Mostly, people from different fields love the chance to get into a pissing contest about which is the superior art. CSS is better than development… PPC is better than SEO… MySQL is better than sex. You might notice however, that almost no-one says “**** is better than Analytics”.
SEO has its fair share of gurus, would-be gurus augmented by a smattering of charlatans and fools. Partly that’s because there’s a lot of ‘known unknowns’ in SEO which gives leeway for people to make unsubstantiated claims and parade around, chests puffed out claiming to the hardest man on the estate because they totally dominate this one market which is SO SECRET they can’t tell you.
Analytics to many is far less mysterious and therefore maybe less sexy. After all, the numbers are all there in black and white, so what you need to read the runes are patience, an eye for figures and statistical understanding. Consequently, there aren’t perhaps as many people talking puffery in the Analytics field – just people getting on and doing a great job. And yet as we discover with surprising frequency when we take on a new client, there is a metric tonne of stuff you can learn from just looking at your visitors without even starting to consider your headline rankings.
Anyway, Dave came back from SES London talking a lot about Brian Clifton, who is author of the book “Advanced Web Metrics with Google Analytics“. He’s one of the most well respected Analytics experts around at the moment, along with Avinash Kaushik and Jim Sterne (the Godfather of Analytics).
In Dave’s opinion Avinash is one of the most well promoted of Analytics experts on the SEO blogs, but we love Brian the best cos he’s English (stand up, salute the flag, sing Rule Britannia etc) and in our opinion a damn smart guy.
The Gauntlet Has Been Thrown Down
Naturally enough given that Dave can never turn down a bet or challenge, a few drinks later him and Brian started a friendly competition over who can rank highest for the term “Google Analytics Book”. The thing is though, Brian is an Analytics expert, not an SEO. Here is the difference between an SEO and an analytics guru…
Brian hasn’t registered googleanalyticsbook.com or googleanalyticsbook.co.uk! But we have!
Brian has written an update to his first Google Analytics book and the second edition is due to be released next month (March 2010 if you’re reading this post from the future!). Anyways, Brian has sent us a sneak preview of chapters 1 and 10, as well as the foreword by Avinash, and I must say, it is not only interesting but I can see how it could really be valuable to a lot of people. Basically it provides a number of ways of using Google Analytics, largely to improve conversion rates, but also to measure various metrics etc. Here is a sneak preview of what is in the book:
Part I: Measuring Success
- Chapter 1: Why Understanding Your Web Traffic Is Important to Your Business
- Chapter 2: Available Methodologies and Their Accuracy
- Chapter 3: Google Analytics Features, Benefits and Limitations
Part II: Using Google Analytics Reports
- Chapter 4: Using the Google Analytics Interface
- Chapter 5: Reports Explained
Part III: Implementing Google Analytics
- Chapter 6: Getting Up and Running with Google Analytics
- Chapter 7: Advanced Implementation
- Chapter 8: Best-Practices Configuration Guide
- Chapter 9: Google Analytics Hacks
Part IV: Using Visitor Data to Drive Website Improvement
- Chapter 10: Focusing on Key Performance Indicators
- Chapter 11: Real-World Tasks
- Chapter 12: Integrating Google Analytics with Third-Party Applications
So he starts off with an introduction, telling you why you should take analytics so seriously, then he goes on to Google Analytics and runs you through everything, to make sure you know how it works etc. then he goes on to show you how to apply it (including explaining those darned Motion Charts!) He then goes through how to setup Google Analytics properly, so you get all the data like AdWords/AdSense and URL tagging ad campaigns from email etc.
Then he starts to go into the real money makers, defining KPI’s – linking analytics to real world tasks, tracking offline marketing etc. He also introduces Google Website Optimizer and getting started doing multivariate testing, finally he talks about integrating Google Analytics with Third-Party Applications and Call tracking.
Some people will you tell that it’s all about the traffic, but you could also make the case that it’s all about the conversions. Analytics guys love tables, so here’s a demonstration.
Why You Should Buy This Google Analytics Book by Brian
|If you don’t buy this book||If you do buy this book|
|Number of visitors||30,000||30,000|
|Cost per visit||£1||£1|
|Total Cost of Traffic||£30,000||£30,000|
|Revenue per conversion||£100||£100|
|Non-Marketing Profit Margin||50%||50%|
|Cost of book||£0||£17.54|
|Total Marketing ROI||50%||99.94%|
So in the grand scheme of things, this book suddenly looks a lot more appealing, right? OK so the above example is fake, but to achieve the same effect through traffic alone you’d have to double traffic, instantly. That’s quite difficult to do with established sites, so if you want to increase profits from your site’s existing traffic, pre-order Brian’s book on Amazon now (not an affiliate link )
Recently we’ve done a few interesting things with Google Analytics, but as you’d expect from an SEO one of them was How to use Google Analytics Annotations to secretly tell people you hate them and using Google Analytics Advanced Segmentation to measure qualified visits. We’ve also more recently used Google Analytics to measure average page speed times. We’re still collecting data on this at the moment to see how strongly it correlates with rankings.
Analytics as part of SEO
If you’re diligently checking your rankings every morning but not stopping to look at what visitors are actually doing on your site then really, you’re wasting half the benefit that SEO has probably delivered. You’ve spent the last year chasing that #1spot for “tights for men” and think that now you’re there you can just relax and watch the spondoolies roll in.
If your bounce rate is 70% for that term, you’ve got problems and opportunities. Black and white stats prove that either your keyword choice was wrong or you have problems with your presentation or price point. If you’re not looking at that stuff then the person at two or three is the one making more from their ranking.