Visibility Indexes And The Super Long-Tail

In 2011 the major headlines of the search publications covered the Panda update and Google’s war on the long-tail. Within the search industry, but also in larger publications it has been widely reported that Google’s Panda update was introduced to eliminate rankings for sites of little value. Companies such as Demand Media have been literally trashed across the web for polluting the web with low quality content.

Influential bloggers and even main stream media called “Panda” the end of content farms like, the of price comparison portals such as Pronto, the death of review sites such as and ultimately a great thing for the internet.

This data was all backed up by SEO Visibility scores from various vendors across the globe. But what did really happen:

The Panda update hit only a tiny fraction of the search queries that are daily going on. This has to do with the fact that up to 25% of the daily searches are complete new queries. This could be new words, trends, inventions, brands or other stuff that just nobody typed in before.

That’s why everyone in the industry needs to make sure to remember that visibility scoring is based on a limited amount of data. It’s a great indicator about where the wind might be blowing at that particular moment in time, but it’s far from being accurate.

The issues with accuracies just has to do with the fact that the SEO Software market is very fragmented and larger companies, which would allow significant infrastructure investment, do not exist in the SEO industry. Even the leaders in SEO enterprise software have active revenues under $15 million / year.

If you take all this in consideration it is not surprising why companies like Demand Media still print a good junk of money despite their visibility score being down.

Even certain industries such as e-commerce shops with lots of products such as Custom Printing by Print Lion or massive content download sites such as Tradebit are still doing very well b/c their super long-tail traffic hasn’t been affected.

Google Analytics Premium Going After Adobe's Sitecatalyst

While most Analytics vendors turned a little bit quite over the past few months, Google now popped up again with big news: Google Analytics Premium. The price tag is approx $150k/year, which is pretty much all the clients that Adobe's Sitecatalyst is going after. Here are the features:

  • Dedicated Customer Support
  • 4hrs Data Freshness
  • Custom reports in a few clicks
  • Segmentation on the fly
  • Attribution modelling
  • Conversion values for all channels
  • Live technical support


Social Media Analytics Book Review

In his Social Media Analytics Book, Marshall Sponder takes you beyond the basics of why social media is important and how to best set up your business’s Facebook page. Instead, in the course of reading this book, you will learn what data you can extract from social media, how to measure that data and how to put those measurements to use no matter what business you are in. This book isn’t specifically written for small business, but many of the ideas and tools covered can be adapted to business ventures of any size. The book explains how marketers and business owners need to understand what kind of information is available and how it can best help their business. Emphasis is placed on deciding what information you want to gain from data before committing to a platform or vendor.


The Social Media Analytics Book does a fantastic job of examining the dozens of social media analytic platforms out there and discussing why some of them are more useful than others. Sponder is able to clearly and concisely cover platforms and tools from the perspective of a business owner instead of a computer wonk, saving you hours of frustration and possibly thousands of dollars from poor vendor choices.

Chock full of interviews and fascinating case studies, Sponder’s book provides a clear roadmap for small business owners, executives and everyone in between. He takes the time to interview the developers of various analytic platforms about what their products are designed to do, and then breaks down those interviews into language that the average business person can understand. All of Sponder’s interviews, case studies and arguments are backed up by links to companies and articles that are easily accessed through the book’s digital version.

Throughout this easy-to-read book, the author comes back again and again to how important it is to craft a personal approach to social media for your business. So many vendors make "false claims" and try to lure in the unsuspecting with outlandish sales pitches and unattainable promises, but Sponder gives his readers a guide for separating the quality vendors from the "others".

Anyone looking to up their digital strategy and get the most out of their investments in social media can benefit from this book. With its unblinking look at the state of social media monitoring today, Social Media Analytics is a strong tool for understanding the changing media around us and developing ideas for how to best utilize it going forward.

The book can be found at Amazon (print & digital), Barnes&Noble and most other (online) book shops.

Multiple Touch Points Analytics

Back in the day when we old analytics folks looked at the launch of Google Analytics, it was clear that the mass approach will come with a few downsides. One of those downsides that Google Analytics and many other analytics solutions faced, was the fact that user decisions happen via multiple touch points and not via a single action. Only Coremetrics was able to offer that, which is why many online retailers decided to got that route. Times have Google Analytics is offering multiple touch points analytics and with the seamless integration of Adwords it's a huge improvement for any Google Analytics user.

