Get the complete picture of your SEO campaigns


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A guide to SEO campaign measurement in 2013 from integrated digital agency Crafted, looking at Google Analytics (not provided), iOS 6 and Microsoft Do Not Track.

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Get the complete picture of your SEO campaigns

  1. 1. Crafted INFORMATION Get the complete picture of your search campaignsPhoto: David Howard / Flickr / CC BY 2.0
  2. 2. Crafted CraftedINFORMATION INFORMATION Contents 1.0 Introduction 2.0 Apple stripping out referrer data in iOS 6 3.0 (Not provided) data appearing within Organic traffic 4.0 Summary - Looking forward into 2013 5.0 Other considerations
  3. 3. CraftedINFORMATION1.0IntroductionSome of the most important questions any client comparisons, where the basis for measurement In addition to those directly affecting Analytics Traffic definitionasks of us at Crafted are about the measurement has often fundamentally changed and no longer reporting, there are some additional issues thatof the success of their search campaigns. can agencies or clients simply assume that a graph have influenced, to a greater or lesser degree, Organic of organic traffic over time fully reflects the wider the search landscape. Clicks from search results in GoogleTraditionally, Google Analytics was nearly always picture. that are below the paid listings.the first port of call, with data being pulled down a. The Do Not Track initiative that isto see how the traffic to the website was behaving, There are two key issues that have affected now becoming the default option in Paidby what margin traffic from Google (both via current reporting methods: Windows 8 and IE10 installs “pay per click” adverts on Google andclicks from paid adverts, or high organic rankings other search engines, often at the topthrough SEO) had increased. Coupled with an 1. In September, Apple changed the way iOS 6 b. The European Cookie Law in the summer and side of the page.understanding that “direct” traffic used to mean (the newest operating system for iPhone, iPads and how it is being implemented on websiteslargely that, and referrals from other websites & iPods) passes data within the Safari browser Referralmade up the rest of the traffic hitting a website, search box. The change makes clicks within c. The rise of the mobile device and Traffic coming via a link on anotherwe could make some very accurate assessments Safari appear as direct traffic, rather cross-platform tracking website e.g. interpretations of the data before us. These than organic.terminologies (Organic, Paid, Direct and d. The evolution of more holistic DirectReferral) became cornerstones of reporting, 2. Citing privacy concerns, Google marketing campaigns Traffic that has no previous referrer e.g.with year-on-year, and month on month introduced the concept of (not provided) being typed directly into the search bar,changes highlighted and analysed. generated by secure, HTTPS, searches in So, how and why does this affect a given or clicking a bookmark. It also can apply October 2011. Initially this only affected website’s data? to links shared via messaging systemsHowever, over the course of 2012 several a very small percentage of traffic, but has such as Skype or in email programmesunrelated issues have meant that traditional steadily increased over 2012. This type such as Outlook.attribution models can no longer be used with of search has recently become thethe same level of confidence. This is especially default positions in some browserstrue of year-on-year and month-on-month such as Firefox and Chrome.
  4. 4. CraftedINFORMATION2.0Apple stripping outreferrer data in iOS 6 The iPhone 5 was released on 21st September however a quirk of how this worked meant that The core of the issue actually lies with Google,This means that 2012; and coincided with the launch of a new no referral data was passed at all. Therefore, in in that it currently does not handle a secure version of the core Apple operating system, iOS 6, all searches via the search box will show search consistently across a desktop and onwhenever a visitor clicks iOS 6. Within a month, the update had been as direct traffic. a mobile, citing speed issues in establishing installed in over 60% of the iOS userbase and secure connections across mobile organic (non-paid) growing - it is expected to hit 90% within nine Apple’s iOS devices have a significant share of Unfortunately this means that any ‘fix’ is with months. Christmas gave rise to more iOS 6 the mobile marketplace. However, even though Google to implement, and is regarded asGoogle search result on devices in the marketplace. they might be eclipsed in numbers of handsets unlikely to happen quickly. by other platforms such as Android, the browsingan iPhone/iPad/iPod Unfortunately for search marketers, the iOS 6 habits are significantly different and iOS devices update also brought an unwanted change to currently generate the vast majority of mobiletouch running iOS 6, what information, or lack of it, the browser traffic to websites we monitor, compounding on an iPhone or iPad passes to Analytics. The the issue.their visit will likely be change was due to how Google handles secure (SSL) searches. iOS 6 defaulted to using thecounted as coming secure search on the mobile version of Google;direct to the website,and not counted withinthe organic traffic totals.
