Search & Analytics provides readers with tips and techniques for utilizing web search analytics and measurement tools to define and manage success metrics from (organic and paid) search driven traffic. Columnists write about the basics of implementing analytics software, covering tagging and tracking search traffic to more advanced issues and topics such as ROI and conversion tracking, as well as how to gain greater insight and develop actionable strategies from your search analytics data.

How To Turn (Not Provided) Into Useful, Actionable Data

We've all seen it, lurking in our Analytics reports, nearly always at the top, sucking a huge chunk of data into a black hole of uncertainty and uselessness. Not provided was predicted as having a single-digit impact on sites. In my research, I've found it to have upwards of a 40% impact, especially on smaller traffic sites. In conversations with clients, and looking at my own sites, I knew the numbers had to be better – but what do you tell a client when chunks of data, in some cases over 30%, are attributed to (not provided) instead of the keywords you've given time, attention and te [...]


10 Simple Tips To Make Your Excel Charts Sexier

Having covered all the basics of how to make tabular data tell a story using custom cell formatting and conditional formatting for both static tables and pivot tables, we're now going to jump into the really fun stuff: charting data out in Excel. I’m not going to cover the basics of creating charts in this post. If you want a primer, you can find this resource from Microsoft for the PC and this one for the Mac. 1.  Remove Noise From Your Chart’s Background When you’re presenting data, it's very important to reduce the noise and hone in on actionable signals. If you have read just a [...]


Why Clean Source Tagging Is Worth Your Time

Messy, incomprehensible analytics make my stomach churn. Just knowing that I’m going to spend the next several hours cleaning up sloppy data puts the kibosh on my day. The problem with Google Analytics, or any analytics package for that matter, is that even if my site is properly tagged and I’ve developed a systematic inbound link tagging notation, it’s almost certain that my Source/Medium/Referral URL reports will still include inconsistencies that need to be resolved to provide accurate reporting: Software doesn’t know what isn’t logically defined. Google does a decent job of [...]


How To: Google Analytics Installation For Novices & Beginners

If you're an intermediate to advanced Google Analytics user, this article will probably be of little interest to you personally. I suggest you bookmark it anyway as a reference for clients or friends who are just starting out with Analytics. As a long-time agency employee, I see many clients, prospects and even casual acquaintances with websites that feature absolutely no Analytics data. They have no idea what is going on, or what they're missing because the visitors that come to their site disappear into a vacuum. This article is meant to walk first-time installers through the process, [...]


How To Go Picasso On Your Data With Conditional Formatting

Anyone who knows me knows I’m not a fan of tabular data (data in tables). If you want your data to be persuasive, it needs to be visual. However, when you’re dealing with large data sets that’s not always feasible. For example, when I’m dealing with data from webmaster tools or Screaming Frog, there’s just too much data to analyze with charts. That’s where conditional formatting comes in handy. Unlike custom cell formatting, which is static, conditional formatting is based on — you guessed it — conditions that you set. You can find the Conditional Formatting options on [...]


The Right Time To Start Analyzing Data

You’re a product person. You’ve bootstrapped together your website, dropped relevant metadata, setup an e-commerce platform, installed analytics, and are generating solid original content on your site and/or blog. You’re doing everything by the book. But the question remains: when it is the right time to dig in and try to understand what people are doing once they get to your site? In the early stages of a website, analytics are a double-edged sword. Dig in too early and you don’t have enough data, wait too long and you potentially lose out on opportunities for growth and revenue [...]


A Primer On AdWords Remarketing Using Google Analytics

Remarketing has been around for quite a while as part of the Google AdWords suite of tools. Remarketing works by creating a "list" or "audience" within Google AdWords. The pages that are pertinent to that audience are tagged with special code that allows Google to place a cookie in the browser of anyone who visits that page. It's a great way for you to get your brand out there in front of your website visitors, even when they're not thinking about shopping and buying from your site. There are tons of ways for you to segment your website to serve remarketing ads; you can even get as granular [...]


Easy To Advanced Uses Of Cell Formatting In Excel

In my post on table formatting, I demonstrated how to transform your static data into a simple yet sexy database in a matter of seconds. If you don't know how to use table formatting, go read that post and then come back. Otherwise, your data will look like one of those housewives who goes to grocery store with curlers and a moo moo sporting red lipstick. Enough chatter. Let's jump in. If you want to follow along, you can download the Excel file. (Just click the Download button in the upper-right corner of your browser window. Don't ask me why Dropbox sticks it up there. Developers ...) St [...]


3 Ways To Advance Maturity In Your SEO Metrics

analytics-analysis-featured The sophistication with which companies analyze their natural search visibility and the metrics they use to do so can vary widely up and down the spectrum. There is often little correlation between how sophisticated a company is in other areas of their online business and their level of sophistication when it comes to their natural search metrics. There are, however, definite benefits to becoming more savvy in how you look at your natural search programs. Visibility trends can inform strategy, competitive insight can impact a tactical approach, and gradual increases in your sophistication c [...]


How To Get Smart(er) With Conversion Tracking

Taking consumer lifetime value into account allows performance marketers to manage more volume at a higher cost per acquisition (CPA) or lower return on investment (ROI). If $1 of revenue at the time of conversion leads to an additional $1 of revenue ($2 total) down the road then breakeven for marketing is 0.5 ROI or a CPA equal to 50% of the average order value (AOV) and anything better is money in the bank. However, simply multiplying the conversion value by the perceived lifetime value (LTV) can provide convoluted and misleading metrics because we cannot operate under the assumption that [...]


