Dear Avinash: Search / SEO Metrics & Analytics Questions + Answers

scatterHow do you measure success of a online webinar?

I recently did a webinar for the Search Engine Strategies conference (I am doing the opening conference keynote at SES London and SES New York) and my Market Motive co-faculty member Greg Jarboe sent me this KPI via email:

"Your webcast was a big success. Your KPI questions per attendee was off the chart!"

I don't know why I had not thought of this wonderful KPI. So much better than # of attendees.

As always though context is king.

It could be a good thing ("you were great, engaged the audience") or a not such a good thing ("no one understood a thing you were saying, hence so many questions"). Only upon reading the actual questions could I figure out which case it was (mercifully case #1 for me!).

End of a minor web analytics lesson on going beyond obvious metrics and never, ever, never forgetting context.

Back to our story. . . an hour is too short a time to answer all the questions (even in a webinar just focused on attendee questions). So here is a small selection from the 80 questions I could not answer in the wide ranging webinar.

We will cover measuring success of SEO efforts on one web page, how to do search engine optimization for b2b websites, how to rank for highly saturated industries / categories / keywords, and which competitive intelligence tools do I use for search program optimization (and targeting display ads using search data!).

I hope you all find the answers to be of value.

#1. How do you measure SEO performance on a page level? I'd like to know how well my seo efforts for a particular pages have performed.

Every measurement question should start by taking one step back and thinking of goals.

In this case here are some obvious ones:

Uno: You want to get a lot more traffic to the page from search engines.

Dos: You want that traffic to come on the optimal set of keywords (why simply bounce traffic?).

Tres: For both of those things to happen, you want the page to be indexed by the search engines and finally. . .

Cuatro: You want to earn a bonus for yourself so you want the page to make money (e-commerce sites) or add economic value (non-ecommerce websites) for your company/website.

Now it is not hard to figure out how to measure performance! [Before you do any kind of measurement please consider going through the above exercise. It is simple, effective and works like a charm – not to mention allows to get going faster.]

Before you analyze do one small thing. Log into the Advanced Segmentation tool in your web analytics tool. Create a segment for Organic Search traffic. Sources -> Contain -> Google, Bing, Yahoo! etc. Save. Another way to cheat at this is to simply use Medium Matches Exactly Organic.

organic search segment

If your web analytics tool requires you to call the vendor to set up advanced segments, or re-tag your site to get segments, then switch. There are too many better choices in the market.

Now log into whatever web analytics tool you use and drill down to the specific page you are interested in ("Top Pages Report" / "Content Title Report" etc). Apply the Organic Search segment to that report (in Google Analytics segments are on the top right, in other tools please refer to user manual).

More traffic, not that hard. Stretch the time period to six months (or some large date range – remember SEO takes time). What do you see? Nice and gradual up and to the right trends. Do your happy dance! Something's working. Now look down at the table under the graph that shows traffic sources. If you did your segment correctly you'll see just the search engines and how much each is contributing to your overall traffic. Does the distribution match your goals?

Ready for the next step? Click on Referring Keywords and now you are looking just at the keywords bringing traffic to this page. Do the keywords match the intent of the page? Do they contain keywords you were specifically targeting? No? Why not? On the other hand what are the surprises? Is the customer intent contained in the keywords telling you how to change / improve the page? Do it!

Indexing. . . I am a big fan of Google's Webmaster Tools because of the wealth of data available, use this free resource (no matter if you are a SEO or not). Bing's Webmaster Tools have also evolved a ton, please claim your account right away and dive in. [I have not had much fun with Yahoo!'s web master resources.] In either tool you are looking for how well your site is indexed (report: Your site on the web -> Top search queries -> Impressions), how well your pages are indexed and, my absolute favorite, which keywords your search results are showing up. You are checking to see if:

1. the pages you are targeting are being indexed frequently and

bing webmaster tools report

2. if your site is showing up for the keywords you were targeting.

google webmaster tools search impressions

You want validation that you are showing up for the set of keywords you are optimizing for (above) and that your pages are being recorded as being optimized for the right keywords (above the above :).

