Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Our new project for 2011

The Project
Our new project for 2011 is to take and analyse traffic source data from a number of websites with a combined pool of at least 100k - 1million visitors. This should be relatively easy as we manage sites with that level of traffic monthly.

The hashtag on twitter is #IrishTrafficSurvey.

We're doing this as a part "collaboration" with our sister WebCare (which builds and maintains Websites and Media for e-Commerce Clients). We'd also like to expand this to other online marketing companies to build a base from which we can measure the state and climate of the Irish Internet.

We're currently looking at traffic from websites in our Analytics accounts. This data will be compiled in proportion to each site (to give highs and lows) but will be kept anonymous. The data will be normalised and compiled and then made available to the public, but first we'll be sharing it with a select group of other online marketing observers.

If you'd like to be involved, please use the tag or contact us to add you to the list.

Here is how we will look at the data and how the data will be made available:

Data Criteria:

  • Source
    • We're using Google Analytics only
    • We're using Absolute Visits, not Unique
    • We may include Page Views
  • We're selecting all traffic from Irish Websites targeting the Irish market. Websites and domains targeting other Geo-locations are not included
  • We'd like to sort that information by Irish Traffic within it - but that isn't going to be as easy as it looks as it sounds
  • Data will be taken from Analytics
  • All websites will be selling online and taking payment online. Those that are close-to-online sales may be included but recorded separately for further analysis
  • All sites are Business to consumer
Data Segments
  • Search Engines (By Google and Other)
    • Google Organic
    • Google CPC
    • Other
  • E-Mail Marketing
    • Where Possible
    • Some Newsletter
  • Top Social Networking sites
    • We've identified these as common referrers
      • twitter
      • Facebook
      • Stumbleupon
      • Other Irish Forums
    • We'll also try to track the effort involved
    All of this is our "planned" Data List - we look forward to any comments, ideas and suggestions you may have!

    Wednesday, February 16, 2011

    Google gets fed up of Fianna Fail and Fine Gael; Invents new party

    Google has clearly gotten into the Irish 2011 General Election with a huge amount of enthusiasm. Spurred on by a high search volumes in all of the political parties, Google is seeking to make it a bit easier with the new "Fianna Gael" party - which stands a pretty good chance of winning...

    Google has a habit of grouping keywords together and often assembling new keyphrases based on words from different seaches. Each time you search - Google is "learning" - using pattern recognition. A major part of Google's drive is to essentially help you find things faster. So, it's take to optimising the whole search process - from the start of the search idea right through to delivery:

    Here's how it does it:

    • Rapid search - searching billions of documents in split seconds using caches and compiled indices
    • Search Phrase suggestion (as you type, a predictive text style phrases suggester - see below)
    • Instant Results (where results display as your type, requires you to be signed in or 'recognised'; highly annoying)
    • Benchmarking the sites in the index to make sure the sites it sends you to are fast too (based on an average)

    A famous example recently, was during "DrunkGate" - when you started typing in "Brian Cow" for "Brian Cowan", the predictive text or phrase suggester displays: (suggestions in Bold)

    During the day it emerged, the "Brian Cowen Drunk" suggestion was first, demonstrating Google's focus on "trending" searches. If it was me, I'd be heavily engaged in Reputation and Personal Brand Management but this obviously doesn't matter to everyone. The suggested searches above are horrendous at best. There are now positives, only some neutrals.

    Back to the topic at hand - Google often slices "related" keyphrases (one or more words in a group : Keyphrase but still called a keyword). The biggest search phrases are, according to the Google Keyword tool, "Fine Gael" (14k lcoal searches) and "Fianna Fail" (9,9k local searches). This isn't remotely accurate. It's based on a sliding curve/pattern system and multiplied out. The numbers are just too even - anyone who works with stats would find that more than a bit odd!.

    But the oddest and funniest suggestion is "Fianna Gael":

    And its not just a suggestion. Google's taking it quite seriously - having added the search volume for "Fine Gael" and "Fianna Fail" together - Google estimates a colossal 23k searches per month - making it the biggest political party in Ireland. So, if you're voter and can't make your mind up - try these guys. In fact, Google is so confident about it's new political party, it clearly doesn't think much of Voter Apathy - with "Why Vote" only topping 170 monthly searches....

    Tuesday, February 15, 2011

    The Green Party push their internet strategy into high gear...

    Only it's not good. In fact it's even worse than Fine Gael's desperately bad Valentine card. I'm not going to even link to it. It's just too dire. It was the worst online effort in #GE11 so far. But then the Green's did something worse - even worse than even not doing anything at all.