Figure Out What Is Important, Then Measure It

As search marketers, we are constantly digging around in analytics, finding data, thinking it looks neat, then stepping back and saying, "But is this important?" I've done this a million times, and recently came across a quote that put some of what I'm always looking for into perspective. Don't make the measurable things important but make the important things measurable. The data you have is not necessarily the data you need to succeed. I think we go about this all wrong sometimes. Instead of finding data in Google Analytics or some other tracking program and trying to figure out if [...]


How To Manage Big Data With Pivot Tables

Big data is all the rage right now. If you search Google News for the term, there are 53,500 thousand results. And that's just the news. Most of us in Internet marketing aren't truly working with big data, in the truest sense of the word. However, when we're investigating things like the competitive landscape for a particular keyword we want to target, we're definitely working with bigger data sets than your everyday, garden-variety spreadsheet. When you're trying to find correlations and causal relationships, anything short of a pivot table is going to fall short. Pivot tables are [...]


Making The Case For Adding Keyword Segmentation To Your SEO Repertoire

Last month in The Forgotten SEO Strategy: Targeting Striking Distance Keywords we talked about how search professionals could approach their keyword strategy by targeting keywords based on their ranking position. Specifically, we showed how they can target striking distance keywords—keywords ranking on page 2—to obtain some quick traffic wins while simultaneously building link equity for longer term targets. This month, I want to advance the conversation and dive deeper into the topic, by providing specific examples of how keyword segmentation can provide insight that will shape your [...]


When Keeping Analytics Real Time Goes Wrong

Virtually every piece of software I get pitched puts near to or real time analytics at my fingertips 24/7/365. It sounds fantastic and in some cases, is true - but the reality of ‘real time’ data is that very few products actually deliver data in real time due to the need to process raw data or dependency on other not-so-real-time technologies. But, this article is not about whether or not real time data actually comes in real time – what’s more important the than latency of delivery is the accuracy and subsequent value of real time versus aggregated data sets. In order to unders [...]


Virtual Pageviews Or Event Tracking – Which Is Right For You?

An interesting challenge came across my desk this week. A site owner had installed a new contact form plugin on their WordPress website and they were struggling with tracking the submissions. The form submit button triggered some JavaScript and didn't then open its own thank you page within the site. The problem? Virtual Pageviews were previously chosen as the necessary method of seeing submissions. The new form was not recording those Virtual Pageviews. Something was wrong with the tracking setup when using the new contact form handling system. Unfortunately, the need for this new [...]


A Marketer’s Guide To Table Formatting In Excel

If there’s one task most marketers share — whether their focus is SEO, paid search, or social media — it’s collecting and interpreting data. Being able to slice and dice the data to find actionable insights is key to effective analysis. Yet, one of the biggest mistakes marketers make is trying to wrangle static data instead of taking advantage of Excel’s table formatting, which basically turns your data range into an interactive database. I hope to rectify that injustice against innocent data with this guide. Microsoft introduced table formatting in its 2007 version (2011 for M [...]


Using Data To Plan Your Future, Not Look To The Past

Data is everywhere, we can pull numbers from a wide variety of resources – put them in spreadsheets, compare them to each other, draw conclusions based on data – there are a lot of things we can do with data. The thing we can do, but not many of us do – is use the data to develop a strategy to move our online marketing forward. We're all guilty, we sometimes want the numbers to be enough, and sometimes they are. Reporting numbers and numbly cutting and pasting graphics not only doesn't move your company forward, it's driving your marketing team crazy. Everyone up and down the chain [...]


What Trademark Search Data Can Reveal About User Behavior

I can’t count the number of times I’ve been challenged by advertisers on the topic of trademark search. The question is simple: why "waste" money buying traffic on trademark keywords when it is clear that the user intends to get to their site? Researching the topic, there have been a number of studies all concluding that it is worthwhile to advertise on trademarked search terms. A selection of notable articles include: Think Insights with Google: Search Ads Pause ChannelAdvisor: The Value of Bidding on Brand Terms in Paid Search SearchEngineLand: Should You Bid on a Keyword if y [...]


How Big Data Changed Crime Fighting & Is Changing The Practice Of SEO

In the mid 1990’s, New York city Mayor Rudolph Giuliani introduced a technology-based crime measurement system called CompStat. The system enabled Police leadership, for the first time, to discern crime trends and respond to crime fluctuations on a neighborhood-by-neighborhood basis rather than the limited incident-by-incident view they previously had. The system is credited with a 60% drop in major crime and has subsequently been adopted by major cities including Washington DC, Los Angeles, Baltimore, and Philadelphia. Interestingly, all that really sparked the change was the acquisition [...]


Using Google Analytics To Collect & Benefit From AdWords Position ROI

As an agency, we talk a lot about client expectations and understanding. Reality and actuality sometimes don’t start off in the same place, or even the same hemisphere. When we talk about Google AdWords, clients sometimes expect a few hours of education on how the setup of a campaign works, and then they’re off and running – generating thousands of dollars with minimal involvement. That’s their expectation. The reality is AdWords for even a moderate budget could really be a full-time, 40-hour-per-week job. There are many intricacies in an AdWords account, and it’s becoming more co [...]


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