When Your Analytics Deceive You

I write reviews for Amazon. Me and thousands of other people. I get a certain amount of correspondence relative to my reviews there — people asking if they can send me a book to review, or asking a question, or asking if they can put one of my reviews on their packaging, stuff like that. Amazon invited me into their Vine program, too, and sends me free stuff to review, which is fun. I have a little bit of traffic from my Amazon profile to my website, even.

A few weeks ago, I noticed that Amazon traffic was increasing by quite a bit. I had some Amazon-related communications, and I figured that explained it, but it continued. Today, checking analytics for some reason, I saw that traffic referred from my Amazon profile had risen by 2,350% in the past month.

I decided to figure out what was up.

A bit of detective work at Analytics showed that something had happened on July 17th that had caused this skyrocketing traffic from this one source.

Had I written a review of some controversial product? Had some review of mine garnered comments that made it  newly fascinating? Had I perhaps been reviewing books and software more relevant to my website, so that people looking at those titles thought, “An SEO copywriter! Just what I need!” and clicked right through?

Nope. Any of those things would have been good for business. But what I found on July 17th at my Amazon profile was something quite different: a video of Josepha. Josepha, our social media maven, is in the photo above.

We’d like to think that people seeing Josepha’s video review of a webcam realized that she would be an excellent choice for SEO and analytics and rushed right over to the website to arrange for some SEO. However, we haven’t seen an equal rise in the call for her services. Nor have we gained clients from the many places represented in these visits: Athens, Cottbus, Givatayim — still not on our list of places where our clients live. We think maybe they’re clicking over to our website out of idle curiosity.She’s kind of cute, and the video was kind of fun, and for all the visitors knew, there might have been more of the same over at the website.

Now, here’s why this matters. When we saw this phenomenon in a quick glance — like what you’d see if you get reports showing your dashboard — we thought maybe we should put more time and effort in at Amazon. When we looked further, we could see that this wasn’t the case. What if we had made the decision before we looked into it further? We would have been putting resources into the wrong things.

This is why it’s important to delve further into any surprising data you happen to meet at Google Analytics.





2 responses to “When Your Analytics Deceive You”

  1. jotham Avatar

    If she is only "kind of cute", then serious kudos to the art director, floral arranger, wardrobe and prop departments.

    Read your "year in seo" article from 2008 today on SEOMoz. Glad to see you've turned it into a full-time business. I've been at it just as long now, and flip-flop daily between thinking I'm an expert and still feeling clueless.

  2. Rebecca Haden Avatar
    Rebecca Haden

    Well, yeah, okay, she's gorgeous.
    Thanks for your kind words. I'd say that in our field, things change fast enough that we're always poised between expert and clueless. We just have to work at keeping up.

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