Analytics Study: Organic Conversion, Algorithm Updates

* Sigh * 🙂 As long as I can remember, spring and summer have been the time for (but not limited to) barbecues, swimming and the effects of semi-surprise search algorithm updates on our clients. Recently, we’ve seen Google tinker under the hood, announcing the Mayday and (long advertised) Caffeine algorithm changes. Yahoo has been making various mods as well.

To the benefit of our readers, we’ve put together a client case study that looks at measurement techniques for evaluating site performance through Google and Yahoo’s algo’ changes. Some precursor notes: for this particular study, we pulled conversion data using the surfing single analytics segments technique. The featured site is a small but very profitable trade publication in Google News.  Also, there was a major push to improve organic conversion in preparation for the Caffeine update. That adds for more intrigue to some cool reports further down the page.

Global Traffic April 1 – July
Doing well…wonder where that traffic’s coming from… It’s always important to have a look at overall traffic and where the visitors come from.

All Conversion
Here we have all of the conversion sources.  Remember we’re going to be looking at the effects of organic algorithm changes. Still, it’s cool to take note of how organic fares against PPC. Don’t worry, we know this is basic yet. Trust there are going to be some pretty sexy reports coming up in this post.

Traffic Effect On Yahoo Organic Through Yahoo Algorithm Change
Wow, we actually gained organic keyword traffic through the change. The red dot is where the algo’ shift took place.

Conversion Effect Yahoo Organic, Through Yahoo Algorithm Change.
How fun is this! In reality, we prescribed and the client executed a major organic conversion effort. It worked so well the organic change at Yahoo barely even mattered.

Bing Organic Traffic
The traffic trend is pretty similar that of Yahoo. We’re watching Bing because, well, sooner or later Bing will become Yahoo.

This is the same view by the week as opposed to by the month.

Bing Conversion
This data tells us straight-up that traffic from Bing does not convert. However this may be a red herring. Run the percentages. The percentage of overall organic search traffic for Bing is still low because it’s still Bing, although Bing is growing.

The Effect of MayDay & Caffeine on Organic Google Keyword Traffic
Interestingly enough, the downturn in traffic here was only a slight one for this client. The green line is the previous 30 day period of organic keyword traffic. The blue line is the current 30 day period.

Reduced PPC Expenditure
In the overall profile of this site, we look at the client’s 3o over 30 PPC investment. The client ratcheted down PPC spend because conversions now come from organic.  How cool is THAT!

Progression of PPC Conversion
Also, the reduced PPC expenditure has not hurt because PPC conversion is up. Hey, this stuff looks good.

Progression of Organic Conversion, Even Across Caffeine
Again, the organic conversion initiative success obscures the Mayday and Caffeine updates.

Something interesting to note is that the peaking, highly-seasonal search pattern for this client’s industry is in fall and early winter. This new data speaks to how the algorithm updates enabled site traffic and conversion performance, resulting in a stark difference from the normal ebb of seasonal traffic.

For further info on the three recent algorithm updates, check out some of the resources below:

Yahoo! Update
Yahoo! Search Algorithm Moves Towards Links & Authority Sites
– SEObook, Aaron Wall
March Weather Report: Yahoo! Search Update – Yahoo! Blog, Dan Rampton
April Weather Report: Yahoo! Search Update – Yahoo! Blog, Dan Rampton

Google Confirms “Mayday” Update Impacts Long-tail Traffic
– SearchEngineLand, Vanessa Fox
Whiteboard Friday – Google’s May Day Update & What It Means for You
– SEOmoz, Scott Willoughby

Our New Search Index: Caffeine
– The Official Google Blog, Carrie Grimes
Matt Cutts Explains Caffeine Update
– WebProNews

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