Earlier this year we were approached by Karen Fields, a student at Full Sail University with ten questions on Web Analytics and SEO, ranging from paid vs free analytics tools to whether blackhat SEO had a place in the industry. We liked the questions and wanted to share with our readers both the questions and the answers given by Brian Kane, editor of Web Analytics World.
1. Can you give our audience a basic overview of web analytics as it relates to Internet Marketing?
Web Analytics should really sit at the core of all web marketing. Typically speaking there are so many unknowns when you begin an online marketing campaign and obviously you want to base as much of your efforts as possible on market research, data and best practices. The reality though is that you can never predict exactly what will happen, how well will your PPC ads perform, exactly how will your visitors interact with your site and what about your social media tactics?. Without analytics you would not know what works and what doesn’t. You wouldn’t be able to test, tweak and improve things to deliver the biggest impact and highest Return on Investment. For this reason Analytics is important in every strand of Internet marketing from SEO to PPC, from brand monitoring to measuring social media engagement.
2. How important is it for a company to use web analytics in its marketing endeavors?
The beauty of Internet Marketing over Traditional Marketing is that there is so much data available on how effective your marketing actually is. This is what creates the science around online marketing and reduces the need for the ‘art’ involved in traditional marketing. While creativity is still very important in online marketing, mixing this with proper analytics can allow you to do incredible things like test a sales message in 24 hours by sending Adwords traffic to a landing page. The power to find out what works, what doesn’t and build on what is effective is really at the heart of all good internet marketing
3. We have read articles debunking web analytic myths. The basic concept I garnered from all the reading is web analytics isn’t a magic formula that will fix a person’s website or generate massive revenue instantaneously. How do you get the decision-makers to listen to why it should be used?
I think smart use of Analytics can be a great tool to use when trying to get buy-in from ‘the decision makers’. The approach obviously depends on the specific business in question however management teams are always interested in things like revenue, brand protection, how they compare with competitors etc. Picking on topics like this and exploring analytics dashboards which for example connect web traffic to sales through custom analytics goals or scouring reports on brand perception across the web etc. should really have an impact on any senior management team.
4. I read an article recently by Eric Peterson called ” The Problem with Free Analytics” that stated companies who do not use a paid analytics tool are not serious about their marketing endeavours. Would you agree or disagree with that statement?
I guess it depends on how wide ranging your internet marketing activity really is. Let’s face it you can go a long way with Google Analytics and you would need some very serious analytics reporting requirements to look for a paid alternative to the free Google tool. However when it comes to social media analytics, brand monitoring and so on it can often be worthwhile investing in a range of specialist monitoring tools or one of the social monitoring tool suites which pull lots of this stuff together for you. There are free alternatives but in the social media monitoring space some of the paid tools can make your life so much easier
5. For companies who do not have a lot of resources, which free analytic tools, would they utilize to get a basic idea of their marketing trends?
As I said in the previous answer Google Analytics is a bit of a “no brainer” and is a must for the sort of situation you describe.
6. As Internet Marketing professionals we have an ethical standard to uphold. Do you think Blackhat SEO has a place in the industry to give companies a fare shot on search engines?
When it comes to search engine (specifically Google) Black Hat is just not an option for any business who actually cares about its credibility. There have always been tactics which ‘game’ search engines and work for a while then all of a sudden the sites involved are massively penalised or wiped from the Google index.
7. How would a company incorporate paid link backs without engaging in Blackhat SEO?
Paid link backs are basically a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and therefore not a good idea. This page says it all http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=66736
8. Do you think traditional SEO methods such as changing Meta tags and title tags, etc. will go the way of the dinosaurs?
As things progress in the search engine world different weightings continue to be put on different elements when it comes to on-page seo. As it stands the keyword meta tag is pretty much ignored in terms of weighting however the description tag while not really having a weighting in terms of rankings actually is important in terms of providing Search engines with a page description that they will often show to users when your site appears in a search result. The page title tag still carries a fair amount of weight in terms of onsite SEO but who knows, that might change. What will not change is the importance of producing quality content and interacting in other places around the web, building quality references and back links from other sites. Off site seo is more important than ever and smart social media often has its part to play here as well.
9. Identifying trends and defining S.M.A.R.T Goals and KPI’s based on those trends can be a daunting task. How much time should be spent analyzing reports to spot these trends? Daily, weekly, or is it too late when sales begin to plummet?
I think its worth investing the time upfront when it comes to KPI’s and goals. The latest version of Google Analytics allows you to create multiple dashboards for different purposes allowing you quickly and easily track multiple campaigns/goals etc.
10. Social media marketing is becoming the norm with some companies. How should those stats be integrated into current analytical tools or be a separate tool in general?
This is a tough one. I would say that the choice of tools really depends on the situation, the business in question, their objectives etc and how active they intend to be on social media. There are hundreds of social media tools, many are free, some cost a little and some cost a lot. Actually we are planning a new section on Web Analytics World which will categorise and review a wide range of Social Media Analytics tools so keep an eye out for that 🙂