Even A Blind Hog Finds An Acorn Now and Then

In the South we have a saying that “Even a blind hog finds an acorn now and then.” For all you Yankees and people who’ve never watched “The Dukes of Hazzard” or my personal favorite, “Mama’s Family”, this means that we’re all occasionally lucky. However, to consistently do well in SEO, you need more than simple luck. You might need to actually think a bit too, or get a smart friend.

It’s fairly common to do a bit of testing in PPC campaigns to see which keywords have the highest conversion or which ad title attracts the most clicks. It’s also quite easy to see this information in the ad interfaces, which may explain why those of us who are kind of lazy will actually make the effort to test here. Even if we’re not intentionally testing anything out, we can still see all the numbers and formulate a plan of how to make things better. This isn’t so easy with organic marketing.

I’m sure that you run web analytics on your sites. Considering all the good free packages out there, you’d be insane not to utilize all of the data that you can get even if you’re normally a cheap basta…person. So the question remains…what are you doing with all those numbers? Are you making adjustments to your campaign in the same way that you would if these were PPC statistics? If not, here’s why you should wake up and realize what a goldmine of information this data really is for your organic marketing. In particular, you’re being given two fantastic pieces of information that you’d be criminally negligent not to use:

Traffic sources: how are your visitors getting to you? It’s obvious enough when you’re talking about a paid ad in Google (because unless something is really wrong or you’re really not that bright, a user didn’t click on a paid ad in Google by searching in Yahoo), but the overall traffic sources for your site can tell you quite a bit about the areas that need a boost in visibility.

If you’re getting most of your traffic from referring sites, you might want to boost your search engine rankings and get your name out there for more direct traffic. If your site only does well because of inbound links to it, you’re too dependent on other people for your traffic. If almost all of your traffic comes from people directly typing in your URL, then congratulations on whatever you’ve done to get the word out (did Lisa make you wear an SEO Chicks t-shirt?) but you need to beef up your search engine rankings and your links most likely.

You get the point here: you’re never going to wind up with a totally balanced traffic source pie chart (ummmm pie…) but you really should use this information to figure out the areas that need the most work.

Search engines: which ones seem to like your site? It’s strange how you can rank in the top 10 for all your major keywords in Yahoo, for example, and still get all your search engine traffic from Google. Just because you do rank well in one engine does not mean that you’ll see this reflected in how users actually get to your site. And honestly, ranking well isn’t worth much if your target market isn’t using that search engine.

Here’s where you have to actually do a bit of work though…don’t just see which engines send you the most traffic. Go and check on your rankings and see if it matches up. If you find that you’re usually in the 100th spot for a keyword but it’s still getting tons of traffic for you, a lightbulb should go on in your head. If you get lots of traffic from ranking that low down, you should seriously invest some time into boosting your visibility for that keyword. This is like giving the Wolfman a locked room full of cute young coeds. Chances are, he’s gonna take advantage so follow his example. In this case, at least. Don’t go around scaring the bejaysus out of people though or let yourself get TOO hairy.

Traffic sources and search engines are such basic aspects of your overall data, but if you’re not someone who routinely uses web analytics to test out new things, you might want to start out slowly, so as not to cause any blood pressure spikes or Tourettes-style cursing. It’s not a difficult thing to do really, more like something new to annoy you. And here’s the kicker: you have to be prepared to actually USE the information you glean from all your testing. Use it to better your marketing efforts, or just to have a good laugh.

It can also be a bit obsessive for those of us who get ultra-competitive and crazy and refuse to ever play any board game with someone who’s at least 75% as intelligent as we are just in case we might not win. Luckily that is so completely crazy that I don’t know anyone like that. Once you’ve completed round one of “really basic analytics data that might help me” you will feel confident enough to move on to actually getting into serious analytical mode and then the sky’s the limit.

In closing, please note that I did NOT once mention Adam Ant in this post! The shock therapy seems to be working well. I’m switching back to Mark Linkous anyway.

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