What is the Clickstream?
Put simply, a clickstream is the pathway that a user takes through their online journey. It is usually focused on a single website and generally shows how the user progressed from search to purchase. In terms of search engines it shows where a user has searched for a single or mutiple terms and has then gone on to click on a term, and whether they return to search after this.
Understanding Clickstream data
The Clickstream is all about linking together the actions a single user has taken within a single session. This means identifying where a search, click or purchase was performed within a single session. This also leads to one of the hardest areas of Clickstream data to define. What makes a single session?
For example, if the same user visits a site an hour apart would this be viewed as part of the same stream or would this be seen as two different sessions and so unrelated? How about 10 minutes apart or 1 minute apart? This is an arbitary value and there doesn't seem to be an industry standard. So, two parties using the same data may offer different results.
What makes Clickstream data superior?
Using Clickstream data has several advantages over standard keyword data. For keywords and number of searches, taking these from the clickstream means you have far more reliable data, as spam caused by bot traffic is much easier to identify and filter out. For example, it's very difficult algorithmically to identify a genuine search over an automated search when you only have keywords and volumes to look at, and don't have the rest of the clickstream to examine.
That's just looking at the keywords and searches though. Once you have access to the Clickstream it means there is a wealth of data you now have access to. You can not only see which terms are most searched for but also which are clicked on the most, so you can calculate the CTR of keywords. You can also see which keywords generate purchases and the repetitiveness with which they are searched, in other words, how often users search for the same term more than once.
So what's next?
Really good question! Manipulating such huge data sets in so many different ways is really difficult and it takes time just to assemble the infrastructure needed. We're working on pulling lots of different bits of information out of the data and we're going to be adding new metrics to the tool and Keywords API 2.0 as we do.
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