  5. 5. CraftedINFORMATION2.0Apple stripping outreferrer data in iOS 6Why it matters What will change? % OF MOBILE TRAFFIC• Mobile traffic is rapidly increasing as a • Agencies and clients will need to consider 35 percentage of all internet traffic, meaning more reporting on a more holistic set of metrics and more traffic will start appearing as ‘direct’ such as all visitors excluding paid for traffic rather than organic as they should be. and conversion data. This needs to change 30 to give a much more accurate picture• In a sample of nearly eight million visits, we of the progress of a whole campaign. 25 found that iOS 6 accounted for 5.5% of B2B and 11% of B2C overall traffic. Therefore a Further reading: B2C site could easily have over 10% of its • Percentage 20 traffic (and revenue) wrongly attributed all-google-search-referer-data-134560 to the wrong source. • 15How does it affect you? google-traffic-from-safari-135002• Since the end of September, any comparison that solely looks at organic traffic does not give • 10 the whole picture, as it will not include any any-refererdata-on-ios-default-search iOS 6 traffic that appears under direct. 5 •• All transactions and goals are still fully tracked s-ios-6-update-means-86-of-google-referral- in Analytics, it is solely the attribution of these traffic-is-encrypted 0 to an organic source, as opposed to Dec 10 Jan 10 Feb 11 Mar 11 Apr 11 May 11 Jun 11 Jul 11 Aug 11 Sep 11 Oct 11 Nov 11 Dec 11 Jan 12 Feb 12 Mar 12 Apr 12 May 12 Jun 12 Jul 12 Aug 12 Sep 12 Oct 12 Nov 12 ‘direct’ traffic. • adoption-one-month/ Month The graph shows how mobile has consistently grown as a percentage of overall traffic over time.
  6. 6. CraftedINFORMATION3.0(Not provided) dataappearing within Organic traffic In October 2011, Google changed how it handled 2. The number of different keywords 1. Google pushing Google+ heavily, resulting inThe practical impact is searches from signed in users. Initially, the change delivering traffic to the website. As the an increased user base. This creates a Google only affected searches by people who were signed number increases, it reflects how a site is account and leaves you signed in by default.that if a signed in visitor into Google (typically via a email starting to rank for a wider range of terms, account) and was in the low single digits. This and therefore increasing authority. 2. New Firefox versions default to a secure searchclicked an organic result meant that while it was an irritation, it usually scenario. With an 18% market share, this is did not materially affect the results collected. 3. Keyword research. By knowing the keywords a large number of web searches now resultingon Google, the visit delivering traffic, keyword lists can expand and in (not provided). For a user, this was supposed to enhance be targeted to account for new trends.would be attributed to privacy (although the full keyword data has 3. Google’s own Chrome browser is sometimes ‘conveniently’ always been passed for AdWords The initial change was to focus on signed in users, now defaulting to secure search. Chrome’sorganic traffic, but the clicks). Search marketers have historically and while it was possible to navigate directly to market share stands at 31%, even higher than used keyword data in some key ways: the secure version at, Firefox. This change has now been officiallykeyword used would few web users were aware of this. However, confirmed, and could be the largest increase 1. To see the impact of keyword targeting throughout 2012 there have been some additional yet in (not provided).not be passed, efforts. It is possible to identify whether scenarios that have dramatically increased the different modifications of a keyword number of (not provided) visits. (not provided) now averages around 30% of B2Binstead appearing (e.g. “cheap red widgets” vs. “discount organic traffic and about 20% of B2C organic red widgets” perform differently in terms traffic. This dramatically reduces the keywordas (not provided). of user experience on site. data available to reference.
  7. 7. CraftedINFORMATION3.0(Not provided) dataappearing within Organic trafficWhy it matters • As the keyword data is still passed for AdWords % OF GOOGLE TRAFFIC THAT IS (NOT PROVIDED)• The move to secure searches has been clicks, it is neccessary to increase integration 35 heavily promoted by Google and is only between paid and non-paid teams to share the likely to increase, diminishing the amount data across disciplines. and accuracy of the keyword data available. 30 Further reading:How does it affect you? • 25• As traffic is lost to (not provided) it is now making-search-more-secure.html impossible to accurately reflect the traffic for an individual keyword over time within • Percentage 20 Analytics. To attempt to see this requires encrypting-searches-outbound-clicks-by- additional calculation adding a percentage default-97435 of the (not provided) traffic. 15 •• The visits are still correctly recorded as organic, futurereleases/2012/05/09/rolling-out-https- so overall numbers are correct (allowing for google-search/ 10 iOS 6 discussed above). • 5Agencies should consider plus-your-world-to-launch-beyond-us-113840• No longer referencing individual keyword traffic over time, unless there is an allowance • 0 for an expected share of (not provided) data. google-communities-and-photos.html Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Jan 11 12 12 12 12 12 12 12 12 12 12 12 12 13• There may now be an increase in focus on • Month the landing pages driving traffic, and their chrome-using-secure-search-https-all-users/ performance, rather than ranking keywords.
