The Search Light Newsletter
The Search Light Newsletter
  Guiding your site to the top of the search engines... 29 Sep 2003 - Vol 3 Issue #8  

In this issue...

Using Web Metrics To Improve Your Site

Yahoo Re-Launches Shopping Search

It's High Five for Google

LookSmart Settles Class Action

Verisign Hijacks Mistyped Domains

Google Gets Local

Amazon Challenges Google With Startup

Using Web Metrics To Improve Your Site
By Eric Bonnici of Alexander Joseph and Associates

"...Web analytics is becoming one of the hot sectors in Internet marketing and e-commerce technology. Increasingly, brand and e-commerce managers -- under pressure to deliver a return on investment -- are looking to the technology to help shape and optimize their Web sites.", October 28, 2002
The goal of any web presence should be to improve the business as a whole and complement its offline marketing and sales efforts. In other words, to help it achieve maximum profitability. In order to do this, your online strategy must:
Drive targeted traffic to your site, persuade site visitors to take the desired actions you want them to take, and use Web metrics to analyze and measure user behavior.
Performing these objectives correctly will ensure that you have an effective marketing campaign and increased sales for your business. Let's look at each of these objectives further:
Objective 1: Drive Targeted Traffic to Your Site
Driving targeted traffic begins with a search engine marketing (SEM) campaign including pay-per-click advertising (PPC) and a search engine optimization (SEO) strategy.
It's important to determine which keywords are worth pursuing in your PPC and SEO efforts. Tools like WordTracker should be used to generate a list of possible keyword phrases. Determine how frequently each phrase is searched for, and evaluate which are feasible enough to put efforts into by checking how steep the competition is. Make your selections and test them out in your PPC and SEO campaigns.
Researching and selecting effective keywords is extremely important. Be sure to select keywords that your target market would use to find you. With web metrics and analysis in place, you will be able to tell where people are coming from, what keywords they used to find you, and whether they are taking the desired actions on your site. If the wrong keywords are chosen, you may find that you have high rankings, but the wrong audience is visiting.

Objective 2: Persuade Your Web Site Visitors To Take the Desired Action
Whether you are selling a product or service, obtaining newsletter subscribers, or enticing people to download a software demo, your ultimate goal is getting your site visitors to take a desired action. In order to do this you must have a compelling site that draws the visitor in, and then guides them to the goal.
Design and site architecture factors such as usability, navigation, content, and ad copy all come into play here. The key is to monitor how well these factors work at persuading your visitors into taking action. With web metrics you can monitor everything and see what's working and what's not. Armed with this knowledge, you can make the appropriate changes to your site; continue your monitoring, and repeat the process until you get an increase in the desired outcome.
Objective 3: Use Web Metrics To Analyze Visitor Behavior
The area of web metrics and analysis is new and evolving. Compared to traditional offline marketing, the Internet provides an unparalleled opportunity to specifically measure how a customer interacts with a business. Web metrics and analysis will help you to monitor and improve objectives 1 and 2. This is done by paying close attention to where visitors are coming from, learning what keywords were used to find your site, seeing how they navigated through it, and what actions they took along the way. This information becomes a powerful tool in growing your business.
The first web metrics were commonly known as traffic logs or site statistics. These measured things like server hits, unique visitors, repeat visitors, entry pages, exit pages, first page visited, second page visited, and average time spent on a page or the site.
Today's newer log analysis software can show us more business-specific web metrics. These include conversion ratios, browse-to-buy rates and customer- acquisition costs. As research and development in this area continues, we will see new metrics appear, along with improved tools to measure them.
Currently, with the right tools it is possible to monitor web visitors' behavior such as how and where they found your site, what pages they landed on, and whether they took the desired actions you wanted them to take. For this information to be worthwhile, however, you need to use it to adjust your SEM strategies, keyword selection, site architecture and design as necessary. Basically, you should test and improve what is working, eliminate what isn't and figure out new approaches that will work even better. This process will constantly raise your return on investment (ROI).
For further details on this subject, including software and vendors, I recommend reading "Web Measurement and Analytics" by Ashley Friedlein. This report goes into great detail on 12 leading web analytics vendors.

