Identifying Trends Using Web Analytics

The future has always been a scary place for marketers for several reasons – fickle consumer behavior, sophisticated and complex research, and a lack of measureable advertising media among them. That is, the future was scary until data-hungry Google took over the world. Now marketers have the information they need right at their fingertips, and identifying trends in the marketplace has become substantially more accessible by using a wide variety of web analytics tools. More importantly, we can make actionable insights from this information to inform change to various marketing functions and methods.

To illustrate this point, let's examine one way in which we recently assessed Tocquigny's own search engine optimization efforts. Since we are an interactive marketing agency, the word "interactive" is very important to us for on-site content optimization purposes. A Google search for "interactive advertising agency" or "interactive advertising" reveals that Tocquigny places extremely well on results pages for interactive-related keywords. Using data from Google Analytics since Tocquigny's new site launch at the beginning of March, we found that about 6% of all search engine traffic in fact came from keywords that include "interactive." You might think that 6% doesn't sound like very much, but the large majority of search engine traffic, about 64%, came from branded searches, or searches that included some form of "Tocquigny" (Tocquigny is easy to misspell, after all).

Branded searches indicate different visitor intent than non-branded searches in that the visitor already knows what he wants, which is, of course, to find that particular brand. Also, branded searches often make up the "head" of keywords that drive the most traffic to any site, including Tocquigny's. The long tail is full of multiple-word terms that individually may drive one or two visits, but collectively tend to drive the greatest volume of traffic to a site.

So, we know that the Tocquigny website is optimized and ranks well for interactive-related keywords, but how can we grow our visibility? One solution is to add keywords to our consideration set. Using tools such as Google's Keyword Tool, we discovered that keyword phrases using "digital" in them were a common theme. More interestingly, Google's keyword recommendations suggested that people are starting to use "digital" in place of "interactive" in their searches.

In order to test this hypothesis, we took a look at Google's Insights for Search. This useful tool analyzes Google web searches to show how many searches have been done for a particular term relative to the number of searches for that term over time. The beautiful thing about Insights is that as more of the world uses search engines (especially Google) on a regular basis, the more accurate the data becomes as a tool for identifying market trends. Using Insights for Search, we were able to compare digital to interactive. The results were rather surprising:

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Up until the end of 2007, "interactive marketing" and "digital marketing" both saw roughly the same number of searches on Google. Then, by the beginning of 2008, something happened that caused "digital marketing" to totally diverge in a positive direction while "interactive marketing" has experienced a steady decline. Could it be that the term "interactive" in regards to marketing is on the way out? We used several other keyword combinations to help answer this question. The same phenomenon appeared when testing "interactive agency" to "digital agency," "interactive advertising" to "digital advertising," and others. In most of these cases, the digital-related term pulled away from the interactive-related term around the same time at the beginning of 2008. This indicates that more and more searchers have been looking to find information about digital marketing compared to interactive marketing, and this trend is quickly on the rise.

Using the Keyword Tool once more, we found that digital-related keywords gather a much greater global search volume than interactive-related phrases. The only exception we found is in the comparison of "digital advertising agency" to "interactive advertising agency." This is probably because of the way advertising agencies within the interactive niche label themselves; the term "digital advertising agency" is just not as common in the advertising industry.

Certainly there are ways that we can refine this analysis. For example, we could segment our traffic to analyze only visitors that came to our site through a search engine and then contacted us for more information about our services. This would give us a very segmented view of our visitors that is much more aligned with our business goals and could allow insights into the terms they used to reach our site. All in all, web analytics provides an almost endless source of data to manipulate, interpret, and leverage for further business success.

Source by Ryan Cain

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