Live from SMX Advanced: Hardcore Analytics

By Amanda Sides | Jun 5, 2012
More Articles by Amanda

The Hardcore Analytics session discussed new and different ways to use your Analytics data to make better decisions and improve performance.

Conrad Saam, VP of Marketing, Urbanspoon (@conradsaam)

Conrad Saam brings experience from an in-house perspective, currently with Urbanspoon, and discusses how to translate what we do into useful information for MBA-types.

Conrad is under the impression that ranking reports are useless; this day in age, so much personalization comes into play so it’s hard to really portray actual rankings, as they are seen so differently by different people. Another reason they are pointless is ranking reports don’t provide the inclusion of the long tail.

While MBA’s are typically focused on ranking reports, here’s what you should be looking at and reporting to them on how it’s influencing their business, more along the lines of traffic data.

  1. Collect URL Data from GA – This will give you more insight into what sections of your site are receiving traffic.
  2. Collect URL Data from 3rd Party Tools – Same as above, just from different sources.
  3. Put this Data Together – Use excel to combine and sort the data to make it easier to you to process and analyze.
  4. Correlate Data – Use scatter graphs to see the plotting of the correlation of those URLs and traffic
  5. Impact a Variable – Pick a plot, and do something. Essentially, run a test to see how it impacts the results.

GOOD Questions to Answer

Does Social Really Impact Search? Use Analytics and Webmaster Tools data that now integrates social data to see if social actions are really impacting your traffic and performance.

Is My Site Authoritative? You want to see the crawl and index data improve over time. Take a look at diversity of domains with links pointing to your site, not necessarily just the volume of links.

Am I Good at creating Links? Is your content going viral? Is it getting picked up? Use your analytics tools to get more insight into this and see if you’re already doing a good job or if you need to make some changes.

Finally, show the big picture to MBAs. Take your sitemap, compare that with how many pages are indexed, how many are bringing in traffic, and from there, how many of those visits are resulting in conversions. It will give you a good picture of the overall SEO health of your site that would be helpful forMBAs to see.

Rachael Gerson, Head of Analytics, SEER Interactive (@rachaelgerson)

So you base a lot of your decisions on your Analytics data. Good for you. But what happens if your data is bad? You are essentially making decisions on incorrect or incomplete data

GA is used on 95% of sites. Out of all those accounts, much of the data is being tracking improperly. Common issues are code or site issues, setup issues around filters, settings, etc, or just user knowledge issues.

Here are some things you should look out for to ensure correct data for better decision making:

  • Complete a site audit. Be sure your GA code is on every single page.
  • Be sure your GA code is correct
  • Be sure you only have one instance of the same UA code on a page.
  • Be sure you are using the correct codes for tracking across multiple domains or subdomains.
  • Filter to show full domain in GA, this helps with reporting for multiple domains and subdomains.
  • Use GA Ecommerce tracking if you are an ecommerce site.
  • Filter out your own visits. A lot of people miss this
  • Be sure your GA code isn’t being used on another site. This will skew your data; check your hostname filter and include the hostnames you really care about.
  • Be sure to utilize custom tagging. Tag all of your marketing efforts and get more in depth data around those efforts right in your GA account.
  • Link your GA and Google AdWords accounts, and also be sure any other paid efforts are tagged properly with the appropriate utm parameters.
  • Double check filters when implementing so that you don’t accidently lose a few days of data. A solution to this would be to have several profiles. One raw profile with no filters to get all data reported. Other profiles can have testing, filters, goals, etc. Google is actually coming out with a way in the latest version of GA to duplicate profiles with the simple click of a button.

Rob Bucci, Founder, STAT Search Analytics (@STATrob)

Let’s take a step back from the day-to-day and get to the basics on why we use Analytics.

Fragmentation Slows Us Down.

Analytics are fragmented. You have to use all of the different fragments and silos of data and see how it’s all linked together to form a big picture and impacting your results. Some people use all-in-one dashboards to try to see everything in one view. The problem with this is that it may not be specific to your specific needs and goals. Even within the same company, different metrics might be important to different departments.

Your team will perform better if everyone is looking at the same score board.

Everyone will work towards the same goals if they are looking at the same data and working as a team to reach those goals.  So, stop letting others build dashboards for you, build one for yourself that makes the most sense for your business. Here are a few dashboards Rob recommends:

  • Geckoboard: Highly customizable, http hosted, fairly priced, with lots of features.
  • Ducksboard: Not as many users or features as Geckoboard, but definitely still an option.

Things to keep in mind when you start creating a dashboard:

  • Focus on the interplay between departments?
  • Determine your company’s measure of success.
  • Where do you get your data? Be sure your vendors provide you with easy access to your data, and so your research so you can work with them for the long-term
  • Use API’s whenever possible, automating a lot of your data extraction.

All-in-all, be sure you know how you are measuring success, and create your own customized dashboards to get everyone in your company looking at the same thing, working toward the same goals, and using each other to make better decisions.

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