Marketing Analytics Q&A: The analytics behind SEO

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Introducing calculated metrics in Google Analytics (3)

Can you give me a brief history of how SEO has been measured in the past to how it is measured today?

SEO was traditionally measured by keyword tracking. Basically, SEO companies had automated tools that would check for certain websites ranking for different keywords, and turn these into nice looking PDF reports. If you ever hired an SEO company in the past ten years, you might have received these on a monthly basis.

Over time, as website traffic was deemed more important, reports that included traffic for specific keywords as well may have been included. Google Analytics used to let you see which keywords from organic search were bringing traffic to your website. This would let an SEO company effectively say: “We have targeted these ten keywords and here are the concrete results”.

Then one day, Google decided to mask all this data, citing they didn’t want people focusing on keywords alone. This coincided with a push for longer tail keywords in the algorithm and a change in communication for SEO between Google, Webmasters and SEO professionals.

Last year, Google began providing more comprehensive data through Google Webmaster Tools (Now rebranded as Search Console). Under the Search Analytics section, you can now see keywords, impressions, click-through rate, and a host of other useful metrics. This data can also be linked to Google Analytics, to be accessed directly in the GA interface.

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In late 2015/early 2016, how do I measure my SEO efforts using Google Analytics?

There are a couple of primary reports that are important for doing this, it does rely on your Google Analytics to be linked to your Search Console data, technical instructions for doing that are here:

Access Search Console data in Google Analytics

1) Look at the trend of “Organic Traffic” over a previous six month period.

The fastest way to do this is to select the Organic Traffic segment from Advanced Segments and look at the overall visitor graph. Is it going up, going down, or flat-line?

2) Access the Acquisition > Search Engine Optimisation  > Queries section.

Once you’ve successfully linked your Search Console data, it will appear here. Take note of:

– The number of unique keywords in the table
– The impressions, clicks, CTR, and average position for these keywords

Many keywords in this chart is a good thing and shows your website has spread to longer tail queries. Obviously, queries with higher impressions are good, and if highly relevant to your business should be looking to improve the average position of those queries.

3) With the Organic Search segment on, look at Behaviour > Site Content > Landing Pages.

A good way to see if people from search engines see your valuable content is to see where they land. If your key landing pages are also attracting people from organic search, your best content is likely to be seen and acted upon.

Commonly in this section, you’ll identify a page or two which for some reason has picked up a significant amount of organic search traffic, but provides little additional value to users (It might be a blog post of a few paragraphs long for example). You can work on these pages, linking them to other parts of your website and providing call-to-actions here to capitalise on this traffic.

I hope that helps, get in touch with me if you want to discuss your website search analytics.


Marketing Analytics Q&A: What You Need to Know About Flash and Ad Blockers

Exploring the Analytics Behind Email Marketing (1)

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What’s the big deal about Flash

What’s the big deal about Flash? What do I need to know that affects my business?

Honestly, probably not a lot. When I first read the articles that resurfaced this week regarding the need for websites and applications using Flash to stop doing so, I had a sense of Deja vu. For a regular business owner or professional working in digital marketing, you may still be using a Flash website or have some flash banners. Flash is used by various designers and digital agencies because it has allowed different levels of interactivity for a long time, and these professionals have become used to the framework. As the web has evolved other standards such as HTML 5, have emerged which provide alternatives to Flash.

With many bugs and vulnerabilities, it concern Flash powers many applications, websites, and systems of government and other important organisations. However, for your average small to medium business, it’s unlikely that this will affect your business much. Sure, you will encounter Flash in your everyday browsing as a consumer, but unless you’ve got quoted to build your new website in Flash in 2015, I wouldn’t be too concerned.

As some best case practice, look to:

  • Use standard frameworks/platforms such as WordPress to develop websites and nothing too custom
  • Remember that an excellent animation/video might look cool and sound great when pitched, but will likely slow down/break the user experience for your website visitors
  • Focus on being minimal but functional
  • Design for different devices in mind, as Flash doesn’t work on iOS devices, websites built using Flash usually just break on these devices
  • As a consumer, get a flash blocker in your browser, this will speed things up in general browsing, and you can selectively unblock certain websites, I use “Flash Block” in Chrome
  • Otherwise, just relax, the technology wars will take care of themselves 😉

I’ve read that ad blocking is becoming standard on certain browsers and mobile devices, should I be concerned?

