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Posts from the ‘SEM Reporting’ Category


Game Plan Your Analytics For Big Sites

The Analytics CommandmentsAnalytics is a lot more than just a snippet of JavaScript code in header (or footer) of your website.
It’s even more than looking at metrics to see where site performance excels or declines. The most important step, and perhaps the biggest hurdle, in analytics is in the implementation on existing sites. Especially on big sites. What I’m talking about specifically is goal implementation on a live site while maintaining the integrity and continuity of data.

There is a Difference

It seems simple enough; you track the funnel of each goal, URL by URL, and drop them in. Most times it’s never that simple. I’ve implemented analytics on both sites: big corporate sites and small and small-ish sites. No two are ever alike and no two ever do things the same way. There’s definitely a difference between implementing analytics on live big sites and on live small sites.

Small Site Goal Implementation Planning

With small sites, there’s a very good chance the site was never tracking anything to begin with. No analytics period. And, if they did have analytics in place, chances are the only thing they ever saw was traffic volumes because either they had never implemented tracking on goal conversions, or they had no conversion to speak of. In this instance, it’s easy. You implement the goals where there were none before and let analytics go to work.

And, even if the site was tracking goals prior, the chances of the having to track more than one or two goals (outside of creating on-click events or virtual page views) is slim. So preparation will be limited and one-to-one goal match-ups are easy to accomplish, as well as the maintaining the continuity of data on the site. At a cautious level for small sites, you may want to dump all the data as far back as it goes in case something does go wrong. In a worst case scenario, you can piece the puzzle back together.

Large Site Goal Implementation PlanningGet Your GA Game Plan Into Action

It’s best to start off this section with being honest. I’ve screwed one up in the past. But it’s that screw up that led me to write this post initially, and was the catalyst to create a game plan of tracking implementation.

Large site goal implementation planning is a different animal all together. They’re complex with lots of spinning wheels and cogs. It’s a formidable task to be sure. But there are ways you can make this project easier on yourself and make the implementation more manageable. Based my own experience (both the failure and the successes) here’s how I like to go about breaking down the implementation:

  • Take at least a year’s worth of data from the site for safe keeping. With big sites, a lot things can happen that are simply beyond your control. You might not be left holding the bag should something go awry, but having the data in case something does go wrong, is the only way to be able to stitch the puzzle together.

If you’re entering the game late and you don’t have time to grab that data, I’d suggest that you dive into the analytics themselves. Reverse Goal Path is a wonderful thing to track down all the destination URLs of all the past goals. Moreover, under the assumption new profiles haven’t been created, you can set date ranges to see that past activity and make record of it.

  • Make sure you’re talking with the company point-person to make sure you have ALL the goals they want tracked.

Just looking through the site isn’t enough in this case. You may not find all the trackable goals on your own, and you may not know the client wants certain events to be tracked, or you may be tracking something they don’t care about (wasting valuable goals). It sounds like common sense, but when you get into time deadlines and pre-launch mode, things get missed. And the last thing anyone of us wants to do is miss critical trackables.

  • Examine all your client’s current goals.

I’ve run into a couple times where clients unknowingly have had been “double-counting” goals. Or incorrectly tracking goals. The sole purpose of doing this is to leave no surprises for the client. When you implement anew, site conversion rates change (for better or worse). What you don’t want to happen is to see the conversion rate for a goal or two plummet and have no explanation. In this way you can prepare a client for what they may be likely to see due to double-counting.

  • Map out current goals with new goals and match them up

This is the mistake a made. I didn’t do this. And it’s critical. Because many larger sites will be close to exhausting all 20 goals in a profile (if not utilizing a second profile for tracking), not making a one-to-one match ups where possible will crush the integrity of the data. While you may retain the continuity of the data, it’ll be worthless. Profiles live on forever, and as such, mis-matched goals can, and likely will, wipe out the data integrity.

  • Finally, discuss with your client how they want the goals implemented. Do they want new profiles or use existing profiles

It’s a big decision that can affect how reporting is done. Communication is a key here. As the SEO/SEM you need to layout the ramifications of each option. On one hand, to create new profiles, the data continuity starts from the day you create it. On the other hand, if there isn’t much match-up between old goal tracking and new goal tracking, does it make sense to make the data mushy? Every situation will be different, so this is a conversation that should be had.

