I’ve been a fan of Google for a long time. Here’s why:
1. They are better at search than any other search engine.
2. They have the best PPC advertising platform (Adwords).
3. And they offer all kinds of useful tools for free — Google Analytics, Website Optimizer, Google Docs, Gmail, etc.
But even with all this, I’m not as enamored as I used to be. Two things have happened in the last year that have concerned me:
- On a personal level: Google said I could no longer send PPC traffic to the page that promotes my copywriting services. I assume it was because of the testimonials or the form at the bottom, which they might have classified as “data collection.”
- On a global level: Google has begun to penalize direct marketers and favor big brands.
They’re doing this because big brands will spend millions of dollars with Google for branding campaigns. In most cases, the advertisers won’t collect any prospect or customer data, so they will be forced to keep spending those millions with Google indefinitely.
Direct marketers, on the other hand, try to capture prospect information. They track their numbers. They know which sources of traffic convert and which ones don’t.
This is just good business, but Google doesn’t like it. Because this means the smart direct marketer will, at some point, no longer be dependent on Google.
But Google Wants You to Be Dependent!
One of the biggest advantages that Google has is instant access to all of your data. If you’re using Adwords and Analytics, and you’ve tied the two together, Google can see all the key metrics of your site.
They don’t need to lift your kilt to take a peek — because you’re lifting your kilt for them!
Obviously, the more data Google knows about your site, the more influence they have over you. They can slap you, throttle your organic traffic, whatever they want, whenever they want…
And There’s Almost Nothing You Can Do About It!
Check this out…
One thing I’ve noticed over the years is that Google sends more organic traffic to my site on days I email my list than on days I don’t. This pattern is consistent.
The Search Engine That Knew Too Much
Although I’m using a small sample, I can tell you this pattern holds true nearly 100% of the time.
When Google notices a general rise in traffic on my site, they assume there must be a reason for that. So Google increases organic traffic as well.
The next day, if I don’t email my list, organic search traffic is usually throttled back again.
To me, this is a clear case of Google knowing too much.
Is It Time to Leave Google in the Dark?
One thing I’ve been considering is switching my stats tracking to a different solution. By abandoning Google Analytics, I’ll remove some of Google’s power to see what’s happening on my web site, which may be a good thing.
That’s why I want to tell you about iTrackerPro, a new stats tracking service that does everything that Google Analytics does… and more.
Full Disclosure: I haven’t fully switched all my sites to iTrackerPro yet, but I’m running it on a new site to put it through the paces. I’m also an affiliate.
Here’s What I Like about iTrackerPro:
- It keeps your private data private, out of the hands of Google.
- It provides full stats tracking, including all the reports you’re accustomed to in Google, plus some (like hottest days of the week, hottest times of day, leads by geolocation, sales by geolocation, etc.).
- Statistics are REAL-TIME. No long 2-4 hour delays. (You’ll be able to make changes faster based on what is — or isn’t — working.)
- Conversion tracking and link tracking so you can measure effectiveness of various advertising sources, including PPC.
- An easy A/B split-test module to improve conversion rates of key landing pages.
- Heat maps of where visitors click on your page. (What page elements are getting the most attention? Which ones are hijacking sales?)
From what I can tell, iTrackerPro is about as complete a stats tracking service as any I’ve seen. (And it doesn’t crash my browser like ClickTale does.)
iTrackerPro is a new service. They plan to start accepting new subscriptions starting on Tuesday, March 1. In the mean time, if you’re interested, you can get on the priority notification list here:
-Ryan M. Healy
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