Success. . . I humbly believe that the biggest mistake most of us doing SEO make is that we are far too obsessed with ranking and meta this and that and how to work back algorithms etc etc. We should focus more on what was the business impact of our SEO efforts.

google analytics per visit goal value

So in this context go back to your page report (from step 1 where you applied the organic segment) and look at the $Index [which is: (goal value + e-commerce revenue) / unique views of the page you are analyzing]. That is a crude measure how how efficient your page is being at converting. Of course look at our favorite metric bounce rate by keyword (that tells you if you can get people to give you one solitary click, the most primitive measure of SEO success).

If you truly want to kick it up a notch as a SEO please please please go to the Goal and Ecommerce / Conversions reports and apply your organic segment, stretch the time period, and report (aggressively) how well your SEO efforts are delivering value to the business.

organic search goal conversion rates

Do it at a overall level, do it by country, do it by search engine, do it by specific keywords you were targeting. . . . and take two minutes to straighten your clothes because a new level of love and praise are about to be dumped on you by your company / client!

[Does the above seem like a lot of work even if it is straight forward? It is. I know we look for short cuts. There is no such thing in real life. But if you are willing to put in a little bit of sweat equity then you'll stand miles apart from your SEO competitors. Not a bad trade off, right?]

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#2. Is there a fundamental difference in SEO strategies for business-to-business sites vs consumer focused ones?

[It is worth pointing out I am not a hard core SEO, that would be Todd Malicoat, I just play one one TV! Think of below as my personal lessons from the front-line of doing this work to the extent my humble skills allow.]

The basic techniques you use to do search engine optimization between b2b and b2c do not change all that much.

1. Make sure your site is crawlable by the search robot. Leverage the webmaster tools and the ability to upload your site map and exclude dynamic url parameters and more things like that. On your site make sure you really think through heavy use of flash (not that you should not, just think it through) and javascript encoded links (robots don't execute javascript) and other such things.

okay ok pin 12. Make sure your site architecture is well thought out. Directories. Clean url's. Links to your category and product (deep individual) pages. Top (/left / right) navigation is logical. More things like that.

3. Make sure you live and breathe the mantra: content is king. In the end you live and die by the content on your website. Content as in words. Relevant words that tell a story about what the page is all about and the promise you are making to the visitors on that page. Content as in images, with well defined alt tags. Content as in relevant videos that are named well, linked correctly and well tagged.

4. Make sure you realize getting lots of links from lots of websites by asking people to link to you and specifying what keywords they should use in the hypertext is not a magic bullet. Asking people to randomly link to you (I am looking at you major paid web analytics tool that had their "SEO Analyst" email me recently) is as lame as it sounds, and it does not work as well as you think. Earning in-context relevant links works best. IMHO.

Ok All that is the same, no matter if you are a b2b, b2c, b2a (business to aliens, yes they do exist!). Do all that first to make sure you are not coming to play the super bowl naked.

Here are a few things that are different with b2b. . . . .

* Some very effective SEO strategies like allowing users to add reviews and comments and extend the scope of the page do not work as well with b2b as it is a differ net type of engagement and experience with your customers. Well don't give up. You have many many white papers, though leadership papers, webinars, Big B2B Association publications where you contributed and more locked up in pdf or, much worse, behind a forced "give me your login" / "create a account" page. I am going to give you a false email, why not just give me the content, AND let the search engine index it efficiently after all you want people to consume the content.

Did I say already content is king?

* One of the most common issues with b2b websites is that they often have a very specific understanding of their space when it comes to how their potential customers search for information. This results in not speaking the same language (say keywords) as their customers. When I work with b2b websites I spend a lot of time in the AdWords Keywords Tool, Insights for Search, Compete etc analyzing keywords and search behavior in my category. This knowledge goes back into re-doing content, urls etc.

This is of course a good method for b2c as well, but it is significantly more important for b2b.

