Posted on: 11 Nov 2016
Get a Handle on Your Data to Better Prioritize Your Marketing Efforts
Data is king in today’s online marketing landscape and if you don’t have a handle on your website’s performance, you’re most likely not going to grow as fast as you’d like. How visitors are interacting with your website, the number of daily / weekly / monthly visitors and their trends, your conversion rates at the page / silo / site-wide level, your SERP rankings and their trends, and your site’s index rate and frequency are just a handful of data points that you need to track with religious fanaticism so they can be reviewed to determine whether or not your marketing is working.
The most common mistake that we keep running into with new clients is that they just aren’t tracking anything, which is the equivalent of playing darts while blindfolded after spinning around in a circle 100 times. Sure, you may hit something (or someone), but your odds of actually hitting your target are astronomically small. It’s the same thing with marketing. If your site’s running unchecked and unwatched and you don’t know what’s working, the likelihood that your work will turn into gains are astronomically small.
You don’t need to pay a Big Data firm, or a marketing agency for that matter, to do the data crunching for you either. There are tons of analytics tools / platforms that you can implement to help you turn that seemingly overwhelming amount of data into actionable points that will help your website resonate with your target audience to fuel your long term growth. We kept this list short so it only has the best analytics tools and no extraneous fluff.
This is, hands down, the best free tool you can use. While it may be daunting at first glance with how far down the rabbit hole you can go, learning its ins and outs will give you a better understanding of how your site operates and is interacted with on both a holistic and granular level.
Want to see how many overall sessions your site had last month? Done.
Want to see how many people bought a product during a promotion you ran last May? Done.
Want to identify pain points in your sales funnel to help increase on-site conversion rates? Done.
Want to see how visitors move throughout your site? Done.
Want to identify which devices your visitors use most to improve user experience? Done.
From traffic source to visitor demographic / geographic data to on-site behavior data to eCommerce performance data, Google Analytics tracks data on nearly every data point that matters.
You can also set up custom tracking parameters for additional granularity by creating unique goals based around specific customer behavioral triggers. So if you wanted to collect data on how many times a button was clicked on, the number of people that hit a specific page in your sales funnel, or how long a person is on a content page, you can create a goal and be able to track it in your Analytics dashboard.
The only drawback is some minor rigidity in some features and the lack of real-time data in reports, but let’s be honest, no one really needs real-time report data.
Google Search Console
Previously known as Google Webmaster Tools, Search Console handles the more “behind the scenes” data collection which is equally as important, if not more so, that what’s collected in Analytics. This data is often overlooked because it isn’t as sexy as inbound traffic, revenue generation, and so on, but without your website’s Search Console being configured correctly, your website’s going to have a hell of a time ranking and bringing in traffic.
Search Console is another free analytics platform from Google that tracks data on the more structural and functional site of your website, so it collects data on metrics like sitemap submission / crawling, site indexing, crawl errors, HTML errors, mobile compatibility / usability, and so on. Basically, all the things that Google wants you to do (correctly) with your website in order to deliver a positive user experience to your visitors.
However, it also has a very informative section on your search traffic where it collects data on the keywords your visitors used to find your website, your inbound & internal link profiles, your SERP rankings, and whether or not your site has been subject to a manual penalty for violating Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
The major shortcoming in this analytics platform is that it only retains data for the last 90 days so if you want to compare last month’s SERP / keyword data to the same month last year, you’re out of luck (unless you exported that data way back then) which is especially infuriating for agencies like us when we go to justify our fees.
Crazy Egg is a site engagement tracking tool that lets you collect data on how your visitors interact with your pages. You’re able to gain insight on where they’re clicking, how much time they’re spending on certain areas of a page, how far down a page they scroll, and whether they’re paying attention to your content or not. Crazy Egg is the choice for tracking data if / when you’re performing landing page A/B testing or simply looking to collect granular data on how actual customers engage with your content. The information gleaned from its reports will help you improve your website’s user experience, improve conversion rates, and grow your business long term.
While Moz Pro is the overarching service, it includes a diverse number of tools that are must haves for any SEO’s toolkit. If you’re getting serious about SEO or you’re hiring a team that will be focusing on organic search, Moz Pro should be at the top of your list of needed tools.
Keep in mind, this is a paid tool, but you do get a 30 day free trial. Depending on where you work (and what your role is in the company), the price tag may be an issue, as budget’s are always razor thin, but no matter where I’ve worked, I have always been able to justify the price tag to management / my clients.
