In-House Search Analysis: Who & When
Numbers don’t lie. For in-house search marketers analysis is critical for reporting performance, identifying trouble spots, and finding your next great opportunity. If you hire an agency or consultant to help with your search marketing, the numbers reflect success of that agency’s work, and can tell you ultimately if the agency is worth what they charge.
In this and future articles, I’ll share analytics insights that I’ve picked up as an in-house marketer. Here you’ll learn some approaches on how much time to spend, which team should do your analysis work, and how often you should analyze search data.
How much is enough?
As an in-house marketer you can probably expect to spend 20% or more of your time reporting and analyzing data. On some days I spend 50% of my time on reporting and analysis. If you’re spending less than 20% of your time reporting and analyzing search data, you may be missing something.
I’m a do-it-yourselfer. Electrical wiring, plumbing, laptop repair – you name it, I’ll try it myself. I take a similar approach with reporting and analysis.
Get up close and personal with the numbers. Even if you rely other teams to provide certain data, put together reports and do the analyzes yourself when you can. The process can help you better understand the data. It’s hard not to know the numbers when you’re the one putting them together. Based on your knowledge of search, you also may be better positioned to see certain trends in the data.
As a bonus, in doing your own analyses you’ll learn more about your Web reporting software. Having a better understanding of your data sources helps you answer questions about the data. Where does your data come from? How is the data collected? Why visits vs. visitors? Being able to answer questions like these can help distinguish you as an expert. Know where your data is coming from and how it is reported.
If you lead an in-house search team, you might want to have every member of your team do some regular reporting and analysis. It’s an important skill for every search marketer, and in doing the work your team may just feel a bit more invested in the business.
The most important reports are often the regularly scheduled reports, because they show growth trends and help me recognize problems. You probably have a number of regular reports, at different frequencies for different traffic streams. Setting the frequencies appropriately can help you be more efficient and effective.
For pay-per-click (PPC) search campaigns, you may want to report metrics at least weekly for each search engine in which you advertise. PPC metrics can change quickly as a result of changes in the search engine networks, your competitors’ ad strategies, and other factors. When there’s a sudden change in PPC cost and/or ROI, it needs to be addressed quickly. This makes the regular PPC reports perhaps some of the most critical.
If you measure search traffic or conversions daily, sometimes the data simply doesn’t change enough to be significant. However if the numbers that you’re reporting are very large, then a daily report may make sense. Daily analysis can help you understand search traffic patterns by day of the week. I would expect the search patterns to reflect overall site traffic patterns by day. Do you know what changes to expect in search traffic over holidays? Daily analysis over the holidays can give you this insight.
For organic search, unless trends change dramatically from week-to-week then monthly reporting may be sufficient.
For the purpose of pinpointing unexpected problems with affiliate reporting or shifts in marketing strategy by your top affiliates, it’s good to track total affiliate traffic and/or conversions daily. It could take less than ten minutes per day to pull the data and confirm that things are on track. On top of that, a more in-depth weekly or monthly report enables you to analyze trends by affiliate category.
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