Hopefully this helps you start putting a game plan together when you are about to implement new goal tracking on both small and big sites. I’d love to hear your suggestions on how you game plan your analytics implementation.


Search Marketing Reporting for Pros

Search Marketing Reporting for Pros

On the blog I talk a lot about techniques, theories, and applications in SEM that can help you maximize your client’s ROI and increase th

eir profitability. With the launch of our new book eProfitability, we spent the majority of it simply helping C-Level and upper management folks get their arms around the search marketing landscape and how to apply the years of experience we have to engineer a solid campaign.

But we didn’t spend much time on reporting, admittedly. And, when I think about it, there’s definitely a gap within the SEM industry as to what a “report” should be and should contain. There is no standardized reporting method for SEMs and SEOs. The aim here is not to suggest there be one, but to show how I create full-scale reports, and through this create some continuity for SEOs and SEMs to prove just how much we are worth to a company.

The “What Has Search Done For Me Lately” Argument

We’ve all heard the following statement: “the results are really good, and we’ve definitely moved up in rank, but for the amount of money we spend, we’re just not seeing the return.”  And, if your reporting isn’t set up to show that ROI, the profitability, then you have no way to prove it.  When you meet with your clients, 9 time out of 10, you’re meeting with your primary contact and the budget shot-callers. Your primary knows what you’ve done and what profitability you’ve brought them through your efforts, the shot-callers don’t.

Reports for Pros

You’ve got to have a blend of 30,000 ft data for the budget-makers and ground-level data for the grunts. As SEOs and SEMs we tend to think the nitty-gritty details carry the most weight, are the most insightful, and help to generate strategies going forward. Budget-makers could give a rat’s ass about those details. Everyone’s got some to report, and upper-level management and CEOs, the only thing they’re going to care about is profitability. “How many leads and how much money are you making us?”

KPI (Key Performace Indicators)

KPIs do exactly that (albeit from a search perspective).  This is a custom report I create to give the CEO/upper-level folks their profitability data. If you have a site w/ e-comm, then you’ll most certainly want to include a couple of those metrics in KPI report as well.  I use Source/Medium as the dimension. Essentially, this is a very high-level overview to give any executive concerned with the bottom-line: are we generating more leads/sales, and is the search strategy working?

Key Performance Indicator Report

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Keyword Report (with Filtering and Pivot)

If your an SEO, you’re probably already using this report (at least you should be). This keyword report (below) has a little twist to it; I filter out brand and website mentions and use the pivot option to compare across engines by visits and goal conversion rate. Quick lesson how to filter:

  1. Filter Keyword = Excluding
  2. use “^” in front of brand keywords and website (i.e. ^[company name]|^www|^http|^[brand misspellings])

This report, in my estimation, is the heart of every SEO strategy report. It shows the increase/decrease of non-brand related keywords in conjunction with conversion rates across major sources of traffic. Right here is where great SEO Strategy is borne from.

Organic Keyword Report with Filter and Pivot

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Top Landing Pages (with Pivot)

Landing pages are, for most young SEOs and SEMs, are constantly overlooked and hardly thought about. Why is this report important? Two reasons:

  1. As an SEO/SEM you have to know your top entrance points in the site. That is, what pages users find directly, are referred to from external sources, and through the search engines
  2. And, most importantly, how are the users reacting to those pages when they get there? Has the bounce rate increased or decreased?

Knowing these two things, we can then assess what the search engines are finding relevant to show users for queries and, if you’re bounce rate is up drastically because of the new targeting, what measures you could implement to make sure users find the most useful, pertinent information to stick around and convert. It most likely involves tweaking the onsite targeting and keyword choices.

Top Landing Pages Report with Pivot

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Map to Keyword Report (with Pivot)

This is another custom report for international clients. Many times CEOs/upper-level management want to know where, globally, traffic is coming from. More than that, they want to know about the keywords these visitors used to find the site. The Map Overlay to Keyword report does just that. It’s not as pretty as the Map Overlay report, but the data there is invaluable.  Once again, using the Pivot function, we change pivot from “source” to “medium” and we can tell how international versions of search engines (most likely Google everywhere but China) are treating your site organically.

Map Locations to Organic Keyword Usage Report with Pivot

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Answering the Question: What Have You Done For Me Lately?

So there you have it. Four search marketing PRO reports that will help answer that question and continue to prove to clients the value you’re bringing to the table.

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