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SES San Jose: What’s New with Google Analytics and Website Optimizer?

Posted on Aug 19th, 2008
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    What's New with Google Analytics

    Google is the Wizard of search marketing’s Oz. The all-powerful being around which our universe orbits, and the all-knowing guru to whom we turn for website advice. While Google, like the wizard, may guard its own secrets, it lifts the curtain and lets us look at the inner workings of websites. In this session, two of Google’s own, Avinash Kaushik and Tom Leung, gave us an insider’s tour of changes in Google Analytics and Google Website Optimizer, two tools of incredible value to search marketers and webmasters alike.

    Google Analytics

    Avinash, author of Analytics Evangelist, outlined a few key uses of Google Analytics that can make a huge impact on the success of your website.

    Bounce Rate

    “If you’re not using bounce rate as a filter to fix things really fast…than you are probably committing a crime against humanity,” Avinash asserted.

    He recommends looking to bounce rate first and foremost to determine if your website “sucks.” While the bounce rate can’t give you a solution, it is a quick indicator of problem pages on your site.

    Examine your site’s Google Analytics bounce rate report and identify any low performers. Investigate these pages and consider changing and testing alternative formats to improve performance.


    Avinash focused his discussion of Google Analytics keyword reports on its relevance to both ‘head’ keywords and ‘long-tail’ keywords.

    • Head keywords The top few keywords that drive a lot of traffic to your site. Head keywords often include branded terms.
    • Long-tail keywords The many other keywords that drive a little traffic to your site. These words are often category, generic, or early bird terms for your goods or services.

    Head keywords should be monitored very carefully; you need to “obsess efficiently” about them, according to Avinash.

    He claims that with many other analytics tools, the sheer amount of data with respect to the number of keywords your site ranks for can be overwhelming. With analytics, you can mine your keyword report and pull out relevant long tail keywords, the terms that you can monitor more loosely.

    Avinash recommends pulling analytics reports that show dynamic long tail keywords, those that have recently begun driving more or less traffic to your site. This will cut through the clutter of all of your ranking keywords and help you identify those to monitor.

    Conversion Metrics

    Avinash believes the biggest mistake online marketers make is narrowly defining their conversion. Each business has multiple definitions of a conversion, and should reflect this in their web analytics.

    Google Analytics allows sites to define four conversions. For an ecommerce site, these conversions will all most likely have a direct monetary value.

    For content sites, Avinash recommends recognizing and defining conversion goals in terms of customer loyalty and recency. Pull Google Analytics Reports for visitor loyalty to see how many visitors come regularly. Pull the visitor frequency reports to see the frequency with which people return to your site. These metrics can be turned into goals and assigned monetary amounts to give an idea of their value.

    Website Optimizer

    Tom Leung, Business Product Manager for Google Website Optimizer, gave an outline of trends and changes in the website testing field. He began his session by giving an overview of the reasons behind the increasing momentum testing has seen:

    • A higher focus on ROI and CPA
    • Leading agencies are offering landing page testing services
    • More resources for testing become available every year
    • Site visitors have high expectations due to increased choices
    • A best-practice landing page has become a minimum requirement

    Tom then explained some of the key changes Google Optimizer has undergone. New partnerships with third party groups have allowed for greater integration of Google Optimizer with other tools. Also, a number of new Google Optimizer resources are currently available, from the Optimizer Blog to new tutorial videos.

    Some of the key functional changes specific products have undergone include:

    • Landing page testing report “pruning” Users can identify and disable poorly performing landing page variations to drive more traffic to those performing well
    • Improved Reports Google Optimizer has changed the color coding of confidence levels showing the performance of landing pages. Pages are only shown in red or green if they are performing either well or poorly on a statistically significant level.
    • Offline Validation for A/B testing

    Tom claimed one of the biggest changes in Website Optimizer isn’t in the product offerings so much as a change in Advertiser attitude. With the tools Optimizer can provide, advertisers now know they have a right to higher conversion rates, better landing pages, free testing technology and more.

    Even though Google’s analytic products tend to set the industry standard in terms of function and usability, they are constantly listening to user feedback in order to further improve their products. As the Wizard of Oz gave useful gifts to his visitors, Google has once again provided online marketers with tools they can use to improve their sites and increase client profits.

    Stay current with the SES San Jose conference by checking in regularly with the TopRank Online Marketing Blog, and view more photos from the TopRank Team at TopRank on Flickr.