The Mobile SEO’s Guide to Mobile Analytics

As marketers look to take advantage of the opportunity inherent in mobile search in 2008, many of them are going to be looking to various technologies to help them get mobile faster
(mobilizers), track mobile users better (mobile analytics), understand mobile search behavior (mobile keyword research tools), gain link popularity to their mobile sites (mobile directories), and
become accessible to mobile search engines and the highest number of mobile users (mobile validators and emulators). To facilitate this process, I will be looking at these technologies and
processes over the next couple of months, and pointing out advantages and disadvantages of each for the mobile optimizer. Today I’ll be looking at mobile analytics, including why they’re necessary
and what options are currently available to the mobile SEO.

Why Mobile Analytics?

Mobile Analytics Solutions

Conclusion

Yes, you can use or most other popular web analytics packages to track your mobile
users. The question is: if youíre serious about bringing in more and better traffic from mobile users, why would you? While it’s possible to see mobile traffic in traditional web analytics,
at this point there are multiple problems with using traditional web analytics to track mobile users, including inaccurate data and the lack of mobile-specific metrics. Traditional web analytics
either use JavaScript, cookies or log files to track users, and all of these methods can cause problems for mobile browsers. Aside from the fact that data that results from these tracking methods
is incomplete or inaccurate, itís not currently possible for mobile search optimizers using traditional analytics to see crucial data such as mobile keywords, mobile search engines or mobile
conversions. For beginners, traditional web analytics are better than nothing, of course. However, if youíve invested the time and resources in creating mobile-specific content, or like many
marketers youíre noticing an increase in mobile browsers or operating systems in your traditional web analytics reports, it may be time to upgrade to one of the following mobile analytics
packages.

In trying to understand how the mobile analytics packages differ, in order to recommend the right one to clients when applicable, I spoke with several vendors about their offerings, focusing on
what each of them had to offer to the mobile search marketer, and the results of my investigation are below. Bottom line: if youíre currently using traditional web analytics to track mobile
users, any of these will help you more accurately track mobile conversions than using web analytics alone, and to understand whether or not youíre really taking advantage of the tremendous
.

fig. 1: Screenshot of Amethon Site Edition dashboard. Captions are Amethon’s.

You may have heard about mobile analytics for the first time two weeks ago, when Bango Analytics . Even before the new Bango Analytics, had been providing some form of mobile analytics to mobile webmasters since 2000. Their mobile analytics come in three versions: Operator Edition,
Hosting Edition and Site Edition; but only the last one–Site Edition– is available directly to mobile marketers. This is the package Iíll be referring to in this review.

One of the most impressive aspects of Amethonís mobile analytics is the sheer number of mobile-specific metrics available in their reports. If youíve been using Google Analytics to
track mobile search activity you may be slightly overwhelmed by the amount of data that is available to you, but all of it can help you better understand your mobile users and what theyíre
looking for. You can see basic traffic data such as pageviews and unique subscribers. You can see entry and exit pages to start to form some sort of path analysis. But specific to mobile search
marketers, whatís particularly exciting is that you can see information on mobile search engines and keywords, giving you the opportunity to benchmark campaigns, track progress and optimize
your mobile search campaigns better than ever before.

Donít own a server? Donít start salivating just yet. Amethon bills their Site Edition as being ideal ď Ē, meaning smaller to mid-size companies without the mobile
budget might find their solution less than ideal. Tracking for Amethon works by switching the traffic from a mobile analytics server to a web server and requires additional hardware installation,
necessitating a certain level of commitment of resources that many small businesses might not be willing to make just yet. Yet, the fitness of the solution really depends on your perspective. Large
brands, for example, might prefer the security that a standalone solution brings. Regardless of your size, if youíre looking for an accurate tracking solution to help you understand mobile
users, Amethon provides accurate data and mobile-specific metrics to trump traditional web analytics and rival their mobile analytics peers.

Pricing for Amethon is determined by page view. Itís currently $1,000 per month for 20 million page views, which makes it competitive with other providers who provide tracking to larger
mobile sites. For mobile sites with less traffic, however, there may be better options. (Editor’s note: per Dean’s comment below, Amethon does offer a $250/month package for sites with less than 1 million page views. This might be a more viable option for small businesses).

fig. 2: Screenshot of the new Bango Analytics dashboard

Bango appeared in the a few weeks ago with their update of their Mobile Analytics product, Bango Vision, renamed Bango Analytics. You may recognize the name from their popular content
delivery service, the Bango Button, or the mobile payment solutions that they’ve been providing since 1999.

If youíre tracking a smaller site with a smaller budget, you can still get detailed stats on your visitors with Bango Analytics, without the larger price tag of Amethon’s solution. Unlike
Amethon, Bango is fully hosted, and requires no additional hardware for setup. In spite of that, the metrics are diverse, and reportedly accurate. Marketers can use Bango to track , including search engine data like sales per engine type and keywords.

Bango
Analytics is automatically set up for marketers using the Bango Button, and data is segmented by three different forms of mobile marketing: Bango Button, SMS and mobile web. The main advantage to
using Bango Analytics to track your mobile search users appears to be integration with Bangoís suite of products, and superior customer service if you should need assistance during setup. If
you already have a Bango account, you should already have access to analytics data, making Bango the simplest option for mobile analytics for this particular user.

