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Analyze Everything

03/02/2009

I usually dedicate at least a whole day to analyzing the analytics. I use Google analytics, and keep a sharp eye out for big bumps in traffic. When I see one, I find what worked, like if I was suddenly winning a search for a particular keyword phrase I’ve been working on. Sometimes, it’s something I haven’t worked on in a long time, showing me that Google (or sometimes another search engine) has changed something. Either way, there’s something there Google liked for a moment, and I like to remind it of that.

For example, today I saw a very big bump in my funny t shirts site, coming from a Google search for the phrase “funny t shirts.” Not surprisingly, the page actually set up to win for the search for “funny t shirts” wasn’t getting the majority of the traffic, but the page right above it in the structure, which is the general t shirt page, and includes all the other categories (like vintage t shirts and band t shirts).

The big traffic bump died off a few days ago, and sure enough, it’s because my ranking has fallen substantially for that search. But I’ve seen this pattern before. The hope is that I can get in there soon enough, make some changes, create some links to it using good anchor text (see yesterday’s post), and draw enough interest back to the site that Google will see that, yes, lazy ol’ Scott does update his old sites occasionally, and deserves a little credit for that.

The result has often been good, sending me back up the charts with another hit, so to speak. The problem now is that people have figured out how to make their own T-shirts, are just shopping for ideas, and then make their own for much less. Case in point: despite the hundreds of people who visited my funny t shirt site last month, we didn’t sell any t shirts. So, while I was in there, I put up some Google link ads that might at least siphon some of the bounces off in a direction with a chance to make a few pennies for me.

Without my monthly analytics day, I would have never noticed the bump, would have left my t-shirt site un-updated for another month, and likely have lost further ranking. This way, I’ve added new content and options for those who do visit the t shirt site, and new monetization chances for me that don’t depend on the affiliate sales of t shirts.

Google analytics are a very valuable tool that has evolved into a very powerful one. Now you can track conversions, do overlays, and compare traffic over time and other very specific factors. Any serious web site will need it, and installing analytics is one of the first things I do for any client.

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