Facebook Marketing – Facebook Page Optimisation

This blog post will cover what social media optimisation is and how to optimise a Facebook Page both for search engines and user engagement. Hope it will be an eye opener for you

Overview of Social Media Optimisation (SMO)

Facebook Page optimisation has been of particular interest, due to the increasing popularity of Facebook.

Facebook Pages are excellent tools which can be used to increase brand visibility and engage followers through the use of some simple strategies and techniques

So what exactly is Social Media Optimisation and how can it be applied to Facebook?

For those still baffled between social media optimisation (hence Facebook Page optimisation) and Social Media Marketing (SMM) here is a well cited quote from Rohit Bhargava, the Vice President for Interactive Marketing with Ogilvy Public Relations described the concept of social media optimisation as a technique in which to

“  ..implement changes to optimize a site so that it is more easily linked to, more highly visible in social media searches on custom search engines (such as Technorati), and more frequently included in relevant posts on blogs, podcasts and vlogs. “

What this means is that compared to SMM, which includes paid Facebook Ads and other methods that externally market your social media sites, SMO is about improving the components that lies internally within your social media accounts.

By optimising the components such as your profile ‘Info’ fields,  your wall status updates, the notes you create, the custom tabs you can develop with FBML (more information on that further on) you can easily optimise your Facebook Pages..

Facebook page optimisation has generally two main objectives:

1. To optimise for search engines

Optimising for the search engines specifically involves improving all facets of a Facebook Page, so that it will have a better rankings in search engines those indexes and displays search results on Facebook pages.  Examples include optimising keywords for the Facebook Profile Tab and wall status updates.

2. To optimise for user engagement

There is a saying that ‘No man is an island’. This is perfectly apt for a Facebook Page. We don’t only want people to find your Facebook Page, but also to share content with you and spread the word about your wonderful page.  Instead of actively marketing the Facebook Page externally, ensure that your Facebook Page is optimal for encouraging traffic to your main website and other social media assets such as Twitter, YouTube and your blog.

Tips on how to optimise a Facebook Page for search engines

Before we go into how to optimise for a Facebook Page for search engines, we must ask ourselves “Which parts of a Facebook Page exactly does a search engine index and display on their search results?”

An analysis was conducted  using Google Search as it is the dominant search engine in Australia, and in many other countries. After a bit more digging by our team we found that using a simple Google search query to discover what content from Facebook Page were displayed in the search engine results pages. However, we have empirical evidence to suggest that the following sections of the Facebook Page is being indexed and displayed.  This is interesting knowing the body of the Facebook pages are empty with Javascript disabled.

The findings were that a majority of Facebook pages are not indexable by Google due to privacy restrictions, but all public pages are getting crawled and indexed like any other pages on the web. The different tabs are also getting indexed with their relevant URLs, (even though these don’t look very sexy). Note that even user comments get indexed.

We received a report from the genius team over at Searchengineland.com earlier this year which indicated that Google real-time search is now including Facebook Pages as part of its search results.

 

Examples of different parts of a Facebook Page Google can display

Google indexes and displays the title of a notes page created in the Notes application

Google indexes and displays wall status update

Google indexes and displays a link that is posted on the wall

Google indexes and displays comments made on wall post updates

Google indexes and displays Facebook video titles in the universal search


Google indexes and displays the title and also the description of the video

Summary of how to optimise for a Facebook Page

 

  • Always add unique content to your websites, whether it is a wall status update, or a
  • When sending out wall status updates, be sure to include primary keywords relevant to the update
  • Ensure you update your profile description and information, including the short blurb, with keyword rich, while at the same time maintaining relevance and appropriateness
  • When creating notes with the Note application, make sure you optimise the title of the note page with primary keywords.
  • Encourage users to post comments as they can capture greater exposure for your Facebook Page on Google search results.
  • Optimise your titles and descriptions for your videos and photos
  • In general, always think of keywords when you are adding content to any pages!

Tips on how to optimise a Facebook Page for user engagement

Update the ‘Info>Detailed Info’ fields to include links to your websites and other social media assets, similar to what Sony does below. They included links to not only their social media sites but to also other Sony websites.  This will encourage cross-reference traffic between all your websites.

