Articles written in July, 2010

July 28 2010

Google Analytics – What Should You Be Looking For?

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In addition to recommending Google Analytics (GA) to our client base, we utilize GA as our analytics platform to track our internal web stats, as well. We are one of a few select companies to be named a Google Analytics Certified Partner (GACP) and according to Google “Certified Partners are carefully vetted by Google and meet rigorous qualification standards”. We are very proud of this honor and continue to educate clients (both large and small) on the ins and outs of GA.

Once GA is implemented onto a website, marketers suddenly find themselves with a wealth of knowledge and information they never had before. I get asked the same question over and over, which boils down to: What should I be looking for? While GA is extremely user friendly, especially compared to other platforms available today, it‘s also remarkably robust, thus making it (seem like) a daunting task to sift through all of the available data. You can literally get lost in GA for hours, discovering new and valuable information pertaining to your web stats. That being said, what should you be looking for? If brand new to GA, I find it a good exercise to simply start with the dashboard. As you become more comfortable, it will be less overwhelming to dive deeper into all of the reports GA has to offer.

GA defines their dashboard as “your customizable collection of report summaries”. Below is a screenshot from GA, which shows some of the default metrics; they can be arranged according to individual user preferences. Each metric can be clicked on in order to get more granular. Although the dashboard is rather basic, there are still a ton of valuable insights such as: Avg. time on site, bounce rate, pageviews, new visits, pages per visit, etc. The Map Overlay feature is particularly useful in determining where your site traffic originates from, plus which areas are converting into sales, leads, etc. You can drill all the way down to city.

Google Analytics Dashboard

Google Analytics Dashboard

All in all, GA is a comprehensive (not to mention free) tool that will prove to be mission critical in determining which online initiatives are fruitful for your business and which could be replaced. Every dollar counts and you ought to be armed with as much knowledge about your web stats as possible. If you have not already done so, check out our analytics page now and get started!

July 26 2010

Analytics Need To Count

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I am one of the last people at MoreVisibility who should be posting to our Analytics blog, but that’s exactly why I think I need to. If you are a regular reader of this blog, I apologize in advance, as the strategy I’m about to encourage is absolutely embarrassingly evident to you. Apologies also to Joe Teixeira, our most prominent Google Analytics expert for cluttering his blog with such low-level concepts.

That said, paying attention to Analytics is not for everybody, but it’s a skill set that someone related to your e-marketing efforts needs to possess if a program is going to be profitably managed in-house.

The options and triggers available today within Google AdWords and Microsoft AdCenter (soon to be powering SEM for both Yahoo and Bing) to incrementally nudge ahead the performance of your paid efforts are too significant to ignore.

Several steps need to occur:

  • Properly coding your website and campaigns for Analytics
  • Getting familiar with the data that populates
  • Customizing the data to suit your program objectives
  • Assessing Analytics data and making modifications to the campaigns based on past performance

The SEM industry has evolved to the point where there are typically a handful of companies in any industry / vertical that are adept at SEM and are effectively utilizing Analytics. Those are the firms to keep an eye on and learn from, but that will not realistically happen without an appropriate understanding and commitment to Analytics.

July 20 2010

A/B testing SEO with Google Analytics

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Whoa! The title of this blog post should have hit you like a ton of bricks. You see, I’m combining three different sub-industries together:

SEO = Search Engine Optimization
A/B testing = Well…A/B testing! (Like you can do with Google Website Optimizer)
Google Analytics = Web Analytics

Now, how in the world do we do A/B testing on our SEO efforts while using Google Analytics to evaluate the results?

On June 8th of this year, Google rolled out a new search index called Caffeine. This new search index collects and processes information across the web at a much faster rate of speed and accuracy than the previous search index. This means that you can update your website with new content and it is almost immediately indexed and available to be searched for on Google. Website owners who perform frequent updates to their site benefit the most, as Google will pretty much always have the latest version of your website in their search index.

A new search index that instantly updates itself also means that you can perform A/B testing on your organic search results and use a web analytics platform like Google Analytics to determine the rate of success or failure of your experiment. For example, let’s say that you are the owner of HardwareStore.com, and when a person searches for “hardware shop“, they see this organic listing:

aubuchon1

As you know from reading our Search Engine Optimization blog over the years, the listings that you see in organic search results derive from the relevant web page’s “meta” tags (specifically, the title tag and the description tag). Before the launch of Google Caffeine, it would be several weeks, sometimes months, for your organic listings to be updated to reflect changes performed on your meta tags. Now, the changes are practically immediate. You can swap out the title and the description meta tags to deliver a different search engine result to your future website visitors who are searching for you on Google. Essentially, you’re running an A/B experiment to see which organic listing produces the best results.

Then what you can do in about one to two weeks after you’ve updated your meta tags is log-in to your web analytics tool and perform a date-range comparison to see what affect your change had on your site performance and task completion metrics, like in this example from Google Analytics:

seo01

As you analyze the above image, you can see that the change in your organic listings resulted in higher revenue and a higher conversion rate, which means that you should most likely keep the new meta tags for a while (but keep an eye on that average order value and crunch the numbers to determine if you really are more profitable in the long-term with a lower average order value and per-visit value).

Presto! You’ve successfully performed an A/B experiment with your SEO efforts, while using web analytics to measure the results!

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