Category Archives: Web Analytics

26 Definitions from the Web Analytics Association

A Press Release from The Web Analytics Association announces the delivery of 26 Standard Definitions to Promote Consistency across the Rapidly Evolving Web Analytics Community.  These were released at the much-hyped Search Engine Strategies Conference in San Jose, California.  This is a follow up to their release of their Web Analytics “Big Three” Definitions in 2006, where they standardize the definitions of Unique Visitors, Visits/Sessions, and Page Views.  In their newest edition, the WAA Standards Committee has provided 26 definitions (including the original 3) in 4 different categories – Building Block Terms, Visit Characterization, Content Characterization, and Conversion Metrics.  I recommend downloading the PDF, reading through it, and including this in your library of SEO and Web Analytics documentation.

Gatineau Beta is Open for Applicants

Ian Thomas is a Microsoft employee in their Digital Advertising Solutions group.  He is “responsible for bringing Gatineau to market,” as his blog states.  Gatineau is in essence a Microsoft Competitor to Google Analytics.  Microsoft already has adCenter, just as Google has AdSense and AdWords.  You can read all about his work and his perspectives on web analytics on his blog called Lies, Damn Lies.  I am a frequent reader, and his articles are insightful and informative. 

His recent post announces “Gatineau beta access request form online.”  Now you can go to his online form and request access to Gatineau Beta.  You will need to have an adCenter account.  If you do not, don’t worry – you will be able to register for one as part of the Gatineau Beta, but you will need to pay a $5 one-time fee. 

I have signed up for a beta account, and want to try it out on my blog Pixelated Views.  It will give me lots of great insight as to how it works and what its impact will be on Internet Marketing and Web Analytics. 

The Truth About Organic Search (SEO) and Paid Search (PPC)

In a recent New York Post article, Google claimed that, “its own research shows surfers look toward natural search over paid search by a ration of 4-to-1.”  A recent newsletter by respected SEO company iProspect claims that their research shows, “[60.5 percent] of Internet users found natural search results more relevant than paid search advertisements.”  Either way, surfers, consumers, SEO experts, analysts, and the search engines themselves have demonstrated that Organic Search is more effective than Paid Search. 

All of this research would seem to indicate the downfall of Google, as this is their primary source of revenue.  Google is not in trouble.  A balanced approach to Search Engine Marketing is necessary for a healthy site, and I will show you why.

The Differences

To understand the difference between organic and paid search, read this great article by Adido Solutions, and this article by eWhisper.  They show you how to tell the difference on Google’s Search Engine Results Page, define what each of them are, and outline their advantages and disadvantages.  This article by iMedia Connection outlines the financial implications based on results. 

The long and the short of it is that SEO costs less, takes lots longer to work, and is less predictable.  PPC costs lots more, can start working for you in a very short amount of time, and has much more predictable results.

The Similarities

These articles do a great job of outlining the difference between SEO and PPC.  What they fail to do is show you the similarities between the two. 

Both advertising methods do just that – they advertise for you.  Whatever you want to advertise, whether it be web site or storefront, SEO and PPC advertise for you on the Internet.  They complement each other – where one drops off, the other picks up.  The big problem is that they both appear on the same page.  Why should I pay for both when they could appear together?

The Blended Approach

The key is to allow SEO and PPC to live together in harmony, as this article describes.  At the outset, your site has no search engine rankings.  The easiest way to drive traffic to your site is through paid advertising.  This is when you will lean on PPC the most. 

As your site matures, SEO will slowly improve, and so will your page rankings. Social Media and the PPC you bought will help your site along, and soon you will be listed highly in the Search Engine Results Pages.  Now you have momentum, and don’t need to depend on your PPC advertising as much.  You can decrease your PPC budget, and use it in other places of your company. 

Studies have shown, however, that if you are tops on organic search and tops on paid search, they work together and increase your traffic even higher.  This is for groups who have the ability to sustain a large online advertising budget.  Together, organic and paid search will push your traffic higher than ever before.  

10 Web Analytics Resources You Can’t Live Without

Avinash Kaushik recently posted an article listing the Top Ten Web Analytics Blogs for 2007.  His selection method, based on Technorati and Feedburner rankings, received a lot of heat (don’t mind the pun) across the analytics blogosphere.  Turns, out there is a bit of overlap between Avinash’s list and my own anyway.  I thought it might be interesting to post my own personal list of Web Analytics Resources, including the web sites and the related blogs.   

