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The launch day for a new or redesigned website is the beginning of your online efforts. While planning and implementing a site are major undertakings, the hard work put into these phases of your site’s lifecycle is merely the foundation for the site’s role in your business or organization. Once the foundation has been completed it is time to begin collecting and analyzing site traffic using a Web Analytics tool and to focus on drawing visitors to your site through Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM).
There are two main categories of web analysis, quantitative and qualitative. These two, when used together, provide the answers to the questions Who, What, When, Where and Why. Quantitative web analytics answers the first four of these questions. It is this portion of the analytics equation that is referred to by most as “Web Analytics”. This is perhaps because Who, What, When and Where are the easiest questions to answer. When a visitor enters a site the server tracks WHO visited (by IP address/cookies/session ids), WHAT was viewed during the visit, WHEN each page was viewed and how long between requests (also whether this is the visitor’s 1st or 201st visit), and WHERE within the site the visitor traveled (often called “click-stream”).
As a result of these questions being fairly easy to answer there are a number of free analytics services available to site owners. Two of the providers of free analytics services are Google and Yahoo. We list analytics first because it is important to have a quantitative analytics tool in place as part of a site’s foundation so that the effects of SEO and SEM efforts can be measured.
What about that Why? Gathering the data required to perform qualitative analysis, the WHY, is a bit different from gathering quantitative data. This is because qualitative data cannot be gathered by simply observing a site’s visitors. To collect this data you must ask your visitors questions such as “Why did you choose our site?”, “How did you hear about our site?” and “Were you able to find what you were looking for?” To ask such questions requires developing a site survey. It is important that the data gathered represent honest answers to your questions. In order to achieve this you must be careful to ensure that respondents answer out of a genuine desire to provide feedback and not because they feel forced to answer.
Because performing qualitative analysis requires gathering data from sources which are more website specific and therefore more difficult to generalize, the area of qualitative analysis has remained one of the more costly areas of web analysis. In our research we have found third party resources that provide truly affordable robust site survey and analytic services. Give us a call or email us to discuss options that can provide your organization with a valid, overall view of your site's activity in cyberspace and assist in calculating your ROI.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Everyone wants their company’s website to be the first link a potential visitor sees when searching the web for products and services in their market segment. The obvious question then is how to get your site to that number one position. One part of the answer is known as Search Engine Optimization or SEO. Search Engine Optimization relates specifically to what search providers call organic search results. These are the results provided to visitors based on perceived relevance rather than paid listings. In order to ensure user satisfaction with their services, search providers analyze a page’s content, Meta tags and other indicators when indexing a site to determine a page’s relevance to the search terms used by their visitors. A page is “ranked” according to the results of this analysis. Because organic search results are based on an analytically derived perception of relevance, SEO is an ongoing process that requires diligence and patience. All of the major search providers maintain guidelines on what a site owner should do to achieve the highest organic search listing possible.
Achieving your desired ranking will not happen overnight. Whether your ambition is to be the first result or simply on the first page of results, reaching and maintaining your goal will be an ongoing process. Give us a call or email us to discuss ways you can maximize your SEO efforts.
Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
Over the years marketing has changed considerably. As the advertising mediums available to marketers have evolved, so has the ability to determine which advertising efforts achieve the greatest ROI for a particular product or service in relation to potential viewers. This is especially true of online advertising. When coupled with an analytics tool, online advertising can provide insights unavailable in other advertising mediums. Perhaps the most effective segment of online advertising is in the area of Search Engine Marketing or SEM. This is because SEM is not about simply placing an advertisement in front of as many people as possible. Search Engine Marketing is about placing advertisements in front of people who are searching using key words or phrases that relate to that advertisement. Search Engine Marketing is often referred to as permission based advertising because viewers have already expressed interest in the product or service being promoted.
There is a wide variety of online advertising services available and each provides a specific set of benefits. When developing an online marketing strategy it is important to consider a wide selection of options. A well planned strategy that includes standard online advertising coupled with Search Engine Marketing can increase both your brand awareness and your ROI. Give us a call or email us to discuss how you can put SEM to work for you.