Ever since Ideal Positions began offering Read-Only Access to Google AdWords accounts there has been a tremendous amount of feedback, both positive and negative. The positive feedback was expected; many business owners find the level of transparency that Ideal Positions offers to be a breath of fresh air when compared to other providers they have tried in the past. Providing access to Google AdWords directly ensures that the data is completely uncorrupted by any conflicts of interest, which can only be a good thing!
Admittedly, we may have been a little short-sighted in that we didn’t anticipate a common negative reaction to this level of transparency: Google AdWords reporting isn’t the most user-friendly, easy-to-use interface. We know that many of Ideal Positions’ clients enjoy the services we offer partly because those clients don’t have to worry about navigating or monitoring the labyrinth that is the Google AdWords Web Interface. So, in an effort to provide greater transparency, I must admit that we may have fallen a little short of the mark by over-complicated the reporting process. As an Internet marketing agency, Ideal Positions isn’t afraid to admit when we may have made a mistake, and I believe that fact serves to further accentuate the level of transparencey and honesty you get when working with us.
In light of this experience, Ideal Positions is proud to announce a new, custom-built in-house reporting suite that is significantly easier to use than the Google AdWords reporting! Our staff is really excited about all the hard work our developers have put into designing this new reporting suite, and we’re excited to enhance our clients’ experience by providing the metrics they care about the most in a simplified, easy-to-view format. This new reporting pulls data directly from Google Adwords and bing Ads, so it is still 100% unadulterated. Data is pulled automatically using existing features available in Google AdWords and bing Ads, combined with custom software built by Ideal Positions’ in-house developers. There is no data entry involved, and as such there is no room for typos or other “human error.”
What Data is Available in the New Reporting Suite?
Using the new reporting suite, you will be able to view the total number of clicks (how many times your ads were clicked on), the total number of impressions (how many times your ads were viewed), and the Clickthrough Rate (CTR) from Ideal Positions’ service, broken-down by keyword and by search engine. With nearly two years of feedback from clients that have had access to the Google AdWords accounts that Ideal Positions uses to advertise their websites, we believe that this will be just enough reporting to be of value to our clients without over-complicating the reports to the point of obfuscation. To see how these clicks are performing once the user gets to your site, Ideal Positions recommends the use of Google Analytics.
In addition to providing reporting for the Google AdWords account that Ideal Positions uses to drive traffic to your website, the new reporting suite will now allow you to see how many clicks and impressions you are receiving from bing Ads! Better yet, the reporting for both Google AdWords and bing Ads is now available all in one report. You will no longer need to contact Ideal Positions to get a traffic report for bing Ads, that data is now available all in one place.
Lead Attribution and The Future of Ideal Positions’ New Reporting Suite
Reporting on clicks, impressions, and Clickthrough Rate is only the beginning. Over time, Ideal Positions plans to integrate automated lead attribution into the reporting suite, giving our clients even more direct access to metrics that specifically measure how many phone calls, contact form submissions, newsletter signups, downloads, and online purchases that are directly attributable to Ideal Positions’ advertising services.
We’ve already set the wheels in motion to begin offering advanced call tracking using Google Analytics and Ideal Positions’ new reporting suite beginning in 2014. Using dynamically-generated phone numbers, combined with custom-built landing pages expertly designed just for Search Engine Marketing, Ideal Positions will be able to track roughly how many phone calls you receive from our service, and even show which keywords were most responsible for generating the phone calls. This data can be used over time to refine the allocation of advertising spend to the avenues that generate the most revenue for our clients.
Additionally, we plan on integrating contact form submission tracking into the new reporting suite, also beginning in 2014. For those of you that get more form submissions than phone calls, this system will play a key role in reporting roughly how many submissions are directly attributable to Ideal Positions’ services, and the data can be reported right there in the new reporting suite alongside the rest of your campaign performance metrics.
Over time, we hope to create a one-stop reporting system for our clients to use that will provide the same level of transparency that Ideal Positions has become known for, while keeping a refreshing level of simplicity that will save advertisers both time and money.
