One of the most interesting articles I read a while ago discussed how a website owner liked to use two analytic programs on their site. The two discussed was Google Analytics and Pikwik.
The reasoning was really simple – analytic programs have a tendency to update and change the way they track data without informing you. As such, it’s often useful to keep track of the data using 2 different programs so that a drastic change can be tracked backwards based on previous data. Or put another way – you can tell if it’s your site or just the software.
There’s another subtler reason buried there too of course – Analytic programs track the same information differently. It can often be useful to have 2 programs track your data separately if you understand how the programs track / categorise that information extract more knowledge.
Sometimes, the reasoning can be even easier – sometimes, one software just presents the data better. I definitely enjoy the presentation by Pikwik where it automatically tracks sales by categories for us, something Google Analytics doesn’t do without a lot more work.
So, Google’s been altering the way it works as usual. Let’s talk:
So, Hummingbird just released (okay, it was announced released – it’s been around for a month). For our sites, we’ve seen a small drop off in traffic – not enough to say it had to do with Hummingbird rather than general movement. However, interestingly enough our page views have gone up which shows better engagement so it might actually be Hummingbird doing a better job. Conversions took a drop but not significantly, which could be attributable to any one of a milllion things too.
Overall, Hummingbird seems to be a non-starter since it targets longer tail words anyway; and those have always been harder to focus on when you are an e-commerce business like ours. With so many new products appearing all the time, it’s just tough to generate any good in-bound links to a product. Worst, more often than not those links just disappear anyway.
Search Query Unknown
What has been worst for us is the complete rollout of the (unknown) search query use by Google. That hurts – a lot. Sure, other non-online marketers have been dealing with the lack of data forever, but we’re online – we get data damn it. It really is frustrating, and will make SEO so much harder in the future. Not knowing what the number of search queries for a term and whether it’s worth going for makes it more a blind guess.
Mind you, Adwords is doable and combining search rank data with page data will help; but that’s a lot more work. Doable work, but more work. Joy…
Last year, Google decided to start creating ‘private’ searches; basically automatically removing search result information from all logged in users. At first, they stated that it’d only affect about 2% of your visitors – a small number.
These days, they take up 28% of our visitors from Google Search.
Why does this matter? Well, more information is better. But worst, it made Y-o-Y comparisons much more difficult. After all, 28% of all visitors are being ‘wiped’ from our results – but there’s no way of knowing which results they were wiped from, so it could be 100% of these visitors from a search results to 5% or something.
It’s worth keeping an eye on and better yet, keeping an eye on the rate that this increases.
And if you want a workaround (work being the emphasis here); keyword data is still being given to Advertisers; so log in to your Google Adwords account.