Search And Web Analytics What You Dont Know

Search And Web Analytics What You Dont Know

I'M the​ NUMBERS GUY. in​ an​ interactive agency full of​ creative, vibrant, idea people, I'm the​ guy wearing the​ Coke-bottle glasses and​ pocket protector who counts all of​ the​ traffic to​ our clients' sites.

I analyze Web traffic, campaign data, and​ the​ like to​ describe and​ explain users' behaviors and​ how those behaviors impact business goals. Something not many people do or​ understand. and​ when you've done what I do for​ as​ long as​ I've done it​ (about seven years now), you tend to​ get a​ little full of​ yourself. Well, at​ least I do. People in​ marketing are often anxious about math and​ Microsoft Excel. I do what I can to​ foster that angst in​ the​ name of​ job security.

However, being the​ results guy has led me to​ the​ often mistaken conclusion that I can get the​ whole picture using the​ site data at​ my disposal. I can tell you what users' needs are by where they go on a​ site. I can tell you where users run into trouble by where they leave a​ site, particularly if​ they leave in​ the​ middle of​ a​ process. I can tell you about users' expectations of​ the​ information architecture by the​ paths they take, the​ paths they don't, and​ by which ones convert better.

But I've got to​ admit that Web traffic data can't tell you everything. it​ can't tell you much about users' intent. it​ can't tell you what users are really looking for​ or​ how they would describe what they're looking for. Fortunately, that's where my friends in​ the​ search engine marketing department come in.

Of course I believed that I understood search for​ years. Yes, I understood the​ difference between an​ organic and​ a​ sponsored listing. I understood what paid inclusion was, how some engines powered others, and​ why your search rankings may not improve overnight. I even understood what meta tags were, why they were so important in​ the​ past, and​ why they are now so marginalized, poor things.

What I didn't see was the​ big picture. Understanding how users search, what keywords and​ engines they use, and​ how they respond to​ content within the​ context of​ their search peels another layer off the​ onion of​ true understanding (I'm sorry for​ that analogy, I really am). By looking at​ how users find your site, you can learn so much more about intent and​ perspective than you can by simply looking at​ a​ user's path out of​ context.

A great example of​ this deeper understanding occurred while I was working with our search marketing team to​ develop and​ measure keyword categories. We took the​ keyword list we had selected for​ optimization and​ created logical groups. By looking at​ keyword groups, we were essentially building customer segments that gave us greater insight into behavior. We can now track the​ popularity of​ searches within keyword groups to​ see the​ effect of​ business cycles, news, and​ promotion on search behavior. We can also track conversion by keyword group to​ better understand how our client's site meets the​ needs of​ different audiences.

I will resist the​ temptation to​ say that after working with our search marketing team, I now know all there is​ to​ know. What I think I've learned is​ that I had better take the​ thick glasses off before they ruin my vision. and​ hopefully what you've learned is​ that there's a​ lot more to​ site traffic and​ search marketing than meets the​ eye.

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