Here's the full video:

Utilizing Investment Forecasting Technology For Predicting Traffic Patterns

After a recent business trip to California I stranded in the airport bookstore trying to find a book for my 6 hrs flight back to NYC. I usually avoid the bestseller shelf (how cool!) and head straight to the "business" section (quite boring heh!). Usually I just look at the cover and try to figure out if the Guy Kawasaki's, Seth Godin's or Malcolm Gladwell's released another one of these marketing books. I usually know the books from past reads or am just not interested in the topics, then turn around grab a water and head back to the gate. However, this time I actually didn't leave, but rather walked over  to the finance books section.

The finance section is usually stuffed with "how to become rich" or MLM type books. However, this time I saw Debunkery from Ken ( CEO of Ken Fisher Investments // Nasdaq) and ended up buying it, b/c it covered topics that I am interested.

Debunkery is a book that explains why investors failed when they believe in common industry "wisdoms".

The book covers pretty much the same problem that webmaster and web analysts have: A red checkout button is supposed to be worse than a green one. The link navigation should be on the left. The landing page shouldn't have distracting banners. Seasonality has a huge influence on profit margins. On-page optimization is key to rank higher...

If you really look at these statements closer...they are often mythology as well. This is why reading a book from experts in a different industry is just a nice way of getting the mile high view again.

Often our industry comes up with predictions based on data that's pulled from different silos such as SEM tracking software, web analytics software, internal business data, enterprise organic search engine optimization software, SMO tracking software and not really anyone has connected all these silos.

Also "our" industry is swamped with people, who didn't study or grew with this industry (which is not surprising since the industry is just 15+ years old and  advanced university classes for web analytics are rare).

This leads too often to complete wrong assumptions, predictions and false reporting. Predicting outcome is extremely difficult and the dollars made in "our" industry just doesn't allow companies to invest enough money to come even close to advanced forecasting technology that the finance industry utilizes for predicting the stock market.

Overall the financial markets like the "web traffic markets" are less predictable than we often think.

Long story short.....I'd really love to see one of the top web analysts to turn into mythbusters for our industry. I'd also like to see a company to take forecasting and traffic analysis to a different level. Products from SAS, Adobe or IBM are on a good way, but far from being  mainstream and not as good enough to change our industry. Let's blame the free solutions such as Google Analytics for that :)

Controlling Buying Habits

Experts studying the field of online purchasing behavior have witnessed a significant change in the way that users connect with online booking websites. In the travel industry the changes from social media can be seen with the big ships such as Expedia and even SMB's such as boutique hotels and niche travel sites. Everyone has to adapt their business model to the social media changes, that are happening right now.

Nothing really new (for the pro readers here), but what's interesting is that the show (April 21st and 22nd 2011) summit focuses on examining consumers’ purchasing habits and predicting how buying habits will change in the future.

It's very interesting to me that the show's organizers understood that the developing changes in the travel industry are centered on communication styles.

The travel industry seems to be especially effected by the interaction of their users through Facebook, Google, FourSquare, GroupOn. Nowadays these social media channels are instrumental in influencing the masses to develop an interest in their business. These new tools also allow a new way to manage productivity such as employee downtimes.

The way conversions happen today is not the same as they used to. The new type of business climate will be run truly by the users and business owners can determine how to keep the company relevant and increase revenue despite what may occur behind the scenes of the business.

2011 is really a big year for many online businesses. You adapt to the newest trends and take every single client important. Otherwise you'll fail rather sooner than later

Finding the right Social Media Analytics platform

I've wanted to write about this for a while, but got so tied up with work and family that I didn't get a chance. As written before, the social media analytics field is becoming more and more mainstream. Since FB cracked the 500 million users (with 150 million alone in the US) it is pretty much obvious for anyone that these eyeballs will get targeted with advertising and there will be a social media analytics industry, which will monitor & analyze all kind of social media.

One of my friends Marshall Sponder, better known as Webmetricsguru started to write a book, which will be published as the "Socialmedianalyticsbook by McGraw Hill in August. Since I spoke with him a bunch of times I can assure anyone, who is looking into evaluating different social media analytics vendors, that his book will be the reference to make that decision. Usually I don't endorse books here, but I've seen how many vendors and tools he's tested and worked with. The book is also less about theory than a practical guide for anyone, who is looking into this new industry. If you are interested, head over to or pre-order at Amazon.