All new accounts initiated with Ideal Positions between December 16th, 2013 and January 31st, 2014 pay no setup fees! Simply give the coupon code NOSETUP13 to your Customer Service Representative when you sign up with Ideal Positions, and applicable setup fees will be waived. Past clients returning to Ideal Positions are eligible as well!
Promotion Rules: Purchase necessary to receive rebate. Coupon code must be given to a representative of Ideal Positions prior to January 31st, 2014 in order to qualify for waived setup fees. If the coupon code is provided by January 31st, 2014, setup fees will be waived for all Customer Service Agreements with a Date of Sale between December 16th, 2013 and January 31st, 2014. Offer valid only to persons that own or make final marketing decisions for US-based businesses. Qualification for waived setup fees will be at the sole discretion of Ideal Positions. All advertising campaigns must conform to all existing Terms & Conditions of Ideal Positions’ Fixed-Rate SEM service, Local Listings Optimization, Google AdWords, bing Ads, and any other applicable platforms and/or services. Advertising will not be provided for any businesses, organizations, or persons that Ideal Positions deems to present a conflict of interest, including but not limited to businesses that could be viewed as a competitor of Ideal Positions. Offer void where prohibited.
All businesses that sign-up for Ideal Positions’ advertising services between now and January 31st, 2014 will receive a rebate equal to 10% of any increase in advertising spend with a Date of Sale between December 16th, 2013 and January 31st, 2014.
Simply give the coupon code 10HOLIDAY13 to your Customer Service Representative to sign up for your rebate!
Promotion Rules: Purchase necessary to receive rebate. Coupon code must be given to a representative of Ideal Positions prior to January 31st, 2014 in order to qualify for a rebate. Rebates will be provided to qualifying clients by February 28th, 2014. Rebates will be provided in the form of a refund to the client’s credit card. In the event rebates cannot be provided via credit card refund, a check equal to the total rebate will be mailed to the client’s billing address. An “increase” in advertising spend is defined as any advertising fees in excess of the highest fees paid by the client in any 30-day period within 180 days prior to the coupon code being used by the client. Ideal Positions holds the sole and final discretion in calculating rebate totals. No rebates will be paid on any advertising fees received after January 31st, 2014. Ideal Positions holds the sole discretion in determining when advertising fees are “received.” Offer valid only to persons that own or make final marketing decisions for US-based businesses. Whether the winner has received their rebate will be at the sole discretion of Ideal Positions. All advertising campaigns must conform to all existing Terms & Conditions of Ideal Positions’ Fixed-Rate SEM service, Local Listings Optimization, Google AdWords, bing Ads, and any other applicable platforms and/or services. Advertising will not be provided for any businesses, organizations, or persons that Ideal Positions deems to present a conflict of interest, including but not limited to businesses that could be viewed as a competitor of Ideal Positions. Offer void where prohibited.
The origins of Ideal Positions can be found in the humble setting of a small studio apartment and the ambitious vision of founder and entrepreneur Kelsy Anderson. In the beginning, Kelsy and a small handful of employees sold online advertising exclusively to real estate agencies and realtors on what was then the largest search engine on the internet, Yahoo!. What happened from there eventually flourished and grew into the bustling, successful company that Ideal Positions is today, boasting over 40 dedicated employees, multiple departments collaborating in their expertise, and countless clients who have seen their own businesses flourish and grow alongside our truly unique company. What follows are some of the sea changes that led to where Ideal Positions is today and where we are still going. You will find that Ideal Positions is a company that has adapted to the changes of our industry, stayed ahead of the curve, and yet never sacrificed the integrity and personal touches that make our company special.
Any business that has been involved in Search Engine Marketing (SEM) as long as Ideal Positions remembers the days when Yahoo! was king. Ideal Positions began by advertising exclusively on the Yahoo! and MSN search engines using the Overture Pay Per Click (PPC) platform. In these early days, Ideal Positions’ focus was solely on marketing for real estate professionals. As the success of the company grew and our top-notch marketing was proven with scores of realtors, it was time for Ideal Positions to expand its services beyond the real estate market. Over the years, Ideal Positions has brought expert marketing and campaign management to a wide variety of different industries, including attorneys, photographers, plastic surgeons, locksmiths, bail bondsmen, carpet cleaners, electricians, contractors, counselors, therapists, dentists, plumbers, wedding planners, and countless other industries too numerous to mention. Ideal Positions continues to expand into new verticals, building experience and expertise with a vast diversity of businesses.
