Is your employment site lagging? 6-things web analytics can teach us to make our employment sites better.

Originally published in March 2009.  

One thing that’s always bugged me is the so-so usability on the employment section for websites for major companies (I won’t say which ones  ).  I think it’s fair to say that changes/optimization for some career sites have taken a back seat to revenue-generating initiatives such as optimizing e-commerce check-out pages.  And, of course, this is a good thing to focus the time on what is really making you money.  However, your career site is still really important to your long-term strategy for several reasons, including: (1) ensuring a consistent flow of applications/resumes from job seekers, (2) it can be a first-step job seekers see in the employer brand experience.  Below are 6 things (in no particular order) that your company can be doing to better optimize your career site from a job seekers’ perspective .

 

#1.Outsource your talent site to someone else

Partner with a credible and responsive vendor that specializes in talent management solutions such as Taleo.  Companies like Taleo focus specifically on career portals , allowing you to focus your time on what you do best, growing your business.  Also, credible vendors have invested time in usability studies and site analytics to know what works well for visitors and what doesn’t.   Going this route ensures you are not reinventing the wheel, assuming it is a cost-effective measure.   Check out Taleo’s webcast from August 2008 on ensuring your careers-section is web 2.0.

#2. Track your talent site using your own analytics tool

If you have an internal solution or a smaller vendor, make sure your analytics tool is setup to correctly track all pages of the careers site.  At the very least, try to get one of the free-page tagging solutions such as Google, Microsoft, or Yahoo to track respondents.  Be sure your career site has a clear link to your privacy policy that explains how you will be using data collection and web analytics or create a new one if your existing policy doesn’t.

#3. Measure task completion rates for your visitors

Understand the user-tasks involved with your website and setup your analytics tools to measure accordingly.  Some user-tasks or goals for your career site might be:

  • Visitor # 1 coming from a job-search site such as Monster and wants to apply to a specific job on your site.  The visitor has already read your job description and already has good reasons why he or she wants to work for you.
  • Visitor #2 is researching your company for an upcoming job interview.   According to research cited from Taleo, the careers section is often the first point of interaction for job seekers doing company research.
  • Visitor #3 is interested in learning about open positions at your company and applying to them.  He or she may want to spend a lot of time at your site trying to find a good fit.

 

Okay, I admit #1 and #3 here sound very similar but their end goals are probably a lot different.  Visitor #1 already knows what job he wants and just wants to apply and move on (remember, he’s already read your job description on Monster.com) while visitor #3 wants to see what’s there.

So, let’s measure those processes.  For visitor #1, setup a marketing funnel to track the job application process. On some career search sites, you might be supply specific campaign tags from your analytics vendor or even a page tag for the hosted job posting.

 

#4.Analyze click-stream data to discover when visitors are not completing tasks

For all site visitors who look like visitor #1, find out if there are specific pages that visitors are dropping off.  Does your application process require 7 full-pages worth of forms to fill out?  Is there a front-end form validation that requires a phone-number to contain special characters to move forward?   Determine where visitors are falling off and make these tasks as simple as possible to complete.

 

# 5. Determine the value of your employer-brand pages

Wikipedia, citing Minchington, defines employer branding as

“the image of your organization as a ‘great place to work’ in the mind of current employees and key stakeholders in the external market (active and passive candidates, clients, customers and other key stakeholders).”

This sounds really good to me as it’s important to communicate the reasons why other folks are wanting to work for you.   Some employers are using a variety of pages specifically designated to illustrate the employer brand value proposition.  Pages for this can include: benefits pages, employee testimonials, and mentions on popular press on being a good place to work.

But, what are the values of these pages?  You can use web analytics tools to determine some of this.  One thought might be to use survey tools such as to determine the values of these pages.  Do visitors think these help them in completing their goals.  I might be reaching, but I also think the metric average time spent on page for some user tasks can be an indicator of the value of a page.  For visitors with the goal of #2 above, which is researching your company for an interview; one would think viewing these pages would be very important.

