#FreeAdvice is a monthly feature where we take your questions about search/analytics/etc and answer them here. The number of answers will vary based on length, complexity, our energy levels.
What report do you use most in Google Analytics?
The Channel/Source overview is where I go most to get a top-level view of how things are going for a given time period. Beyond that, each site/client lends itself to different reports or custom dashboards. Google Analytics gives you a ton of ways to look at data in part because different companies will prioritize different information. There’s no cookie-cutter answer!
What information should people look at in Google Analytics that they aren’t looking at now?
Technology reports within the Audience section. Looking at browsers, devices, hostnames, etc. is usually the first place I go to troubleshoot anomalies or tracking issues. Looking in those places regularly can help you spot some numbers that really don’t fit in with the rest before a month or two goes by and suddenly you’ve got a bunch of data that’s inaccurate.
What is the key to a good PPC strategy?
I think one thing you need, that a lot of people miss, is an account structure that accounts for the place in the sales funnel of your typical customer. A lot of times people organize accounts by product/service category and mix research keywords with keywords for people ready to pounce. If you can split your account up by what stage a buyer is in, you can set up your budgeting based on that and better manage overall profitability. (PS – have a really clear understanding of your profit margins! This is amazingly often overlooked).
What metrics are most important when evaluating a PPC campaign?
Cost/Conversion and/or Return on Ad Spend are the pretty obvious ones. But the next crucial layer is mixing those numbers with impression share and top of page rate – as those are what will tell you how you can or can’t grow based optimizing your existing targeting (eg. changing bids, improving quality score, improving CTR, etc.).
How does someone get started in search marketing?
Seems it’s usually by accident. But in the past few years I’ve seen more and more new grads actively seeking out jobs in this field. The tough part is it’s like a lot of jobs where your entry point is probably an internship. The good part is that a lot of companies use internships as a step toward hiring on entry-level employees.
There’s a lot of free or low-cost educational material available from people like Google, Distilled, Moz, etc. If an internship isn’t a practical option, doing the self-study is a great leg-up on the competition for your first job.
What one piece of advice would you give to new search marketers?
Build your own website. Add content. Add Google Analytics. Find out how to get traffic to your site. Having some sort of real-world experience in search marketing is huge, even at a very small scale. And I don’t mean a medium or tumblr site – get a $5/mo hosting plan, install WordPress or Joomla or whatever. There’s a ton of free options and you don’t have to know how to code (although it certainly helps). Far too many people try to get into this business with zero understanding of how websites work and it makes you overly reliant on developers that are busy or maybe not even on staff with a given company. You need some DIY skills in your toolset.