With web giants like Google reaping a lot of money through search and display advertising, there are lots of different voices, conflicts, and opinions in this space. Apple recently released “content blocking” with iOS9 which brought about a slew of as well as ad blockers as apps which actually can block out ads. Browser add-ons that block ads are becoming popular and standard in many implementations.

If you’re relying on display ads to drive your digital marketing strategy, then you’re at least a couple of years out of date. Display can be useful for targeting very specific lists/segments and for remarketing. Outside of “site takeovers” for major news and other favourite websites, you’re unlikely to get much of a click through rate from it (the average is 0.06% Globally which translates to 6 people every 10,000 views).

Doing display well in 2015 involves micro targeting to very specific cookie profiles, retargeting contextual specific ads, dynamic eCommerce retargeting and targeting similar audiences by accessing same cookie pools, such as through Customer Match.

Advertising has moved towards content marketing, or “native” as some pundits have called it and targeted display. News feed style ads on Facebook & LinkedIn – plus sponsored tweets, Instagram posts, etc. have all taken off and are providing results for advertisers. Personally, I think this makes sense. While we’re still having a relatively rough time in consistently consuming some actual valuable content on these platforms, as a society we’re moving away from “classified” type advertising and responding much better to messages which are more relevant to us personally.

So you shouldn’t worry too much that you’ll be seeing fewer banners. It’ll be good for consumption, and at least make your browsing experience cleaner and faster. However, if you’re still relying on display to drive people to your website, look into other platforms, and have a think about how you can provide value as an organisation to your prospective customers.

Pay-Per-Click Acquisition

Google’s AdWords revenue amounted to over $50 Billion US Dollars in 2013. Neil Walter had his first AdWords account 7 years ago and in this article he outlines the key to Pay-Per-Click (PPC) success.

Walter Analytics-Insights-PPCAdwords, or the ads you see on Google search results, are the major money generator for Google. AdWords allows a business to generate traffic from relevant keywords quickly and turn a percentage of those visitors into sales through their website. I’m writing this article to talk about a couple of businesses that I have been fortunate enough to work with over the years, naturally evolving into their Google AdWords manager. These businesses were in a unique position in that they could “turn on and off’ the AdWords tap as they pleased and generate sales every time the tap was on. What made these businesses unique, was that every conversion they got on their website was worth hundreds, often thousands of dollars. Due to this, it was very important to harness the power of Analytics to measure conversions and what ads were leading to conversion. It was also important to test search, AdWords runs an auction process and determines where to rank companies. Position is based on a metric called AdRank which takes into account your quality score (Click through rate, ad relevance & landing page) and your bid. Obtaining a top of page position and keeping it is usually the result of testing and creating ads that win over your competitors. Having an eye for persuasive ad copy is what makes the difference between a high performing ad and a low one. If you gain a top position, it’s likely you’ll eventually lose to a competitor’s new strategy – so you need to be constatntly innovating to stay at the top.

 I’ve worked on dozens of AdWords accounts over the years and the key factor that leads to success is the time and effort put in. The secret sauce is having a methodology of testing and refinement – and defining a strategy based on the client’s unique niche and cost per sale allowances. AdWords management can take anywhere form 2 to 15 hours a week, so be prepared to pay in order to optimise the channel to your business goals.

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How can my business run a successful AdWords campaign? As a business, you are increasingly likely to encounter a sales pitch for Google AdWords if you are not already on it. If you are just a regular business in a local or lower competition niche, you’re probably ok working with Google To get a presence established. Google has a certification program, so you should only work with an agency who is a Google Partner. If you’re in a highly competitive niche, or you have run AdWords and have not gotten results, Walter Analytics can provide you with an AdWords audit which will go through your setup and make recommendations for imporovements. We also provide management services for selected businesses, usually in competitive markets.

What is the most important advice to take away from this? Buying AdWords means that you are just buying traffic for your website. If the AdWords is targeted, then that traffic is more likely to convert into customers or leads for you. It is important to develop thinking around what you are expecting to get when you buy traffic and how it fits into your business goals. If you’re utilising forms or transactions on your website, then it’s good to create a Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) number that you’re happy paying for a customer. You can work back from this to develop how much you’re willing to pay for a click.

While having a presence on Google search is important, it’s also important to generate business from your marketing dollars, and AdWords allows you to do that very well when used properly.

It’s also likely when using AdWords you’ll notice opportunities to improve your website. Using a software such as Google Analytics to understand how people are using your website, allows you to improve the conversion rate. This is why having a good relationship with a web developer is important, and ensuring that your marketing and digital teams can work well together. Walter Analytics offers an Analytics Auditwhich looks into the data in an Analytics software to create a business insights and generate better ROI from marketing dollars.

Google’s mobile friendly algorithm update

With the convenience of being able to connect to the web while on-the-go, it came as no surprise that mobile usage has seen a significant increase over the years. It was only a matter of time before Google would create an algorithm update with mobile-friendliness as a factor in ranking.

Walter Analytics-Mobile Friendly-SERP

As early as December of last year, Google broke it’s usual silence around SEO factors and announced its intent to introduce a new search ranking algorithm favouring mobile-friendliness. What the community would, later on, coin this day as “Mobilegeddon”, it isn’t really as dire as they make it out it to be. Why? Because the algorithm update only affects Google’s mobile organic search rankings.

Which is not to say, of course, that it’s not important. 80% of the global internet users own a smartphone, after all, with an increasing number of users using mobile as their only online device.* From today onwards, it will benefit your website to be mobile-optimised following a number of criteria such as readable content and font sizes, among others.

How to determine if your website is mobile-friendly? If Google has already indexed your website as mobile-friendly, it will be labeled as such in the mobile search results as seen on the photo above. If it hasn’t been indexed yet, there is also the Mobile-Friendly Test tool by Google. What’s more, with this algorithm change, a website can only be either “mobile friendly” or “not mobile friendly” based on page by page mobile-friendliness instead of a site-wide ranking . With that basis, even if some of your web pages are not optimised for mobile, it would not affect the indexing of your website as mobile-friendly. That should provide enough time to make sure that pages with important content are optimised for mobile view.

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As previously stated, this update will only impact search rankings on Google’s mobile search. Rest assured that this will not impact your desktop ranking or search rankings on searches done on tablets and the like. While the algorithm works real time, the changes in ranking of non mobile-friendly websites will be expected in a few days or even a few weeks (depending on how long the algorithm has to crawl through small or large websites) with the extent of the impact still unknown as of the moment.

To find out how the change will affect your rankings, feel free to reach out.

Here is a Q&A video from Google for more information regarding algorithm change.

*Global Web Index: Q3 2014 Global Popularity of Digital Device Usage

Why does Google Prefer Responsive Web Design?

There are currently 4 billion mobile phones in the world. 1.08 billion are smartphones.

That number is expected to double within a few years.

The emerging economies of China and India have been unprecedented in contributing to the growth of the international smart-phone market in 2014. Google Android One is a smart-phone valued at around $US105 targeting the Indian middle-class market providing a reliable and affordable way for the next billion people to access online platforms.

Samsung was knocked off its top spot as the market leader in China for the first time in 4 years by local handset provider Xaomi, who was also able to realise the potential of targeting the emerging middle-class.

With E-Commerce becoming an increasingly global trade, and mobile becoming the dominant medium, usability needs to be the number one priority for ensuring a positive user experience.

What is responsive web design?

A responsive design simply means a website that has been constructed so that all of the content, images and structure of the site can be viewed optimally on any device.

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Why is it useful to your consumers?

Zooming and shrinking texts and images on a screen? Opening a mobile only website on a desktop? We all know how frustrating this is.

Studies have shown that 61% of users will immediately leave an unresponsive website rating it as a negative user experience and 67% more likely to purchase from the website if it is a positive experience.

A responsive design is easier and more convenient for users to read and navigate, when there is just one URL and HTML, it is much easier for your consumers to share, engage and interact with site content.

Google Prefers Responsive Web Design

It is more efficient for Google’s bots to crawl through your site and then index and organise all the content that is online, opposed to attempting to index multiple versions of the exact same site.

Google also realises that unhappy people will go elsewhere, meaning that bounce rates increase and the site will not rank on mobile searches. This creates an issue involving Google’s external link algorithm and on-page errors.

Which in turn, also harms your SEO.

Mobile responsiveness is not a new concept in digital marketing… check your device breakdown in Google Analytics, and update your websites today before your competitors take your customers tomorrow.