#6.Measure the satisfaction with visitors coming to your career site.

Okay, there seems to be a consistent flow of visitors to your site and visitors are completing the steps in the task, but are they satisfied with the overall experience?  Why not just ask them with surveys.  One approach might be to use the 4q/iperceptions method to ensure visitors are satisfied. Other options that come to mind include Opinionlab or a home-grown solution.

 

7-free web analytics tools you can’t live without

Originally published in March 2009.   This was lost to the abyss of the internet only to be found by the wayback machine/internet archive!! 

Below I’ve put together a list of what I think are some of the best free web analytics tools on the market you can use right now. It’s not collectively exhaustive, but I think I’ve named most of the big ones

#1 Google Analytics (were you surprised :) ? )

Personally, I believe Google Analytics is the best, free click-stream tool on the market right now.  Google Analytics gives you near instantaneous access to key stats on your visitors, site performance goals, traffic sources, and content viewed.  You can select custom date ranges and drill-down on numerous metrics.  Google continues to add advanced new features called for by the analytics community such as custom segmentation.  Overall, it integrates well with tracking email campaigns, Adwords, and even reports on Adsense revenue (currently in beta).  Last but not least there is plenty of documentation and help (but not free).

With that said, there are a couple of down-sides to Google Analytics.  First, the tool does not allow changes to filters, page titles, and custom variables to be applied to dates before the changes were made.  So if you want to filter out internal traffic from your QA testing team, it’s pretty challenging to do so after the fact. The second down-side to the tool is that it can’t link up very easily with other software such as CRMs, databases, etc., as well as other programs can.  With the launch of the new API however, there are workarounds to this.  Thirdly, a problem with many page-tagging solutions, you can only do analysis on data collected from the date the tool was installed.  If you want to compare historical data, you’ll have to do it with a free logfile-based tool.

 

#2 Microsoft Adcenter Analytics

Microsoft’s free analytics tool debuted sometime in late 2007 in beta.   Overall, it’s very similar to Google Analytics.  It has many of the same dashboards and metrics.  I’d say it’s right on par with Google Analytics 1.0, but the robust new features of Google Analytics 2.0 (e.g. custom segments, event tracking) make Google the better tool as of now.  On the other hand, Microsoft’s tool offers one feature not found in Google Analytics: the path analysis report.  You can use this report to see the most common paths found among visitors to your site.  Also, Microsoft has an automatic install feature that promises to install the tool on all of your pages.  All you need to do is provide FTP information.  For the novice who just wants visitor data (raw, simple counts), this is the quick and easy tool to use.   Overall, I rate it behind Google Analytics, but this is only the 1st release of AdCenter Analytics, the next release (or set of features) will no doubt be more robust.

#3 Google Website Optimizer

This is a great tool from Google that allows you perform optimization on practically anything on your site.  Website Optimizer allows you to conduct both A/B tests for small or large traffic sites (great for testing alternate versions of homepages, etc.) and multivariate tests for pages receiving 1,000+ unique visitors a week (great for testing multiple versions of the same page).  Website Optimizer installs just like Google Analytics with a simple page tag.  Google has done a great job of providing documentation and help (via consultants as well).

#4 Quantcast Competitor Research

Quantcast is a really cool competitive analytics tool that’s also completely free. What I like about Quantcast is that you can put their page tag on your site and they’ll report overall audience metrics as well as demographis.  This can be really good for publishing sites wanting to refine their audience.  Also, great for doing competitive research on a budget.  Since it’s panel/toolbar based I always like to take it in comparison with the other free competitor site audience tools such as Alexa and Compete to get a wider band of site visitors to your competitors.

 

#5 Analog/Report Magic

Analog is an older log-file analyzer developed by former Click Tracks CTO, Dr. Steven Turner.  Analog will deliver basic statistics such as daily requests, pages requested, external keywords used to find your site, and internal search.  Combined with report magic, you can create graphically appealing reports. Analog/report magic is a very primitive tool as is when compared to Google Analytics since you can’t drill down on metrics or have 50+ reports on the fly. However, if you want a free log-file solution, then Analog is your best bet.