Moz Keyword Explorer
Though the importance of ranking highly for singular keywords has diminishing in the last 5 years, keyword data will always be important for audience targeting for your content marketing efforts and improving your inbound organic traffic.
But with Google’s Keyword Tool has transitioned to paid search data only, Moz’s Keyword Explorer does an amazing job of filling that void in the market and takes it one step further by grading each keyword phrase on its difficulty to rank higher than the current competition and the opportunity you have for traffic to give you a holistic potential score. Said score will help you prioritize your marketing efforts so you aren’t beating your face against a wall trying to rank for a keyword that you’ll never make any movement on.
Moz Open Site Explorer
With Penguin being baked into Google’s core ranking algorithm, maintaining a healthy inbound link profile is vitally important and Open Site Explorer (OSE) makes it incredibly easier on you to do so. OSE provides exhaustive data on your link profile, whether your inbound links appear spammy or not, anchor text distribution, competitive analysis metrics to see how you stack up to the competition, and a slew of granular metrics for more advanced link profile management.
Moz On Page Grader
Over optimizing a page for a specific keyword will tank the chances of it ranking highly just as much as not optimizing it at all. But how much optimization is too much? SEO has always been a moving target and Moz’s on page grader removes the mystery so you’ll never have to wonder is a page is properly optimized or not anymore.
All you have to do is input the URL and its target keyword into the tool for a detailed analysis of the page and standard A (good) to F (bad) grade. Depending on your grade, you can go through a list of ranking factors (things like keyword stuffing, URL canonicalization, optimal title length, etc.) to see where improvements can be made.
However, one thing to always keep in mind is that just because a page is properly optimized, that does not guarantee traffic or rankings. Too many of my previous clients / bosses have made that mistake and had the wrong expectation for those pages’ performance in the search engines.
Moz Rank Tracker
You have to be able to track your marketing’s effectiveness and the easiest way to do that is to track your SERP rank trends. Rank Tracker lets you check the rankings of 200 keywords each day in the big three search engines and you can check your SERP rank at the domain level or on a specific URL. You can also track its SERP trend over time inside the tool itself if you don’t want to export the data to a spreadsheet, though I still do that regardless.
Rank Tracker also works in conjunction with the On-Page Grader tool mentioned above as there’s a “Grade” button on every keyword you’re tracking so you can quickly check out it’s on-page optimization.
Even with the flexibility of data collection in the previous tools, SEMRush is the go to tool for competitive analysis since you can pull oodles of data on your competitor’s website or on a specific keyword in moments. You’ll be able to see their top organic keywords, their holistic traffic trends over time, data on their inbound link profile, organic SERP rank distribution, and so much more.
No matter what space you’re in, there’s always a competitor that seems to have the inside track and SEMRush helps you get a better understand of both why and where they’re ranking highly so you can use that data to find ripe opportunities for your business.
Whether you’re aware of it or not, Facebook has one of the most robust analytics platforms on the market, when it comes to your audience’s demographic data. The amount of information that’s at your fingertips and what you can use to target your audience in paid advertising on Facebook is staggering and will only help strengthen your analytics data.
You can even use the Facebook ads platform as a way to zero in on your target audience, if you don’t know it already. However, the exception to this is that if your business, product, or service isn’t used by people on Facebook, you’re going to have a tough time, but the majority of businesses will be able to do this just fine.
By creating different ad sets with the exact same messaging and creative, but with different audiences, lets you quickly see which audience set your business resonates with the most. This information will give you a keen insight into exactly who is buying your product so you can begin to personalize your content / website further and really push the needle by doubling down on the people who are most interested in what you’re offering. Because, let’s face it, the people who aren’t interested in your business don’t matter to you at the business level and will just end up wasting your marketing budget.
By using one, or all, of these website analytics tools, you’re giving yourself a much greater chance to fuel your company’s growth long term since the insights gained from these platforms will give you a better understanding of what needs to be done and where. One of the mantras I keep hammering into all of my teams and reiterating to my clients is that, “If you can’t track it, it doesn’t exist and we can’t fix what doesn’t exist.” Whether you’re looking to improve your on-site engagements, streamline your sales funnel, or just bring in more traffic, these tools will help you achieve your business objectives.
Analytics Tools You Should be Using
- Google Analytics
- Google Search Console
- Crazy Egg
- Moz Pro