Why Analytics won’t tell you the important search terms

It’s amazing how many people make the same error when looking at their website’s traffic analytics. There’ll be a page there showing you the traffic from the search engines, and you can then break this down into the most popular search terms which people typed in that sent you visitors. After one or more versions of your company name, the popularity list will have “red widgets”, “blue widgets”, etc., and the trap here is believing that these are the most important search terms for your website. It ain’t necessarily so.

The first reason is obvious, when you think about it: these are simply the search terms which your website is doing well for. Just because Google sent 100 visitors who typed in “red widgets”, but only 1 who typed in “blue widgets”, doesn’t mean that “red widgets” is a “better” term which you should be concentrating your efforts on. It could be that for everyone who types in “red widgets”, 10 people type in “blue widgets”, but you just happen to be number 3 in the Google results for “red widgets” and number 93 for “blue widgets”. If you could just get yourself on the first page for “blue widgets”, you might get a lot more visitors than you’re getting for “red widgets”.

The second reason is a little more complex. Perhaps the visitors who typed in “red widgets” aren’t nearly as good prospects as those who typed in “blue widgets”. You can only get an idea of this if you’re measuring the proportion of people whose visit “converts” into a positive action.

So – as with almost every page on your traffic analytics report – do think about what all these statistics actually mean.

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