Web Analytics, SEO And Pay Per Click

January 14, 2006

I had a very cool experience integrating web analytics, SEO and pay per click this week. It was pretty textbook, except that we don’t often get to do things “by the book.”

One of my customers runs a continuing education course in the area of spray technology. The range of industries that sends students is truly amazing: from companies who spray chocolate on the inside of ice cream cone drumsticks to automakers whose fuel injected engines spray out the fuel.

This week, I sat down with four months of analytics. They aren’t fancy/expensive analytics, but for a ten-page spray technology website, they do the job. I learned that, due to the vast range of industries sending students, keyword searches are rarely duplicated. One person will type in “Electrospray painting” and the next visitor types in “Aerosol medication.” (Bet you never thought that the way inhalers deposit asthma medication was related to the way that automakers deposit painting on a car. But I digress.) I did find one or two words that were often included within keyword phrases and which will make excellent candidates for a broad search pay per click campaign.

I took every single keyword phrase and ran it through Web Position Gold, which shows how the site ranks for a particular keyword phrase. I only chose to see rankings on Google, MSN and Yahoo. I learned that I had a couple of Page One rankings, such as “spray atomizer design” but that most of my search terms were on Page Two, Page Three, or later. You might reasonably ask, if a term is buried that deeply, how did someone get to the site using it? There are various answers, but the best one is, they didn’t necessarily use one of the engines I measured, and not all search engines rank the same way.

Then, I took the site and ran it through a keyword density analyzer to see how the on-page and off-page content match (or don’t match) preferred keywords. While the one-word occurrences weren’t that interesting (who cares that I used the phrase “need” twice?), the two- and three-word occurrences were very helpful. For example, I found that I had succeeded in using the phrase “Spray technology” five times on the home page, counting the page title and description, but only twice on the “What you will learn page.”

Next, I opened up my Macromedia Contribute (and if you don’t have it and wish you could make changes to a site that someone else designed for you, I strongly recommend that you fork over the $149, or at least download their 30 day free trial.) I went through each page and everywhere that I could reasonably add the one or two words that were embedded in many of the keyword searches, I did. I was only able to make a handful of additions, but they may move us out of Position 19 into Position 9, since there aren’t that many people fighting for phrases like “rheology” or “non-Newtonian liquids.”

Finally, having

  • used my web analytics to learn what phrases customers care about
  • used Web Position Gold to learn where the site ranks in the organic search for the phrases
  • used a keyword density analyzer to learn what words potential customers are currently typing
  • used Macromedia Contribute to better optimize my site

…I sat down to use Keyword Trellian (or, if you like, the free Overture tool) to decide which keywords were worth paying for.

Neat, huh?