner website

A search targeting ad can be displayed based on the search keywords used. By combining these with product listing ads, you can also appeal to the search engine users visually.

A Remarketing Ad

Ad display location: In an ad frame on a partner website

A remarketing ad can be displayed in an ad frame, on a partner website, for a certain period of time, to users who have visited your website before. It pushes users to revisit the website, tends to produce a higher click to conversion rate and is better for cost-efficiency.

However, since this ad is only shown to those who have previously visited the website, it will take time before it shows any significant results.

Ad Partners

Place where ads are displayed

Determine where to publish the ad depending on the target users. To publish an ad linked with the Yahoo! search engine, you need to apply to Yahoo! Promotion Ads. To publish an ad linked with the Google search engine, you need to apply to Google AdWords.

Main ad partners:

  • Yahoo! Promotion Ads Yahoo!, Excite, Bing, etc.
  • Google Google AdWords, goo, BIGLOBE, etc.
  • Cross listing goo, OCN, BIGLOBE, @nifty, Excite, etc.
  • JLISTING Ads Livedoor, JWord, etc.
As shown above, a product listing ad published by acquiring an account from Google may be shown on the search result of another portal website. (You can also choose not to display on other websites on the settings page.)

< Google AdWords: Settings>

Since a product listing ad is displayed when search engines are used, it will be shown more frequently on Google or Yahoo! Choose where to publish the ad depending on your marketing strategy (e.g., if you want to expose the ad as much as possible, you want to start with a website with a lower share rate due to a limited budget).

Ad Formats

Two ad formats are available. However, only text ad can be used for the search-linked ad.

Text ad

Ads are displayed in text form. The representative two search engines (Yahoo! and Google) have different limits on the number of characters that can be used in an ad. Words in the ad text that match search keywords are shown in bold.

Ads are examined in advance and those using forbidden expressions may not be published.

Yahoo!: Title: Up to 15 charactersDetails: Up to 19 characters + up to 19 characters
Google: Title: Up to 12 charactersDetails: Up to 17 characters + up to 17 characters

Image ad

In display, search targeting and re-marketing ads, images can be displayed in addition to the ad text.

Note that the limit on the image size available for ads differs between the Yahoo! and Google display ad networks. Check the limit in advance. Using more images may raise the display frequency of the ad, but you will need a larger budget and time to create the banner.

As with a text-based ad, images are examined in advance.

Video ad

You have probably seen an ad played on YouTube before a video starts. This type of ad is a product listing ad.

Charging System


As the name implies, you are charged every time your ad is clicked. The fee varies from less than ¢10 per click to several dozen dollars per click depending on the word. You can set the maximum unit cost when publishing the ad and it ad will be displayed only when the charge does not exceed the unit cost.

However, even if you set the maximum unit cost per click to $1, a click does not always cost $1. The click unit cost is determined by the quality of the ad and existence of competitors etc. Therefore, the fee per click in this case may be lower than $1.


This method can be used on some ad display networks including Google. The ad is charged by how many times it is displayed. You can set the maximum impression unit price (the maximum price for displaying the ad 1,000 times).

Use the pay-per-impression system when your ad focuses on how many times it is displayed, rather how many times than it is clicked.

Setting the budget for one day

For a product listing ad, you can set the budget for one day in addition to the click unit cost. If the click unit cost for the specified keyword is $1, the ad fee will be $10 if it is clicked ten times. But if the maximum budget for one day is set to $5, the ad will not be displayed after it has been displayed five times.

100% of the budget for one day is not always spent, but the percentage spent varies between 80% and 120%.

If the maximum budget for one day is set to $10 and the ad is clicked twelve times on the first day (costing $12), it will not be displayed when it has been displayed eight times on the second day (costing $8), so that the average budget spent per day will be adjusted to $10 automatically.

Narrowing Distribution

Narrowing by time period

You can narrow when the ad is published by the day of the week and time period.

