Category Archives: Web Statistics
The title might be a bit provocative, but the topic is important for companies which want to insure their website is a profit center rather than a cost center. The number of page views tracked by a web analytics system is often a weak indicator of website monetization potential. With the advent of monetization programs such as Google’s AdSense, the specific content of a web page has become much more telling in this regard. Let’s see why.
In this article we will restrict ourselves to advertising as the monetization tool.
The success factors for the monetization of a website depend on the advertising model used. The traditional approach is to sell banner space, historically at a cost per 1000 impressions (CPM). In this model, the greater the number of page views, the better. Life is all rather straight forward. Yet over time many advertisers have become more sophisticated, offering to pay just for the traffic actually received, e.g. the click-through model where the site carrying the ad receives a fee only if a user clicks on the banner, arriving at the advertiser’s site.
In three short years 1 Google Analytics has become an important tool for many companies looking to get more out of their presence on the web. Google Analytics’ wide range of website reports, from traffic sources to conversion rates, provide invaluable insight into a site’s business performance for an initial cost which is difficult to beat.
One particular report, the Search Engine report, is of particular interest to companies looking to optimize their organic search engine marketing activity. This report identifies sources of search traffic that brought visitors to the website.
For each search engine source, a drill-down feature shows the keywords people used – the very keywords which express a visitor’s intent as they came to your website.
Just to clarify, for the purpose of this article, by search engine or search engine source, we mean search driven traffic – whether it be from a pure search engine like Google, or from an ISP portal which offers a search function, such as Earthlink or Virgin Media.
Microsoft is the other main player, after Google Analytics, in the area of free Web Analytics tools for the analysis of browser centric web data. Microsoft’s adCenter Analytics is the successor to the former LiveSTATS thanks to Microsoft’s acquisition of DeepMetrix in April 20061.
Why search engines offer Web Analytics
Certainly the name Microsoft choose for its Web Analytics tool says a lot: with adCenter Analytics you know the priority is on advertising. Google has taken a softer approach with Google Analytics; sure there is and will be strong integration with AdWords, yet everyone is welcome to take advantage of Google Analytics even if they aren’t (yet) an AdWords client. The official line is that having experienced the power of measuring business results derived from a company’s web presence, marketing professionals will be more inclined to become AdWords clients. One presumes as well that the data collected by Google Analytics is used inside Google to measure the overall state of traffic on the web (including Google’s competitor’s market share – the benchmarking with other sites feature gives an idea of the possibilities). I hope that Microsoft will adopt a more enlightened Internet strategy and aggressively promote adCenter Analytics usage among non-adCenter clients. Google is a great company but could use some competition.
Two significant impediments have historically hindered the uptake of Web Analytics by businesses. The first has been cost. Professional Web Analytics systems have been fairly expensive, both in server and hosted forms. The second issue has been the great quantity and complexity of available reports in commercial systems, sufficiently intimidating many business professionals away from Web Analytics.
Google’s Google Analytics
Google, with their release of Google Analytics in November 2005, removed the first obstacle, cost, by releasing the first free “full featured” Web Analytics system. Previous free tools, such as AWStats, lack robust visitor recognition and click stream analysis, among other things. Yet a significant obstacle still remained to general Web Analytics usage: how to find the “important” data, without getting lost in a sea of confusing and often redundant reports? In May 2007 Google released an updated Google Analytics with a significant focus on the user interface, specifically as a response to this need.
This was the question posed to Santiago de la Mora, Google’s European Partnerships Lead, Books, at Editech 2008: Editoria e innovazione tecnologica, Milan, 27 June 2008.
In the article that follows, I’ve attempted to paraphrase Santiago’s presentation of Google’s Book Search based on notes I took during the session. Santiago started by noting his agenda would cover 5 points. As the slide set is not currently available and I couldn’t see it very well from my side seat, I’ve added a few screen shots in an attempt to better illustrate Santiago’s presentation. I’ve also inserted a few personal comments, indicated with italics.
1. Challenges and opportunities on the Internet
With about 1 billion users today in Internet, every publisher needs an Internet strategy. 2007 e-commerce sales are estimated at $420 billion globally (I’m not sure of the source, but US only e-commerce sales were at $136.4 billion1). As mentioned previously, books are the number one product sold on the net2, totaling $180 billion3.
I just discovered that someone on a Web Analytics discussion group misconstrued the recent Google announcement of better Flash search engine crawling support to mean it is now good to use Flash when developing web sites.
Nothing could be further from the truth. While Google’s move is welcome support for all the legacy Flash websites still in circulation, companies shouldn’t generally be deploying new sites made wholly using Flash.
What Google has announced is significant improvements to their ability to extract information, specifically text and links, from Flash objects. Despite what many are trying to read into this, Google already crawled and extracted this information from Flash only sites – this is not exactly new.
What is new is that hit or miss crawling and discovery is probably just mediocre instead of bad. But mediocre is not good nor is it great. Before site architects and designers rush off to develop Flash only websites, they should still consider SEO and non SEO issues with Flash: