Information and advice for healthcare consumers.

Digging Deeper Into Your Analytics

We all like to keep an eye on the usual metrics when looking at our Google Analytics accounts. Visits, unique visitors, bounce rates, time on site, and conversion rates all get a look in. These are all great pieces of information for making sure that things are working the way you expect them to on your website, but what if you want to look a little deeper?

Unfortunately Analytics can’t answer every question you might have about your site, in which case it’s time to dust off your Excel For Dummies book and get stuck into manipulating the data yourself. For those of you looking for a good guide to some of the most useful Excel functions for SEO analysis I can recommend the Microsoft Excel for SEO guide from Distilled.net.

Digging deeper often requires large amounts of data to give meaningful answers, so you’re going to want to get familiar with adding the “&limit=50000” to your GA URLs, or better still start using the Google Analytics Data Export API or the Excellent Analytics Excel plug-in.

Keyword Lengths and Conversion Rates

I’m a firm believer that the more you know about your visitors and their behaviour the better you can tailor your product to suit their needs. So, from time to time we go and look at some metrics that are slightly off the beaten track. Have a look at the graph below for instance:

Traffic by keyword length with conversion rate

The longer the keyword, the more likely the conversion.

It charts the traffic and email enquiry conversion rate of traffic over a recent two week period. The first thing that struck me was the more keywords people use to find WhatClinic.com the more likely they are to convert. The second thing was that just over 50% of our email conversions come from people who use 4 or 5 keywords to find the site.

All well and good you say, but what use is information like this? Well, for a website like ours with a long tail focus it shows us how long the keywords in the long tail are. We typically optimise pages for one or two keywords, usually two or three words in length. The data above suggests that maybe some pages should be optimised for slightly longer keywords, or perhaps even two longer keywords.

Thanks to other curious SEOs like SharkSEO we also know that you can write two completely different meta descriptions for the same page and the search engines will pick the description that best matches the keyword being searched for. This opens up some new possibilities about how to organise our data and our site structure. Using the keyword length and conversion data above we can make more informed decisions about how to optimise the resulting pages.

Are Keywords Getting Longer?

Just over a year ago I wrote about how people were using longer keywords to find WhatClinic.com. Seeing as we’re talking about keyword lengths again I thought I’d take a quick peek at some data from this year. I was in for a surprise.

keyword length 2010 and 2011

Keyword length doesn't seem to be changing, but that's not the whole story.

If my data was to be believed keyword lengths were almost exactly the same as they were a year ago. The answer seemed too neat to me, so I decided to do a little segmentation. My suspicion was that by looking at our traffic as a whole I was missing some underlying trends, and it turns out I was right.

WhatClinic.com Irish traffic by keyword length

Irish visitors account for more than their fair share of our short keyword traffic.

Traffic from Ireland accounts for around 19% of our total visits, but as you can see from the chart above it accounts for over 30% of our one and two word keyword traffic. Again the question is how is this information useful or actionable? The simple answer again is to do with the messaging – the page title and the meta description in particular.

In Google.ie we now rank quite well for certain one word keywords like “braces” or “dentist”. While this is great for us in terms of traffic, the pages are really optimised for people looking for our page about braces in Ireland, or dentists in Ireland. This means that as the keywords used to find these pages get more generic / head / short tail that maybe we should look at changing the messaging on them to better reflect more closely what the user is looking for. For the cases above, I think that the messaging might be OK, but we’ll test some alternatives and see how they affect CTR and conversion rates.

The Importance Of Segmentation

The Irish traffic above really skewed the keyword length data above. Seeing as our website deals with so many geographies and our keyword rankings quite a lot across them, any decisions about site structures and one page optimisation should only be made once the overall site figures have been sliced enough to have confidence in them.

Excluding the Irish traffic, keywords have gotten slightly longer since 2010, but not massively so. It is the relative shortening of Irish keywords that is much more significant to us on this occasion.

keyword length with separate Irish data 2010 2011

Irish visitors are skewing the data

We have previously observed similar big differences in user behaviour based on whether the landing takes place on a brochure / listing page or on one of our search results pages. We’ve even observed that the nearer the top of the tree structure a user lands the more likely they are to convert.

It’s often worth digging deeper than the reports or segments in Google Analytics can offer by themselves because the information that comes out can offer you a clearer picture of some of the bigger underlying trends affecting your site and give you the information you need to not only stay ahead of your competitors in the SERPs, but ultimately make your site better for your users.