  • The Official Google Analytics Blog – URL and Feed
  • Web Analytics Association – URL and Feed
  • WebConfs SEO Toolset – URL and Feed
  • Occam’s Razor by Avinash Kaushik – URL and Feed
  • Web Analytics Demystified – URL and Feed
  • Web Metrics Guru – URL and Feed
  • Web Analytics World – URL and Feed
  • Lies, Damn Lies – URL and Feed

Two books on the bookshelf are:

 Are there any that I missed that are your favorites?

Week in review – SEO and Web Analytics Blog Posts

Search Engine Optimization articles

Search Engine Optimization Pricing – This is an article that details the SEO pricing model for SEOMoz, a premiere SEO company in Seattle. This will give you a good idea if you are paying too much or too little. However, it will still be up to you to decide if you are getting what you are paying for.

A Complete Glossary of Essential SEO Jargon – Simple enough. This is one you should permanently bookmark. Learn how to talk the talk, so you sound like you know what you are talking about. There are about 130 Search Engine Optimization terms for you to learn.

Web Analytics articles

Google Analytics Artistes – This article outlines a great 6 week online Google Analytics training course offered up by ROI Revolution, and Google Analytics Authorized Consultant.

Google is not moving – Some statistics on the volume of searches. Looks like Google is widening the gap between itself and the other top search engines – Yahoo, MSN, and AOL.

Top Ten Web Analytics Blogs: July 2007 – Every year, Avinash Kaushik evaluates the universe of Web Analytics blogs, and ranks them according to their FeedBurner and Technorati subscribers. He has listed the Top 10 Web Analytics Blogs, and listed his personal top three. Definitely add these to your RSS reader.

The Problem with Free Analytics – July 2007 – There were a series of articles this week discussing the Fee vs. Free study, and the attitudes of Web Analytics:

The general argument is that if you standardize on free tools, you are under-investing in Web Analytics. The results draw a correlation between the amount of money spent on web analytics tools, and money spent on anything else you will need to make your sites (or your business) successful. These articles make point and counterpoint, and make for some good reading.

Web 2.0 Goes Corporate – Enterprise 2.0

While I was sitting on the beach of Ocean Grove NJ this week, my wife and I read the Technology section of the Wall Street Journal from June 18. This was a very intriguing article. It describes how IBM has embraced the idea of Web 2.0 . A good definition of Web 2.0 is the new interactive social networking of the Internet. Applications like Blogger, Wikipedia, MySpace, LinkedIn, Google Reader, and are all examples of Web 2.0 applications. Now imagine how a corporation could leverage each of these.

Before we examine how these could be used within a corporate environment, let’s examine the function that each of these Web 2.0 sites serve (these have been “borrowed” from each of the sites above, and slightly modified to be more generic):

  • Blog – a web site where entries are written in chronological order and displayed in reverse chronological order. Blogs provide commentary or news on a particular subject; some function as more personal online diaries. A typical blog combines text, images, and links to other blogs, web pages, and other media related to its topic. The ability for readers to leave comments in an interactive format is an important part of many blogs.
  • Wiki – a server program that allows users to collaborate in forming the content of a Web site. With a wiki, any user can edit the site content, including other users’ contributions, using a regular Web browser. Basically, a wiki Web site operates on a principle of collaborative trust.
  • Community Space – a private community where you can share photos, journals and interests with your growing network of mutual friends
  • Social Networking – an online network people from around the world. When you join, you create a profile that summarizes aspects about you. Your profile helps you find and be found by friends, family, former colleagues, clients, and partners. You can add more connections by inviting trusted contacts to join your network and connect to you.
  • RSS Aggregator – combines multiple syndicated web content sources such as news headlines, blogs, podcasts, and vlogs in a single location for easy viewing.
  • Favorites – a collection of favorites – yours and everyone else’s. You can use this to:
    • Keep links to your favorite articles, blogs, music, reviews, recipes, and more, and access them from any computer on the web.
    • Share favorites with friends, family, coworkers, and the community.
    • Discover new things. Everything on is someone’s favorite — they’ve already done the work of finding it. So is full of bookmarks about technology, entertainment, useful information, and more. Explore and enjoy.