Use Facebook Markup Language (FBML) to create custom tabs on which users can land on. The custom landing tab can be used to promote your Facebook Page, your website, other social media sites you own or just bring to attention a particular piece of information to the visitor. You can place any type of content on a custom tab, be it a link to your homepage, a YouTube video, or a quick survey for your visitors.  An example below is the Sony custom tab called ‘make.believe’.

Facebook has announced that on the 23rd of August 2010, custom tabs for Facebook Pages will be limited to a width of 520 pixels. You will be able to preview your custom tabs before publishing it, so please remember to modify your custom tabs for a greater user experience.

References

Facebook: Profile and Page Roadmap Update: http://developers.facebook.com/blog/post/399

Technical discussion on FBML: http://wiki.developers.facebook.com/index.php/FBML

Static FBML Application Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/apps/application.php?sid=4f93513c73973214f42f630bfb78603c&id=4949752878&ref=s

You can create custom FBML boxes on the sidewall to promote your Facebook Page or any of your other websites.

The profile pictures can be more than just the logo of your brand! Maximise the use of your Facebook profile image size and include a call to action or a promotional feature in addition to your logo. The largest official size is 180×540 pixels; however there has been an instance where it was actually 200 x 200.

Both examples are displayed in the following banners taken from some of the largest global brands in the world.

Wrap-up of the post

We’ve gone through a quick definition of what social media optimisation is and covered some tips on how to optimise your Facebook Page for search engines (Using Google as the main example) and then delved into optimising for user engagement.

We hope that this post has helped you become a better social media optimiser. We believe that social media optimisation is complimentary to any search engine optimisation work and should be considered as part of your Internet marketing strategy. Any comments, success or failures, feel free to comment down below. We promise to be nice.

 

Chee Chun Foo on 08/24/2010 @ 7:11 am

Step-By-Step: Your First Keyword Report

To really dive into the nitty gritty of your account performance, you’re going to have to generate some custom reports. That’s because while the engine dashboards provide some top level data on your reports, they’re too general and non-specific most of the time to be really useful. Today I’ll take you step-by-step through your first keyword report in Google AdWords. It’s not difficult, but I know that technology can sometimes be a little intimidating—and good reporting is crucial to your success as a search engine marketer, so it’s worth taking the time now and making sure that you get this right. The good news is that once you’ve completed your first custom report, you should have no problem creating a variety of reports to suit your individual needs, as they all follow a similar format.

First, go to the reporting tab in your AdWords account and click the Create a new report link.

Step 1: Select report type. From here, you can choose from the different types of reports available. We will be going through these different types and their uses next week. For now, choose the Placement / Keyword Performancereport which is explained nearby as “View performance data for keywords or placements you’ve specifically targeted.” If you choose an ad group or campaign level report, you won’t get keyword information—and since we do want to see all of the data at the keyword level, this report will do for now.

Step 2: Settings. In the View (unit of time) setting, your options are summary, daily, day of week, weekly, monthly, quarterly or yearly. If you have 100 keywords and choose March 1 to March 31 on a summary report, each keyword will occupy a single row of data with all of the days added together and you will have 100 rows of data. However, if you choose daily, your report will be larger. Each keyword will be listed by day, so you would have 3100 rows of data (100 keywords X 31 days). So, if you have a rather large keyword list and a big date range that you’re pulling, you may want to think about choosing the weekly or monthly option so that you don’t have a huge report on your hands.

The day of week report can be interesting if certain days of the week trend higher or lower for you. For example, if you have weekend sales you may want to see how your Saturdays and Sundays perform. Maybe you send an email blast promoting sales every Tuesday—it might be interesting to see how Wednesdays compare to Fridays as a result.

Finally, you can manually choose campaigns and ad groups the system will pull your keyword data. This can be helpful if you want to look at just a few specific groupings which will keep your report from being too large and cluttered with unimportant data. If you don’t want all of your campaigns and ad groups in the report, choose Manually select from a list and add campaigns via the Add buttons. By clicking the small arrows next to each campaign, you can open up the list of its ad groups and then you can choose individual ones from the group.