Twitter Analytics Official. Almost.

I haven't really followed the various Twitter Analytics solutions over the past months, but I've heard rumors that Twitter is pretty close before launching the official Analytics Platform. Mashable reported the beta invites to selected users and even showed some screenshots, but no official announcement yet. Launching a Twitter Analytics Platform for me is the official start of the Monetization of Twitter followers and ultimately marketers have to take it seriously. I understand it is not for everyone (I myself have a hard time using it regularly), but if a platform touches millions of eyeballs and ROI can be fully measured, it'll draw a massive amount of advertising dollars.

Video Game

Social Media Analytics Jobs

It's obvious that social media analytics is becoming the hottest and newest job sector in the advertising industry. Even more and more jobs pop up in our job database (see top right). What's pretty interesting is that mainstream consumer brands such as Dell or Adidas, the famous sports brand, which you've probably heard about are getting into the social media analytics game and with hundred thousands of Facebook followers around the globe it's not really surprising that the company wants to monitor and engage with it's clients and fans.

Currently they are looking for several positions including a dream job as a Business Social Media Analyst with the following skills

• Collect social analytics demand from internal business stakeholders (business functions and markets), • Analyse the demand and provide structured input for the platform • Maintain a reference dictionary for a consistent analysis across all tracked items and topics • Provide output in most relevant format to help business stakeholders in decision making • Consult and support around all social analytics topics: relevant sources, technology, trends • Proactively identify business relevant use cases for social analytics and propose analysis to the business stakeholders More here: (Ref No. HQ-6926NK)

I've also noticed that larger non-consumer brands are more and more aware of monitoring forums, Twitter and other social media outlets.

Google Analytics In-Page Analytics

Finally a big noteworthy update from Google Analytics Team: Google Analytics In-page - Data superimposed on the website as you browse:

This move by Google once again shows how serious development of Google Analytics is moving forward.  It's also a clear sign how Web Analytics is becoming mainstream. I would not be surprised if some other smaller vendors now just shut their doors and move on.

Seasonality In Social Media Analytics

These days social media marketing is on everybodys radar and companies are more on more investing money in building out digital Ids and profiles. That`s a constant process, pretty much the same way, that businesses used to build out multiple e-commerce shops or satellite pages in order to capture more traffic from search engines.However, social media analytics, like web analytics back in the day, is still on the back burner and associations or individual social media experts such as Marshall Sponder try to investigate new ways on how to measure and define KPI's ór just Social Media ROI.

I definitely don't have the time to dig in this space (blame my fam), but I believe a highly interesting way to utilize social media analytics is for seasonal online businesses.

Tons of businesses out there rely on seasonality. Be it the bike shop, who only sells in spring, a hotel site or a holiday season gift store. 

1. Seasonal Social Media Volume Monitoring (Trending) Social media volume monitoring  is a quite interesting concept, b/c it something we already do for search, but nobody really looked into it for social media. Companies, which rely on seasonality on search, most see a similar trend on social media over time and marketers should be aware of it. A good example is, an online halloween costume store, which employees should look into the conversation about their keywords over a longer period of time rather than just pulling the past 30 days out of Twitter (a common practice). A good marketers knows when the disscussions peak ahead and react pro-active.

In the case for Haloweenexpress the conversation starts end of September and early October..itensifies about a week before Halloween and shows a sudden drop 2-3 days after the Halloween party is over. Social media analytics basically showed that viral campaigns are peaking about 1 week before Haloween. A viral campaign therefore should be started even earlier in order to give enough time for the campaign to spread across social media and the web.

2. Brand & Product & Public Relations vs. "What's hot" monitoring Monitoring brand or product terms over time is another important aspect, which should be monitored over time. Social media analysts however often forget to adapt campaigns and look for new themes, which are peaking on social media. Monitoring "kids costumes", "animal costumes" and other terms are effecient, but hot trends, which have incredible revenue potential are missed. Be it the "double rainbow costume" or the "Pauly D Jersey shore costume":

3. Seasonal Sentiment analysis Analyzing the sentiment is one of the most difficult tasks and most companies still need to rely on humans in order to double-check the results from automated sentiment APIs. It gets even more difficult when it comes to the overall sentiment of a site. Blog or the commenters of blogs tend to have their own way to interact and reputations can be destroyed by just being mentioned on an overall negative site or forum.  Running sentiments over time on a site level is something that is often forgotten, but should be included in everybodies social media analysis. 

4. Engagement across all media Social media analytis with a season aspect should not only be used to cover the ground on social media, but also feed the marekting efforts across search and even print, TV or radio. Figuring out what's currently hot and utilzing the data to run cross-channel campaigns can be incredible powerful. A "double-rainbow costume" promoted even in the off-season across channels can have a huge impact on sales.

5. Seasonal Social media analytics and search engine optimization An interesting concept, but often forgotten is instant search engine optimization by utilizing social media analytics data. Creating discussions, baiting links or just replying to mentions can be an incredible powerful way to create powerful links and keep the brand in the eye of search engines as well as users.

Overall seasonality in social media analytics is something, which should never be underestimated when it comes to social media monitoring and engagement. Using the competitiveness of the instant push of news towards a marketing team can have not only quick results, but also help in the long-term to establish a business. Review

Reedge is a young company offering website optimization services for transaction based sites, particularly targeting e-commerce sites. The software they provide has been evolving for the last two years through a series of alpha and beta testers. Currently the final stages of testing are available for free to a limited number of new users before the full commercial roll-out of the software, giving a final few customers the opportunity to evaluate the service for free and receive a discount on the final commercial release.

Reedge's software systematically modifies a website to respond to different classes of users and the most effective placing of individual items in the user interface. Reedge websites can then use the best placement and appearance of features for each visitor. The aim is to generate the most profitable purchases per visitor.

The suggested changes to a website are not generic site optimization techniques, but are the most effective layouts as tested with the site's actual users. Each specific change is quantified as a percentage of total conversions and small individual increases can add up.

In the test example, optimization of the twelve most influential factors on a product website led to a 150% increase in conversions. The advantage to this technique is that sellers can change vary small factors (such as providing a seal of approval) each time. Since the total impact of the small change is often less than 10 percent, there is little loss at each stage of the testing, whereas complete website overhauls risks worsening all of the factors at once.

The Reedge products are designed for the vendors instead of programmers. The user interface requires minimal technical knowledge, and the complex statistics that power it are background machinery that the user does not need to worry about. The final upgrade before the intended commercial launch was the finalization of the graphic user interface to make the software accessible to all potential users.

The real power of Reedge is that it works with the site's real customers. Users are segmented into useful buyer categories and individually targeted with the optimal combination of content and effects. This allows the site to provide more personalized service and generate more revenue. Ten different analyses can be performed to divide users among factors from behavior to location.

Overall with the system currently in free beta and future price price under $100/month it is a great system for small and medium-sized retailers.

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Youseeble Review

Youseeble is a brand-new Internet tool that lets you see your website the way that your visitors see it. Is your most important content as visible as you think it is? For all you know, you may have put the best part of your website out of sight. Or, you might be cluttering the screen with too many distracting design elements. It records the activity of each visitor to your website and generates three different "heat maps" that graphically display the aggregated visitor data. You see the manner in which people interact with your website design, which lets you see which important parts of your website are actually being ignored.

Youseeble does not replace your current analysis tools, but is rather an addition to your analytic toolbox. You'll see if your design is pointing out your content in the way you want, and, if not, then you'll see why it isn't. And, from that data, you'll be able to improve your website and point visitors directly to your targeted content.

The process to use Youseeble is simple -- insert some short segments of HTML code into all your website's pages, and Youseeble takes care of all the rest. User behavior is recorded, and graphic displays called "heat maps" are created with the results. You can even playback any of the recordings of visits to your website, and watch the actions of a real visitor, in a real visit.

Visitor recordings are all well and good, but you don't have the time to watch every recording of every visitor. That's why there are the three types of "heat maps": - The Interaction heat map shows what items visitors are noticing, and which are being ignored. - The Attention heat map shows visitor cursor movement (which can be correlated with visitor attention). - The Visibility heat map shows what visitors actually see, based on possible screen resolutions and browser window dimensions.

No plug-ins are required because Youseeble uses JavaScript and HTML to operate within your website's code. One limitation is that Youseeble works at its best for statically-generated websites, although the code can also handle some types of AJAX websites. Don't worry about buying Youseeble, and then discovering it won't work with your website -- use the free option to test out Youseeable's compatibility with your website.

Once Youseeble is coded within your website's pages, you won't have to look at your visitor numbers and guess why no one comes back. With Youseeble, you actually see the actions of your visitors on your site. You won't believe the nuggets of information you'll discover with Youseeble: screen resolutions you never planned on, screen contents tucked away in an out-of-the-way corner that you thought was highly visible, screen design that distracts visitors rather than making them focus on what you want them to see. You won't get this information from the data collected by an ordinary analytic tool.

Youseeble is free to try, and requires only an e-mail address to associate with your account. Overall a great product,which allows you a quick & detailed analysis of your visitor moves.

IBM Acquires Unica

While much of the mainstream press is focused on the recent scandals atHP concerning their former CEO Mark Hurd, IBM has quietly purchased enterprise marketing software company Unica for a reported $480M. This follows IBM's recent acquisition of Web analytics provider Coremetrics, signaling Big Blue's continued interest in consolidating and strengthening their already solid position in the Web services sphere. IBM's immediate plans for Unica aren't entirely clear at this point. But the merger will allow the venerable technology firm the ability to offer even more focused and effective marketing campaigns and services to a variety of clients in all spheres of commerce.

Specifically, IBM is spending $21 per share to take control of Unica and their high-profile list of marketing clients which includes names like Best Buy, eBay and US Cellular. IBM hopes to use leverage Unica's resources and existing customer relationships to provide cutting-edge CRM applications and services. The two companies have worked together in the past, so the IBM brass are well aware of how effective Unica's software solutions can be. All in all, the merger makes sense for both parties. Unica gets more than a fair price for the sale, and IBM gets control of innovative software tools like Unica's NetInsight, amongst others.

IBM already boasts the impressive WebSphere Commerce platform, which will only be strengthened by their recent acquisitions of Unica and similar software concerns. In addition, IBM plans on shelling out over $20 Billion by 2015 to snatch other software providers in the Web Services industry. One concern voiced by many industry analysts, however, is that IBM will lose out on the business of many smaller companies who won't be able to afford expensive marketing software from the likes of Unica and their ilk. Lower-level firms will no doubt opt for cheap or even free open-source marketing solutions.

Founded in 1992, Unica has since become the most recognized name in marketing automation software for multinational corporations who rely heavily on the web for raising revenue and brand awareness. With headquarters in Waltham, Massachusetts, they maintain additional branch offices in over half a dozen countries around the globe. Possibly the most lucrative and forward-thinking segment of Unica's business is their Interactive Marketing OnDemand. Unica's services allow businesses the ability to hone their advertising efforts to specific segments of their consumer base to obtain the maximum return on investment for their efforts.

When it comes to providing the full range of Web Services, from Data Center infrastructure and management to online marketing, IBM appears to be well positioned to increase their already substantial market share in the coming years. Their acquisition of other companies such as Cast Iron Systems, a well-respected data integration provider, is part of a complete long-term strategy of dominating what many see as the future of E-commerce. Increasingly, the field of online business will rely on accurate feedback and data analysis, as well as well-crafted marketing campaigns aimed as specific niche demographics. Having access to the expertise and knowledge of innovators like Unica can only help IBM succeed in the cutthroat arena of online marketing.

Gazehawk Bringing Eyetracking To The Masses

If there was ever a service that could be considered evolutionary in the area of web design, Gazehawk is it. This is an awesome service site in which users are paid to view sites while the software tracks their gaze. It rivals the software of many other sites that offer statistics and charts that cover how many customers have visited a site and how long they stayed on each page. Many companies offer such statistics and one of the most well known names on the web, Google, has one of the most popular.

The unique and most engaging concept for Gazehawk is that the software does not just rely only on computer generated reports to verify results. It involves software and a web cam which results in a greater level of reliability. This gives a more accurate statistical measure.

This new wave of technology, which is referred to as eye tracking, is offered by Gazehawk at lower prices than bigger companies that market technology similar to Gazehawk. This allows them to compete in the market and offer the software to much smaller companies that may not be able to afford the big ticket website monitoring technology that is available.