  • Example of narrowing by time. If the user behavior (conversion) desired from the linked page is “call the store,” narrow the time zone to display the ad only during business hours.

  • Example of narrowing by the day of the week. When conducting a campaign and accepting applications on the weekend, publish the ad on the weekend only.

Narrowing by area

You can publish an ad in a specific area.

It is recommended that you segment areas of distribution by prefecture, city or town (e.g., in Osaka city only).
You can also specify the distance from a particular point (e.g., within a 10-kilometer radius from Shin-Osaka station). However, since the area is identified by not only IP addresses, but also search phrases, Google profiles and GPS data, narrowing the area too much may spoil accuracy, causing the ad to be displayed less frequently.

Narrowing by device

Distribution target devices can roughly be divided into PC, smart phone and tablet. By narrowing distribution by device, you can display the ad on PC and tablet only. (Some services allow you to set then to display the ad on smart phones only.)

Also, you can set the maximum click unit cost to different amounts depending on the device type. For example, you can set a higher price for the click unit cost on smart phone than PC and tablet because the conversion rate is higher on smart phones.

When Opening an Account


Usually, a company uses only one account. However, if a company creates a different website for each of their brands and a different person is in charge of each, multiple accounts may be used. The user privileges, campaign settings, charging method and other conditions are managed separately for each account.


You can set the budget for one day and the distribution time, area and device for each campaign. Since budgets are managed per campaign, many companies create multiple campaigns in accordance with the purposes of the ads.

It is recommended that you use the most suitable distribution method (search-linked ad, display network ad or re-marketing ad) for each campaign. You can stop publishing the ad for each campaign whenever you like.

Ad groups

You can set the ad text and keyword for each ad group.

The ad text consists of a title, description and a linked target as mentioned above. You can set multiple links or display multiple phone numbers on a single add. You can stop publishing the ad for each ad group whenever you like.


Choose your main keyword based on the search phrase you believe users will use to find the website. You can specify conditions for search results and ad displays using a partial match, phrase match or a perfect match setting option. These will be discussed later.

You can stop publishing the ad for each keyword whenever you like.

The Quality of Pay Per Click Ads

The Quality of Product Listing Ads

The quality is the score an ad receives. For a product listing ad, improving the ad quality leads to an increase in customers without increasing the cost.

Quality is expressed by different terms in Google and Yahoo!. It is called the quality score in Google AdWords ads and the quality index in Yahoo! promotion ads. Quality is determined mainly by the following factors:

  • Click rate of the keyword and the past click rate.
  • Quality of the link’s destination page.
  • Correlation between the keyword and the ad in the ad group.
  • Correlation between the keyword, the ad displayed and the search query.
  • The published result of the account in the area where the ad is displayed.
  • Other factors related to other correlations.
The click rate of the ad, in particular, is important.

The Importance of Quality

Quality is extremely important when creating your product listing ad. The display order of product listing ads is determined by the following formula:

Ad rank = quality x price

Since the ranking of product listing ads depends on the quality and price, you must raise the amount of money allocated to your ad campaign if the quality is poor. If the quality is high, the ad will be ranked higher with a lower cost and CPA can be reduced.

How to Improve Quality

In order to improve the quality of a product listing ad, it is important to raise the click rate. You can do it through several technical methods.

Include the keyword in the text of the ad

Users enter a keyword they are interested in into the search field. When the search results are shown, they follow the entered keyword with their eyes. Therefore, it is very effective to include the keyword within the ad text.

Include a point that will differentiate you from your competitors

If your ad is similar to that of your competitors, the ad cannot break into the lead. Study the ads that your competitors are publishing and make yours stand out in comparison.

Include action keywords such as sales, purchase or estimate

Action keywords are those entered by urgent users who are ready to take action. These keywords tend to produce higher click rates. They include sales, purchase and estimate.

Run an A/B test on the ad text

Review and improve the ad text to maintain high quality. The A/B test is run for this purpose. In this test, prepare two patterns (A and B) for the ad text and choose the one with the higher click rate. Then compare the chosen ad with a new ad and run the A/B test again to double check your results.