Step 3: Advanced settings (optional). The first advanced setting you have to choose from is to Add/Remove Columns. What that is referring to are the columns in your report. If you click it open, you’ll see the following table:

  • Level of detail: These columns reflect this report’s coverage and level of detail.
  • Attributes: These columns report on your current ad settings and status
  • Performance statistics: These columns feature data about how your ads are performing
  • Conversion type columns: These columns enable you to view conversion statistics broken down by type
  • Conversion columns: These columns provide statistics on ad conversions and conversion rates
  • Local business ad interaction columns: Information about user interactions with your local business ads on Google Maps.

There are tons of options here and some of the more common ones are already chosen for you. Try clicking all of the options so you can familiarize yourself with what’s available and check out a bunch of the data. Notice that when you check or uncheck a box, the columns change above the options. Those column indicators show which columns will appear in the final report (and in that order). You can find out more about these options in this Google AdWords Help Center article. Don’t bother choosing any of the conversion options if you’re not tracking conversions with Google AdWords.

The second advanced option you have is Filter your results. This will help you narrow your report down even further to reduce size and clutter. When you choose the type of filter in the drop down menu, you will be given a list of options to chose from. For example, you can choose Keyword matching and you will be able to pick broad, exact or phrase. Another example would be to select any keyword with an average cost per click (CPC) over or below a certain cost threshold by selecting Average CPC and then greater than or less than any value you decide. The cool thing here is that you can continue to Add another restriction so you can combine rules and come up with some interesting filter combinations to really focus on the data you want to analyze.

Step 4:Templates, scheduling and email. Finally, you can put the finishing touches on your report by giving it a name which, believe me, is handy once you start making dozens of reports. Make sure you are specific to what kind of report it is—especially if you’re using any funky filters or have chosen specific campaigns or ad groups. You can also save the report as a template so you can go in at anytime and pull the report now that you’ve set it up exactly how you want it. A great feature is to have the report run on a recurring basis so that it’s already built any time you need it. You can even schedule it to be emailed to you or others.

If you have everything set up the way you want, go ahead and click Generate Report. Depending on the size of the data set you’ve asked for, it actually may take some time for the report to complete. You will be redirected to the main reports tab and you report will show as “pending” until it is done; then you will see it has “completed.” Click the report name and the report will be displayed on the screen. At this point you might want to export the report and save it to your computer as either a .csv, .tsv. or .xml report. Click one of your options and your report will be downloaded. From there you can open it with Excel or other spreadsheet program and start looking through the data.

We’ll be going through some of the ways to analyze your data in future columns, but for now, you have your first keyword performance report! Congrats!

Does More Posts = More Traffic?

Yesterday in a post discussing the popularity of list-style posts in blogging, a commenter asked me to look at the frequency of post types in relation to the traffic they bring. Following this comment I put together some statistics and ended up wondering a slightly different question, does having more blog posts mean you end up with more traffic?

In the previous post I pulled up some statistics from Google Analytics to reveal that on our AppStorm blogs we had the following distribution of traffic to our different post types:

  • Roundups: 843,024 Pageviews in July
  • Reviews: 126,161 Pageviews in July
  • How-To: 95,905 Pageviews in July

Following on from Martin Ansty’s question in the comments, I checked and we have published the following quantities of posts:

  • 288 Roundups
  • 339 Reviews
  • 159 How-to Posts

Doing the Math

So in other words, not only are list-style Roundups generating way more traffic, there are less of them. If you combine the results:

  • Average Review nets 370 pageviews p/month
  • Average How-to Post nets 600 pageviews p/month
  • Average Roundup nets 2900 pageviews p/month

So by this math, if we can add, say, another 300 Roundups to AppStorm in the next year then this time next year we’d have added 300×3000 pageviews p/month = 900,000 pageviews p/month! 300 Roundups over 3 app review blogs over a year means just 2 a week – that seems very achievable, and adding 900,000 pageviews would be a 60% traffic increase!

Does this really work?

Of course whether adding more posts really brings new people seems very debatable. After all it seems equally possible that the same traffic just gets spread over an increasingly large pool of blog posts.

So what I did was to go back in time to get some historical data from December 2009 which is about 8 months ago. At that time on just the Mac Apps blog there were 57 Roundup posts, and that month they netted 161,000 pageviews. In other words each Roundup post brought in 2850 pageviews on average. That is almost EXACTLY the same traffic to post ratio! So this observation sounds very promising for our hypothesis!