As the Internet evolved, so did Ideal Positions. It wasn’t long before Ideal Positions realized that the Yahoo! and MSN search networks were no longer reaching enough users to deliver the volume of traffic our advertisers needed. At the time, Google AdWords was emerging as the dominant platform for Search Engine Marketing, and Google eventually overtook Yahoo! as the most popular search engine in the United States. Ideal Positions took note, incorporating Google AdWords into its existing Search Engine Marketing services, expanding to encompass the two largest search engines on the Internet and bringing our clients incomparable web presence in the process.
With the adoption of Google AdWords, Ideal Positions dedicated itself to the mastery of the Google AdWords Pay Per Click marketing platform. Concurrent with our ever growing proficiency in Pay Per Click account management, our rapport with Google grew and Ideal Positions became a Google AdWords Qualified Company.
In 2009, Microsoft launched the successor to MSN and Live Search: the bing search engine. Ever on the bleeding edge, Ideal Positions immediately adopted the new Microsoft adCenter Pay Per Click platform (currently known as bing Ads) and began offering Pay Per Click marketing on the bing search engine network. A client of Ideal Positions could now be found on the most popular search engines in the world: Google, Yahoo!, bing, and their innumerable search partners!
From the beginning, Ideal Positions focused on Pay Per Click (PPC) marketing over Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for many reasons, among them speed, potential Return On Investment (ROI) for our advertisers, and reliability. However, as the Internet and the search engines continued to evolve, a third major element of online marketing came into play: Local SEO. In early 2010, Ideal Positions took note and began to offer a new service, branded as Local Listings Optimization (LLO). LLO focused on optimizing and managing a businesses’ presence and reputation across many search directories and Internet Yellow Pages (IYPs), providing a new way for our clients to be found by the users searching for their services. The local ecosystem has gone through dramatic changes over the years, and Ideal Positions has adapted and evolved LLO every step of the way to keep the service robust, flexible, and effective.
One of the biggest developments in the history of Ideal Positions was the introduction of the Web Development Department in the first quarter of 2010. Our talented web developers have used their expertise to build better websites for many of our clients, not to mention Ideal Positions’ websites as well. Perhaps the best testament to Ideal Positions’ web developers is the site you are currently on. As you can see from the screenshots of our past websites, the skills of our Web Development Department have consistently elevated Ideal Positions and our clients’ online presence to the next level, keeping up with the cutting edge of web design on the Internet.
In February of 2011, Ideal Positions began offering a level of transparency still unheard of in Internet marketing to this day. Utilizing Google AdWords’ user invitation system, Ideal Positions granted clients access to their Google AdWords accounts, giving advertisers the ability to see exactly how their campaigns were being managed, how many clicks they were receiving, and much more. Providing this level of access extended far beyond the norm for SEM agencies, most of whom still provide reporting only in the form of third-party tools whose data cannot be easily checked against Google AdWords’ own reporting.
In July of 2013, Ideal Positions made a significant change to our service, advertising all clients on Desktop Computers, Mobile Devices and Tablets. Whereas the mobile network had been offered in the past, Ideal Positions now incorporated all of the networks into a single package, anticipating Google’s introduction of Enhanced Campaigns, which integrated all devices into the same campaign. By staying ahead of the curve, Ideal Positions’ clients were advertising on mobile devices and tablets ahead of their competitors and got the edge on Google’s Enhanced Campaigns before they were rolled out to the general populace.
Ideal Positions has always placed the client’s needs first, customizing each advertising campaign to the specific needs and nature of each business. Years of experience in Search Engine Marketing have proven that the more time we have to fine tune a campaign, the better the results. The bright, Google AdWords Qualified Individuals that work with Ideal Positions’ SEM Team are dedicated to developing these long term campaigns to optimize for the lowest cost per click and cost per conversion for our clients.
