Overwhelmed by Google Analytics – Lessons Learned

February 3, 2012

Managing over 14 000 keywords on Google Adwords as I do, is a formidable task. So formidable that I kind of gave up on it for a while, but have recently dived back in.  All of Google’s products are becoming increasingly complicated – Adwords, Analytics and Webmaster Tools. There is just too much information and not enough time.  Here’s some lessons I’ve learnt:

You are NEVER going to a be able to monitor and analyse everything that you should be. And its just going to get more impossible as time goes on. Analytics is a bottomless pit – with all the tools Google now provides, you could spend a month analysing a single days traffic.

As a webmaster or SEO person, Traffic stats can be quite beguiling (especially if your traffic is going in the right direction). But, given the scarcity of time and resources,  a lot of stats, at bottom, are a nice-to-have not a must-have. Nowadays before looking at any Adwords or Analytics report I ask myself what action can I take that will boost my bottom line from this information. Its surprising how much stuff fails this test.

Be careful of the “I need to monitor my competitors rankings to see if I need to step up my game-plan” trap. A lot of useless statistics and reports can be justified with this lame reasoning. If you are in business it is a given that you will have competitors, it is a given that you must always put forward your best game-plan, it is a given that you should do effective things to rank the best you can. If these aren’t givens then you aren’t really an entreprenuer. As Matt Cutt’s once quipped: wasting time on the givens is “like telling a boxer to punch harder”.

This is particularly relevant when you’re managing 14 000 keywords. Just about every Google report has filtering options. Use them continually! Concentrate your effort on tweaking only those adwords which have had more than 20 impressions for the month.  By doing this I cut my list from 14 000 to 400.  But the cost of the adwords accounted by that top 400 was 90%.  Put the other way around: Why waste time analysing 13 500 keywords in order to tweak 10% of your costs?

Being maths and stats based, the nature of analytics suggests precision, process and routine. Something like, say, 10 standard reports analysed every Friday, another 10 monthly, etc. Taking this stereotype approach can lead to a very one-dimensional marketing strategy (not to mention leading to a very rote, soulless task in the process). But sometimes, when you’re in a playful mood a lot can be gained by just “surfing” your analytics and stats. Exploring new reports and views that google has come up with. Seeing things from new angles. Bucking the usual rules.

Ongoing monitoring of Google Adwords and Analytics is definitely about Efficieny – doing things right. But in your focus on total efficiency, don’t overlook the other big E – Effectiveness – doing the right things.







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