Google analytics benchmarking – not so enlightening.

Got the first installment of Google Analytics benchmark email last week. While I love the fact that they’re sending me out info, reading it produced a more of a “why?” than a “wow”.

The information is an amalgamation of all those sites which have opted in to share stats anonymously with Google. It therefor  includes all sorts of sites from retail to b2b, from small blogs to large blue chips.In other words it’s mostly pretty useless for real benchmarking.

By giving us such of an amalgam, the information raises more questions than it answers. This is a tad frustrating when we know that Google has such a lot of data which they could slice and dice and provide some really valuable information. Why this is a better solution than the existing benchmarking tool is unclear, but perhaps this is only the first foray into some wonderful emails.

PPC provides better quality traffic…

An example is the table containing the usual top level measurements that are used to denote quality of traffic; pages/visit, bounce rate and average time on site. Looking at the figures, (snip below) it seems that CPC (Paid search) drives the best quality traffic in terms of page/visit and bounce rate.  Rationalizing that on first pass you think, well that’s not really surprising since we all spend so much time honing campaigns, adgroups and landing pages to squeeze the very last bit of  marketing bang out of our clients buck.  But in truth the figures raise more questions than they answer.

google analytics traffic sources and top level quality measurements

Google Analytics Benchmarking - Traffic Sources

Or does it?

Time on site for instance points to referral traffic as bringing the most engaged traffic at 6:36 minutes with PPC at 3:57 minutes. Is this an indication of the stage in the buying process of different channels?  Is referred traffic more likely to be still searching for information than PPC?  Is PPC used more for retail and in that case how many shops have their analytics properly set up to jump between products and shopping cart?

google analytics benchmarking - operating systems

google analytics benchmarking - operating systems

Operating systems – the rise of mobile

Again information regarding operating systems was disappointing, especially when we know that 2011 is finally the year of the mobile. The +4.3 increase in “other” probably reflect this.

No Insight

Because site traffic varies hugely between sectors, objectives, regions etc, this amalgamation of information doesn’t really provide us with any insights.

The debate this week about whether Google is becoming an agency sparked by the Heineken deal has had some digital agencies thinking that maybe Google wants to position itself to providing more information directly to clients. On the whole that’s to be welcomed and agencies have long relied on the insights of channel owners when creating marketing plans – why should it be different for online, especially when digital measurements leave some marketers feeling a little dizzy.

If Google is to share more of it’s stats as well as providing the analytics platform free, then this first installment is hopefully not an indication of things to come.


Local keyword variations – thoughts from trip to London

Down in London over the last few days meeting clients, existing and new. It’s good to have face-to-face time as despite our good use of tech from skype to extranets, a face to face does provide an opportunity to pick up nuances and subtleties that help us do our job better. Being in the room is hugely useful.

An extension of this came up with regards to keyword research. This area is really the salt mines of SEO – figuring our audience behaviour and demand. Getting it right is crucial and very hard work. In two meetings we had some interesting results for local differences in searcher behaviour.

Local keyphrases differences – and how to capture the advantage

In the first, there were some very interesting differences in phrases as you traveled across the UK. A north and south divide was very evident. The result is that in order to increase visibility for a company with a huge inventory there is an interesting opportunity in terms of optimisation.

We had realised that the creation of bespoke titles and descriptions was going to be impractical in terms of both resource and budget for the client. A pragmatic opportunity was required… cue concatenation schema. This is  the creation of title and description (but not exclusively) syntax variations which are assigned to content across the site. Within the syntax, keyphrases including product attributes, names and calls to action are assigned.  These are mixed up across the site based on fields which for this client are part of a consumed xml feed.  After our meeting we also added a further refinement i.e. the change of keyphrases based on location and  local search demand.  It’ll be interesting to see how much additional traction this element adds in terms of driving relevant, valuable traffic.

Local keywords aren’t always clearly logical

The other local keyphrase issue came from a meeting with a client in a completely different sector. The issue here was that in taking four neighbouring counties around London and looking at search volumes for the client’s services, one of the counties had  no  reported search volume while the other three had  ok levels of demand. What caused this difference? Do people in Buckinghamshire not require this client’s particular service? is the market sewn up by a competing brand?  was our tool acting up or perhaps the folks in Bucks consider themselves more London than Surrey, Middlesex and Hertsfordshire and use “London” in their searches? It’s not something we’ve got to the bottom of yet.

Takeout: Doing keyword research is hard work if you do it properly but it doesn’t end at the drill down. Having local knowledge and being able to apply it to a solution can ensure that you get that extra bit from your keyword strategy.

Mobile Search

We’re doing some pretty interesting work on mobile search at the moment. Hopefully we’ll be able to share more in the near future, but we’re loving this area. Why are we so interested? Well according to Google 43% of the UK population will have a smartphone by the end of this year. Microsoft found that providing mobile formatted or mobile specific content can increase conversions by 75%.

We’re also seeing mobile traffic increase across all clients. 20m people access the mobile web every month in the UK.  This really is the year of the mobile and there’s a real shift happening in terms of consumer and business behaviour.

Fascinating stuff


Tandem gets great results for leading marketing agency

One of Scotland’s leading agencies commissioned Tandem Digital to work on their site visibility. When we won the business they were nowhere to be seen on Google for their services in the Scottish market or the UK.  In the last few months they have launched their new site based on Tandem’s recommendations and over the last two months they are now hitting first page visibility for some pretty competitive keywords.