About The Author:
Eric Bonnici is the Director of Internet Marketing and Development at Alexander Joseph and Associates and has been doing business on the Internet since 1998. To read more of his articles, visit: Internet Marketing Articles or Branded Business Email
Article Copyright (c) 2003, Alexander Joseph and Associates. All Rights Reserved.

   Dear Reader,

The thing they don't tell you about being pregnant is that you're hungry ALL the time. Everything revolves around food. I'm even snacking on my left-over birthday cake as I write this, so you'll understand if my introduction to this month's issue seems a bit food obsessed.
Speaking of birthdays, Google turned five this month, celebrating their biggest year of growth and popularity to date. See our story this issue to remember just how far they've come since operation from a California garage.
And speaking of cakes, this month Verisign tried to have their cake and eat it too when they decided to hijack non-valid domain names by having them resolve to their own search engine, instead of allowing them to resolve as errors in a searcher's browser. It's a controversial move by Verisign and has already been labelled as sabotage and "typo-squatting" by many in the industry. Controversial or not, the act has seen Verisign become the 10th most visited web site on the Internet, according to Alexa.
Moving from cake to humble pie now - that's what LookSmart have been forced to eat this month, with the announcement they have decided to settle a class action lawsuit brought against them on behalf of all paid submission customers prior to April 2002. Settlement is expected to cost LookSmart up to USD 850 K - that's one big slice of pie!
Finally, if you're a webmaster, don't miss this month's article. Our guest columnist is Eric Bonnici and his article gives an overview of the importance of understanding exactly what your site visitors are doing at your site, why you need that information and what you should do with it.

Enjoy this issue and remember to visit our daily Search Engine News Blog for the latest industry news and gossip.
Till next time - wishing you high rankings...

  • Yahoo Re-Launches Shopping Search
  •    In an obvious bid to "keep up with the Google's", Yahoo! has launched their own shopping search engine.
    Similar to Google's Froogle shopping search, Yahoo's new toy is directly integrated into Yahoo's main search engine and features a full range of products from across the Internet, with search results sorted by relevance.

    Full Story...

  • It's High Five for Google
  •    Search engine Google turned five this month and is celebrating by riding high on a wave of worldwide popularity and financial success.

    The "little engine that could" has come a long way from the Californian garage it started life in on 7 September 1998. According to founders Stanford University PhD students Sergey Brin and Larry Page, Google was handling around 10,000 queries per day at that time. Consider now that Google deals with more than 200 million queries per day, indexes 3.3 billion web pages and employs 1,000 people worldwide and you start to understand the phenomenal growth this young firm has experienced.

    Full Story...

  • LookSmart Settles Class Action
  •    Search company LookSmart Ltd has decided to settle a class action lawsuit brought against them on behalf of customers who paid for site submission before the Directory converted to a paid listings model in April 2002.

    LookSmart has agreed to provide compensation to these customers in the form of cash payments and/or additional paid listings.

    Full Story...

  • Verisign Hijacks Mistyped Domains
  •    Domain registrar Verisign has come under intense criticism this month after resolving requests for non- existent .COM and .NET domains to an error page featuring their own search engine, Site Finder. Normally, these requests would be resolved by the user's own browser, typically delivering a "page not found" or DNS error.

    Full Story...

  • Google Gets Local
  •    Research Buzz reports that Google Labs are testing location search, where you can search for products and services specific to a geographical area.

    I have no doubt that regional and niche market search will be the future for this industry and it's exciting to see Google so far ahead of the pack in the field. You can test Google's Search By Location via their Labs, but it is only supporting U.S. searches at present.

  • Amazon Challenges Google With Startup
  •    Online retail giant is challenging Google with a new search engine startup designed to take advantage of the booming online search market. Amazon has branded their new search firm "A9" and has set up an office in Palo Alto, not far from Google's own headquarters in Mountain View, California.

    Unlike Google, A9 will concentrate on product search rather than general search, tapping into growing consumer demand for online product research and review. It is expected A9 will feature sophisticated comparison shopping technology for license to other sites and eventually offer sponsored listings to potential e-commerce advertisers.
    Amazon will launch A9 in October with 30 employees.

    Click here for a full text/print version of this newsletter...

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