Category Cleaning Results

It’s been a couple of weeks now since I wrote my last post on category cleaning. I thought I’d post the results of that activity here.

One of the keys to improving anything on the web is to track your visitors with a good analytics system. I use Google Analytics on this blog, so I ran some reports to see if my changes have had the effect that I wanted.

I compared 2 time periods: Sep. 4 – 13 with Oct. 2-11. Both time periods are Tuesday through Thursday intervals because I wanted to minimize time-of-week variances. Oct. 2 is the first whole day that had the categories changed.

General Site Statistics:

Overview

Overall, it appears that my blog is performing better, with higher Pages/Visit, a slightly lower Bounce Rate, and a higher Avg. Time on Site.

I wanted to see how the change affected my categories specifically. Here is a report for my “Web Services” category. It seems to align pretty well with a few of my other categories.

Web Services Category

From examining my ‘Navigation Summary’ report for that category page, it appears that people are now clicking from posts within this category and then to other related posts.

Another side-effect from changing my categories is that Google is hitting a bunch of pages not found. Check out this list from my Webmaster Tools report:

Webmaster Tools Report

The list is pretty long, but I don’t think it should affect my search rankings too drastically. There should just be a period of time before Google removes these pages from the index. If I had the time, I could configure redirects from all of the missing categories to related categories, but I don’t have the time for that.

Google Analytics’ Customizable Dashboard

Google has opened up a beta release of their New Google Analytics interface. At first I was pretty disappointed because I couldn’t see what new real value the interface provided other than flashier graphics and better styled reporting. However, after a more thorough use of the tool, I discovered that there are a few new killer features that do add value to the product. My favorite of the new features is Google Analytics’ Customizable Dashboard.

The Customizable Dashboard

The new Google Analytics customizable dashboard provides much more value to the customer because you can get a quick glimpse at the information that you deem important. For example, say that I’ve targeted the key-phrase “making money in second life” in one of my posts, and I want to know how much traffic that phrase is bringing me from Google. I can watch that right on my dashboard.

Google traffic - making money in second life

To get this report, I clicked “Traffic Sources” => “Search Engines” to bring up the search engine report. Then I clicked on the “google” link, which automatically cross-segments Google visits with the keywords that brought them here. I further clicked on the phrase “making money in second life,” which gives me more detailed statistics of that key-phrase and trends those visits over time. I narrowed the time frame to the last week, and clicked the “Add to Dashboard” button towards the top.

Now I can follow this keyword performance right from the dashboard. I can even jump back to that report by clicking the view report link. This seems to be the only way of bookmarking favorite reports.

How does this feature compare with Omniture Site Catalyst’s customizable dashboard? The main difference here is the ability to customize the actual reports. Site Catalyst gives much more flexibility in the reporting itself, so you can really tailor the reports to your needs. This is where the real value of Site Catalyst lies.
I don’t think Google Analytics will ever match reporting flexibility of Site Catalyst because Google is serving a different segment of the market. Site Catalyst is so expensive, that only the big boys can afford it. It is also so complex that the average user needs training to learn the tool. Google Analytics is targeted towards the average website owner and fulfills most of their needs.

I’m excited to see that Google is continually improving this tool. Thanks Google.

CrazyEgg Analytics

I was recently introduced to CrazyEgg analytics, a new contender in the lower-end analytics realm. CrazyEgg is all about visualizing your web visitors. It provides a pretty neat click map and heat map overlay.

Click maps are very useful in showing how your visitors use your site. Google Analytics has offered a click map overlay for a long time. Enterprise-grade Omniture has a far superior click-map to that of Google. So what’s so special about CrazyEgg?

CrazyEgg not only tracks the links that users are clicking on, but it logs the x,y coordinate of the click, which is what they use to generate their heatmaps. These heat maps are different from the heatmaps that you may have seen in MarketingSherpa case studies, which actually track eye movement. CrazyEgg heatmaps are only showing clicks.

While these heatmaps don’t give a 100% accurate representation of what visitors look at, I suppose it could give some insights as to positioning on pages, and make better use of expensive page real-estate that lies above the fold.

I’d be interested in finding out how CrazyEgg defines its metrics such as visits, pageviews, etc., and what types of date ranges you can run with your reports. What happens when you change your page? What if certain elements on the page are dynamic and the page isn’t the same every time? Will it appear that the more stationary links such as top-level site navigation are the most popular items? I’m sure the CrazyEgg people have answers for all of these questions, I’m just curious.

I haven’t yet set up CrazyEgg analytics on this site, because their free version is way too restrictive. It only allows 4 pages to be tracked. If I had an eCommerce store, I would probably pay for an account.

Web Analytics Resources

To start the semester, I’m listing the Web Analytics Resources that I know of. I don’t have any experience yet with Omniture Site Catalyst, but I’ve used Google Analytics for over a year and have really enjoyed the quality of reports that I get from its reports in comparison to log file reports. This semester we are going to learn how to effectively set up and manage an Omniture Site Catalyst account. That will be really cool.

Here are some resources on Web Analytics and Internet Marketing in general:

  • Google’s Conversion University – This is a resource that is often overlooked by webmasters. I have to admit that I didn’t take any time to look at the site until recently. The site features articles on driving more traffic, converting visitors, and tracking and testing.
  • Matt Belkin’s Blog – Matt Belkin is the Vice President of the Best Practices team at Omniture.
  • Matt Cutts Videos – Matt Cutts has pretty much acted as the Google mouthpiece to the webmasters with burning questions about the mysteries of Google. These videos give some crucial information if you are going to run a website. This relates to Analytics because Google is usually the number one driver of traffic to a site. In this age, you have to know how to effectively get listed in Google’s search engine.
  • Google Webmaster Central – Google’s webmaster central is a must use for webmasters. I once saw my site traffic take a huge dive after switching my site to a new hosting service, and the Google Webmaster tools guided me to the problem. I had missed some important redirect scripts which were causing 404 errors in the Googlebot’s crawl through my site.
  • Bruce Clay Inc. – Bruce Clay has set up some good, free resources to help webmasters in their Internet marketing. My favorite thing here is the Search Engine Relationship Chart. This chart describes the relationships between the major search engines. It used to be that you had to submit your site to hundreds of search engines. Now days, there are just a few that provide search results to the majority of the web.
  • Google Analytics Blog – I hate to put so many resources from Google, but they also have an official blog that posts articles about using Google Analytics. It has some good stuff.
  • Web Analytics Association – The articles section of the website has some in depth research in Web Analytics.

Do you know have any favorite resources related to Web Analytics that I don’t have listed here?