For all sorts of reasons (more on that in a minute), Avinash Kaushik is an authority on search analytics. He's also a likable and entertaining speaker. SES New York attendees were in for a treat, then, as Kaushik delivered a keynote address titled "Be Awesome: Ideas for Approaching Search Analytics Differently."
Kaushik wears several hats. He works as Google's analytics evangelist, and is also the cofounder and chief education officer of Market Motive. What's more, he's a blogger and the author of two books (Web Analytics 2.0 and Web Analytics: An Hour A Day, with proceeds going to charity).
So let's now move on to what Kaushik had to say. He considers a number of different tools useful, and referenced Google Analytics Yahoo Web Analytics, Juice Analytics, and Wordle. The key thing is to reduce a massive glob of data to something manageable and identify useful keywords and trends. Then, "Focus efforts to where you will have the highest ROI."
That doesn't mean you should ignore all but a couple of data points, though. Kaushik recommended thinking about the long tail. Half of his site's visitors come from search engines via 26,000 keywords, for example. And "look at the now to predict the now" is a related piece of advice.
Of course, that brings up another key thing: have an accurate attribution model, not the "make crap up" approach some people take. Kaushik argued that it's necessary to realize your impact in order to achieve greatness. And he suggested using the margin-based decay attribution model, which gives the bulk of the credit to the last click and then decreasing amounts to previous ones.
Finally, Kaushik suggested running experiments to find out what mix of media produces the best return, all the while keeping an eye on bounce rates that signal "I came, I puked, I left."
WebProNews anchor Abby Johnson contributed to this report.