Classify the ad group in detail

It is important to classify the ad group in detail. Since ad text is created for each ad group, the click rate will be reduced if the ad text and necessary keywords vary within the same group. Create your ad groups with your customer in mind.

Improving your product listing ad not only raises the ranking of the ad, but also reduces CPC and CPA and optimizes your account.

Managing Pay-per-click Ads

Effective Deployment Methods

Keyword selection

To achieve success with a product listing ad you need to carefully determine which keyword the ad should display on the search results page. Ask yourself “what intent is hidden within this keyword?” or “what keyword is used for this purpose?” before you even start putting a design together.

Let’s consider the intent of a user searching for a website using the keyword qualification. They’re thinking “I want to get qualified for something,” “I want to see what qualifications are available in a specific field,” “I am considering a school because it has a qualification course I want to take,” “I am not satisfied with my salary,” etc.

You need to be aware that a single keyword can encompass a huge number of hidden intentions and appeal to as many of those intentions as possible.

Big keywords and complex keywords

Big keywords are keywords that users frequently input into a search bar. “Qualification” is an example of a big keyword.

Complex keywords are composed of a combination of a big keyword and one or more other keywords users frequently look up. For example, “qualification programs.”

Small keywords are less-frequently-searched-for complex keywords.

Refer to the table below for the characteristics of each type of keyword. Note that these are just trends and you should verify them for yourself before you begin work on a project.

How to do keyword research

What is the best way to choose a keyword?

Keyword research tools provided by Yahoo! Promotion Ads and the Keyword Planner provided by Google AdWords are two methods you can utilize. When you enter a representative keyword into these tools, you will see the search volume on the Internet and the estimated click unit cost of the keyword. Note, that as these programs are free, your competitors are most likely making use of them as well. You should use them as support tools, but try to come up with a unique key word if you can. Look towards the TV and magazines for inspiration if necessary.

Matching types (perfect match, phrase match, partial match, partial filter match)

By specifying the matching type, you can specify with what search query the ad should be displayed. Choose the most suitable matching type for the purpose.

Perfect match

A hit occurs only when the search query matches the keyword perfectly. While highly cost-efficient customer attraction is possible, this ad is less frequently displayed and fewer conversions are expected.

Example: qualification program

Phrase match

A hit occurs when the search query is entered in the same word order of the specified keyword. This does not narrow down the target less than perfect match and ensures highly cost-efficient deployment.

Example: qualification program, recommended qualification program, popular qualification program

Partial match

A hit occurs when the search query partially matches the keyword, covering similar words, synonyms, and typos. The ad will be more frequently displayed and more conversions are expected. However, cost-efficiency can be lowered.

Example: qualification program, online qualification program, schools with qualification programs

Partial filter match

A hit occurs when the search query includes the specified keyword without regard to the order. Variations of expressions are not covered but synonyms are covered.

ex: web certifications, web, recommendations, certifications.

Keyword exclusions

You can prevent your ad from being displayed, and avoid fruitless clicks, when users preform a search by setting your ad sharing program to exclude specific keyword searches.

Exclusion of placement (ad distribution target)

You can prevent your ad from being displayed on specified websites. These websites can be chosen due to their low effect on the display network or because they are not compatible with your brand image.

Excluded websites are black listed while the opposite, websites you want your ads to be shown on, are white listed.

Enhancing the correlation between a search query and a title/description

It is extremely important to include the search query in the title of your website. For example, if a enters “online qualification program” and sees the title “Our School’s Online Qualification Program,” they are more likely to click the ad.

If the search query is included in the title, the title will be shown in bold. Be aware of ways to enhance the correlation between the search query and title/description. As for the ad text shown below the title, be conscious of its correlation with the search query as well. Make sure to provide any information not covered by the title.

Writing a figure which is as concrete as possible in the description attracts the user. For example, writing “**** dollar(s) off!” is better than just writing “Sale!”

