Natural Search Blog


Social Media Measurement

Measuring social media will help you better understand what works, which social media venues perform for you, and provides an important metric to factor into cost analysis. Once you have pulled together your social media marketing goals, you need to lay down how you are going to measure the impact of your social media marketing efforts.

Social media measurement presents some interesting challenges compared to the more typical site or page metrics. The most direct measures, such as traffic and conversion on your website, are only part of the picture. By the very nature though, much of your social media efforts will take place off your website. But let’s make it easy and start internally before we move to the more challenging external measurements.

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New Google Analytics still poor experience

Back in May I gave the new Google Analytics design a negative review, primarily because it made it impossible to view at a glance how many people in what area of the world are viewing your site. I’d also panned it for making one unable to view both Page Views and Visits together simultaneously.

Google Analytics Logo

Despite my griping, they rolled it out anyway with this feature unchanged, and they made it impossible to view the data through the old UI as of July 19th. They report adding more requested features, but how about adding back some of the functionality they destroyed? Perhaps they’re more involved in getting the daily data processing issues resolved, and admittedly I’d agree that would surely be a higher priority. I’m just still flummoxed because it seems so unnecessary to revoke good functionality in the first place.

I’ve found yet another irritating change that I consider to be even more serious: you apparently can’t view the data in monthly units – only daily:

Google Analytics graphs don't display monthly figs
(click to enlarge)

Why did they revoke the ability to visually compare monthly periods?!? Most search marketers I know like to compare overall figures from month to month since it tends to reduce some of the spikiness of short-term bursts, and lots of folks are using monthly billing cycles and such.

If I’m mistaken and there’s some where to set the period to display monthly, I hope someone will let me know. I hunted and hunted, and checked their help section to no avail. If they really did revoke monthly display, I can only reiterate further how bad this so-called “upgrade” really was! All glitz with little beneficial substance.

The Analytics team should borrow some of the members of the Google Maps team, since comparatively the Maps team seems to get it right a lot more lately.

comScore Report Likely Misses Large Internet Segments

comScore released a list of Rankings of Top Worldwide Properties last week, but there’s likely a large segment of internet usage completely missed by their methodologies. I recently blogged about how Domainers Can’t Get No Respect (a followup piece to my 2nd installment of “Domaining & Subdomaining In The Local Space“), because they haven’t had good independent validation of some of their traffic and conversion rate figures. When I wrote that, I didn’t realize that some of them had apparently attempted to get independent validation, but were thwarted by the methodologies of audience measurment services. Frank Schilling let me know that he’d tried to get audited by comScore a few years ago, and they’d failed miserably, registering only about one-thirtieth of the US traffic they’re really getting.

comScore logo

Being somewhat familiar with comScore’s data gathering and audience share estimation methods, I can easily see how Domainers’ sites could get drastically under-represented in comScore’s figures. Read on for details…

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Domainers Can’t Get No Respect

Last week the second part of my “Domaining & Subdomaining in the Local Space” pubbed on Search Engine Land, and I’m particularly pleased with it, although my friends can deservedly kick me around a bit for writing articles too long. I did quite a lot of research for the two-part series, most particularly for this second segment which was focused entirely on Local Domaining.

One of the main things that I’m pleased about was my effort to be as objective as possible in writing the article — not only did I want to report on what is going on in local-oriented domaining, and who’s involved, but also to provide some concrete conclusions and recommendations which people could take away. I was upfront in disclosing my past negative bias about domaining, and in the course of writing the article I found that I had to revise my assumptions a few times over – in favor of Domaining, actually. Working off and on, I wrote the article over the course of about two months.

While doing the research, I became aware that the Domaining industry seems to have a bit of “younger sibling complex” — as an industry, they wish to be considered a respectable, bona fide line of business. Unfortunately, they have a few things which have been hampering that aim to some degree:

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Where’s the Google search result?

I had a client ask me the other day where his traffic was coming from, since he couldn’t find his listing in the top few pages of search results for a keyword that was showing up in his analytics reports. The analytics system had reported that he’d received a number of visits from users who’d searched for “Keyword X” in Google and had clicked through to his site. Problem is, when he went and searched for “Keyword X”, he didn’t see any of his pages listed in the first dozen or so pages of results in Google, and he figured it’d be unlikely that a number of users would click very many pages deep anyway.

So, how did this traffic happen?

This isn’t the only time I’ve seen something like this happen. Probably a number of people have had the experience of calling up a partner or colleague to talk about something they see in the Google search results, only to find that the person at the other end of the phone sees a very different thing when they commit the same search in Google. The listing could be shown 9 places down from the top of the page instead of 2 places down, or it isn’t showing up at all for them while it’s showing plain as day for you.

Unfortunately, this is going to become a more and more common experience for webmasters. Google’s diversity of search products and results sets are becoming more and more differentiated for different users, and as this happens, people searching for the very same keyword are going to be seeing completely different search results. Read on for more details.

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New Google Analytics UI – A Downgrade

Google Analytics Logo

Google Analytics is updating their user interface and report presentation, and just as I feared, some of it is a downgrade in usefulness. I’ve been using metrics/analytics packages for ages now. At my old company many years ago, I helped set up and use NetGenesis NetAnalysis product to generate reports from our log files. We later used SurfAid and Coremetrics and Omniture. We also built our own, in-house reporting system to supply stats that we couldn’t get via off-the-shelf packages, and I personally programmed some of those and managed other developers who worked on them as well. So, I’m pretty familiar with analytic reporting systems, and I know what’s possible in designing them. I don’t like some of Google’s changes to their service.

Google Analytics has done what I’ve seen so many other analytics companies do: they’ve dumbed down the reporting presentation capability of their service, apparently gearing it primarily toward less-technical marketers and people who run Google ads on their sites or who advertise through Google. The trend with all these analytics companies seems to be to evolve solely towards generating report charts for marketing departments, focusing mainly on conversion statistics and prettified reports that have extracted the ability to easily see quantitative amounts over timeperiods, lulling the brain with pretty colors and obsessing more over slick Ajax/browser interactions than delivering statistical content in a meaningful way.

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