Taking this logic to the extreme

So let’s take this logic all the way to see if it really does hold up. Imagine instead of publishing 300 Roundups over the next year, we published 300,000 Roundups! Forget about the impossibility of such a feat, and let’s just focus on the numbers here.

By my previous logic, every one of those Roundups should bring in about 3,000 pageviews. So by publishing the huge number of additional posts, we should end up with a whopping 900,000,000 pageviews a month!

To give that number some context, according to Google’s list of the top 1000 Sites in the world, this would place AppStorm in the top 20, and make it easily the largest blog in the world.

This doesn’t really seem very realistic as it completely ignores the fact that there is a finite limit to how many people are interested in reading about apps!

So surely at some point adding more posts does NOT equal more traffic.

This makes intuitive sense, and when I think about another blog of ours, FreelanceSwitch, it also makes empirical sense. While AppStorm is a fast growing site, FreelanceSwitch has remained very steady for a couple of years now. Is that because we stopped posting? Nope! In the last two years we’ve added hundreds more posts to the site, so by my earlier math we should have grown our traffic by a huge amount – which we haven’t.

So clearly in AppStorm’s case the post to traffic ratio is only holding because the traffic happens to be growing on the site at the moment, and it hasn’t reached its full potential yet.

Increasing Frequency

Another question is in regard to frequency of posts. Sites like Lifehacker, Mashable and TechCrunch all post many, many times a day. I’ve definitely read in places (that I can’t remember now) that one of the biggest reasons they post more frequently is because it means more traffic.

An increased frequency of posts definitely equates to more traffic if the same number of readers end up reading more posts. It also makes sense that there would be some benefit to having that much more content on the site, simply from the point of view of search traffic, chance of being linked to and chance of hitting a topic or post that goes viral or popular.

Conclusions

So to sum up my little bit of quick and dirty analysis, I would say that more posts, particularly more concurrent posts, does have a relationship to traffic. However I would not believe that it’s a linear relationship, at least not for any serious length of time because there are definite ceilings to how many people are interested in a particular topic.

As for AppStorm I do have a feeling that we’re going to have to increase the post frequency on our blogs to put all these hypothesis to the test soon!

Collis Ta’eed 15th August

 

Best SEO Blogs: Top 10 Sources to Stay Up-to-Date

Posted by randfish on August 7th, 2010 at 10:12 pm Search Community

Like many overly-connected web junkies, I find myself increasingly overwhelmed by information, resources and news. Sorting the signal from the noise is essential to staying sane, but missing an important development can be costly. To balance this conflict, I’ve recently re-arranged my daily reading habits (which I’ve written about several times before) and my Firefox sidebar (a critical feature that keeps me from switching to Chrome).

I’ll start by sharing my top 10 sources in the field of search & SEO, then give you a full link list for those interested in seeing all the resources I use. I’ve whittled the list down to just ten to help maximize value while minimizing time expended (in my less busy days, I’d read 4-5 dozen blogs daily and even more than that each week).

Top 10 Search / SEO Blogs

#1 – Search Engine Land

Best SEO Blogs - SearchEngineLand

  • Why I Read It: For several years now, SELand has been the fastest, most accurate and well-written news source in the world of search. The news pieces in particular provide deep, useful, interesting coverage of their subjects, and though some of the columns on tactics/strategies are not as high quality, a few are still worth a read. Overall, SELand is the best place to keep up with the overall search/technology industry, and that’s important to anyone operating a business in the field.
  • Focus: Search industry and search engine news
  • Update Frequency: Multiple times daily

#2 – SEOmoz

SEOmoz Blog

  • Why I Read It: Obviously, it’s hard not to be biased, but removing the personal interest, the SEOmoz Blog is still my favorite source for tactical & strategic advice, as well as “how-to” content. I’m personally responsible for 1 out of every 4-6 articles, but the other 75%+ almost always give me insight into something new. The comments are also, IMO, often as good or better than the posts – the moz community attracts a lot of talented, open, sharing professionals and that keeps me reading daily.
  • Focus: SEO & web marketing tactics & strategies
  • Update Frequency: 1-2 posts per weekday

