Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Web Analytics Class Blog - 02/27/07

How did the Omniture Web Analytics Competition Go?
  • Great
  • Asked good questions
  • Not a lot of time to present (only 6 minutes)
  • Should a written deliverable be turned in along with your presentation?

  • We are not meeting for class on Thursday... go to the Web Analytics Competition on Friday.

    Any Recent Readings:

    Mod_Rewrite - Nate Skousen's Blog
    Page View Metrics - Ben Robinson

    Wrap up on WebLogs and AW Stats:

    - A job has to be setup to calculate all the stats based on the weblogs.
    - That means that AW Stats will only be updated when you tell it to using something like a CRON job.
    - Logs are temporary... so to get historical data, you need to capture AW Stats data periodically.
    - Why should you use AW Stats vs. Google Analytics? It might be good to have both. AW Stats uses Web Logs and JavaScript.
    - AW Stats has various plug-ins that you can use. For example GEO Locations.

    So to get AW Stats up and running you need:
  • A CRON job or equivalent
  • Code beacons in your pages
  • Configuration

  • - Some AW Stat benefits might include having data on files, and having data on your own server.
    Now on to Google Analytics:
    - You can export data to Excel!
    - You have to set up a web beacon in every page that you want tracked. Google Analytics will provide this code.
    - You need to have an account code... again Google will provide you this when you sign up a new site to Google Analytics. It is a tracking code for a specific site.
    - You can set up goals with Google Analytics - you need to know which variables to set in the beacon code or you can set them up in the Google Analytics interface.
    - You can also set up funnel reports and goals.
    - We then implemented Google Analytics on ebiz.byu.edu

    The battle with SEO

    So the battle continues with Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Why? Because it is a constant, bloody, nasty, frustrating, ambiguous battle. I have learned a ton in the past 2 months about how to rank high in search engines but actually seeing the results is a different story.

    There are many tutorials online about SEO but uderstanding SEO involves more than just tutorials. It requires staying current with Search Engine algorithms and best practices. I have learned what to avoid and what to implement.

    Recently, I learned about mod_rewrite which rewrites your URL's in a search engine friendly format. I had no idea that search engine bots ignore everything past the '?' indicating url variables. To get around this, mod_rewrite was invented. Basically if I had a url like "http://www.mysite.com/index.php?cat=productcat&title=prodcuttitle&id=123" mod_rewrite would rewrite the url to "http://www.mysite.com/productcat/producttitle/123". Big deal right? Actually, it is a big deal. This not only improves security but it also makes search engines happy. I'm not entirely sure why, but it does. Basically, the search engine bots are able to navigate your entire site and index it all. That is very desireable if you want to show up high (top 5) on search engines.

    How does it work? Well, you need Apache server. It is an Apache module and you have to enable it. Most hosting services will have this available. Second, you need to write your rules using REGEX expressions (Regular Expressions). That can be a little challenging but there are some trusty tutorials out there. This is a must have for SEO today. I will be implementing this shortly on OneStopGPS.com.

    For a more in-depth look at Mod_Rewrite, check out this great article/tutorial. It will do wonders for you... possibly change your life!

    Friday, February 9, 2007

    Real-Life Web Analytics

    I have officially made my first sale on OneStopGPS.com. Thank you for whoever purchased The Complete Idiot's Guide to Geocaching. I made a huge $0.39 in referral fees. I am seriously grateful for your purchase. It has given me a sense of satisfaction, even though it is only $0.39. It is a small start that at least paid for that person's click.

    As I have been battling SEO and my recent adWords campaign, I have been learning a lot about the vastness of the internet. Getting people to a website is a difficult thing that involves a lot of strategy, and in some cases money. It gets even more difficult after the person "lands" on your page and then converting that visit into a sale. I have had 39 unique visitors to OneStopGPS.com so far this month. That means my current conversion rate is about 2.5%. If I can maintain that conversion rate and have about 120 unique visits per month (current trend), I could potentially have 3 sales per month. That is probably not enough to make this worth while. I have learned that this is a hard game to play.

    However, this is where web analytics becomes extremely valuable. Not only does web analytics tell me how many visits I get per day, month, or year but it can help me increase conversion or increase visits. If I want to get more sales in a month I have to do one of those two things... or both! If I can increase visits and increase conversion then I will vastly increase my earnings. Web analytics can help me do just that. By knowing where my customers are coming from, what they are looking for, and how long they are staying, I can focus my marketing efforts to match those needs.

    Web Analytics can evaluate the entire e-commerce process from driving traffic, driving sales, and driving customer satisfaction. The trick is having the time, the patience, and the experience. Here is to a long process!

    Note: I actually made $3.33 not just $0.39. It turns out the same customer also ordered an handheld gps unit in addition to the book. I have temporarily paused my adwords campaign in order to improve the website.

    Wednesday, February 7, 2007

    Why Sports?

    So I really enjoy watching, playing, and talking about sports. There is something about competition that motivates me. I love watching a good game of college football, professional football, baseball, basketball, and even golf. However, in a way it is kind of ridiculous how much money is spent on sporting events and how much time people devote to watching and playing sports. Aren't sports really kind of pointless? They all usually involve hitting or throwing some sort of ball. Sure there are different strategies for each sport but ultimately the point of most sports are to hit, throw, or kick a ball in order to get more points than your opponent. What is so fascinating about that? So the question is why? Why do we enjoy it so much? Why is so much money spent on sports? How can a person devote their whole career/life to playing, analyzing, coaching, or talking about sports? If you step back and think about it, it is kind of wierd that we are so involved with sports. A close friend of mine forwarded me this article and I know the author's family pretty well and it is very touching how she relates life to sports and why it is important that we have sports. I'm glad there are things to relieve the stresses/pressures of life, and I think sports are one of those things. Thanks Natalie for sharing!