Wednesday 15 April 2009

Analytics Debunks Charlatan

Yesterday I overheard a friend's phonecall with a salesman for an internet listing service. She runs a modest business with her website as the only advertising and bringing in enough customers to keep her booked weeks in advance.

The listing service was claiming that they could increase traffic to her site because they specialised in listing companies in her specialised field. I suggested that she should think carefully before throwing her money their way, since her website is fairly well optimised for search engines.

As it turned out, the listing service had offered her a one month free trial (which had just expired) and had been allegedly sending traffic her way already. I decided to spend a few minutes helping her evaluate the trial.

The first step was to look at their website. Sadly their homepage failed to load as most of the content was blocked by ABP - not a good start. Next we found her listing on their site, mostly content pasted from her homepage, although her business name was spelt incorrectly (twice). By this stage I was feeling underwhelmed.

So we decided to check out the traffic they've been sending to her site. Google Analytics had been in place for some time so we could easily measure the impact. The first thing we did was check the Traffic Sources report. Indeed there were 27 visits in the last month, although they never peaked higher than 2 per day and the bounce rate seemed pretty high to me.

I suggested we check on where these visitors were coming from and see if we could find out a little more about them so we set up a Custom Segment where Source contains the listing site's domain. We could see that almost all of the traffic came from London, except for 3 visits from Australia, coincidentally where the business was based. Digging further into the New vs. Returning Visitors report showed that all but one of the London visitors was the same person returning every day or so to generate traffic.

In my opinion this kind of listing service is a waste of money if you have followed the most basic SEO principals. Needless to say, my friend will not be engaging their services.

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