* Start a conversation. There will likely be a lot fewer individuals talking about you / your industry, a lot fewer tweeting and expressing their love (or hate). I get it. But conversation on your site and away from your site is key (obvious fact). Why not host a user forum on your website for current and future customers to come together and share their thoughts / ideas / complaints / rave about your competitors (scared?)? Why not seek out the few people who do talk about the industry on twitter and engage with them? Why not start a YouTube channel with a series of how-to videos? Why not, : ), start a blog? Not just to highlight your own pomposity and press releases but to really share and lift your industry (not just your company)? Why not become the destination for industry professional?

conversation

So few people in the b2b space bother to start conversations, why not use that to your advantage? Even if you can hook 100 people is that not more than worth it?

Three small things that I would prioritize higher when I work with b2b sites.

What do you do differently when it comes to your b2b clients?

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#3. When trying to help your rank in search engines. . . when you are in a saturated industry like health or travel insurance – how does the approach change or differ?

Two words: Long Tail!

When you say saturated most people mean that for the "top" keywords they are interested in there is too much competition. For example: "hotels in las vegas", "cheap health insurance" etc.

When there are a lot of players in the field it can be difficult to show up for the "head terms", especially if there are some strong players in the field. In these cases I have had a very positive experience focusing not on the head terms (terms for which there is a lot of traffic) but rather focusing on the long tail (usually key phrases that individually have little traffic but collectively these key phrases can deliver a ton of traffic).

the search long tail

So, if relevant for your business, try to rank for "california health insurance plans" or "california individual health plans" etc. Key phrases (not just words) that each have much less competition (and will likely deliver more relevant audiences).

You can use various keyword tools out there to identify these key phrases and then adapt your SEO strategy (pages, content, urls, etc) to focus on them. One way I use is to just type in competitor urls into AdWords Keyword Tool and then research what is working for them and adapt my strategy.

Targeting the long tail with SEO can be a bunch of work, hence I have recommended in the past that one effective and cheap way is to use paid search to monetize the long tail. But I can tell you from experience that it works. For example for this blog the top 10 (head) keywords bring in something like 5k visits and the long tail (around 25k keywords) bring close to 34k visits. All organic (I am not rich enough to afford paid search!).

One more bonus tip: Leverage "universal search".

Videos, pictures, downloads, offers, buttons, maps, uploaded menus, coupons, and on and on and on.

When you search for many terms relevant to me you'll see videos pop up, my book (uploaded into Google book search) show up with preview thumbnails, some of my flickr images and my twitter account and so on and so forth. For many of these searches I don't rank #1. But man do those listings (when triggered by the search engine's algorithms) stand out and grab the Searcher's attention. Often for competitor or big paid web analytics tool queries where I have a snowball's chance in a hot place of standing out.

It is ironic that most big companies (with so many assets to leverage) are pretty bad at this. So you win! :)

Also Google (I work there) Local Business Center is really good: http://www.google.com/local/add If you are a small business then this is one more important arrow to have in your quiver!

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#4. Can you look at your competitors sites in the analysis tools you have discussed?

Yes.

But first. . . . it is important to realize that you need to have two skills before you look at competitive intelligence tools:

1. The ability, ironically, to look beyond the numbers that are provided to you by these tools (because they will never be exact).

2. The ability to be see what is there and the flexibility to look elsewhere if what you want it not there. I spend time understanding how each tool capture's data and use the best tool to get the best answer (because no tool is God's gift to you).

If you meet the above two requirements. . . . .

I love using competitive intelligence tools because they give me a perspective and context that is simply missing from Omniture or WebTrends or CoreMetrics or the clickstream tools.

In the search context here are some of my favorite tools and what I use them for.

Insights for Search:

I adore I4S because it is perhaps the most comprehensive "database of intentions" thanks to providing us all with access to worldwide Google organic search data.

google insights for search 1

Use it to understand the latest trends in your category. For example: "How is interest in the computer security category (All Categories -> Computers & Electronics -> Computer Security) and what are the top 100 search terms and the fastest rising brand names / products / searches in that category?"

Use it to identify opportunities. "What states do people search for credit cards the most? What states do people search for Visa credit cards?" Oh look the states with really high credit card searches don't have really high visa card searches, maybe we should do some offline advertising!

Use it to time your campaigns. "When should I have started SEO and PPC campaigns for Italy Tours 2010?" In April 2009!! That's when people first started looking for them. Now go plan for 2011.

Helpful article: How to use Google Insights for Search.

