Avinash Kaushik Keynote Speech at SES London 2010: A Recap

This is the first in a series of quick recaps to keep you up to date on the goings on at Search Engine Strategies London 2010.  Please note I am liveblogging much of this so excuse any grammatical mistakes!  You can also follow my updates on SES London by following me on Twitter.

Avinash Kaushik: Approaching Search Analytics Differently

The conference opens from a keynote speech by arguably one of the smartest people in online marketing, as anyone who as read Avinash Kaushik's blog or books will attest to.  Been looking forward to this talk ever since I first saw it on the SES agenda.

Avinash starts  by plugging his latest book, Web Analytics 2.0, and talking about how cool it is to be able to make a living off being a blogger. Showoff.

"We dont realise how much smarter we can be about doing marketing online" - much smarter than "faith based" mediums like TV - has an illusion of being measurable but it's not. At all.

Break down the data - information overload when you look at analytics - we obsess over the first few rows of data, it  blinds us to the wider patterns and trends.

"Anyone who doesn't feel frustrated that they're not doing well enough is not doing their job properly" - great quote.

New custom filters in Google Analytics (GA) are awesome for going beyond the top 25 rows or whatever - eg filter keywords that are >25% conversion only - the really juicy stuff

Tag clouds of referring keywords are great for getting a broad view of whether you are making the most of your strengths - Avinash talked about a cool looking tool - Keyword Tree from Juice Analytics - that plugs into the GA API and gives you an immediate tag cloud - awesome.

Avinash gives an example of how his wife doesn't understand why he needs to stay up late at night and blog - like a true ubergeek, he tries to convince her using the metrics of what his blog does.  The point is, don't just say "doing more SEO will bring you more traffic, use metrics to demonstrate exactly what it can do, and that will convince your wife / client that you're not a waste of space.

The Long Tail of Search: it's important to appreciate the volume of traffic driven by long tail  keyphrases - yet we so often ignore this and just concentrate on the head/brand/big terms. Also the most interesting visitors are the ones that come via long tail keyphrases - often the ones that are digging around for very specific stuff,  and also tend to be the ones that make you the big moolah.  Feeling rather smug because we're pretty keen on focusing on the long tail at Fresh Egg - although probably not enough - its so easy to always think about those 'glamour terms'.

Google's Search Based Keyword Tool is powerful because it matches search volumes to which page on your site is most relevant for that keyword, alongside how visible you are for that term. No surprise that he's focusing on Google tools since he kinda works for them now, but a good reminder that I hardly use this tool and tend to focus on the normal Keyword Tool...

Attribution of conversions back to where they came from is really powerful - but find out if you need to bother first.  Use the 'visits to purchase' report in your Analytics. If the vast majority of users convert on their first visit then it's not really a problem.  But if you have a lot of repeat visits before conversions you need to know where they came from originally / along the way.  Our Nikki's been working on some cool ways to do this with GA using custom variables to record

"First click attribution [crediting conversions with original source] is a bit like giving credit to your first girlfriend to your current marriage" - a classic Kaushikism!

TheTafferBoy on Twitter has raised an interesting question to do with the long tail issue - "s it possible to get an ROI by link building to the long-tail individually? No. You do that with clever on-site and LB to big terms".  A  great discussion to follow up on methinks - but my quick response is that you can go a long way by doing a bit of low level linkbuilding to a few long tail pages every month, because no-one else is doing it, and because it can really pay off in terms of conversions.

Three key takeaways: be thoughtful, be skeptical, be objective.  Now there's a tweetable soundbite.

Avinash gets hot under the collar about sites which rank in search for keyphrases but dont actually have that product on the landing page.  For example M&S ranks for underwear but there's no underwear on the landing page ("Where's the underwear? I WANT UNDERWEAR! And some naked chicks would be cool too" -- classic)

All in all: a great presentation by Avinash as expected. The bottom line is we can be so much more effective if our work is driven by data and analysis feeding back into the strategy and tactics.