#3 – SEOBook

SEOBook Blog

  • Why I Read It: The SEOBook blog occassionally offers some highly useful advice or new tactics, but recently, most of the commentary focuses on the shifting trends in the SEO industry, along with a healthy dose of engine and establishment-critical editorials. These are often quite instructive on their own, and I think more than a few have had substantive impact on changing the direction of players big and small.
  • Focus: Inudstry trends as they relate to SEO; Editorials on abuse & manipulation
  • Update Frequency: 1-3X per week

#4 – Search Engine Roundtable

SERoundtable Blog

  • Why I Read It: Barry Schwartz has long maintained this bastion of recaps, roundups and highlights from search-related discussions and forums across the web. The topics are varied, but usually useful and interesting enough to warrant at least a daily browse or two.
  • Focus: Roundup of forum topics, industry news, SEO discussions
  • Update Frequency: 3-4X Daily

#5 – Search Engine Journal

SEJournal Blog

  • Why I Read It: The Journal strikes a nice balance between tactical/strategic articles and industry coverage, and anything SELand misses is often here quite quickly. They also do some nice roundups of tools and resources, which I find useful from an analysis & competitive research perspective.
  • Focus: Indsutry News, Tactics, Tools & Resources
  • Update Frequency: 2-3X Daily

#6 – Conversation Marketing

Conversation Marketing

  • Why I Read It: I think Ian Lurie might be the fastest rising on my list. His blog has gone from ocassionally interesting to nearly indispensable over the last 18 months, as the quality of content, focus on smart web/SEO strategies and witty humor shine through. As far as advice/strategy blogs go in the web marketing field, his is one of my favorites for consistently great quality.
  • Focus: Strategic advice, how-to articles and the occassional humorous rant
  • Update Frequency: 2-4X weekly

#7 – SEO By the Sea

 SEO by the Sea

  • Why I Read It: Bill Slawski takes a unique approach to the SEO field, covering patent applications, IR papers, algorithmic search technology and other technically interesting and often useful topics. There’s probably no better analysis source out there for this niche, and Bill’s work will often inspire posts here on SEOmoz (e.g. 17 Ways Search Engines Judge the Value of a Link).
  • Focus: IR papers, patents and search technology
  • Update Frequency: 1-3X per week

#8 – Blogstorm

Blogstorm

  • Why I Read It: Although Blogstorm doesn’t update as frequently as some of the others, neraly every post is excellent. In the last 6 months, I’ve been seriously impressed by the uniqueness of the material covered and the insight shown by the writers (mostly Patrick Altoft with occassional other contributors). One of my favorites, for example, was their update to some of the AOL CTR data, which I didn’t see well covered elsewhere.
  • Focus: SEO insider analysis, strategies and research coverage
  • Update Frequency: 3-5X monthly

#9 – Dave Naylor

 David Naylor

  • Why I Read It: Dave’s depth of knowledge is legendary and unlike many successful business owners in the field, he’s personally kept himself deeply aware of and involved in SEO campaigns. This acute attention to the goings-on of the search rankings have made his articles priceless (even if the grammar/spelling isn’t always stellar). The staff, who write 50%+ of the content these days, are also impressively knowledgable and maintain a good level of discourse and disclosure.
  • Focus: Organic search rankings analysis and macro-industry trends
  • Update Frequency: 1-3X weekly

#10 – Marketing Pilgrim

 Marketing Pilgrim

  • Why I Read It: A good mix of writers cover the search industry news and some tactical/strategic subjects as well. The writing style is compelling and it’s great to get an alternative perspective. I’ve also noticed that MP will sometimes find a news item that other sites miss and I really appreciate the feeling of comprehensiveness that comes from following them + SELand & SERoundtable.
  • Focus: Industry news, tactical advice and a bit of reputation/social management
  • Update Frequency: 2-3X daily

Other sites that I’ll read regularly (who only barely missed my top 10) include Distilled, YOUmoz, Performable, Chris Brogan, the Webmaster Central Blog, Eric Enge, Avinash Kaushik, SEWatch, Gil Reich & the eMarketer blog. I also highly recommend skimming through SEO Alltop, as it lets me quickly review anything from the longer tail of SEO sites.