Every step we have taken along the way has been in the best interest of our clients and together we have grown. As our industry continues to change with every passing year, Ideal Positions will continue to adapt and evolve to meet the needs of the people and businesses we serve. The future looks brighter than ever!
We are currently living in an age where the lines between which device we use to view and interact with the Web is becoming more ambiguous. As a website owner, you will never know how a person will potentially view your website. They may be on their phone, on their laptop, or sitting on their sofa and viewing it through a gaming console on a big screen TV.
The fact of the matter is that web browsers now run on a range of electronic devices with various input methods and screen sizes. Because of this, the web design community has proposed various solutions to foresee any usability and accessibility issues and try to address them appropriately.
It was the case that designers tackled the solution by creating separate sites for devices; thus, a separate “mobile” and “desktop” version of the site was created. However it soon became clear that the amount of devices and screen sizes available to users made this approach unrealistic. You simply couldn’t build separate websites for all of the devices on the market.
A newer solution has emerged in what is known as “Responsive Web Design.” What Responsive Web Design (RWD) does is address the problem of a multi-device landscape, as smartphones and tablets are now just as capable as, if not better than, a traditional “desktop” computer when it comes to browsing the web.
Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) are what give a website its appearance, everything from the color, line-height and size of font, the layout of the pages and the color of the buttons.
A technique known as Media Queries (CSS version 3) now allow designers and developers to apply CSS rules depending on variables such as the “max-width” and “height” of the screen or the orientation of the device, among other things, and are supported by all modern browsers.
The major browser vendors now acknowledge that the web landscape is changing and have implemented media query support to help address the problem of a multi device landscape.
How it Works – Adjusting Screen Resolution
We don’t know how people will be accessing a website, as they may have different hardware, network connections and web browsers. RWD allows us to target all ranges of devices, from HDTVs to smartphones, but applying certain rules depending on variables such as the viewport of the screen, both vertically and horizontally, and the aspect ratio, be it landscape or portrait.
What this does is allow websites to become very “fluid.” Ironically a web page with no style or CSS is responsive by default.
It should also be noted that RWD isn’t necessarily focused on “mobile” devices, as you can also make a website look good on huge screens (like an HDTV). In essence, we can now focus on how a page looks regardless of the device.
Google Analytics can give you an accurate statistic as to how people are viewing your site, organized by types of devices, browsers, and resolutions. The ”Screen Resolution” metric will show you what size the screen is (not the width of the actual browser window).
Why It Needs to Be Considered – Mobile First
Mobile is growing fast.
The reality is that mobile usage is growing fast. In a report by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (Venture Capital Company), as of 2013, mobile traffic is 15% of global Internet traffic, up from 10% in 2012
Mobile Internet adoption has outpaced desktop Internet adoption by eight times. These statistics should be enough evidence to show you that the mobile trend is very real and here to stay.
Why this mindset?
As project stakeholders, designers and content writers, if we start out on a small browser, we are limited, so our mindset switches to what’s really important. By doing so, we trim away the fluff and focus on the essentials and the core values of the website’s design, in turn making our site more relevant, usable, and accessible.
It’s clear that we don’t have long to impress a potential client that visits our website. If your service or core message is not clear, if your text is illegible or if your menu items are unusable, there is a very good chance that they will simply click back on their browser and move elsewhere. All you have to do is to put yourself in the user’s shoes.
With the small screen mindset, we don’t have the luxury of 1920 x 1080 (2,073,600 px) pixels a canvas. One of the main issues with many websites has been the “kitchen sink” mentality, because its so easy to add more elements to a website on a large canvas. It’s then up to the web designer to try and find a good balance with all of these UI (User Interface) elements.
With this approach, it’s often the case that the core purpose or message of the website is unclear and, in the worst case scenario, completely lost.
The Process – At a base level.
Not all websites are the same, but at a basic level all of the following should be addressed:
RWD can be thought of as building a very robust and highly functional foundation for a website. It the site looks good and functions perfectly on a phone, then ultimately this foundation will help shape “larger versions” of the site
As a business owner, you need to ask yourself: “What is the message I want to communicate to my users?” or “What are the core values of my company/website?” By using this approach, you focus on what matters most, and this can then be applied to the mobile version of the site.
