Thursday, October 8, 2009



Crunching Numbers for

Fun and Profit

So you opened your web store, went out and bought one of those site metrics software packs and now you’re staring at a bunch of raw data that might as well be written in Swahili. What does all of this stuff mean?

Site metrics – information gathering – is important to long-term site success. However, gathering data doesn’t do a bit of good if you can’t analyze it and, more importantly, develop an actionable strategy based on your analysis of the raw data.

So let’s look at the value of some of the information you can collect from most quality metrics software.

Analyze Inbound Links

Go ahead, spy on the competition. Enter a competitor’s URL and generate a report of all inbound links to that site And what can you learn from these links? Well, if these site owners were willing to link to a site similar to your own, they might be open to a link exchange. That’s always good.

Analyzing the competition’s inbound links might also get you thinking about links to sites you hadn’t considered before. For example, if you post an on-line newsletter covering the stock market, it makes sense to have links to various brokerages, i.e. E*Trade, etc. That’s a no brainer. But how about adding a link to a tax preparation service or a bank. These links might not be so obvious, but if they’re working for the competition, they just might work for you.

Next, enter your own site’s URL to see who’s linked into your site. Some are parasitic links farms that have nothing to do with the topicality of your site. And these unrelated links are hurting your PR so jettison them. See, your site’s looking sounder already.

Automated E-Mail

After finding a few good prospects worth contacting for a links exchange, tracking down the owners of these sites and finding contact information can eat up a lot of time. Some metrics analyzers, for example SEO Elite, provide the means to automate e-mails to site owners who show good potential and synergies for a links exchange.

Be careful, however. A lot of these e-mails will never make it through the spam filter and if they do, they won’t be read. They’ll end up in the trash. To truly reach out and touch someone, the personalized e-mail or better yet, a telephone call, will improve your success ratio but it’s going to take time – lots of it. Oh, the process is called “links begging,” which tells you a lot about how much fun it is.

allinanchor, allintitle, allintext

SEO Elite and other analytic software will show you how the competitions set up its sites. Search engine spiders crawl sites looking for keywords and the positioning of those keywords to determine if the text is spamlish (keyword gibberish) or actual content of use to a visitor.

Search higher ranked competitor sites using the allintext feature to determine keyword density. allintitle and allinanchor(text) provide a very useful blueprint of how these successful sites have placed keywords throughout anchor text, headers, sub-heads, banners and so on. Why reinvent the wheel when you can learn from the success of others?

Check for Dead Links

If you have a good site, you’ll discover that you have a number of links from different sites. After you’ve weeded out garbage links to unrelated sites or links farms, go back and check your site for dead links – links that are no longer active. Eliminate all dead links ASAP. Search engines consider them time wasters for users – and they are, so lose them.

Keyword Check

If you’re still using your original keywords to define your site for search engine indexing, time to drop the old and add the new. Metrics software shows you which keywords are driving site traffic and which are just taking up space in your HTML keyword tag.

With metrics software, you can see which keywords are pulling in visitors to competitor sites. Hey, it’s not top secret information so use it to your advantage. You gain two major advantages by regularly reviewing and updating your list of keywords. First, the closer your keywords match the topic of your site the better search engines like and trust you. Second, a refined, accurate keyword list will deliver more qualified buyers to your site and fewer browsers.

Are You Completely Indexed?

A site with five or 10 pages won’t have any trouble getting indexed by SE spiders. But what about sites that contain hundreds and hundreds of pages? How can you be sure all of your site has been indexed and properly indexed, at that?

Site analytics will indicate how many of your pages are actually part of the search engine’s inventory. If a lot of your pages have been mis-indexed, or just plain missed, there are a couple of things you can do.

Spiders follow links when crawling a site so add links to those pages that are missing from the search engine index. You can also submit a site map to Google, Yahoo, Ask and other search engines. This acts as a “personal” invitation” to a spider to stop by for another look. A site map can also provide links to all pages, ensuring a more complete indexing and a more accurate indexing.

Who’s Beating The Pants Off You?

Who are the heavy hitters in your market? Conduct a search based on page rank or on the quality of the site’s optimization, i.e. “see well-optimized sites.” Why?

What are they doing that you aren’t? If you’re an HTML coder, you can access the underlying code of any site using Internet Explorer so sneak a peek at keyword selection, title tags and content architecture. Also check out site navigation. The easier the better.

Keyword Searches

Two functions, here. First, enter your keywords to produce a list of other sites using the same keywords. If one of them is a behemoth site, add lesser-used keywords to by-pass the stiffest competition.

The second function is to refine your keyword list based on keywords that have been entered into the big search engines in the past day or two. Keyword rankings change as quickly as today’s headlines. If your site sells time sensitive content, services or products, it’s essential to stay up to date with the latest in keyword use.

Online success is all about the numbers, how you analyze them and alter your site accordingly. It’s a never-ending process of refinement based on what works and what doesn’t. And the only way to find out that…

…is to run the numbers.

Having trouble inserting Tab A into Slot B when it comes to metrics analysis. An incorrect assessment of site metrics can have disastrous (read expensive) consequences. Call me and lots crunch the numbers to develop a real marketing plan based on the empirical data. Interpreting is everything and remember, "post hoc ergo propter hoc." Man, that'll send you down the wrong pathway to success.


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