Jump to content

  • Log in with Facebook Log in with Twitter Log In with Google      Sign In   
  • Create Account

Subscribe to HRA Now!

 



Are you a Google Analytics enthusiast?

Share and download Custom Google Analytics Reports, dashboards and advanced segments--for FREE! 

 



 

 www.CustomReportSharing.com 

From the folks who brought you High Rankings!



Photo
- - - - -

Overkill?


  • Please log in to reply
10 replies to this topic

#1 cwmckinney

cwmckinney

    HR 1

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 4 posts

Posted 16 December 2008 - 11:30 AM

Hi, I've been working on SEO-related projects for about 8 months now and haven't had the opportunity to take any kind of formal training, so please be warned that this question is largely the product of inexperience.

Anyway, I work for an established, decent sized e-commerce site (1600+ pages, most of them products) that, thanks to a tough couple of years, now has fewer than 6 employees. The owner and myself are currently the only two people even working on the actual site. As a result, all of our keyword research has been left entirely to me.

I have access to and use what seems to be the "big three" in keyword research: Wordtracker, Keyword Discovery, and AdWords. I understand that it's impossible for any of these tools to even approach 100% accuracy (and some of the results I get from all of them seem "glitchy" or outright insane in any case), which is why I've been trying to use all three simultaneously to build a sort of holistic picture of search trends.

So, I run similar searches in KD, WT, and AdWords then combine them in a single spreadsheet. When a particular keyword appears in more than one tool, I copy over the information so the columns are alongside each other (IE: AdWords Avg. Search/mo. alongside the WT and KD search results). If a keyword appears in one tool but not the others, I go back and look for it in those tools in case I missed it. I use the final product to narrow down my keyword list and go from there.

This is exactly as time-consuming as it sounds, but as a result I feel a little more confident that what I'm seeing has some basis in reality.

So, my question (finally) is, "Is this overkill?" I ask because with everything being so tight, spending my time efficiently is more important than ever. I have no problem spending the extra time on all of our "important" pages, which we do, but I'm also dealing with a flood of new products, new articles, newsletters, blog entries, and so on that also need written. I guess I'm curious to see how you folks balance the need to be thorough against the need to be efficient. Also, if any of you have a faster way of going about this sort of thing, I'd DEARLY love to hear about it.

Thanks!

-Christian

#2 BBCoach

BBCoach

    HR 5

  • Moderator
  • 402 posts

Posted 16 December 2008 - 02:03 PM

Until you get a handle on the "necessary" keywords I'd say you're doing alright. Suffer through it for the learning experience. After a few months you can pretty much ignore analyzing keywords because the results will more than likely be repetitive (except for new product lines).

Instead of using keyword analysis tools I prefer to look at my log files and parse the SE query parameters for comparison with our internal search queries to fine-tune navigation and flesh out related queries for the "Did you mean xxxx?" With more than 75,000 site queries/day I have a pretty good handle on what our customers are looking for and how they're phrasing their searches. This not only helps with improving site navigation, but it also helps with writing copy for external SEs to gobble down. Yum, yum.

If you don't have an internal (website) search function, then create one or buy one. It's that important for this topic and it will open your eyes to what customers are looking for and how they word their searches. Then you'll find that those keyword analysis tools really ain't worth the trouble to learn because your data will be spot on for your customers and you'll close in on that 100% goal. That's my two-cents.

#3 austk

austk

    HR 3

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 52 posts

Posted 16 December 2008 - 06:43 PM

I think the only problem that you may run into by using multiple keyword tools simultaneously is that you may become confused and not know which one to trust. Using only one will not give you as varies results and will give you more focus on your project.

#4 cwmckinney

cwmckinney

    HR 1

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 4 posts

Posted 16 December 2008 - 09:09 PM

Thanks, BB and austk, for your replies. You both raise some nice points.