# 6 4q/Iperceptions

4Q iperceptions is a free online survey tool that allows you to measure you visitor satisfaction by asking them 4 really simple questions that are tailored to your site, which are:

  • How satisfied are my visitors?
  • What are my visitors at my website to do?
  • Are they completing what they set out to do?
  • If not, why not?
  • If yes, what did they like best about the online experience?

Overall, the process is very easy to install and the data is very accessible.   Oh, and did I mention it’s also from Avinash Kaushik of analytics fame!

#7WASP–Web Analytics Solutions Profiler

 WASP, is not so much of a number crunching analytics tool as the others but a plugin for a web-browser that sites for page-tags or hosted code for a web analytics tool.  I’ve been a user for it for about two years now or so and think it works great.  It’s creator, Stephane Hamil, is a very brilliant and passionate speaker and industry leader in the web analytics field as well.

  Not on the List but should be: Click Tracks Appetizer (officially dead, but may be work arounds)

Until recently, Click Tracks Appetizer was my favorite free log-file analyzer and I’ve had the misfortune of needing to use a lot of really bad log-file tools.  Unfortunately the program has been discontinued.  Click Tracks was recently purchased by Lyris HQ and has been integrated into their web marketing suite.

Appetizer was the free version of Click Tracks.  What made Appetizer unique was that it was a powerful log-file analyzer in a modern clean interface that gave you access to some key statistics on your site.  There were some customization options as well.  What was really neat about Appetizer was that once a month, Click Tracks would enable some of the high-end pay features as an incentive to upgrade.  If you knew to plan for these days, you could glean some really nice insights about your data and get a sales consultant to help you interpret the results.  As of January 2009, you can still download Appetizer from CNET but you would need a serial key and a way to bypass the update features that disables the program.  I’d love to know if someone could find a way for this and it wouldn’t violate any TOS or EULA.

Resources for preparing for the Google Analytics’ IQ Test

Resources for preparing for the Google Analytics’ IQ Test

This was originally published in March 2009 when the GA certification had first come out.  This article is in need of mending given the massive changes we’ve seen in the 4 years since in the analytics space.  

 

March 11th, 2009

Google recently launched their individual qualifications test that enables individual’s to become Qualified for Google Analytics.  I’m assuming this means you’ll get to have a neat badge to put on your site like the Adwords Qualified procedure. In light of the new test, of which I’m preparing for myself; I’ve put together a list of some of the best resources I’ve seen or know about learning Google Analytics.  I can’t vouch all of the material from these resources are in the IQ test, but they’re great resources nonetheless.

 

  • Conversion University videos– the folks over at Conversion Universitylaunched a series of videos for teaching folks how to use Google Analytics.  I’ve been really really impressed with the videos.  The videos on cookies and regular expressions were very informative.  Since Google recommends viewing these videos for the test, I’d start my prep work here first.
  • Occam’s Razor blog–Avinash often blogs about analysis and some of his recommendations have been new product features into the Google Analytics 2 release.
  • Justin Cutroni’s Analytics Talk-very hands on blog about advanced “in the weeds” techniques with the tool.
  • Robbin Steif’s blog—has some great learning resource available for Google Analytics.
  • The WAA Championship papers from this past summer had some great insights gleaned from Google Analytics that can be incorporated into best practices.
  • Brian Clifton’ book on Advanced Web Metrics with Google Analyticsis an absolute must read.  Great resource for learning things about the tool you didn’t even know existed.
  • Justin Cutroni’s ebook on Google Analytics Hacks from O’Reilly is also a great read.