Ad Planner:

This wonderful tool is really built to help you do better display advertising. You log in and you have the delightful ability to do demographic (male, female, age, education, income etc) and psychographic (baby boomers, extreme sports fan, household decision makers, luxury goods consumers, moms etc) segmentation. You can hone in precisely which websites most likely contain your desired audiences. Show them relevant ads and get clicks!

But in the search context there are two things that you use this tool for.

Type in any website you want, expedia.com in my case, and checkout the site and search affinity data:

google ad planner site search affinity expedia.com
[If you don't see the image above, turn off your ad blocker.]

"The affinity score estimates how many times more likely you are to reach an audience who visits a specific site or searches for specific keywords versus an audience on the internet overall." Source.

Sweet 'eh?

Second, click on the tab that says Search by Audience and then the Keywords Searched button and now you have an ability to use search behavior to identify audience pools.

To use the examples of my beloved Indianapolis Colts (go Colts!!!). . . . I have an ability to type in a bunch of related keywords (the tool suggests most used ones) and find out which websites are most likely to be visited by people who search for these keywords:

google ad planner indianapolis colts audience segmentation 1
[If you don't see the image above, turn off your ad blocker.]

At the top are keywords I typed. On the bottom are most commonly searched keywords, I can choose these if I want.

I hit ok and then sort by Comp Index, to ensure I sort the data by the highest audience concentration (audience that searches for all things Colts in this case).

I can use this search and web data to identify where audience I am most interested in exists. I can use it to find out the keyword data for those sites. I can use this to identify sizes (visitors, page views etc) of those websites.

Nice right? Actionable too!

Helpful article: How to use Google Ad Planner.

Compete.Com:

Compete is a paid tool (and it only contains US data). I really love using it because of the wealth of search data it can provide, at an affordable prices.

[I have had a complimentary Pro account for the longest time thanks to the nice people from Compete, that might bias my opinion. Other than that I have no other affiliation with Compete.]

In context of Search I use the data for. . .

1. Identifying what are the top referring keywords for any site that I am interested in:

compete search analytics report

Above data for www.clickequations.com (the paid search analytics company I am on the advisory board of). Of course when you log in with a paid account you would see rest of the data like paid and natural search split for each keyword and time and what not.

Craig will not be happy that he ranks only #12 on the keyword list! :)

I can either use this data to go after keywords that are not currently referring traffic to ClickEquations (more for me!!) or I now know what keywords I need to target to take ClickEquations down in my quest for world domination! Ha!

See how focused you can be with data?

2. Identifying share of search for a keyword:

compete share of search pears

In this case I would like to own the pear fruit market, though at the moment I only own two trees. So I go into Compete to find who my current competition is (above exact match data for query "pears"). I can get lots of details about volume, paid and organic share, what percent of traffic comes to a site from that keyword, etc etc.

Now that I have a benchmark I can go about my super awesome kick butt SEO efforts and one way I know I am winning is to check this report in a month or two (or three weeks after whenever I think I am done). If I show up here I know I am having a impact.

These are just three of the many tools I use. There are a whole lot out there that sometimes give you similar data to the above three, or often give you a lot more. Just remember that there is a lot you can learn from what is going on in your ecosystem and at your competitors.

Ok now your turn.

Got a couple tips you want to share with us about how best to do SEO for B2B sites? How would you measure success of SEO efforts spent on a page on your website? Would you use any of the four ideas I have suggested? Care to comment on how to do SEO for crowded industries or for keyword categories where one or two players seem to dominate? What is your favorite search competitive intelligence tool?

Please share your tips / best practices / comments / critique.

Thank you.

Comments

  1. 2
    Clare says:

    Great post!
    In a blogsphere full of fluff and superficial drivel you always write something worth taking the time to read.
    It must take a lot of effort – so thank you.

  2. 3

    As always, a well-written and useful post (where do you find the time to write this stuff), BUT:

    I disagree that search engine rankings no longer have value. Despite Google's efforts to end consistent rankings with 180-day personalized rankings, I think they have still have some value as a benchmark.