To respond to the latter first: I'm totally with austk that having all those overlapping terms can get confusing, and I'm actually always surprised when the three tools seem to be in relative agreement on anything. Part of my rationale for doing it this way, however, is because in my limited experience there's always these big holes in each of the programs we use -- though I get the sense you guys have all experienced this yourselves. I know that's just a fact of life when it comes to keyword research, but I have also found several good terms that I might otherwise have missed had I relied on just one program. I admit, lately I've been sorely tempted to just pick one tool and live with it, warts and all, but then the paranoia kicks in and so I go and make yet another spreadsheet.

As for BB's response, you raise an excellent point about the internal search engine. We have one, but I admit we've never used it for any kind of SEO purposes that I'm aware of. We look at the keywords people come into the site on from external SEs, of course, but I've never used our own to look at what our visitors are telling us! I don't know what, if any, useful information we've missed out on as a result, but I assure you I'll definitely be looking into this tomorrow. In the meantime I'll be slapping myself in the forehead.

Without getting into the complicated history of my company, I'll add that until early this year we were woefully behind on SEO. The predecessor at my job knew nothing about SEM and cared less, and I wasn't even hired to do this kind of work. I was hired solely as a copywriter and I had barely heard of any of this stuff prior to this past February. We've since had a professional redesign of the site, and I've also been taking an ongoing crash course in it ever since. But there's still a lot of work to be done and speaking as someone jumping into the game late, and completely blind, it's hard to develop a sort of confidence that you're even on the right track.

But anyway, sorry I get so wordy. Thanks again for your advice and I look forward to anything else any of you guys have to say.

#5 madams

madams

    HR 5

  • Active Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 504 posts
  • Location:Costa Blanca, Spain

Posted 17 December 2008 - 03:49 AM

QUOTE
If you don't have an internal (website) search function, then create one or buy one. It's that important for this topic and it will open your eyes to what customers are looking for and how they word their searches. Then you'll find that those keyword analysis tools really ain't worth the trouble to learn because your data will be spot on for your customers and you'll close in on that 100% goal. That's my two-cents.


May sound dumb sad.gif but how do you get to see the search phrases the customers are looking for if you have a search function on the site BBCoach?

Can this be set up in Google Analytics?

I ask because this sounds a great idea.




#6 Randy

Randy

    Convert Me!

  • Moderator
  • 17,540 posts

Posted 17 December 2008 - 07:49 AM

Depends upon how you want to do it Madams.

I've never used GoAn to do it, but it should be simple enough to set up a Filter and a custom report that triggers on the site search query variable, assuming you use a GET <form> and not a POST <form>.

You could also drop those search phrases in a simple database housed on your own site at the time the search is conducted and later pull the info from there when you want to look at it.

Personally, I do it a much simpler way. I drop each search into a little log file (with a date and time stamp) in plain text that I can then download and open in Excel to do any sorting that is needed. As an example, here's a php snippet I use on one of my search pages. The "words" bit is what I use as the search query variable name. The "mode" bit is there because my little site search application allows both normal and boolean search capabilities.

CODE
if(isset($_GET['words'])) {
$dt = date("Y-m-d H:i");
$search_words = "Date-Time = " . $dt . "; Search Phrase = " . $_GET['words'] . "; Mode = " . $_GET['mode'] . " <br />\n";
$search_file = "/var/www/vhosts/mysite.com/httpdocs/nonpublicdirectory/public_search_log.php";
$cf = fopen($search_file, "a");
fputs($cf, $search_words);
fclose($cf);
}


#7 BBCoach

BBCoach

    HR 5

  • Moderator
  • 402 posts

Posted 17 December 2008 - 10:44 AM

madams what Randy said. You first have to save those queries somewhere. Personally, I prefer a database because of the ease and flexibilities in hashing the data into many different views. One last thing you want to pay attention to are those searches that don't return information. Gold in dem thar hills when mined and refined to serve up valid results or "Did you mean to search for xxxxxx?" Also, don't forget to save the IP address of the user. Why? Because you'll be able to determine if there are a bunch of people using a particular phrase or just one or two. That will enable you to identify "immediate" areas to focus on versus wasting a lot of time on one customer conducting the same searches. Once things have settled down for the big areas, then you can start making the little improvements for the onsies and twosies. They count, but the big search phrases are obviously more important to nail down first. To my knowledge GoAn won't provide this granularity.