UI elements need to be made more “clickable,” as the most common method of interaction is by using a touch screen. The precision of a mouse is not an option.
Optimizing images for different devices and connection speeds.
Changing navigational position to account for how people hold a mobile device.
Ensuring elements like video or data tables re-size properly rather than just hiding them.
Dynamically resizing fonts to work better at different screen resolutions.
Providing retina versions of graphics.
All of the above are what your site should be doing at the very least in order for it to be as accessible and usable to the public as possible.
With this new approach, just one site is built and maintained. While it may require more resources initially, the long-term benefits should outweigh any additional costs.
Also as a bonus, you are building a site that’s optimized by default. Assets such as images need to be served appropriately and this approach should ultimately lead to a fast-loading website, which both your users and the search engines will greatly appreciate.
We should be creating websites that are future-ready today. RWD isn’t the ultimate answer, however, it’s a technique that, when executed correctly, can improve the end user experience.
The web offers us many choices that it can be both a positive and negative thing for a website owner. Ultimately though, it’s up to you to put your best foot forward and serve your client base as best as you can.
This post is Part 2 of a three-part series. To get caught-up, see Part 1 here.
Part Two: Google Analytics
At this time, the gold-standard for web analytics software is Google Analytics, and this is the only web analytics software officially recommended by Ideal Positions. Google Analytics has a wide-range of benefits over other solutions. For example:
*It’s FREE. Yes, really. Google does not charge for the use of the standard Google Analytics software, even though it is worth paying for!
*It’s easy to install. Most web developers can have Google Analytics’ requisite code installed properly on every page of the average business’ website in under an hour.
*It has fantastic user access privilege settings. In other words, Google Analytics has features that allow you to grant access to third parties such as Ideal Positions using those third parties’ own Google login credentials. You don’t have to give your username and password to anyone just to let them review your web analytics reporting.
*Its use is incredibly widespread. In fact, Google Analytics is used by 66.2% of the world’s top 10,000 websites (ranked by popularity), and is known to be in use on more than 25 million sites in total. (1) This means you wont have a hard time finding professionals such as Ideal Positions’ staff that can help you utilize Google Analytics to its fullest potential.
If you would like assistance in getting Google Analytics for your own website, please contact Ideal Positions, and our staff would be happy to assist you.
Tracking Key Performance Indicators Using Google Analytics
Google Analytics is a web-based application that you can access anywhere you have access to a modern Internet browser and a good Internet connection. All you need is a username and password for the reporting profile that is installed on your website, and you can log-in to view all of the KPIs discussed in Part 1 of this series, as well as a vast wealth of additional metrics that may or may not be of value to you, depending on your business model and overall marketing goals. To log-in to Google Analytics, simply navigate to www.Google.com/Analytics
If you need assistance identifying which Google Analytics profile you should be viewing, Ideal Positions’ staff would be happy to assist you. Additionally, I would like to take this opportunity to offer a free consultation with Ideal Positions’ staff to assess the metrics recorded in your Google Analytics reporting. Our staff has decades of combined experience in analyzing web analytics reporting, and we’re here to help!
A Note About Accuracy in Google Analytics Reporting: For a variety of reasons, the data reported in Google Analytics (and other web analytics software) can be off by up to 10% or more. Typically the error is in under-reporting the numbers, rather than over-reporting. For example, if Google Analytics shows that you got 100 visits in June, you may have actually gotten closer to 110. This can happen for a variety of reasons, the most common being that some web surfers use software that keeps them from being tracked by Google Analytics. Additionally, many modern Internet browsers have settings that ask Google Analytics to not track users, and Google does honor these settings’ requests. It’s also possible for Google Analytics to be showing you sampled data rather than the entire report, but that typically only happens for reporting profiles that have a volume of visits in excess of 500k/month, which is unusual for most small to medium-sized businesses.