    2. Tracking the specific rank *at time of visit* is a metric not currently
    provided in most web analytics tools but could be valuable. (Yoast has an
    excellent blog post explaining how to configure Google Analytics to do this).
    http://www.blvdstatus.com appears to offer this. At least, Google Analytics should be able to show a visit coming from Google page 1 compared to deeper search results. I could build a filter for this but why not make it a standard feature of GA?

    3. "Keyword Share" (i.e., monthly visits to your website divided by Google
    monthly volume) is a metric being tracked by the largest SEO firms. Google Analytics really should offer it since Google already has all of the data – the dots just need to be connected.

    Go Bucks!

  3. 4

    Great post as always Avinash,

    I think one tool that has helped me immensely to sort out the hidden treasure in the long tail of organic search keywords is the keyword trends Google Analytics Greasemonkey script for FireFox.

    If anyone's looking for a place to start, I'd definitely recommend optimizing pages that show some kind of huge delta in referred traffic through organic search segments within GA.

    I also recommend investing in a external competitive intelligence tool such as Compete, or Hitwise (if you got the cash), because then you can try to identify sites that send your competitor valuable traffic, and don't give you love.

    Many clients/contacts/friends that ask me for advice when it comes to SEO are still stuck in the past, listening to old-school SEO advice that may not be current. For that there can only be three major tips, listen to:

    a) Matt Cutts
    b) Read the Google Webmaster Central blog
    c) Read my article on dispelling the myths of SEO (optional)

    And don't get me wrong, there are a ton of other great sources for all the latest in SEM/SEO/PPC that are out there as well.

    Thanks Avinash, keep up the good work.
    Regards,
    Garry

  4. 5
    Sean McVey says:

    Thanks for the great article Avinash. You hit the nail on the head, as these are questions I often ask.

    Thanks to Garry as well for the resources.

  5. 6
    Brian Chiou says:

    Thanks for the great post Avinash!

    I am about 3/4 of the way through Chapter 8 : Competitive Intelligence in your Web Analytics 2.0 book and cannot begin to tell you how much I appreciate both this blog and the book.

    I plan on using the information I've learned from your latest post and chapters in my next website analysis project.

  6. 7

    I am simple in the approach when measuring the SEO performance.

    I try to calculate the ROI for SEO efforts. It is really simple. What is investment in SEO? What is the value from goals, e-commerce from the segmented traffic before and after the SEO efforts?

    What you could do to have a more accurate is to just estimate the value without any SEO effort of your current site. There are not any perfect measurements but will give you a more accurate ROI that would probably be bigger than other marketing activities.

    Christos

  7. 8
    Colleen Collins says:

    Hi Avinash! Your blog post are always so targeted on actionable steps to improve seo efforts. I appreciate the practical steps you offer regarding pulling reports, analyzing them, and reflecting on insights. Thanks again for the help! :0)

  8. 9

    Dave: I must clarify, I am not saying that they are not of any value.

    I am saying that the obsession with ranking that we all collectively have is unjustified. And more so with every passing day as Bing, Yahoo!, Baidu, Google, everyone evolves how relevance is computed and what is means for each Searcher.

    Thanks for the two specific suggestions on how to improve Analytics, I am sure the team reads the blog and they will appreciate the feedback.

    Garry: Thanks for adding the other valuable resources, and being humble to make your article optional (it is a very good one, I recommend everyone read it).

    -Avinash.

  9. 10
    robert says:

    Wow ! thanks for providing the detailed metrics of google analytics. Really very useful one.

  10. 11
    Ned Kumar says:

    Fantastic post Avinash – with lots of useful takeaways.

    My only additional comment would be that when doing keyword research and analysis, always keep your mind open to new opportunities and weak signals. Especially if you are in an oligopoly or duopoly, one is always tempted to think that they rule the world and not focus on brands & words outside their immediate circle. By having an open mind, you might not only uncover some valuable long-tail opportunities, but might just uncover a whole new direction to your business.

    Enjoyed the read as always.

  11. 12

    Great post Avinash! I really appreciate the connection you made between SEO tactics and using web analytics and other digital marketing measurement tools to drive successful search strategies. As I'm sure you know, this is a constant battle, and I think my new mantra is: Every page is a Landing Page and the more keyword insight you have the more effective you'll be.

    Thanks again for another great read!

  12. 13
    sameer says:

    Another great post from the guru.

    You have mentioned a lot of great points in question #1 about goals, conversions and keywords. Additionally, I would like to add that the page level bounce rate is one of the most important metrics for optimizing search engine traffic performance. I have had instances where we focused only on the conversion per page and lost track of bounce rate per page which later on impacted the overall site conversion.
    Here is a great post on this blog that talks more about measuring and optimizing bounce rate
    http://www.kaushik.net/avinash/2007/08/standard-metrics-revisited-3-bounce-rate.html

    Hope this helps.
    Thanks
    Sameer

  13. 14
    Adina says:

    Great article !
    What i like most about your blog is that i understand and i can put in practice what you write. I learn a lot like that.

    As a Novice with a mother tongue different than English, sometimes, i find really difficult to understand what other seo write.
    I am not sure if i don't understand..or if i want to see more …where it is not…

  14. 15

    Avinash,

    How do you even manage to maintain such consistent high quality posts is beyond my comprehension.

    However I do want to comment on Google's Insight for Search. A lot of my clients have a small traffic volume ( between 2k -22k). I4S is not able to pull data due to the lack of traffic volume for a lot of them, especially for the ones in the smaller bracket. Sometimes I find myself struggling with what alternate tools to use.Any thoughts?

    Thanks again for a wonderful job!

    -Bibi

  15. 16

    Bibi: For small websites it is hard to get competitive intelligence data. But it is not hard to get data about the industry or a category in the industry.

    For example let's say your client sells shampoo. It is pretty easy to go look at I4S (or Compete or any other tool) and understand how the demand is in the market, what the top terms are, what are the fastest rising terms (hemp shampoo in the last 90 days!) that indicate consumer interests etc etc.

    You can drill down to Vermont for example and see what the trends for Vermont looks like.

    It might be hard for a small site to go into Insights for Search or Compete and see how much share they have of the search volume (because they might not even be in the top 100). But in those cases you can just use Omniture or Google Analytics or anything to see if your traffic is increasing.

    You can then revert to using all this competitive data to do analysis like above and take advantage of emerging trends because it is harder for the bigger companies to be as nimble.

    Hope this helps a bit.

    Avinash.

  16. 17
    Josh Braaten says:

    Great post, Avinash! We recently confirmed your assertion that companies and customers sometimes know things by a different name. We did some usability testing. Things that were clearly supplies were found easy. Same with equipment. But there were some items that blurred the gray line between supplies and equipment. Those were the items that customers had the hardest time finding. Also, my girlfriend is a Colts fan, and now that the Vikings have failed to make it to the Superbowl (Next year, Brett), I'm on board with the Colts as well. Go Colts!

  17. 18
    John Goad says:

    I must add to point #2
    "Is there a fundamental difference in SEO strategies for business-to-business sites vs consumer focused ones?"

    Yes, for sure on the strategy level.

    When researching keywords and developing an organic strategy for B2B sites you should start your keyword research using "Industry Jargon" or more "technical" keywords that relate to your sites goals and content.

    When planning for organic consumer campaigns you need to translate most of the industry jargon into lay terms that connect with consumers that might not know, or care about your industry's internal language.

    Both decisions need to be made with allot of data.
    And by assembling your keyword data sets with the desired end user in mind, you will in a sense pre-qualify them with language, and theoretically deliver a better user experience.

    Good Luck!

  18. 19

    I'm surprised that Google apparently hasn't provided a simple way of segmenting traffic that comes from AdWords — i.e. a way to show Analytics exclusively for traffic coming via AdWords. Possibly they're afraid that people will discover how poor the ROI is, compared to other forms of marketing. None of the Analytics books seem to touch on this either.

  19. 20

    Keith: Here are a list of features in Google Analytics:

    http://www.google.com/analytics/features.html

    GA is a free tool, free for the world to use, and the #1 feature listed on the above page is how to better measuring Advertising ROI. There is a one click integration between Adwords and Analytics.

    If you do this simple Google search:

    http://goo.gl/OgOi

    The first and second link take to pages that outline how you can do this.

