Posted April 10, 2007 8:30 am by with 10 comments

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Share on FacebookBuffer this page

By Taylor Pratt.

Being the best usually means working with the best. Where would Johnny Carson have been without the support of Ed McMahon? You think Batman had a serious chance against Two-Face without Robin (assuming he isn’t played by Chris O’Donnell, of course)?

Creating a sidekick with Chewbacca caliber seems impossible, but what if it was as easy as installing a few lines of code or typing in a username and password? Wouldn’t it be great if you could figure out what keywords people actually are typing into the Search Engines and clicking through to your site? And how about what pages they are clicking through to the most? Hallelujah! It really is that easy to access this kind of information.

Most websites today have some type of analytics installed that their SEM is overlooking (Holy missed opportunity Batman!) While your eyes are glazing over at the thought of reading an article about analytics, I’d like to make an argument that they are more than just numbers. Analytics tell a story, and they just might be the sidekick you’re looking for.

I like to consider my customer’s analytics data as a story, with 4 major chapters that build off of one another:

Chapter 1: Keyword Analysis

Chapter 2: Tracking Your Visitors

Chapter 3: Page Analysis

Chapter 4: Measuring ROI

Chapter 1: Keyword Analysis. Looking through the thousands of keywords (hopefully) that visitors clicked through to your site on, can provide you with a wealth of information that should strongly impact your SEM campaign. At the beginning you can use these keywords as suggestions as to what you should be targeting. It is a great way to dive into the mind of the customer and get a better understanding as to what language they use when describing your product or services.

Your internal search engine is like a golden ticket into the mind of your customer. You know they are interested in your services, and now you get to see what they think right keywords are. Closely analyze these keywords, and see where you could be targeting them and if they would bring in enough traffic to merit such a focus.

During your campaign, these keywords are a great measurement to determine how effectively you are using your targeted terms on your site. Analyze the long tail keywords, and make sure you are focusing on the best terms. But how can you tell which terms are the most important? We learn that in Chapter 2.

Chapter 2: Tracking Your Visitors. What good is ranking number 1 in Google for “Batman” if none of your visitors take action or “convert.” Your best keywords are the keywords that lead the visitor to your page, and once they get there, they click through to the rest of your site. Your analytics make it simple for you: 50 visitors came from Google searching for “Batman,” and 0 clicked through. 15 visitors came from Google searching for “batmobile die cast car” and 10 of them clicked through. Data like this tells us we need to refocus our SEM campaign to focus on the language the customer is using, not just the terms that bring in the most traffic.

Don’t overlook what keywords your visitors are coming in on from the other search engines either. Obviously most search engines have their own ranking algorithms. Use that to your advantage by analyzing the keywords your visitors are coming in from on each the engines. I’ve found great keywords that I didn’t even know I was ranking for in MSN, but I was nowhere to be found in Google. Once I knew it was important, I was able to work it into my SEM campaign.

Also included in Chapter 2, is tracking where your visitors came from. Are your paid links actually sending targeted traffic to your site? Are your links doing anything more than improving your rankings?

Chapter 3: Page Analysis. Your Analytics sidekick also gives you the invaluable information of learning at what point the customer leaves your site. Was it something they didn’t like on the page? Did they think your shopping cart process was frustrating? If you find enough people leaving your site at the same point, you should put up a red flag and take another look at your page. Your best option might be to do some user testing. Regardless, you want more than traffic, you want conversions.

Looking at the pages that your visitors are clicking away from should also raise a few eyebrows. Are they finding their answers on this page? Should we expand on our content? What relevant internal pages should we be linking to in order to make it easier for the customer to find what they want?

And while you are tracking your visitors click path, you should be able to calculate the ROI of your current SEM strategy.

Chapter 4: Measuring ROI. Identifying which keywords, search engines, links, and even e-mail marketing campaigns are generating the highest conversions from the traffic they send, is a great way to measure your campaign ROI. If conversions are down, or aren’t improving the way you want them too, then you might want to consider modifying your current campaign.

Are the costs of your SEM project justifying themselves? If you’re like P.Diddy and writing lots of checks and still aren’t going platinum, then you should be reconsidering your strategy and your investment in general.

Having the ability to see which keywords and sources are bringing you the best traffic is an invaluable resource. You need to know where to increase spending and where to focus.

Analytics are a constant measurement resource identifying which search strategies are working and which strategies are failing (or making no impact at all.) Don’t try and fight your competition shorthanded, you have an invaluable sidekick just waiting to help you. Don’t ignore your analytics. There are plenty of great free resources and great analytics blogs to keep you from being frustrated, and to maximize your analytics potential.

[This has been an entry for Marketing Pilgrim’s SEM Scholarship contest. Keep up to date with all entries and other marketing news by subscribing to our rss feed.]