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SES, Milan – don’t chop off the head that feeds the tail

Categories: Metrics Understanding, SEO & Analytics / Comments: 3

Search Engine Strategies - Milan

On Weds 30th May, I had the pleasure of attending SES Milan for the first time. I started my career with web development and SEO back in 1997(!), so over the years I have been to many of the SES events. Its great to observe that the search market has evolved since those “smoke-n-mirror days” as well as discover country/regional differences around the world.

As a pan-EMEA manager I am ashamed to admit that my language abilities are poor – just English and a small amount of Russian (I am always amazed at how some people can simply switch between languages – both in thought and speech. Or do they always think in their native language I wonder?). Of course SES events are held in their local language and Milan was no exception. So many thanks to Sante Achille (SES moderator) who found the time to summarise the Measuring Search Marketing Campaigns presentations in English for me.

Summary of the Measuring Search Marketing Campaigns session:

  • Over the past 12 months there has been an increased interest in web analytics in Italy
  • There is a growing awareness of the importance and understanding of what is happening on your web site
  • The different web analytics systems presented (ConversionLab, Imetrix, Atlas) all converged on the fact that there is a need for common standards. The lack of standards leads to macroscopic differences in results due to different interpretation of information – for example unique session ID, unique IP access, bounce rates, etc.
  • Imetrix made the point that measuring conversions is often very black and white – the visitor either converts or does not. However, thought should also be given to measuring partial conversions e.g. add to cart page, even though the visitor may not go on to convert.
  • Atlas showed some interesting data on keyword path tracking. That is, tracking all the search engine keywords that lead to a conversion – not just the last one, which is the industry standard at present. The conclusion was that generic keywords that are perceived to be poorly performing (if only the last keyword is tracked on conversion) are in fact driving repeat visits for more specific keywords.

    Very true – don’t chop off the head that feeds the tail. I will post on the options available for tracking keywords within Google Analytics in the near future.

During the Q&A discussion, the feeling was that Google Analytics is used by many web site owners in Italy and in fact its availability was catalysing interest for more detailed analysis. It would be interesting to see if a Google Analytics case study is presented at the next SES Milan event…

If you were at SES Milan, or have an opinion on any of these points, please share your thoughts by adding a comment.

(Grazie Mille to Laura Paxia and Giuseppe Fragola for a signed copy of their book – the first Italian book published on web analytics. Now where is my Italian dictionary…?)

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Comments (most recent first)

  1. Thank you for this. I agree with you and I think standards or not the focus is on individual and relevant KPIs for local markets that might be comparable market to market if possible. Either way it is interesting to see the values and measurements taking up the biggest role in the management process; which actually means that the data is becoming more and more interesting to look at and is where all marketing should start…

  2. Hi Sara:

    The standards referred to in the Measuring Search Marketing Campaigns session were concerned with being able to compare metrics from one vendor with another. For example vendors define conversions, unique visitors, bounce rates etc. in different ways. That makes it hard to compare one tool with another. However, I agree with you that the discussion should move on from this – is it relevant to compare the values from different vendors?

    Am I right in saying that you want analytics to help standardise client web sites, so that and are built in a very similar way enabling KPIs to be compared?

    Regardless of vendor, any properly configured tool can do this. The onus is really on the client to be open to change as that is the inevitable consequence of aligning regional web sites. To achieve this a key/senior person from the client side is required to drive this and that is often the most difficult thing to find.

    The Google Analytics approach is to make the product accessible to webmasters (i.e. easy to install) and make actionable information discoverable (i.e. enable senior management to understand if the data trend is good for their business or not). I am not saying we are fully there yet, but the new GA design is a big push in that direction. If GA can truly achieve that ambition, then web analytics will be driven from the top down and that will get country managers to align their web sites for KPI comparison.

    I would be interested in your thoughts. Have you used the latest version of GA?

  3. I also had an interesting session where I as a European (speaking three languages, however not Italian :-(), was on the panel for the Q&A of Multi-Country Campaign Management but still managed to found that most of it was focused on the follow up of the Multi-Country Campaigns and not how to run it.

    This is clearly and interestingly where the obstacles (hence also opportunities) are and many of the presenters solution to this was measuring individual KPI and data per country. I think we need to move beyond that and identify both overall KPIs and local KPIs, but make sure they are measured in the same way and on the same tools so that we can compare them. Otherwise it will be hard to set budgets and focus on certain markets for international marketers. Standardized methods will be hard and as long as clients and their websites are different we will have new variations of KPIs and for this I don’t think we can have standards. However standards on data and aggregating data would be very helpful for marketers and interesting because it will force the analytics providers to differentiate in other ways.

    Milan was a great show though and I was happy to see that it is growing rapidly. Would be interested to hear more about what you think about standards in the field of Analytics.

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