Below I’ve put together a list of what I think are some of the best free web analytics tools on the market you can use right now. It’s not collectively exhaustive, but I think I’ve named most of the big ones

Book Review: M. Tyler & J. Ledford, Google Analytics, New York: John Wiley & Sons: 2006 ISBN 978-0470053850 $29.99

Published February 2007

This book review will be a little different from future book reviews. It is less academic in nature and more polemic against the authors. The first person, I, is used often in this writing as is uncommon.

When I first heard of the book Google Analytics, I was very enthusiastic. Finally, someone has created a handbook on this remarkable et utilitarian analytics tool that will allow us to go to the next level. Anyone can figure out how to setup GA and view reports. Much of the dashboards and terms are self-explanatory, but finally, here is a book that will allow one to take GA to the enterprise level. Surely, this bookwould provide all sorts of new tricks about the program we had never heard of—perhaps best practices, who knows?

Wrong! This book is a very introductory book for Google Analytics geared for webmasters and small business owners (small eBay store owner) who want a more sophisticated web statistics package and step up from AW Stats. But that is quite understandable since neither Tyler nor Ledford are self-proclaimed web analysts nor have they worked directly in web analytics extensively. Both are technology authors of books and articles as well as software developers and web masters.

Overall, there is very little explanation of web analytics concepts or how it is used in organizations. Success stories or best practices with GA are all but omitted. Instead, the reader is given an ongoing case study of a small content website for figure skating literature and poetry (apparently a passion of one of the authors).

The book is organized in six sections. The first section deals with basic analytics. What is it? Why is it important? Tyler and Ledford, answer this stating it simply provides the reader with “information.”Little more is said about the field. Instead of providing a wholistic overview of the WA field as authors such as Peterson do, Tyler and Ledford discuss page counters and simple open source statistics programs such as AW stats and compare it with GA.

Section two overviews the process of installing Google Analytics (or setting it up). One would this section might start of by discussing how web analytics programs track data, web server logs vs java scripts. Which methods are more reliable and how GA works. Then one might hope for how to go about installing its urchin page tags. Where is the best place? (Header vs. Footer).Wrong again. Instead the chapter overviews how to apply for a GA account and sets expecations that one might have to wait in line to get an account. Next, the authors discuss setting filters for GA accounts and what their purposes serve. I felt this would have been better placed elsewhere. Next, the authors discuss the setting of goals. Again out of place but oh well. The goals section discusses the raison dtre for setting goals, as well as how goals are setup.

Section three is an overview of the various dashboards for GA: executive, marketer, and web master. The authors do a great job of explaining in depth what these dashboards report on and their reporting value.

Section four provides insights into marketing optimization with GA.What is unique-visitor tracking, how to measure campaign results, how to understand SEM.

Section five provides a discussion on content optimization. How to perform A/B split testing with Ad optimization. Again, I find fault with the authors for not going into a thorough-enough explanation of the concept and methodology of A/B testing and how it is related to Google AdWords. In addition.

The final section describes Google Analytics in an E-Commerce environment. How to setup, track, and measure commerce reporting with GA. An ok but not great treatment, could have benefited from examples.

What I felt was missing from this book:

Being an in-depth resource. With Conversion University, the Official GA Blog, Numerous GA case studies, as well as unofficial GA Blogs, I felt that this book should be much more. I wanted to see an in-depth walkthrough of GA installed and setup and the ROI on a large commercial website, instead I got some snippets of about figure skating poetry.

Good: nice overview of GA for a very entry level webmaster or blogger interested in knowing more about the tool as a web statistics tool.

Bad: No significant treatment of WA field, GA, or its uses

Ugly: Letdown really bad by the title. Not worth $29.99 by any means

New Analytics tools for Bloggers

Published February 2007

Google has purchased a tool from a company known as Adaptive Path called Measure Map.

The Google Blog home stated:

” …bringing Measure Map to Google is an exciting validation of the user experience work I’ve been doing with my partners at Adaptive Path for years. By opening up the app to more bloggers through Google, we hope to help even more people become passionate about their blogs.”