Ignition! Your PPC Launch Checklist

The big day has finally arrived. You, my friend, have put in the hard work to get to this point. Launch day. Congratulations! Hopefully, you haven’t pushed this off too far and are ready to go live with your PPC accounts.

Before you launch, however, let’s make sure that you have everything in place.  You’ve focused on detail, made sure that your campaigns are grouped well, your keyword list is comprehensive, and your ads are pure poetry ready to increase purchase intent upon any who dare to read them. Remember, search marketing is all about analyzing performance and then optimizing for efficiency, so you don’t have to fully nail it on day one. You’ll have plenty of time to make changes throughout the life of the campaign. However, what you don’t want to do is to waste budget needlessly or mistakenly muddle your data.

Here is a pre-launch checklist of important things to run through to ensure success from the start.

Double check your goals and budget. It may have been weeks or months since this account fell into your lap and things may have changed on the advertiser side since then. There may even be someone new at the top that has their own ideas on where their PPC dollars should be focused. Before you launch, touch base with your boss (or your client) and make sure that you’re still shooting for the right target and that your budget hasn’t changed.

Do some fresh research. Once again, it may have been many months since you started this project. Especially if the advertiser is in a fast-paced industry, there may be many new things to consider if their market has changed. Have new competitors entered the keyword landscape? New products launched? It might be helpful to spend a half hour sifting through some of your research tools or simply typing in some of your most important keywords into the engines to make sure you’re still on solid ground with the account you’ve created.

Get sign-off on keywords and creative. You should really get approval to run the account from whoever is paying the bill for everything. Most likely, you’ll be dealing with someone with no search marketing experience at all, so their idea about this account actually may be slightly skewed from reality. Give them a day or two to look through the ads and keywords so that they understand exactly what they’ll be engaged with. This also might be an opportunity to catch any last-minute mistakes or even add in some new ideas weren’t uncovered in the initial research phase.

Is your campaign really ready to be activated? When you initially loaded your accounts, you may have created campaigns, ad groups or ads that weren’t necessarily supposed to run—for example, experimenting with high-volume, general terms (such as car, insurance, computer, real estate, etc). Many times, search marketers will generate and load some of these campaigns with the intention of keeping them paused on start and then slowly add them into the account if the lower-hanging fruit such as branded keywords or product terms aren’t able to spend the budget. Go through your account one last time and make sure you’ve paused what needs to be paused.

Go through your settings one more time. I can’t stress just how important this is. One of the big ones is the location targeting settings. If you’re a regional advertiser, just know that the default geotargeting settings in the U.S. are for national targeting. So, if you’re just trying to reach the greater Chicago area, your budgets may cap out every day and never reach someone in that area if you’re accidently targeting the entire country. That’s a PPC sin! Another important setting is your daily budget. You may want to start slowly and spend about half of what you normally will be spending to make sure everything’s working properly before going full out. There are dozen or so key settings that you’ll want to double check before launch.

Check that your ads have been approved by Google. This has tripped up even the best search marketing pros so that’s why I’m including it here. Once ads are loaded into the system, they go through editorial filters. It’s very possible that your ads are declined for various reasons (see my previous post, The Left Brain Of Paid Search Ads: Parameters & Limitations, for more information on why that might happen). It’s possible that you may not realize that your ads aren’t running, but you’ll notice pretty soon when you launch your account and it doesn’t spend a dime. To avoid this, go through your campaigns and make sure you have active ads in each ad group.

Ensure your tracking is in place and working. In last week’s article, An Introduction to Paid Search Conversion Tracking,I discussed why it’s so important to the success of a campaign to measure your performance. Although conversion tracking is a fairly straight forward process, chances are you will not be implementing the code yourself on the website. So, you’ll need to go through those pages, view the source code (easily found in the browser menu), and double check that everything was implemented properly. Sometimes, I’ll unpause the least expensive term in my account, click it and convert on the engines where I’m running, and then pause it again immediately. This way I can see if a conversion shows up in the engine platforms. If it does, I’m good to go. If not, there’s still work to be done.

Be sure your third party tools are set up and ready to go. Although we haven’t really covered much regarding third party tools in this column, if you’re using one, make sure that everything is kosher before launch. For example, you can link your Google Analytics with your Google AdWords. If that’s something you want done, do it before you start, not after. There are also plenty of bid management tools out there. If you’re using one, take advantage of their support systems and have them give you the green light when everything’s ready.


