My more frequent readers know that I am trying to raise my Marvin the Martian Google SEO rating (SEO = Search Engine Optimation). While my campaign may be humorous, the topic of tracking how your guests interact with your web site is very serious. If you build a web site with the goal of increasing sales, or publish press releases oriented towards accomplishing your organization's public relations goals, without the use of web analytics, how can you understand whether you are succeeding? This blog post explains how I conducted my Marvin the Martian SEO Ranking Campaign. I'll show and link the tools (all free), and the resulting insight I gain via Google Analytics.
My example involves both "upstream analytics" and "web site analytics". In other words I track users both before they reach my web site (NorthstarNerd.Org) and during their hoped for visit to my web domain. Here is an overview.
- Create your campaign strategy. Will it include:
- Web pages hosted on your site?
- Press releases?
- eMail correspondance?
- Posts to social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.)?
- Create the required content (web pages, emails, etc)
- Embed Google Analytics tracking code in all links created in step #2
- Shorten the links built in step #3
- Replace all links on your web pages, emails, etc with the new versions created in step #4
- Activate your campaign
As noted previously, you want to track analytics before people reach your web site. It is entirely possible that you will find unexpected sources which pick up your campaign and republish using their own services. You also will be able to better understand where your customers / visistors are coming from, and whether various methods are effective in generating desired visits / actions on your web site. There are two steps to this part of the process. You need to use Google Campaign URL Builder and a URL shortening service.
In the first part of the campaign you link to Google Campaign URL Builder and enter your data. There is no coding required. You just need to create three labels which will help you identify and track your campaign / visitors. You must be logged in to your Google account which must also be the same account you use for Google Analytics for the "campaign builder" tool to properly work. Skip down past the image to continue reading this post.
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Up Stream Analytics Process Continued
You should now have a long url built by the Google tool which has embedded code that tracks back to your web site. You should repeat this process for every link you want to track. Remember to use the same campaign name for each additional link!
If your "long url" will be part of a press release, sent out via Twitter, or posted to a social network like Facebook, you should shorten these url's using a standard url shortening service. I use the budURL shortening service, but there are many acceptable alternatives. Take your Google Campaign Builder URL(s) and shorten each link via your shortening service. These are the links you should use on all external media. I've included images from my sample budURL reports. After reviewing the images, you'll understand why I have named this part of the process "up-stream analytics". The reports allow me to view who else picks up my tweets, or publishes my links on their own sites, etc ... and track usage before people link back to my own web domain. You'll see that the budURL service also generates QR codes which I may utilize. (i.e. for customers who use smartphones, scan QR codes and link in that manner)
Click upon the image given below to maximize (skip down to read on)
Up Stream Analytics Process Continued
You have now completed the first step of your campaign, Up-Stream Analytics. Let's move on to reviewing your data via Google Analytics.
Google Analytics and Your Campaign
You built it; did they come? You should ask additional questions about your visitors:
- Where did they go on your site?
- Is their path on your site what you expected? If not, why not?
- Did your visitors take desired actions?
- Download a pdf (product document)?
- Purchase a product?
- Read more about your PR campaign?
- Leave a comment?
- Only visit one page (high bounce rate)?
You now have the opportunity to answer these kinds of questions. Without having created a specific campaign, it would be impossible to differentiate these visits from other users. It gets back to the basic theme ... you created content with a desired purpose. Without analytics you can not determine whether you work achieved its desired goal. Given analytical data and what you learn, you may also adjust future work / campaigns.
Let's examine some reports from my Google Analytics account. You will see how I track visits by campaign. While your reports will be different, the key concept is one may identify "groups" of users uniquely by campaign. Please understand you could view your data in many more ways than the two reports I have shown. The key concept is to add "secondary dimensions" to your basic reports, and then limit the results shown by your campaign. For instance, I could have provided reports showing mobile visits, or the geographic region visits generated by my web campaign.
In closing, I hope this post has created a desire on your part to more effectively use analytics, and by using some basic tools obtain better insight into your visitors. You spend the time to create web based content; you might as well know if that same content is succeeding at its desired purpose.
Click upon either image to view at full size.