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Why you shouldn’t always trust your analytics

 

Oxygen MD, Steve Lodge, discusses why you should spend less time looking at your analytics, and more time on growing your business.

 

If, like me, you tend to get addicted to your social and Google Analytics results you may be surprised to hear that all is not what it may seem.

 

The truth is that analytics are great at reporting on what they know – but report nothing on what they don’t know. To put that more simply, when it comes to SEO if someone keys in “manufacturing devon” and you have these terms on your website, your website will get a visitor and your analytics will be triggered. You can probably see how many searched, when they did it, where they were taken to and so on.

 

However, if someone keys in “widget manufacturing company” and you’ve not put these terms on your site, they’ll go off to competitors’ sites and your analytics won’t report on it. This could lose you dozens if not hundreds of hits – and so your reporting becomes far less informative than you’d hoped.

 

Social media reporting has a similar issue. We call it “dark social”. When you put out links on a social platform like Facebook, you’ll normally be able to track how many people clicked the link and went to your content. However, people aren’t machines, and not everyone clicks on links – especially if they want to share them or claim them as their own find. These people will cut and paste your URL or social post link and put it on their profile, their blog, and even other social media sites.

 

It’s great that they do this – but it means you can’t track how effective your original post was, because the analytics are false. Current stats say that as many as 70% of the social shares you’ll get are dark social, so you may never get a true picture of what works and what doesn’t. There are various ways to limit the impact – by using URL shortcodes, for example, but it will never be perfect.

 

If you follow the Pareto principle, you only need 80% of available information to make a good decision. Similarly, you can find 80% of the information in 20% of the available time. So it may be wise to spend less time reviewing analytics, and spend more on growing your business in ways that you know work.

Sophie Edwards: