SMX East: Web Analytics You Should Know

By Paige Payne | Oct 5, 2009
More Articles by Paige


Analytics & Conversion

In a recap from today’s events at SMX East the first session I attended was titled “Web Analytics You Should Know.” This session covered top items you should be tracking in web analytics as they relate to search marketing, along with tips and tools. The Moderator: Chris Sherman, Executive Editor, Search Engine Land led the discussion of the panel of speakers Andrew Beckman, President, Location3 Media; Jill Emerson, Search Marketing Manager, Allegis Group, Inc.; Ben Seslija, Senior Director, Analytics, Clickable Inc.; and Navneet Virk, Search Marketing Manager, Roundarch.

To start the session Ben Seslija (senior director, analytics, clickable Inc.) focused specifically on various ways to compare analytics in relation to ppc advertisin.

Here is the performance metrics Ben recommended keeping a close eye on the following performace metrics which are organized by how each level progresses with complexity as well as utilization by those analyzing campaigns:

  • Level one: Impressions, clicks, CTRs, cost, CPC, avg position, (pre-sale)
  • Level two: conv/sales, CPA conv. rates, revenue, ROI (comparing pre sale post sale metrics)
  • Level Three: customer GEO, Time of conversion, Demo, LTV, behavioral, etc (post sale user activity on website or landpage)

Ben pointed out how the last level, level three is often neglected by many advertisers and can be a great way to really maximize campaign performance and or identify areas in which further improvements can be made.

His next topic dealt with the differences in regional markets and how they affect individual keywords cost per click with the bottom line being all markets are not created equally.

Top 5 tips for utilizing market differences

1. Geo modified campaigns (national/ larger area)

2. General search campaigns (geo-targetted)

3. Create local ads

4. Custom local city and general landing pages

5. 25 mile radius (various according to product and application never less)

I personally found the GEO or geo-targeting most interesting. While it’s obvious that a business providing a product or service to some sort of limited geographic area should use the application of geo targeting to eliminate clicks on keywords of which users are not in your regional area, what is not as obvious or intuitive is the same holds true in terms of application, even for national or even global business.

Ben went on to say how the same keyword can have a cost per click that varies drastically from one region or city to the next. He pointed out that you really have move outside of AdWords and take a look at external market demand factors in a particular region for the individual keyword. The example he gave had to do with divorce rates and how they vary by city, comparing a ratio of the divorce rate and the level of competition in two different cities. He found that the same keyword pertaining to divorce lawyers showed an average CPC that differed by over 10 dollars between the two cities.

Ben’s next point was about the impact of Quality Score and why it matters in relation to cost savings given the underlying principals of how google calculates your average position:

Ad Rank= bid X quality score

This graph illustrated how much your cost per click can vary for the same keyword based on quality score.

He then went on to address the Top 5 ways to improve Quality score

  • spit keywords into geo-targeted groups
  • create relevant ads for each ad group
  • optimize your creatives
  • experiment with matching options
  • build what you learn into SEO – don’t separate SEM from SEO! Traditional SEO techniques, remember, include link building, keyword implementation, site pages, Google relevancy, and things of this nature. (in terms of high search volumes found when comparing broad match keywords in new campaigns)

In relation to experimenting with the various matching types he talked about the things you can with broad match keywords.

(I personally feel this advice is more so applicable for application with campaigns that are limited by one or more of the following: do not use conversions, campaigns on a limited budget, or having problems with ROI)

Ben recommended that for a new campaign you start with broad match types in order to gather some empirical data on what keywords are most popular, and then in order to increase your effectiveness and efficiency of your keywords, shy away from the broad match and really push the other matching types by bidding up the other match types max CPC’s.

Again this is where I feel as though this advice should be taken with a grain of salt as I do not feel this is a universal/go to method to go about improving performance at the keyword level. I feel as though it applies best for the various situations I listed above (campaigns which do not use conversions, campaigns on a limited budget, or having problems with ROI).

The thing is if you are not careful you can easily become overly focused on sculpting your keywords to fit phrases that have proven successful in the past, if you hammer your keywords down too far what happens when consumers change the way they are searching? What if your highly targeted keywords are not how consumers are searching anymore? How will you be able to see the shifts in with the various new ways in which the end users are searching and finding your products or services?

My logic is more along the lines about the last topic he just so happened to discuses last point of his presentation focused around negative keywords. The whole point of advertising online is because it gives you the ability to tap into a larger source of leads for your business then just those that pass by your brick in mortar location; instead of your first step being aimed at limiting the size of your net (to target all the keywords in which you are certain work), why not optimize the other way by first incorporating negatives and block only the ones you know are not relevant to what your business offers. This way you can be sure you are not limiting your ability to learn and discover new and changing preferences by automatically eliminating the unknown.

His last topic describes such a process by explaining how you can increase efficiency by weeding out irrelevant searches with Negative keywords which you have found to be irrelevant to your products or services. You can achieve this in your campaigns with tools such as Google’s keyword tool, search query reports, analytics tool, and other compelling intelligence tools.

The next member of the panel was Andrew Beckman explaining some of the key site overlay reports found in analytics and how they can help you understand user interaction with your site. Specifically they will help you identify redundant areas or unsuccessful areas that are simply taking up space various areas that are successful.

First and foremost he suggested take advantage of Google analytics and how it groups all clicks by source.

Also to use Top Landing reports to locate elements that convert the best in terms of highlighting the functional areas which link your site to other areas of the site showing the percentage of clicks per link/ total number of links for a particular page.

Crazy egg heat maps- Shows clicks on non-clickable areas, enables you to see if a user for whatever reason perceives a particular part of a page to be clickable when in actuality it is not.

Google Website Optimizer- Before making any permanent changes, use GWO to test various elements against the original

IP Filtering: filtering traffic is very important to ensure that your analytics data is pure and you are not making decisions or assumptions with the way employees, as well as friends and family are navigating your site.

Next up was Jill Emerson discussing the various ways on can measure and maximize effectiveness when relaying marketing ROI to management for budget purposed pertaining to ones particular marketing channel.

Steps she suggested where to:

  • Identify the sources that drive visitors to your site (consider alternative possibilities) if a source is a particular social media site, look into why it was a traffic driver and other places that have the same commonalities that could assist in driving additional traffic.
  • You want to show impact of paid and organic keyword performance by comparing total number of conversions for a given time period with a stop step test. You can do this by 1st comparing both organic and paid conversion totals for a given time period. Second, compare the data for the same time period with the paid sources paused. Most often than not, combining both efforts is a more effective method in terms of the total number of conversions.

In terms of presentation of the data to others be sure to turn Analytics into actionable analysis:

  • Answer the “so what?” in relation to your metrics. For example you’re seeing an increase in conversion. So what? What does this mean? What should you be leveraging?
  • Translate these reports for management – show them that you’re seeing an increase in conversions because of XYZ variables. They’ll be more inclined to give you the green light on a new marketing campaign if you back up your ideas with evidence.
  • Identify your next steps – know where you’re going. Always have a roadmap of your objective!

The last panelist, Mathieu Sussman, spoke on where should one focus their efforts in order to be the most successful when working with analytics. He suggeseted that you should start by reviewing the analytical process, determine what is important to ROI, focus time in those areas

The Process Itself:

Keyword research, user behavior, market/category research -> design, implement, enhance

When looking at the various areas participation is very important. He went on to define participation by explaining the process as assigning value to pages or content that took part in conversion during a visit. Once you find these areas you want to use these reports to identify content that works and then repurpose or create new content that leverages that successful content. He suggested Comparing the top 10 performing pages as well as top 10 poor performing pages by KPI Prioritization and focusing on what’s important to site/ industry and assign your limited resources to those areas.

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