Reporting: Google Analytics vs. Google AdWords
Since early 2012, Ideal Positions has offered its clients Read-Only Access to Google AdWords accounts that we manage for their business in an effort to provide a level of transparency that is unrivaled in the Search Engine Marketing industry. This access level allows you to log-in to the Google AdWords account that Ideal Positions uses to keep your website on the first page of Google and view many of the metrics that are reported within. In fact, many of you reading this article will have already accepted this Read-Only Access, and already familiarized yourself with the Google AdWords reporting interface.
Whether or not you’ve had a chance to log-in to view the reporting offered by Google AdWords, it’s important to understand why Google Analytics can provide additional insights that the Google AdWords reporting cannot. In fact, Google Analytics provides much more valuable marketing performance data to most businesses than Google AdWords can. This is due to the limitations that Google AdWords has in the data it can track. Google AdWords can track how often your ads display, how many clicks those ads have received, etc. Google Analytics can track how many clicks your ads have received, but can also track what happened after each click, such as which pages the web surfer navigated to, how long they were on those pages, etc. Google Analytics also tracks every source of traffic to your site that it can, while Google AdWords only tracks its own traffic. As you can imagine, having the additional data on other traffic sources for your website can be invaluable in comparing the quality of traffic from each source. Remember, not all clicks are created equal.
In a nutshell: Google AdWords tracks activity leading up to the click on your ad(s), and Google Analytics tracks activity from the click on your ad(s) to the moment the web surfer leaves your site.
This post is Part 2 of a three-part series. “Like” Ideal Positions on Facebook to get updates on Part 3 as they become available!
Have you ever wished there was a way to see a “clean” set of Google’s Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs), unaffected by your past browsing history, personal settings, and location? Believe it or not, there’s a tool for that!
Google AdWords’ Ad Preview Tool provides a near-identical search page to Google.com, with some minor formatting changes that make it more clear you’re not using the real Google.com search page (the tool adds a watermark, for example). It was created by Google to allow users the ability to search and view their ads without creating false impressions.
For every time that an ad is displayed in the SERPs, one impression is generated and recorded in the reporting for the AdWords account that is serving that ad. A valuable indicator of performance in an AdWords account is known as Clickthrough Rate (CTR). Clickthrough Rate is calculated by dividing the total number of clicks received by the total number of impressions. Each time an advertiser uses Google.com to check the position of their ads, they generate a “false” impression which can skew the Clickthrough Rate data.
Many advertisers assume that they can simply disregard the extra impressions they know themselves to be responsible for when evaluating their AdWords reporting. However, many advertisers don’t know that CTR data is also used by Google to evaluate the performance of ads. False impressions can cause the AdWords reporting to reflect poor Clickthrough Rates, and poor Clickthrough Rates can actually increase costs in the AdWords account, meaning the advertiser gets less clicks for their allotted budget!
If you’re advertising with Google AdWords, it is essential to the success of your ad campaigns that you avoid generating false impressions or worse, unwanted clicks. By using Google AdWords’ Ad Preview Tool, you will be able to view your ads without generating false impressions or unwanted clicks. Ideal Positions strongly recommends that you use this tool each and every time you search for your ads.
Using the Google AdWords Ad Preview Tool will give you three distinct advantages:
You’ll be able to check your ads’ positions without having to worry about generating false impressions.
Once you’re viewing your ads’ positions, you wont be able to click on the ad and rack-up unwanted costs in the AdWords account.
You will be able to see a “clean” set of Google’s Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) that have not been customized to your browsing history, location settings, and more.
How to use Google’s Ad Preview Tool:
Navigate to the tool, which can be found here. (You may be asked to log-in to an existing Google account, such as gmail, Google+, etc)
Enter your search query into to the text box next to the blue “Preview” button.
Directly beneath the text box you should see which location the tool is set to simulate. If applicable, hit “Edit” and change the targeted location.
Beneath the location options you will see device targeting options. Edit your device type (if needed) to select desktop, mobile, or tablet devices.
Click the “Preview” button and a “clean” set of Search Engine Results Pages will display.