One possible problem with Bango
Analytics with regard to SEO is the way that mobile users are tracked. Currently Bango tracks mobile users by temporarily redirecting them to a Bango.net site, where data is collected on the
handset, search terms, etc. before theyíre sent back to the client site. This is done so quickly that it doesnít affect the user experience, but it could affect the overall link
popularity or the crawlability of the site. I simulated a spider crawl on several of Bangoís mobile clients, and it doesnít seem to be an issue with regards to crawlability, but
itís something to look out for if you decide to select Bango Analytics as your mobile analytics provider.

fig. 3: Spider crawl of site with Bango Analytics illustrates redirects for tracking.

In general, Bango seems to be the best option for users of Bangoís suite of products, like the Bango button and mobile billing platform. They have a tiered pricing model with
options for both small and large sites. Pricing starts at nothing for under 100,000 page views and goes up to $500 (US) per month for
up to 5 million page views. I also like the API and data export options, which might be incentive for businesses large and small to upgrade from the free versions of Bango Analytics.

fig. 4: Dashboard of blank GetMobile Analytics

Quattro Wireless made this past year when they introduced their to the webmaster world. As part of their mobile site creator they offer mobile analytics to
give webmasters a better sense of whatís happening on their mobile sites. Like the other mobile analytics packages profiled here, GetMobile Analytics is a more accurate way to track your
mobile web site than traditional web analytics. Rather than using JavaScript or cookies, they look at information in the header to track mobile users. This results in almost real-time mobile web
analytics, with metrics such as page views, visits and average page views for a marketerís mobile sites.

The problem with GetMobile analytics at the moment is not accuracy, but rather the
lack of actionable metrics with regard to the mobile search engines. For SEOs, thereís not much here currently that could aid them in benchmarking, tracking and optimizing a campaign.
Nonetheless, the Quattro representatives assured me that it was in the product roadmap, so itís at least on their radar for future enhancements.And again, using a product such as GetMobile
Analytics is going to give a marketer more accurate data than using traditional web analytics.

On the plus side, setup is easy for those who have a web site created with GetMobileís mobilizer product, or as they call it, ďjuicedĒ. The self-serve analytics is offered free of
charge, and includes advertising information from the GetMobile advertising network. For mobile marketers who aren’t optimizing their sites for traffic from mobile search engines, there may not be
a need for anything else. For those of us who are, it’s preferable to have more detailed metrics about search engines and popular keywords. Thus, for now it’s recommended to use the GetMobile
Analytics, if necessary, in conjunction with another mobile analytics product that measures search engine data until those metrics are added to the GetMobile Analytics reports.

fig. 5: Screenshot of Mobilytics Search Terms Report

From what Iíve seen, Mobile Visionís is in a position to become the Google Analytics of the
mobile web. Mobilytics is similar to Bango and GetMobile Analytics in that itís a hosted solution, and like both Bango and Amethon in that it offers mobile marketers a wealth of data about
how their mobile web sites are used. The difference, and the reason why Mobilytics might catch on faster than the others, I think, is that they offer free mobile web analytics to anyone willing to
put a small text ad on their site, regardless of the number of page views. This is likely to appeal to small business owners with the branding flexibility to do this, and other mobile marketers who
are not convinced enough of the need for mobile-specific analytics to increase their budgets for them just yet.

In terms of their product offering, Mobilytics is competitive with both Amethon and
Bango in the that they offer marketers and the accuracy
of their data relative to traditional web analytics. Like GetMobile Analytics, tracking is done through a widget of code that captures information about the server. Referral types are difficult
with server side code, so Mobilytics employs algorithms to read the headers, which contain unique ids that distinguish visitors accessing the site from the same IP address. Mobilytics CEO Greg
Harris estimates their tracking to have accuracy in the high nineties, and sees results of 20-30% higher visitor counts than Google Analytics. The data that they offer is enough for tracking and
optimization of most mobile search campaigns. With Mobilytics, marketers have the ability to see visitors and conversions by search terms, engines, handsets etc. Itís also possible to see
whether the traffic to your mobile web site is coming from desktop users, crawlers or mobile users, making it possible to install on a desktop site and make a case for greater mobile accessibility
or optimize for mobile traffic.

Mobilytics is currently in beta and pricing for the professional edition over 10,000 page views is not yet public. They also offer a free API and email reporting,
which is helpful for spreading the information within an organization, and making a case for mobile. Apply for the beta by filling out the .

As more and more webmasters attempt to
understand the mobile user, mobile analytics are going to be essential tools for providing actionable data to marketers unfamiliar to the differences between desktop and mobile users, and for
building a case to expand mobile budgets. For webmasters looking for more detailed information about their mobile web sites, any of the mobile analytics packages profiled here provide a better
alternative to traditional web analytics in terms of accuracy of tracking and availability of mobile-specific metrics, though some offer more metrics than others. The problem with all of these
solutions is that they’re not currently integrated with desktop web analytics. APIs can help to complete the story, but the story is currently by nature disjointed. Perhaps eventually these
mobile analytics solutions will be acquired and integrated with traditional web analytics. In the interim, marketers who want to see a more complete picture of what’s happening with their mobile
users have no choice but to select mobile analytics. Hopefully this guide helps them select the mobile analytics package that is right for their business.

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