    I was in the middle of gathering my thoughts about the challenges facing internet businesses in Ireland and the complete lack of them on anybodies radar. The challenges I'm referring to aren't about driving traffic or recessionary but a look at the wider challenges of a developing but diverse Irish Internet scene. Gateway providers, retailers, enablers and consumers are faced with a growing range of problems that are not being addressed or even heard of at a national and political level.

    But, despite these the Green Party has decided to be completely unhelpful. They've suggested that we tax data usage on the internet. Just trying to do that would be an exercise in futility but it would seriously damage our international competitiveness, our fledging internet businesses and our campaigns to make internet access more universally acceptable (and this after we're already behind). I'm shocked and slightly outraged to be honest. Cynically, I've wondered if this was a bit of a political "smoke screen" - designed to create a diversion - but why would you want to divert people by destroying your own name? Something they learnt while in power perhaps,...

    They suggest that this would be a good replacement for the TV Licence. Granted, the TV licence should go. Afterall, it subsidises RTE's overpaid staff - allowing them to charge less for advertising (pushing more effort on the independent channel TV3) while pretending to carry the voice of the national as the "national broadcaster". Got to love the recent Edelman Trust Barometer that highlights that Google is now more trusted than RTE by the public as a news source. And its not even a news source...

    It does highlight the plain ignorance and almost contempt that Irish politicians treat the internet with. Comparing a data download tax with the TV Licence assumes that data is nothing more than idle 21st century consumerism - digital "Fair City" if you will.

    Ireland's future is intertwined with the Internet - it will either take us into the future as product developers and technology owners or it will drag us there, enslaved because we failed to identify, adopt and embrace it.

    Tuesday, February 8, 2011

    Fianna Fail now targeting Fine Gael

    In an update to my last blog post, I have noticed that the term "Fine Gael" is now being targeted by Fianna Fail in their AdWords. They'll find it a lot higher CPC-wise (cost per click) to outrank "Fine Gael" though - as no doubt they'll have a much lower Quality Score (QS) which affects the cost of your ads.

    Equally interesting - and I'm quite impressed by this - Fine Gael are using time-current ads - their ad below suggests that people watch an address from the Fine Gael leader, Enda Kenny, this evening.

    Monday, February 7, 2011

    How they rank - the main Irish Political Parties

    Damien Mulley recently lamented how little politicians were using the Internet to promote themselves and engage with the electorate in the upcoming General Election (#GE11) - and in particular networking sites like Facebook. Not that I expected them to much better on SEO/SEM, I thought I'd take a little peek to see how they were at least managing their brand in the Google SERPs.

    It seems that Fianna Fail have quite a strong Brand SERP result - most of the results are either their own or at least "brand friendly". Nobody is running any AdWords on their name - including themselves.

    Fine Gael have a similarly strong brand performance in the SERP's but they're also targeting their name through AdWords. If nobody else is targeting your brand in AdWords and you own the top Organic spots, then it may seem redundant and a little costly but it will also give you quite a lot of ancillary information: Just how popular is your brand (not if nobody is targeting it) and also how many searches actually take place (assuming AdWords is a lot more accurate than the Webmasters CTR tool - which, given its related to financial charges, AdWords should be more accurate). Because of the close relationship between the site linked in the AdWord, the Quality Score should be high and the CPC quite low, even if being targeted by a competitor.

    The most interesting is however Labour. The difference between Labour and the other main parties is that Labour is a generic English word - so the other sites returned are related to instruments of the state involved in Labour policy and management. Interesting that Fianna Fail is targeting "Labour" but also so is Pampers (???)
    Nobody seems to be currently targeting either Sinn Fein or the Greens....Draw your own conclusions!

    Wednesday, February 2, 2011

    Google accuses Bing of copying it's search results

    Today Google has claimed that Bing is now using Google's Search Results in its own search engine. The claim - and that it is denied by Microsoft - was asserted on the Google Webmaster blog. Bing have posted a reply.

    The evidence produced by Google is for a search for [torsorophy], which is a misspelling of a surgical term ("tarsorrhaphy"). But this resulted in a very narrow result set (just 2 pages or results are returned) which Bing returned (although only 1 of the 2 URL's matched Google's - so hardly concrete evidence).

    Incidently, a single or two word phrase that returns just 2 results is known as a Googlewhack and are very rare.

    My reading of this is that Google is accusing Bing of using it's toolbar to help it crawl the web and develop search suggestions. The argument it is putting forward is that it discovers these pages through it's web crawling and indexing systems "organically" whereas Bing is just copying them from the results gathered by the IE 8 toolbar.

    It's not stating that Bing is just using Google's results or result order in it's searches. Interesting to see how this pans out.