    Finally with Google Analytics not only can you track AdWords ROI, you can track Bing or Email campaigns or Affiliates or whatever you prefer.

    If you don't want to use Google Analytics you can use the free Yahoo! Web Analytics tool which is wonderful and also offers wonderful integration with Google Adwords.

    Good luck.

    Avinash.

  20. 21
    Suvarna says:

    When planning for organic consumer campaigns you need to translate most of the industry jargon into lay terms that connect with consumers that might not know, or care about your industry’s internal language.

  21. 22
    Patrick says:

    "4. Make sure you realize getting lots of links from lots of websites by asking people to link to you and specifying what keywords they should use in the hypertext is not a magic bullet. Asking people to randomly link to you (I am looking at you major paid web analytics tool that had their “SEO Analyst” email me recently) is as lame as it sounds, and it does not work as well as you think."

    – Wait a second. Did I get this right:

    An SEO of a web analytics tool provider e-mailed you asking you to link to their website….without having any "incentive" (as in a reason) why you would link to their website?

  22. 23
    Hank Azarian says:

    Great post. Curious as how any of you decide to assign value between keyword, url and phrases within a comprehensive seo campaign?

    Fundamentally, all costs/work is done at the url level, whether it is done on or off page.

    Targeting this url with one or multiple keywords and as Avinash has done in an insightful manner, your ability to capture user intent with this content and monetize this intent is the main part of the work, so it becomes tempting to only measure this exact match. However, keyword level analysis does not seem to capture any collateral improvement enhanced authority of a particular url (by an external link let's say) on additional/similar keywords that rank with that url (red widgets, as well as the targeted widgets keyword on the widget url) nor does it capture the pass through value of your internal information architecture structure.

    To me this is the hardest part of providing real ROI insight into SEO strategic decisions.

    I'd have a second question about how to isolate impact of one campaign on a keyword when in fact there are so many direct and indirect campaigns going on at the same time on that keyword, but I think the first question was enough of a mouthful…

    Thanks Again.

  23. 24

    My bounce rates are much higher than I would like, 67 percent, but on closer examination, I found that a lot of the bounces are coming from 404 error pages. Of the 5,100 page views, 2,499 are 404 errors.

    In some cases, search engines are calling for data that is not there, in part because I reorganized some of the directories on my site.

    In other cases, external sites are calling for images that have changed directories.

    And in other cases, external sites are referring to data that is no longer there, such as http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/cruises/841255-alaska-cruise-recommendations.html calling for http://www.avidcruiser.com/albert/?p=441

    Does anyone else experience this? Do I worry about these bounce rates? Or do I find away to exclude them from the Google Analytics reporting so that I can concentrate on important pages with high bounce rates?

  24. 25
    David says:

    Wow, once again you can make even seo make sense, but the question is how many analyst have the time or patience to drill into that much data all the time. Also the cost to use some of these research tools such as Compete.com/Hitwise really add up quickly and can burn through a projects budget if you are using them ongoing and not just during the research process.

    There are also some interesting tools over at Microsoft adCenter Labs that can help fill in the gaps and give you a bit more insight…

    http://adlab.microsoft.com/alltools.aspx

  25. 26
    David says:

    @Ralph i would seriously consider redirecting those 404 pages, if they are 50% of your website pageviews…

    You should consider logging into Google Webmaster tools to ensure your sitemaps are upto date…

    Do you have the analytics tracking code on the 404 page? If so you can filter it out or build a custom advanced segmentation to exclude those pages…

  26. 27

    David: I think that we will have more access to data and not less. The trait that will serve us all well is the ability to understand the desired outcome from our effort (SEO in this case) and then pick the right piece of data to make the best possible decision.

    I agree that some competitive intelligence tools can be expensive, but if you want insights for value then in many cases it is more than justified (as in, find insights, take action, make money). But they are not necessary in all cases, as above choose wisely.

    Good luck!

    Avinash.
    PS: Thanks for helping out with Ralph's comment, you are spot on with your recommendation!

  27. 28

    David,

    Thank you very much for helping me formulate a plan of action. It's a big chore, but worth tackling.

