The Dawn of Convergence Analytics (from an SEO’s perspective)

Note:This post first appeared on Online Marketing Blog on March 2013, but has now been migrated across to this website.

The SEO’s professional’s difficulty when optimising or promoting a site for search engine users

The concepts behind better understanding and determining the outcome of website visitor behaviour is becoming ever increasingly important to marketers and business owners out there looking to promote themselves online. Growing disciplines such as “big data”, “predictive/ descriptive/prescriptive analytics” and “cohort analysis” are becoming the new buzz words that are being used and thrown around, in the attempt of getting the “right marketing message at the right time” in front of the potential customers  when driving engagement or sales.

On the other hand, for the past two years, the SEO industry is experiencing a change in the approach to how we do, measure and show the results or organic traffic and potential revenue that our efforts can bring, in order to deliver on the search engine exposure that business clients are looking for. Now more than ever, the encryption of user data (both when and not logged on) from Google’s search results and its analytics product offering is driving up not set and not provided keywords. Optify (a digital marketing software company) stated that this has risen to an average of between 30-50% of all websites (as of November 2012).

Since then SEO professionals have been trying to figure out how to unlock this missing data using solutions such as setting up custom filters or reports in Google Analytics in an attempt to hack the data, using secondary source data such as paid search/display networks, log or Google Webmaster Tools data to get “an indication” of the search queries to your website e.t.c But how does this provide you with the precise data you are looking to uncover in order to determine the impact or ROI of you digital marketing campaign?

Well it seems that using keyword data and the practice of making your website relevant using analytics to determine the patterns of visitor behaviour is approaching a crossroads – introducing convergence analytics.

 

What is convergence analytics?

Convergence analytics (term coined by Andrew Edwards) is the fairly infant process of combing big data from multiple touch points of sources bridging offline & online, which is then used to correlate user behaviour into one single customer solution.

Whether the data comes from an in-house CRM solution or ratings data from a TV advertisement , the key benefits of convergence analytics as opposed to using predictive analytics and cohort analysis is that this is based on actual customer data rather than a built model to determine customer behaviour or website traffic.

 

Google Universal Analytics – The Right Step towards Convergence Analytics

Basically in November 2012, Google Analytics released their next generation product, Google University Analytics (currently in beta access for a limited number); a user centric approach to which looks at businesses merging their own data sets from other sources into Google Analytics in order to compare the website behaviour of visitors driving conversions  from  multiple touch point sources.

Tracking users will be significantly change as well, because rather than using four first party cookies each time a single user visits a session on the website, each user will instead have one unique visitor ID, irrespective of the whether they access the website on a browser or through there pone – through their “Measurement protocol”.

To provide you an application of Google Universal Analytics, an excerpt from Brian Clifton, author of Advanced Web Metrics with Google Analytics, provides his thoughts on Smart Insights

 “Can you imagine something like this being used at the Olympics? Everyone ticket has a bar code that is scanned at an event – that anonymous info can be sent to GA in real-time to see how people move around from event to event.

Taking that a step further, retailers could use the same bar code as a coupon code in their stores i.e. if you are an Olympics ticket holder, receive a 10% discount in our store today. At the point of purchase that info (and all the transaction info) can be sent in real-time to GA i.e. real-time offline transaction tracking. Exciting times!”

My guess is that the mold of web analytics has already shifting towards digital analytics, since digital marketers will no longer be looking at focusing on the website performance and critical KPI’s alone that come from other mediums i.e. organic search, rather aligning traditional business approaches with custom metrics in determining the success of a brand or a business.

 

Application of Convergence Analytics for SEO professionals?

The key lesson to take out of the rise of convergence analytics for SEO professionals is that we will eventually not be using keyword data from Google Analytics tools inorder to quantify the success of a client’s website performance i.e. conversions and revenue.

Sure, search query data from webmaster tools will always be out there (and improving) so that we can see the types of terms people are using when finding a website, but I think a real hard line is starting to appear in boxing the role of an SEO professional because many are saying they are doing it (or incorporating it into SEO), but that’s probably not the case.

My guess is that Google is trying to say “if you are an SEO or webmaster then stick towards viewing Google Webmaster tools and investigate using log files, fix the technical issues to improve the website experience and view other metrics in order to help your clients website to be found easily when users are entering certain queries, but if you are a digital marketer in any field that involves adding value to a business’s/brand through customer retention, driving revenue and e.t.c, then you should be focusing on interpreting the insights from customer behaviour, therefore optimising and better promoting the  customer journey users go through when experiencing the brand through with website as the medium (but being smart about it by using other channel data).

Multichannel attribution will always show the customer journey through organic search, but again I think SEO professionals will be boxed the focus of improving the efficiency of a website, rather than business objectives.

The latter half was just a few thoughts I had when researching convergence and might not happen, but I would be interested in your thoughts below.

8 years experience in SEO & Content Strategy, with half of that time working in agency startups (or newly created divisions), developing and improving SEO and content marketing service processes. Being an SEO is who I am, digital (content and/or media) publishing is where I want to be.

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