Also, be sure to consider user’s state of mind when writing your title and description.

Narrowing down to local distribution

For both Yahoo! Promotion Ads and Google AdWords, you can specify areas where the ad is and is not distributed. The ad can be distributed throughout the country or to a particular region (e.g., Kanto area), prefecture or city.

If an ad for a local service is distributed throughout the country, they will have to pay for accesses that do not lead to conversions, resulting in low cost-efficiency. It is best to narrow the distribution area of the ad to the marketing area. Even if the service is provided throughout the country, it is a good idea to start with a limited distribution area so you can evaluate the ad’s effect with a smaller cost to your company.

Setting the distribution time period

You can set the time period and the day of the week in which the ad is shown. For example, a B2B product page is considered to be mainly viewed during daytime. Also, visits during the weekend are unlikely to lead to conversions. In this case, you can stop showing the ad during the nighttime and weekend. On the other hand, you can raise the amount of times you set the ad to be shown during the daytime so that it is ranked higher.

Conversion tracking

Conversions and profit are your main goals. The data you gather from tracking conversions is indispensable. It can help you decide if you should modify your budget, alter your approach, or change your keyword. Conversion tracking can tell you if they purchased a product, signed up for a newsletter, requested information, etc. This data can also reveal which keywords are encouraging users to convert and which are not and how changes to the landing page affect conversions.

You must measure the conversion rate after you choose a new keyword or launch a new ad. You can do this by setting the dedicated measurement tag provided by Yahoo! Promotion Ads as well as Google AdWords at the conversion point. If you are an ecommerce website, set it to the thank you page shown after completing an order or on the registration completion page for users requesting information.

Optimize the website by setting parameters

A parameter in this context refers to a mark such as the “?xxx” appended to the end of a URL. Since the browser ignores data after the “?,” you can use this parameter to identify which keyword in which campaign led to the results.

By adding referrer and medium information as well as the keyword from the successful campaign to the parameter, you can distribute the ad more efficiently. The following example shows the URL appended with a parameter that indicates that the referrer of the campaign ad is Google AdWords, the medium is the banner ad, and the keyword is “webAnalytics” for a class in December:

Re-marketing linked with access analysis

Re-marketing is a product listing ad function provided by Yahoo! Promotion Ads as and Google AdWords. It displays a specific ad to users who have accessed a website with a special tag embedded. To these users, the ad is displayed only when they are viewing the website of the corresponding network such as the Google or Yahoo! display network. Re-marketing works more effectively when used with access analysis.

Let’s look at an example: A user added a product to their shopping cart but did not buy it. Since the user added the product to their cart once, you can assume that they are a good candidate for re-marketing. Also, assume that access analysis indicated that the average period of time for consideration before purchase is five days. In this case, you can set the re-marketing period to one week rather than 30 days, which is programing. Use access analysis to figure out the user’s state of mind and use the data to re-market products.

The Listing Deployment Logic Tree

The following introduces a logic tree you can use as a guide while working on listing deployment.

For example, if you want to improve CPA, you can use one of the two representative strategies. One method is to improve CVR by setting the exclusion keyword and/or improving LP. The other method is to optimize the click unit cost by fine-tuning the matching type, adjusting the ranking and score of the ad text. You will see that improvement of CVR and adjustment of the click unit cost lead to CPA improvement. Similarly, if you want to maximize CVs, you need to adjust the click unit cost or increase clicks.

In this way, recognize how you want to display ads, and then reflect it in detailed marketing strategies that will keep the PDCA cycle producing results from listing deployment.

When you start working with clients, be aware of the type of person you are going to be consulting with on a regular basis and tailor your approach towards them. Also be aware that working with people in various positions will have you looking at different types of information.

If you are going to be working with a person in management, you might be requested to improve CPA with the current CVs maintained. If you talk with a web manager, they may request that you increase CVs with the current budget. You should choose whether to start your proposal with improvement of the CPA or an increase in CVs, depending on with whom you will talk.



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