    I do have the Google Analytics code on my 404 page, and I spent some time over the weekend creating the advanced segmentation pages.

    One interesting side note is that I've learned high bounce rates may not be bad, particularly with a blog. Take Avinash's blog, for example. I subscribe to the RSS feed and read the articles in an RSS reader. If I click through it's typically only to one page he's talking about, then I bounce. I'm not one of those who "came, saw and puked." I came, saw, ingested and left but return often.

  28. 29
    David says:

    @Avinash, Ah yes more data, just what we need :)

    The catch22 is that if we over analyze something it does stand to reason that it might fail by 3.59% instead of what we would explain was close to expected result we could have done in the past.

    Also So if the right piece of data for the client's success is conversion rate or cost-per-lead, do you cut the rest from the picture to make the analysis easier?

    Yes companies like Hitwise charge much too much for some clients. Do you try to explain to a client they will get the best long term project by spending a bulk of the money on finding insights and working out what actions to focus on to make money in the long term?

  29. 30
    David says:

    @Ralph

    Glad to hear it helped here is a few more points that might assist, reducing the so call fake bounce rate that you get from single article viewers.

    Add EventTracking on outbound links/banners

    Look at time on site conversion rates, if it takes on average 1 min to read an article….
    http://www.google.com/support/websiteoptimizer/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=74345

    You can also use EventTracking
    http://code.google.com/apis/analytics/docs/tracking/eventTrackerWrappers.html

    Look at tracking Feedburner in Analytics
    http://www.google.com/support/feedburner/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=165769

  30. 31

    David, Thanks for these additional links. I clicked through to your web site and saw that you help sites get found online. That's what I am looking for – a hands-on, within-budget someone to help me expose the fine body of work that I produce to a much larger audience than I am reaching. How can we connect to discuss if you're interested? Thanks, Ralph

  31. 32

    I also found the event tracking link (above) useful.

    Most mobile phones don't support Javascript or Cookies, so Google Analytics can't be used. However when Google Search sends someone to a web site, parameters (a string starting with ?) are tagged onto the end of the URL.
    Likewise for AdWords. While it's not possible to capture this parameter data using Google Analytics Javascript on the majority of phones (which don't support Javascript), I guess that it is possible to capture and log the parameters with a PHP CMS.
    I wonder if the parameters that Google passes are documented; custom CMS programming to capture parameters that Google passes seems to be the only way to capture AdWords or Search parameter analytics data from mobile phones.
    It surely goes without saying that the mobile Internet market is huge in Asia, much larger than PC Internet access.

  32. 33
    David says:

    @Keith

    It is a little off topic, but I think you might find this link useful, Google Analytics can now use severside scripting for mobile tracking which can track non-javascript phones.

    http://analytics.blogspot.com/2009/10/google-analytics-now-more-powerful.html

    Outside of what this, it is best to speak with a GAAC partner.
    http://www.google.com/analytics/authorized_consultants.html

  33. 34

    David,

    Much appreciated.

  34. 35
    Kuldeep says:

    Great post ! It will definitely help a novice to monitor the performance and use Analytics in better way.

  35. 36

    Avinash,

    I created a few custom segments, including a Social Search Traffic segment. Very interesting data!

    You Rock!

    Thanks.

  36. 37
    Trent Carter says:

    You definitely hit the nail on the head with #3. I have a good friend that's in the travel industry!, and trying to rank in that niche is damn near impossible!

    But thanks to long tail keywords, he's able to rank for some "overlooked" terms, and they've been converting really well for him!

  37. 38
    Frohe Ernte says:

    About point 2: Is there a fundamental difference in SEO strategies for business-to-business sites vs consumer focused ones?

    On the strategy Level indeed!

  38. 39
    F Khan says:

    Your detail article about google analytics is awesome. as an SEO professional,it gave me lots of help and solved my several problems related to google analytics. Because in my company I also track the traffic of 10 domains from analytics so this article guided me a lot.

    Thanks for sharing

  39. 40
    Sherlyn says:

    Wow……. you really solved my all doubt……. thanks for you help.

  40. 41
    Vasko Tashevski says:

    Fantastic article!

    As always, great advice for all SEO specialists.

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