  8. 8. CraftedINFORMATION4.0Summary - Looking forward into 2013In light of the iOS and (not provided) changes, Why it matters Statistics that we advise retiringagencies and marketers will need to consider • Much greater certainty that the figures in and will no longer referencechanging the reporting within organic SEO the reports reflect the overall effectiveness • Organic traffic as a single metric and basisreports for conversions and traffic. If they do not, of an organic search campaign. of a year-on-year or month-on-monththey will not see the most accurate overall picture comparison. This is now an unreliable metricof an online marketing campaign. • Agencies could use filtered reporting to if considered alone, due to the iOS 6 change. view the figures easily, and could move toMonitoring and highlighting mobile start creating a dedicated custom report • Traffic for individual keywords over time,-specific trends as required will stay relevant. within Analytics profiles to enable clients due to (not provided).With mobile now accounting for well over to look at the same figures quickly.25% of traffic for many websites (and ever • Changes in brand and non-brand traffic asincreasing) this is an exciting and growing an absolute number due to (not provided)segment of web users. and iOS 6.
  9. 9. CraftedINFORMATION5.0Other considerationsWhile the previous two issues have had the largest At the moment, this initiative is primarily b. Cookie law of 2012 While Analytics has been maintained onimpact on reporting practices, there are some aimed at behavioural tracking for advertising In the summer, a legislation change meant that Crafted-developed websites, we have auditedother issues that are worth discussing in terms and analytics vendors are generally able to all websites were considering how they could gain websites where the cookie consent questionof the wider search landscape. continue to collect data. However, as DNT gains consent for the use of “cookies” within a website. blocks all cookies until it is accepted. This has momentum, this could conceivably change. Cookies are part of the heart of the web, and meant that all Analytics is removed until consenta. Do not track affect nearly all aspects such as Analytics, user is given, dramatically affecting the scope andOriginally conceived several years ago, the Further reading: logins and social media. If consent was not given, accuracy of reporting.Do Not Track (DNT) initiative gathered pace • there was a fear that all of those systems wouldin 2012. Many people have complained that they Internet_Explorer_10_default_setting_ be inoperable. Further reading:dislike targeted and remarketing ads (e.g. when controversy • have viewed a product on a website, you see At the 11th hour the government changed their eu-cookie-law-what-you-need-to-know-ahead-adverts for that product on visits to unrelated • advice to introduce the idea of “implied consent”, of-may-26th.htmlwebsites). A standard has been implemented issues/archive/2012/08/07/do-not-track-in-the- which meant that if a site had a clear privacy andwhich allows users to opt-out of tracking. windows-8-set-up-experience.aspx cookie policy, no action would be taken. In • more technical users have been able to addition, there were tiered levels and core features cookie-law-uk-government-crumblesimplement it, Microsoft made it the default setting • such as Analytics were generally regarded as outfor upgrades and installs of Windows 8 and IE10, of scope of the need for consent, so data could • growing percentage of the Windows ecosystem. continue to be collected. Since then several may/26/cookies-law-changed-implied-consentBy bringing DNT to the fore in this way, Microsoft people have campaigned against the idea ofhas generated significant conversation around the these intrusive requests for cookie acceptance, • implications of the policy. and there is yet to be a successful prosecution. -law-ico-silktide-91818
  10. 10. CraftedINFORMATION5.0Other considerationsc. The rise in mobile traffic on the sofa with a tablet or phone, but often d. Evolution of search involving copywriting, outreach, online PR andFrom the sales figures of the iPhone and iPad, they will decide to purchase or enquire when As a backdrop to the technological changes creating something of value. This has deliveredas well as the multitude of Android devices there they are back on a desktop or at work, that have affected Analytics, there has also powerful results, not only with high quality linksis an ever increasing growth in mobile traffic. or vice versa. been an evolution in how search campaigns driving SEO success, but also referral traffic fromWhile some of this will be anchored to a are being conducted. Increasingly Google social media sharing and online PR. By includingWi-Fi hotspot rather than truly on the move, Analytics has traditionally been session-based, is targeting techniques and tactics that are all of that traffic within the monthly reportingour consumption of content and browsing so as a visitor hops between devices the link the old “quick wins”, with shortcuts to high by default there will be a much more accuratehabits are changing at an ever faster rate. between their visits are broken. To reflect the search positions becoming ever more risky picture against the work undertaken for clients new reality of web browsing, Google Analytics and the benefits short-lived. to drive revenue and leads from their website.In a sample of eight million visits from our will shortly be moving away from a session baseclients, we found mobile traffic now accounts to a user base via “Universal Analytics”. This was At Crafted we have been advocating against thosefor approximately 15% of B2B and 25% of B2C announced at the Google Summit in September; tactics with clients for several years, but now theytraffic, and growing. it is currently in beta with widespread access simply are not an option. Increasingly activities expected early 2013. that could be broken down into small, discreteWhile there are specific issues to face such as tasks such as link building via mass directoriesiOS 6, it also poses a wider issue of attribution Further reading: are replaced with much more involved projectsacross devices. Increasingly people are browsing • • -analytics-the-next-generation-of-google- analytics/
  11. 11. CraftedINFORMATION 32 Fore Street Ipswich IP4 1JU T. +44 (0) 1473 213222 E. Clerkenwell Workshops 27/31 Clerkenwell Close London EC1R 0AT T. +44 (0) 20 7061 6216