Web Analytics: The Future, SEO, Tools, and Mistakes

    December 4, 2008
    Chris Crum

It’s no secret that web analytics are important to the success of a website. It looks like that importance might even increase in the future as change unfolds in the search industry, throwing a fork in the spokes of how Internet marketers drive traffic to sites.

Web Analytics and SEO

Rand Fishkin at SEOmoz lists web analytics as one of the top seven reasons that companies are investing in SEO during the economic downturn. "It’s sad, but true," he says. "When a downturn arrives or panic sets in, someone, maybe the first someone in a long time, checks the web analytics to see where revenue is still coming in. Not surprisingly, search engine referrals with their exceptional targeting and intent-matching are ranking high on the list."

Word on the street is that web analytics are going to be playing an even more crucial part than ever in traffic heading into the new year. As both Bruce Clay and Matt Cutts talk about in their respective interviews with WebProNews, Google is going to be getting more personalized with search results, and this is going to make traditional SEO strategies more difficult, and perhaps some even obsolete.

We discussed recently how your site’s bounce rate might already play a role in your search engine rankings. SEO Black Hat shared some interesting findings and Google Analytics data regarding this:

Overall Traffic

Google traffic
Google Traffic

bounce rates
Bounce Rates

Obviously it’s going to take some analysis to improve your bounce rate. Avinash Kaushik, author of Web Analytics: An Hour a Day, and Google Analytics group manager Brett Crosby discussed this with Mike McDonald at SES a while back:

Blog Analytics

Blogs have become a big part of business for many companies, and site-owners. Blogs shouldn’t necessarily be treated like other sites when it comes to analytics however. "There are more companies blogging now than ever," says Lee Odden at Online Marketing Blog. "How do you measure results? Measuring the social web is a different thing than what most web analytics packages offer. It can be easy to start a blog, but making it successful requires an excellent feedback mechanism. Blog analytics is one of those sources of feedback to know what’s working and what’s not."

Odden is conducting a poll on preferred blog analytics tools, and so far Google Analytics is ahead by a long shot.

Blog analytics tools poll

 Kaushik discusses in-depth, six metrics that should be used to measure the success of a blog (as illustrated in his chart below) in a detailed blog post.

blog success metrics

Video Analytics

As online video usage continues to trend upward and video search is improved upon, video analytics are going to carry increasing significance as well. It’s going to be interesting to see the strides made in this department over the coming year.

YouTube has already begun offering a tool – YouTube Insight, which is an analytics program for videos that lets users get a look into where and by whom videos were posted. A couple months ago they released a feature for it that allows you to actually pinpoint the specific parts of videos that get viewed the most. This will be a huge metric, particularly when it comes to advertising. "If you give users the tools to attract larger audiences, they’ll create more ad inventory," as Advertising Age noted.

I’m sure there are a number of other video analytics tools out there, and it will be interesting to see what other tools (and metrics for that matter) become relevant.

Analytics Mistakes

Bryan Eisenberg at the Microsoft AdCenter Blog talks a good deal about the seven biggest mistakes of web analytics, which according to him are as follows:

1. Improper Implementation
2. No Goals Setup
3. No Segmentation
4. Paying Too Much Attention to Irrelevant Data
5. Not Setting up Milestone Events Documentation
6. Not Combining Quantitative Data with Qualitative Data
7.  Not Taking Action On the Data

That last one is the one that should really be weighing on your business-minded conscience, and what is likely going to hurt you more than ever in the future. Although the first one will get you on the wrong track right from the start, so taking care of that should be a top priority.

Let me be blunt. Quit screwing around and start taking your analytical data seriously. It just might be the key to your business’s survival as we face not only economic downturn, but a new world of Internet marketing waiting ahead for us. Thoughts?