QUOTE
I think the only problem that you may run into by using multiple keyword tools simultaneously is that you may become confused and not know which one to trust.
I couldn't disagree more. The more ways to view the activity on your site (when starting out) the better and you'll notice things in one that you wouldn't pick up on in the others (like you already said). The different info centers will help you get your arms around how your site is used by your customers, and then you can better direct them to what they want to buy.

QUOTE
We look at the keywords people come into the site on from external SEs, of course, but I've never used our own to look at what our visitors are telling us! I don't know what, if any, useful information we've missed out on as a result
CMc you wouldn't believe how many companies are in the exact same boat and trust me that none of that info is useless.

Edited by BBCoach, 17 December 2008 - 11:25 AM.


#8 MaKa

MaKa

    HR 6

  • Active Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 856 posts
  • Location:Llantwit Major, Wales, UK

Posted 17 December 2008 - 11:03 AM

You can setup site search in Google Analytics and it provides a number of integrated reports. I hadn't looked at them for a while and this thread prompted me to look at them again. They appear comprehensive and may provide additional insights combined with conversion analysis etc. You can also use these in custom reports!

To setup site search go to Analytics Settings > Profile Settings > Edit Profile Information. Select Do track site search and enter the query parameter used. You can setup categories etc, but I have not used these.

The reporting will appear in Content > Site Search. It provides information on Usage, Search Terms, Stat Pages, Destination Pages, Categories and Trending. I find that for most my sites (and the sites I monitor) only a very small percentage (less than 2% generally) uses site search. I would be interested to know whether other people find the same. Despite the small percentage of users you can learn interesting things from it. One of the sites I monitored saw comparatively a high number of searches for keywords as 'contact', 'phone number', and the company director's name etc. Turns out there was no menu item 'contact us' it was called 'the next step'. Changing this to a more recognisable name saw all these internal searches disappear.

#9 cwmckinney

cwmckinney

    HR 1

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 4 posts

Posted 18 December 2008 - 08:34 AM

Well the owner of my company, at least, has seen the stats from the internal search engine. Her website is a Yahoo! store and there's a link to the stats right there in the Store Manager. The info it provides is pretty limited, but you can at least view what was searched and when.

I use the Store Manager several times daily and feel pretty foolish that I didn't even see the link for the SE before, staring me in the face. It's like driving the same car every day and finding out eight months later that it has a radio.

The results are illuminating and I'd love to compare them to what Google Analytics says (I'd especially like to try using it to report on the internal SE as was mentioned), but something went haywire with it yesterday -- it now says we've had 0 visitors for the past three months. So that needs straightened out, but I look forward to following up on this.

#10 Rafael Apolinario

Rafael Apolinario

    HR 1

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 3 posts
  • Location:Irving, Los Angeles, CA

Posted 27 February 2009 - 01:47 AM

I was also very eager to find the right keywords for one of my site and have used this same overkill method. But sometimes it gets too confusing. I also manage all my site and cant afford to take it so much of my time which keyword best competes. I settled with just Wordtracker instead. Saves my insanity.


Best regards,
Rafael

#11 Om27

Om27

    HR 1

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 8 posts

Posted 09 April 2009 - 02:25 AM

It is somewhat beneficial take reference from a site that is doing well and if you are looking to have a site on a similar niche. You can have the keywords research tools and then also the stats of the site which is on top rankings and is yielding good number of visitors. If you have an access to the stats then you can effectively compare the actual searched keywords in the site-stats and have a final list of a better researched list of keywords.
I have noticed some startling results on different tools, so it is very difficult to rely on such online tools.




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users

SPAM FREE FORUM!
 
If you are just registering to spam,
don't bother. You will be wasting your
time as your spam will never see the
light of day!