Multilingual multi country sites

Tandem is working on a very interesting project with a global travel company that you may have heard off (yep that’s the one). The project, which kicked off earlier in the year, is to build a platform allowing the company to roll out it’s affiliate marketing offering across multiple languages. We’ve built a very cool system using our old friend Drupal which will initially be rolled out over 11 languages.

Oxford English Dictionary New Inclusions

The OED has released it’s list of 2000 new entries. We thought we’d have a quick look at how these words are performing in terms of Google searcher demand and guess what – social media, as you would guess has come

in top of the leader board.

geo-engineering Google insights

Geo-engineering makes an appearance in 2008 and is very driven by press events.

staycation google insights oxford english dictionaryStaycation starts getting traction slightly earlier with people making the best of not having funds for those two weeks in the sun.

Carbon storage has a steady increase over the last half decade, although Google’s prediction is that demand will fall.

microblogging oxford english dictionary inclusion and google insightsMicroblogging doesn’t get any interest until 2007 and then whoohooo up  it shoots most likely as a reflection of the success of Twitter and follow me flavours such as Yammer.

social media oxford english dictionary google insightAnd then comes Social Media.  Some interest at the beginning of 2004 and then almost exponential growth when we hit the beginning of last year;  a reflection of when social media became “mainstream” .

And yet with all the noise created  on social media about social media, how often do you come across someone doing it naturally and really well? How often do you see the normal everyday integrations as opposed to the shout it from the treetops “groundswell” examples?

Has so much noise ever been created by so many (gurus) with so little tangible results. Not saying that social media isn’t  changing the way that companies and individuals communicate but we’re still in a period of chassis – lot’s of proclamations of big changes but at the coal face any of us working in it are still struggling to get senior executives to embrace it, even if they “get it” in theory.

It doesn’t help that on agency side there are a whole lot of egos (sorry blame it on being weary from a really badly executed staged connection thing going on between “socialmediaistas” in one of our twitter streams) who are proclaiming SM as the new way of the world… but ignoring the substance.

Hurrumph – perhaps time for that staycation.

Twitter – how to start relationships

Remember being a gauche teenager going to your first college parties? The network that you’d relied on in school suddenly disappeared and  figuring out how to make new friends and having some fun came at the price of a few uncomfortable moments; trapped in the kitchen with the engineering student who’d learned Monty Python’s Philosopher’s song as his (only) conversation gambit, doing the breaststroke in the punch bowl, dancing like it’s 1999 (and it was only ’91) and someone videoing the evidence.

Getting started in Twitter can be the same. Twitter fledgelings can find it pretty difficult to gauge what to say, when and importantly how to strike up and warm those  hesitant friendships.

Like anything else, you get back what you put in. That’s not to say that your behavior is a cynical modus to some ulterior objective… well not all the time. Here are a few simple ways to invite someone to start a social media relationship using Twitter as the jumping off point, without coming over all desperate and angsty.

  • Follow them, visit their profile and look at who they are following and what interests them. (not in a stalkery way)
  • Retweet something that you find valuable from their  twitter stream
  • If they included a link to a blog post; visit and perhaps comment, subscribe, retweet, add to your blog roll social bookmark or forward to your networks if it has value to them.
  • Direct message them with an observation or something which you think will be of value to them in the context of their recent posts/tweets.
  • Listen and then listen some more
  • Use #hashtags and find tweeters with similar interests, from election coverage to music lovers

And the best way of all – be engaging with your own content, make it interesting, humorous,  quirky, useful… but most of all relax and be yourself.

When you want to hide from Google

Really interesting article over at econsultancy about the retraining of online consumers to use means other than search to find deals.

In these recessionary times, now more than ever people love a bargain. I’ve lost count of the homes and offices I’ve gone into in the last year who’s bathrooms are stocked with those telltale brands that are only found in the low price foreign chain supermarkets. We’re all well past the no thought of price consumerism (are we?) of the early naughties and now the middle classes are just as comfortable in Lidl as those making do on benefits.

But discounting is a no go back cycle. If you’re offering stock at slashed prices with minimum profit margin you don’t want your cash rich clientele to know.  Loose out on the disposable income they would otherwise quite happily have spent. – not such a great positioning strategy.

So online coupon and crowd sourcing sites need to stay off the general search radar in order to win those heavily discounted deals from brands.  Hiding product pricing from Google as part of their business model means that they have to find other ways to get the attention and the conversions from deal savvy audience.

Enter email – how many times has it been written off only to rise again as a champion. Women are subscribing to email to find deals. Brand loyalty/reward meets targeted low wastage marketing. But don’t stop at email, think Facebook, Twitter and even geo location couponing.

It’s all to play for and how refreshing to look at business models where search visibility isn’t a major part of their tactical marketing!

Terrorism and Tech

Interesting post by one of our clients, Mark Gibson at Memex sparked by iPad launch. Consumer tech puts a lot of power in the hands of the average Joe Schmo. Timely post when we consider the Times Square bomber suspect arrested due to You Tube and Craigs List.

Have a read of Mark’s Blog.

Interesting – if a little scary – times.

The race for local

Facebook have announced a location based dimension to go live next month. With the supping up of Foursquare and apps like Tripit telling LinkedIn users who is going to where, local is at the center of online and mobile development.

Search has been embracing local for a few years now. The success of Google’s local business offering heralded a move towards location being more than a mention in your footer. Adwords location based distribution, natural search local results in SERPs based on IP and the rest.

Social media is increasingly broadening out the offering towards location – a real dimension. It’s an interesting blurring of lines (more blurring) between the onscreen and the offscreen.

Add augmented reality into the mix and the future is Minority Report.