In addition to lower prices the Gazehawk services and software build extensive relationship in website monitoring that other software and technology simply cannot not duplicate. Many of the competitors for Gazehawk, for example, cannot show the extensive detail of how users interact with your site. Gazehawk however uses the webcam to bring forth an entirely new experience to view how customers view your website. There are colorized charts and a variety of results that not only show you how users use your site but also how you can improve your site.

This software plays an important part in the design for many websites today. There is a great need for companies that are unsure of whether the web design that is in place is in need of improvement. And there is no true way to know this without bringing forth some form of web monitoring via eyetracking into place.

With costs as low as $50 per user Gazehawk is the perfect solution for a problem that has plagued so many companies and their websites.

Sysomos Acquired by Marketwire

As rumors ran rampant just the day before, Sysomos heightened the mystery by refusing to make any comment. It has now been revealed that the rumors are true – Sysomos has been acquired by Marketwire for an estimated $35 million.

Statements were made forthwith by representatives of both companies.

Michael Nowlan, president and CEO of Marketwire said of the deal, “This is a critical step in our integrated communication solution strategy. To date we have been a leader in providing our clients with ways to reach out to their key audiences by innovating the publishing and distribution of news releases. The rapid changes in communications as a result of social media now make it imperative to immediately understand the impact of outbound messaging: what happens to it, what’s the reaction to it, and how is it used to evaluate and strategize future messages?”

President and co-founder of Sysomos stated, Nick Koudas’ statement hints that the deal couldn’t have been better. “There is a natural fit and synergy between Marketwire and Sysomos. Our common goal is a customer-centric approach in applying technology to meet the challenges of communicating in an ever-evolving environment,” Koudas said.

Sysomos like a few other players such as Radian6 or Reputationobserver has been a pioneer in the social media monitoring business. The company began as a research project led by professor Koudas at the University of Toronto, beginning in 2005. It was officially incorporated two years later. Sysomos has made a business of monitoring all public communications and conversations across the most popular social media sites in order to analyze the status and reputation of a brand amongst the brand’s customers in an uncensored forum.

Marketwire is a press services company, working to distribute new press releases. They plan to use Sysomos technology in order to expand their business into the increasingly important social media services. This way, they can measure brand reputations and popularity with the masses in order to more specifically define the best ways to implement social media messaging alongside its usual wire services.

With the viral quality that word-of-mouth provided through social networking, news distribution can be more narrowly targeted and matched with those who would be interested in seeking more information through other forms of media. This trend is not new, as bloggers have already been recognized as important sources of spreading information quickly and efficiently.

Sentiment Extraction Algorithm vs. Social Media Analytics Vendors

I've been toying around with various social media analytics vendors over the past years and been finding a lot of these tools often not too useful. Even the expensive social media analytics tools and reputation management analyzers are not really as good as I expect them to be. After heaving a brief discussion with Marshall Sponder, who is one of the most well-known social media analysts, I have to agree with him that a. organizations (too often) don't care about numbers & b. in depth analysis takes enormous resources,which is something startups or medium sized companies cannot provide.

Regarding a. it's unfortunate, but a lot of organizations are built around positive news. Nobody wants to hear the negative or even neutral findings, which often come out of a social media analytics report. Obviously this has to do with responsibilities, hierarchies and other company politics, which is probably material for a PHD thesis and not for a post on a mediocre blog (such as this one). At the end inconvenient news and numbers are too often thrown away. Be it the incapability of re-acting or just the complexity of the results.

The other problem I've noticed with social media analytics is the "deep web" and the limited resources of social media analytics vendors. One of the largest issues here is the variety of web pages and the different technologies of the search engines. Regarding the deep is incredible complex to crawl as well as parse websites (unless there is RSS and Co.).

That all being said... what's more & more important are sentiment extraction algorithms of the big search engines. Search engines analyze reviews of products/services themselves, weigh these results and then display the results (hopefully) accordingly in the SERPs. This means that social media analytics system have barely a chance to identify the reach of a review, which has been posted.

I am sure all the above said will be something, that companies such as Reputationobserver and other startups are working on. We'll probably see over the next few years if we come closer of understanding the always evolving social & "old school" world wide web.