In the first quarter of 2013, online advertising spend totaled $9.3 billion, a staggering increase of 15.6% over the same quarter in 2012. (1) As consumers turn to digital markets for both information and commerce, advertising spend will continue to increase while more and more businesses enter the online marketplace, thus boosting competition. As this competition increases, many businesses are throwing more money into their Internet marketing campaigns, hoping to come out ahead in their market. Increasing advertising spend over time is certainly a great idea for most organizations, especially to keep pace with the aforementioned increase in competition. However, it’s also crucial that business owners, Internet marketers, and advertising coordinators not only look to move more of their advertising spend to Internet marketing but also look at what they can do to allocate that spend smarter.
Smarter Spending via Data-Driven Insights
Many fall prey to the assumption that all a business needs to boost revenue from online clientele is increased traffic to their website. Unfortunately, more traffic doesn’t always equal more sales! It’s actually possible to see an increase in traffic to a website, while seeing a drop in online conversions. This can happen because a simple comparison of traffic volumes isn’t enough. The truth is: not all clicks are created equal. Quality of traffic and a website’s ability to convert visitors to sales must also be measured and factored in to any analysis of a website’s performance. It isn’t enough to just “get the horse to water.” You have to make him drink.
If we can track not only the volume of traffic but how that traffic reacts to and interacts with your website, improvements can be made to the site over time to increase the percentage of visitors that convert to new customers, sales, inquiries, downloads, and more. Additionally, insights can be gained into how to further optimize your Internet marketing campaigns for better performance. These insights can be used to make smarter decisions with regards to advertising spend, and can be extremely successful in boosting the revenue generated by every dollar you spend on Internet marketing.
How can these insights be gained for your own website? Ask your web developer if you have web analytics software installed on your site, and if you can have the highest-level of access to the reporting for such software. If your web developer is unsure of how to install web analytics software or how to grant you access to it, contact your representative at Ideal Positions and our staff would be happy to assist you. Web analytics software is available that is free to install and use, and will provide you and the team of advertising professionals you work with at Ideal Positions with the data needed to make the most of your online advertising spend. With proper web analytics reporting, you can make the horse drink.
Web Analytics Reporting: The Basics
Web analytics reports provide data that experienced professionals can then interpret and use to remove some of the guesswork involved with optimizing marketing campaigns, enhancing the user experience of a website, and more. However, these reports don’t provide concrete answers. They don’t climb through your screen, grab you by the collar and shout, “This page right here! Fix that!” The data is more subtle than that. In fact, interpreting web analytics reports is often likened to taking a trip to the doctor. For example, imagine a man goes to see a physician complaining of pain in his abdomen. No competent doctor would simply look at the man, proclaim the he has acute appendicitis, and send the man to the operating room, would they? Of course not! The doctor will check vitals, run some tests, possibly send samples off to the lab, etc. Data will be collected, and then the doctor will draw from his years of education and experience and attempt to make an informed diagnosis. Perhaps this man is experiencing liver failure. Maybe he’s got an ulcer. Or maybe it’s simple indigestion, and nothing needs to be done at all!
An Internet marketing professional that is competent in analyzing web analytics reports will take a similar approach. Data is collected, tests are run, comparisons are made, and specialists are consulted with. The professional will then attempt to make a diagnosis based on the information they have at their disposal. No one can promise perfect answers, but the availability of the right data can greatly improve strategic planning for future marketing campaigns, optimization of existing marketing campaigns, and enhancements made to the websites and individual pages that matter the most.
To get you started, let’s take a look at some of the industry jargon associated with web analytics. If you understand the jargon, you will have a much easier time of deciphering web analytics reports, and will find yourself in a much better position to take what you can learn from these reports and apply it to bettering your marketing strategies.
*Metrics: refers to the data obtained from measuring something. There are a great many different sets of data that can and will be recorded as metrics via web analytics- some are valuable indicators of performance, and others are not, depending on your needs.
*Key Performance Indicators (KPI): a metric that can be used as a valuable and crucial measure of success for a website, marketing campaign, or other measurable asset. In Search Engine Marketing, KPIs are the metrics that will be used to effectively determine whether or not a marketing campaign is performing well, and will aid marketers and business owners in assessing what may need to be done to improve upon a marketing campaign.