So let’s now try to find corporate applications for each of these services.

Blogs are easy. Each person can create their own blog. Each person should try to focus their blog on pertinent topics to their daily work. This is a great way to capture tacit knowledge about processes, projects, and subjects of expertise. Blogs get a bit more complicated when blogs are to be used as a method of communication outside the company. Then the messages in the blog will probably be reviewed by a corporate communications team.

Favorites are also easy. You could add them and “tag” them by department, division, feature, function or other category. Keeping your favorites stored online instead of on the individual PC allows the favorites themselves to be accessible from any computer anywhere, and can be searched. If you are looking for the corporate provider of translation services, as an example, searching the corporate favorites would yield that information just as much as any other source.

An online RSS Aggregator would be another simple service to provide. It would need to be web based, so that it would be accessible anywhere in the company. This would also allow for metrics to be collected, such as most frequented feeds, posts, blogs, etc. This would also encourage sources of information to be syndicated, such as blogs, corporate news, internal communications, promotions, industry news, etc.

Social Networking pages are a great way to store your profile – name, address, email, phone, etc. It is also a place where you can list your accomplishments, educational and professional history, what projects you have worked on, who you worked with, and any specific topics that you consider yourself a subject matter expert. When people are looking for qualified people to fill their project, or find internal candidates for open positions, view contacts by organization, or just to find an email or phone number, this would be a great tool for that.

The corporate use of wikis could be a bit more complex. The easiest use of a corporate wiki would be to cerate wiki pages for each ongoing project, and allow all project members to add, modify, and update the project pages. This would unify the source of information for all project work. The next logical step would be to use wiki pages for corporate policies, standard operating procedures, departments, and organizational announcements. The amount of corporate knowledge that could be captured by a wiki is endless… and all of it would be shareable, update-able, and searchable in a very easy format that technical and non-technical people can all use just as easy.

Community spaces would be the glue to all of the Enterprise 2.0 services. Each person in the organization would have their own page. The page would link to your social network pages, profiles, and link to your friends or colleagues. The links would be directly tied to their Instant Messenger ID or their email address for easy access. It would display your most recent blog entries. Your favorites would be shown by tag, by most recent added, or most recent used. It would list your most recently viewed or edited wiki pages. You could view your aggregated RSS content. Your email and calendar would be integrated. Creating additional “widgets” like stock ticker, weather, etc. would be easy.

Some of this is already possible with corporate portals like Microsoft SharePoint and BEA AquaLogic. But most is not. Some of these services are also available as individual disparate systems, but need to be justified, funded, tightly regulated, and monitored. IBM is doing some of this, and is self-monitored with corporate responsibility and common sense instead of corporate policies and Legal Review.

So… what do you think? How long do you think it will take to have an integrated Enterprise 2.0? Is all of this together even possible, or is it just a pipe dream?

The Relationship Between SEO, SEM and Web Analytics

I think it would be best to start with some definitions so that we have a base level to begin with. So, I have gone to Wikipedia and grabbed their definitions:

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the volume and quality of traffic to a web site from search engines via “natural” (“organic” or “algorithmic”) search results
  • Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is a form of Internet Marketing that seeks to promote web sites by increasing their visibility in the Search Engine results pages (SERPs) and has a proven Return on Investment (ROI).
  • Pay Per Click (PPC), or Paid Placement, is an advertising model used on web sites, advertising networks, and search engines where advertisers only pay when a user actually clicks on an ad to visit the advertiser’s web site.
  • Paid Inclusion is a search engine marketing product where the search engine company charges fees related to inclusion of web sites in their search index.
  • Key Performance Indicators (KPI) are financial and non-financial metrics used to quantify objectives to reflect strategic performance of an organization.
  • Web Analytics is the study of the behavior of web site visitors.

My personal perspective expands the definition of Web Analytics to include the measurement of SEM, including paid inclusion, pay-per-click, organic search results, and SEO.

Here is how I see the relationship between all these:

What do you think? Are there better ways to diagram or describe the relationship? Do you agree or disagree with these definitions? Leave your thoughts here in your comments.

Web Analytics Life Cycle – Phases

1. (Re)Define

While reading Avinash Kaushik’a Blog, I found this article on defining the business purposes of your web site –

Defining the business goals of your web site boils down to answering one simple question – What do you want them to do on the web site? Here are some questions to help you answer that question…

  1. Why does your web site exist?
    • E-commerce
    • Promotional material
    • Contests
    • Etc.
  2. What are your top three web strategies that you are working on?
    • paid campaigns
    • registered users
    • affiliates
    • updating content on the site
    • trying to get digg’ed
    • effective merchandising
    • etc.
  3. What do you think should be happening on your web site?
    • This is where you define your key performance indicators. Your KPIs need to correlate directly to the web strategies that you have defined.
    • I will spend more time talking about KPIs in another post, but here are three basic questions you should be answering with your key performance indicators:
      • How many visitors are coming to your web site?
      • Where are they coming from?
      • What are they actually doing?
    • Your key performance indicators also are an indication of how mature your web analytics process is. I will take the time in another post to discuss the Web Analytics Maturity Model.

When you go through this phase after the first iteration, take this opportunity to re-evaluate and re-define your business goals, your KPIs, and their definitions.

2. Collect

There are lots of tools to help you collect your Web Analytics data. There will be many decisions that you will have to make regarding the collection of your data. The KPIs should be at the heart of your decision on how to collect data. You will also need to keep in mind who your users are.

Tools are split into two major categories – web logs and site tagging. Web logs obviously measure the activity on the server, based on the requests of your site’s pages, images, PDFs, etc. Common tools for web log data analysis are WebTrends and ClickTracks. Site tagging measures actual user activity on the physical web site itself in their browser. Common tools for site tagging are Google Analytics and CoreMetrics. I will take a deeper dive into the differences between the collection methods and a review of the different tools at another time.

When you enter this phase of the process beyond the first iteration, take the time to re-evaluate whether your tools are satisfying your needs, and how the tool collects your data.

3. Analyze

Now that you have collected your data, you will need to analyze it. You should define reports that correlate back to your key performance indicators, and to your business goals. The first time you go through this cycle will be your benchmark. Future iterations should be geared to wards optimizing and improving your results.

During your analysis phase, you should review:

  • your business goals
  • which KPIs you collect
  • the definitions of the KPIs
  • whether the tools are right for your needs
  • how the tool collects your data
  • whether the results are better or worse than expected
  • how your data is presented
  • who sees your results.

Once all the analysis is complete, you should develop a list of recommended changes to each of these areas. These recommendations should be both technical and business in nature.

4. Adjust

In this phase, you should take each of the areas that were reviewed in the Analyze phase, and the recommendations that were made, and start to make adjustments as necessary. This could be redefining your business goals, adjusting your KPIs, making changes to your tool set, or rebuilding your reports.

Each iteration through the Adjust phase will be different. As you iterate through the lifecycle, the changes that are made in this phase will typically decrease in size and complexity.

Web Analytics Life Cycle

I got the idea one day in the car as I was driving home that Web Analytics is a continuous improvement process. This is not a profound idea, but struck me at the time as being very important. It is not a process that you go through once. The value of Web Analytics is to cycle through the process more than once. This is what makes your web sites better at achieving their goals. Going through the cycle just once and getting the results has almost no value.

I have looked online, and I have not found anyone who has defined a lifecycle for applying Web Analytics. So I have put one together here, very briefly. It is based on lots of other methodologies, such as the software development lifecycle and iterative development methodologies. The standard Deming Continuous Improvement Cycle phases are Plan, Do, Check, Act. I have mirrored these steps in my idea of a Web Analytics Lifecycle

  1. (Re)Define business goals
  2. Collect data to measure those goals
  3. Analyze the results of the metrics
  4. Adjust your strategy depending on your results

My next few posts will be discussing each of the phases in more detail.

Please leave feedback with your ideas about this fairly new concept. It is still in its infancy, and your constructive ideas are very important.

New Book – Web Analytics: An Hour A Day by Avinash Kaushik

Avinash Kaushik is a leading Web Analytics expert and practitioner. His first book has been highly anticipated and well received. You can go to the book’s web site at , or read reviews and buy the book on Amazon at

He is also the author of a famous Web Analytics bog called Occam’s Razor at I plan on both getting the book, and subscribing to the blog.