SMX London: Analytics every SEO should know

Wed 20 May 2009 15:28, Heini van Bergen

One of the sessions to look forward to the most on the second day of SMX London, was "Analytics Every SEO Needs To Know". Beforehand Rand Fishkin already challenged Distilleds Will Critchlow for a real presentation-off on this topic. The session did live up to it's expectations.

Julian Lynch
Julian Lynch who was also on the panel started off with his presentation on essential search analytics. Julian believes analytics is essential because of:

- SEO is slow and time consuming
- You must optimise for conversion / interaction
- You should use other channels to test
- Achieving visitors is only half the battle --> Think about customer journey 

One important condition is to define your objectives:
- Web presence
- Qualified traffic
- Interaction
- Revenue

When it comes to content Julian mentions the five most important aspects in using analytics related to content:
- Achieve higher visibility for higher performing pages
- Identify and 301 redirect 404-pages
- Monitor page bounce rates:
* Should be lower for pages targeting few keywords
* Essential for evaluating effectiveness of content
 - Top landing pages:
* Keep these pages fresh
* Ensure your users can access easily

* Ensure your users can access easily
* Used to optimise site structure and internal linking scheme
- Usability:
  * Funnels
  * Are people doing what you want them to

 When we get into conversion, we should look at:
- When are they happening
- Are people doing what you want them to do
- Look at changes in activity over time
- Drill down on other campaigns
- What actions need to be taken:
  * Landingpage opt.
  * Content fine tuning
  * Link Bait
Analyzing your top referring websites can make things clear on:
- Effectiviness of linking campaign
- Identify themes and verticals
- Measure bounces
- Request link changes
The final part of the presentation Julian focussed on the limitations of using Analytics:
- Javascript and bots
- Log File Analysis
- Ownership
- Reporting 

Rand Fishkin


After this introduction, it was time for the battle in SEO between Rand Fishkin and Will Critchlow. Rand was the first one to enter the arena and immediately kicked Will's but in bringing both their wifes in play. After these punches the presentation finally took off. With a dazzling speed Rand talked about Estimating competitors traffic, predicting SEO rankings, comparing Compete, Alexa, Quantcast and other providers of website traffic.

The final conclusion was that it's impossible to estimate competitors traffic of predict rankings based on one single metric. Between the lines Rand gave away a teasers for something new that is happening in SEOmoz at the end of June.

In the next part of Rand's presenation he was discussing the KEI formula on determining the right keywords, based on popularity and competition. the outcome was that the KEI analysis is useless in this form.
On using analytics for measuring different things, Rand described the following rating criteria:
- accuracy
- consistency
- coverage
- granularity
- actionability
Rand ended his presentation / show by summing up the reasons to vote for him in the presentation-off. We had the wait until the end of the session to see if that brought him enduring fame.

Will Critchlow


In challenging Rand, Will took a more practical approach. Will kicked off with his presentation on advanced analytics and send everybody out of the room who already was familiar with regular expressions in analytics.
Will's focus was getting more out of your analytics reporting. His first tip was to always keep an unfiltered profile to prevend messing up valuable data. 

 Some nice things you van do with custom filters are:
- Leave ip-addresses out
- Determine the real keyphrase fro PPC campaigns
- Analyse referring domains; finally separate & .com
- Universal search results; this one is still arbitrary

Next to setting up filters in the Analytics environment itself, you can also customise the javascript that's placed on your pages. Some tips Will shares with us:
- addIgnoredOrganic operator; possible ignore keyword to match organic search
- set CookieTimeout; needs no further explaination
- Set NOKey for Paypal transaction to not mess up the referrer data
- setAllowAnchor - if you have tracking url's indexed problems, put them after # tag

After the customisation, Will led us to the sexy part: first-touch tracking. He describe ways to track long-tail organic search traffic to direct visits to branded search.

Will finished his presentation by mentioning the Google analytics Supersetvar (org:<kw>) operator for multi touch tracking. All of this information can be found in the Google Analytics guidelines.

The session ended by voting for the winner of the presentation-off between Rand and Will. After a discussion on how to count votes, the audience was clear on who the winner was: Will Critchlow!


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