Utilizing Web Analytics For More Than Just Marketing

Web Analytics, when set up and segmented correctly, can provide critical data across entire organizations.  Are you taking more from your numbers than just marketing results?

I got reading some comments posted on Avinash Kaushik’s blog (5 + 4 Actionable Tips To Kick Web Data Analysis Up A Notch, Or Two

Read more: http://www.kaushik.net/avinash/2010/07/actionable-tips-web-data-metrics-analysis.html#ixzz0vBPW59Xg), and it really got me thinking about how I perceive web analytics as far as scope and need.

I think I’ve been pigeon holing analytics usefulness to determining the value of an AdWords campaign, or that of a Twitter conversation, or our SEO efforts.  At the end of the day, web analytics can be useful to an entire organization.  Let’s have a look:

Using Web Analytics to Gauge Customer Service Load

Every once in a while, your organization might sell a bum product.  It just happens.  We can expect then that we’re going to get bombarded with inquiries as to how to fix the product, install the product, or return the product (GASP!).

Customer Service and Web AnalyticsPerhaps it might be wise to set up a segment of folks that searched for that product on your website, or maybe got into your FAQ section and looked at data regarding the product.  Over time, we’ll be able to see trends, perhaps timelines from point of purchase to failure, or maybe as simple as understanding how many of your customers are struggling with the product in one way or another.

Then, we can pull in external data from Facebook or Twitter, and see if the overall reaction to it is negative.

Do you need to beef up your call center this weekend?  Do you need to send out a letter (remember those?) or email to people who have bought the product recently?

Even if we don’t have a specific product we need to be concerned about, we can still gauge trends in views of our FAQ’s, Return Policy pages, or Contact Us forms.  We can gain insight into what our Call Centers, electronic customer service, or shipping and receiving departments might be experiencing in the coming weeks.

Web Analytics and the IT Department

….or, in many cases, your IT guy.

As businesses grow, websites grow.  Infrastructure grows.  And overhead grows.  Perhaps we can use a combination of our own web analytics and some external sources to help our IT departments prepare for an onslaught of seasonal web traffic.  Or an increased demand for a video or PDF download.

If you’ve been tracking your website for several years, you’ll understand some of the seasonality of your products.  You can share this data with accounting, purchasing, IT and others to help prepare them for increased workload, purchasing requests, or cash flow.  (Yeah… maybe even less cash flow, depending…)

But if you’re website is new, or you just installed web analytics recently, you don’t have access to that.

Enter Google Insights.

table.gadget{background-position:0%;background:transparent none;border-collapse:collapse;border:0;clear:none;float:none;font-family:arial,sans-serif;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;height:auto;letter-spacing:normal;line-height:normal;margin:0;padding:0;text-indent:0;text-transform:none;top:auto;vertical-align:middle;white-space:normal;width:auto;word-spacing:normal;}table.gadget span.title a:hover,table.gadget span.title a:visited,table.gadget span.title a:active,table.gadget span.title{font-size:12px;color:#0000cc}table.gadget span.powered a:hover,table.gadget span.powered a:visited,table.gadget span.powered a:active,table.gadget span.powered{font-size:10px;color:#0000cc}

Google Insights for Search
Gadgets powered by Google

Google Insights offers a historical look at searches over time.  Enter your search term (Widgets, in our case.  All imaginary companies sell some kind of widget.), and Google will let you know it’s popularity (scaled against ALL searches) and it’s hot times of year.

Key things to consider:

  1. Is your product set rising or waning in the eyes of searchers?
  2. Do your products have a seasonality that you aren’t taking advantage of?
  3. Add some colors/sizes to your Insight queries.  Are you carrying the right ones?

That will help everyone, from purchasing to IT.  We get to use GOOD data in order to forecast.

Takeaways

I hope we learn to utilize our data to forecast more than just sales.  While sales are the lifeblood of any organization, the backbone (customer service and operations) requires our support as well.

As I mentioned in my comment on Avinash’s blog, marketers effect EVERY aspect of an organization.  By looking deeper into the numbers, we can recognize that impact, and be better internal customers.