Examples of KPIs in Search Engine Marketing May Include:
*Visits: Each time a web surfer navigates to a web site, one visit is generated in that website’s web analytics software. As the web surfer navigates through the website, only one total visit should be recorded, and that web surfer will not generate another visit unless they leave the site and come back at a later time (typically more than 30 minutes or more must pass for a second visit to be recorded). The total number of visits is essentially an accounting of how often people navigate to your website (but should not be considered the total number of individuals that visited the site).
*Unique Visitors: Many web surfers are uniquely identifiable by web analytics software. Each time a new, uniquely-identifiable web surfer navigates to a website, one unique visitor will be recorded. If that same web surfer navigates to a website once a day for three days in a row, then three visits will be recorded for that date range, but only one unique visitor. Tracking the total number of unique visitors to a website is a crucial KPI in Search Engine Marketing and will help you determine roughly how many individual people navigated to your website. Comparing the total number of visits to the total number of unique visitors can help you assess the rate at which your audience is returning to your site.
*Pageviews: Each time a web surfer loads a page on a website, one pageview is generated in the website’s web analytics reporting. For example, if you were to navigate to www.IdealPositions.com, then click the “About” link, you will have generated two pageviews in Ideal Positions’ web analytics reports: one for landing on www.IdealPositions.com and one for having navigated to www.IdealPositions.com/about/
*Pages per Visit (aka Pages/Visit): This metric is calculated automatically by most web analytics software by dividing the total number of pageviews recorded by the total number of visits for the date range you are viewing in the analytics reporting. For example, if your web analytics software recorded a total of 230 pageviews and 50 visits for the month of January, then your pages per visit ratio for January would be 4.6 (230 / 50 = 4.6). Monitoring pages per visit as a Key Performance Indicator can help you determine how well your website encourages web surfers to interact with the site and view your content.
*Average Time on Site: Average time on site is the average duration of a visit to your website. Please keep in mind that for most web analytics software, the duration of a visit is only recorded from the moment a web surfer navigates to a site to the moment of the last navigation to a page within the site. Most web analytics software can only track actions that take place within the website. If you navigate to a single page within a website and then leave that page to go to another website, the web analytics software will know that you visited that page, but it will most likely not know when you left. As a result, if a web surfer navigates to a website, and then leaves that site without navigating to any other pages in the site, the duration of that visit will be recorded as zero, even if the web surfer viewed a page for several minutes. Average time on site can be a valuable KPI because it can give you a good idea of whether or not a web surfer is finding the content of your website to be relevant and engaging.
*Bounce Rate: This is a percentage that is calculated automatically by most web analytics software by tracking the number of visits that only generate a single pageview and comparing that to the total number of visits for the site. Any time a visit consists of only a single pageview, that visit is considered a “bounce.” So, if your web analytics software recorded 120 visits to your website for the month of February, and 40 of those visits consisted of a single pageview, then your website had a bounce rate of 33.33% for the month of February (40 / 120 = .3333 * 100 = 33.33%).
*Conversions: This is a general term used to describe the event when a desirable action is taken by a lead or a potential customer. In Search Engine Marketing, the word conversion can describe many different desirable actions taken by web surfers, such as signing up for a newsletter, using a contact form, placing a phone call, placing an order, and more. Most of the better web analytics solutions offer a conversion tracking feature that allows you to specify which desirable actions you would like to be tracked.
*Conversion Rates: The formula to calculate your conversion rate is A / B = X, where A is the number of conversions, B is the number of actions that could have potentially lead to a conversion (such as a pageview, visit, or click on an advertisement), and X is the conversion rate. For example, if you had 300 visits to your eCommerce website (B), and received 20 orders (A), it can be calculated that the conversion rate for the website as a whole is 6.67% (20 / 300 = .0667 * 100 = 6.67%). You can also measure the conversion rate on a smaller scale, such as comparing the number of pageviews received by your contact page to the number of contact form submissions. If your contact form received 25 pageviews, and 17 of those pageviews resulted in contact form submissions, then the conversion rate for your contact page is 68% (17 / 25 = .68 * 100 = 68%).
This post is Part 1 of a three-part series. “Like” Ideal Positions on Facebook to get updates on Parts 2 and 3 as they become available!