Dean Marsden

SAScon Day 2 Round Up

23rd May 2011 News, Industry News 9 minutes to read

Day two of SAScon provided some in depth talks on the technical side of search engines, analytics and location services. Feel free to leave comments or questions at the end of this blog post.

Conversion Attribution

Lewis Lesenn, Commercial Director of DC Storm presented the facts around conversion attribution. He pointed out that actions are rarely driven from a single website visit. They are driven by multiple marketing channels and the visitors journey to a conversion can often take days or weeks.

A single conversion attribution model will never fit all the needs of different organisations. It’s important to design your own based on a fixed length of time, weighting different channel sources and brand channels. A good attribution model will make allocating marketing budgets to each channel more effective, providing accurate channel and keyword based ROI.

Adrian Hands from TagMan described how they measured both brand and non brand terms with three attribution models: last click, any click and all clicks. Last click is where the last source visited before the conversion is attributed the credit. Any click attribution is commonly assigned to paid services such as PPC and Affiliate programs where they would have played a part in the users journey to conversion. Any click is a flat model where all sources receive credit for the conversion. Creating a table with all three models means you can get a clearer mix of what is working best and invest more time into each area.

Co-Founder of Conversion Rate Experts, Dr Karl Banks explained how to make the most from user supplied source attribution. Typically websites feature a ‘How did you hear about us?’ question and a drop down list of options is provided. This can never really show the best picture. He recommended that users should be allowed to provide an open answer in a single text box field. The benefit of this is that instead of just collecting data about how many people chose ‘Word of Mouth’ for example, you will see insights as to who or what referred them to you e.g. “The Geeks Podcast” or “Silicone Valley Blog”. Karl called these “persuasive assets” and these were the true sources to invest in.

Analysing all of this unique data used to only be the job of data mining specialists, however free online services such as allow you to submit all of your words and visualise which is the strongest by number of times used. In the Q and A session a handy tip for all of us using Google Analytics is to not just look at converting keywords but also invest in those with high page views as these are creating user engagement.


Following on nicely from Conversion Attribution, this session provided some interesting ideas in analysing visitor behaviour. Paddy Moogan, SEO Consultant at Distilled, took us through some things we should be tracking and suggested that if they aren’t actionable then don’t bother tracking them.

For eCommerce websites make sure you are tracking:

  • Page View percentage of each product. Action the poor performing ones with an improved navigation to the page, adding them to a featured products widget or page and by making sure they appear in the product search results.
  • Average Order Value (AOV). Increase this with promoting related items to cross sell and by setting realistic free delivery limits. Also look at which traffic source sends the highest order value and invest more in these.
  • Search Exits on your site search feature.  Make results much clearer, enhance with images and include any special deals.

With a little clever implementation of javascript it is possible to track:

  • Page load speed. Follow Google’s advice to improve page speed
  • Content tag performance. Build content around most popular tags
  • What text has been copy and pasted. Create a page to explain words and link to it with the words
  • Form field tracking. Add an event to each form to see where users are stopping
  • Brand and non-brand keywords. Use the exclude in the Filter Keyword option at the bottom of the keyword list

Tom Betts, Head of Web Analytics at talked about the importance of tracking customers, not devices and technologies. People use your website in different ways , don’t aggregate them, think in segments. Measuring visitors through cookies isn’t very accurate as individuals could use different browsers to view the website on each visit. Some people like to delete cookies and some organisations automatically purge them on their computers. Tom suggested tracking visitors by customer ID as this gives an accurate view of how many times they come to the site, what they are interested in and when they are reading it. With a custom developed system, it would even be possible to add customers to an eCRM system and create personalised marketing communications.

Location Technologies

Location technologies such as Foursquare, Gowalla and Facebook Places are pretty advanced, but how can organisations best implement them into their online marketing strategies. Kristal Ireland from Yorkshire Tourism provided us with a case study of how they’ve increased brand awareness for themselves and promoted local attractions and businesses.

Yorkshire Tourism were one of the first to get a Foursquare page and when asked how did she do that, “just ask nicely” was her advice! By posting regularly, they have achieved over 9,500 followers. Building up their main page was just half of the task, the other was to raise awareness of the technologies with the local businesses. They spent a long time training them in Foursquare, Facebook and Twitter. Many businesses do not want to get involved in social media, but the truth is they are already in it. Its all about managing your presence.

Optimising for your location should be a number one priority for businesses, explains Jenny Simpson, Head of PR and content at Stickyeyes. 77% of internet users have contacted a business through finding them online, 61% phoned them and 59% visited them. Jenny’s tips for getting found online are:

  • Make sure you are listed on Google Maps
  • Have reviews on the internet so they show in organic and paid listings
  • Include your location in online press releases
  • Take advantage of Google’s new, free business interior photography if you are in London
  • Optimise images and videos by adding location names to them
  • Use the new hRecipe micro format if you are restaurant

New Search Technologies

Ross Fobian, Co-director of AdInsight started the session with introducing us all the often overlooked idea of tracking phone calls from visitors to your website. According to Yahoo, 92% of all online searches resulted in an offline conversions. Businesses should investigate call tracking that integrates into your website analytics.

Dixon Jones from Receptional highlighted some of his favourite online SEO tools:

  • SEMRush: This all in one tool provides a staggering amount of international data about any website including on-page optimisation, off-page optimisation and paid search performance
  • Google Custom Search: You can create a custom search to analyse your own site or a competitors
  • TagCrowd: Great for visualising keywords related to a website. You can also spot any damaging terms through negative link building
  • Majestic SEO: Huge database of website backlinks
  • Analytics SEO: Provides clear, prioritised actions based on on-site and off-site analysis

Yoast’s Joost de Valk also presented a list of his top FREE tools:

Search and PR

The final session of SAScon was about the similarities and convergence of Search Marketing and Public Relations. Stuart Bruce, MD of Wolfstar Consultancy defined PR as “The result of what you do, what you say, and what others say about you.” It is the discipline of looking after reputation and in some ways SEO plays a big role in this.

Barry Adams from Pierce Communications gave his opinion of the Search industry and the news industry. He states that Newspapers exist to sell adverts and classifieds, not for informing the public. This has been their business model for 150 years and hasn’t changed since. Success is based on circulation and in the online world it is sometimes measured as unique visitors to a website.

The problem is that classifieds have established themselves online as a separate entity so news sites cannot compete with these. Adverts alone will not pay for the cost of a news website either. So what are the options for the news industry? Paywalls have recently been proven to not really work, Paid apps are not as popular as many would hope and many won’t pay subscriptions for digital content as it can typically be found for free online.

Barry predicts that the newspapers will rarely exist in 10-15 years and only those that have created a strong monetisation model will succeed. It is likely that general news will be free for all, but there will always be a market for paid news about niche industries.

To finish, Barry cited how website owners can get benefit from newspaper websites. If you are after a link back or mention you can do things like sponsor a section, build them an app, offer SEO advice and generally build a relationship with them.

Claire Thompson from SEO PR Training rounded up the session by comparing the SEO and PR industry with a nice spider chart. Where some of the same tasks collide, each are currently done differently by each industry and we will likely see the convergence of both in the future to work together on some areas and improve those where they are not actioned well.

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