How to Track Yahoo Paid Search in Google Analytics

January 28, 2010 by  
Filed under Search Marketing, Website Analytics

If you want to really take your business to the next level you must have an analytics system in place that provides you with data which can help you make informed decisions. By informed decisions I don’t mean “oh, my visitors use ‘xxx’ browser” or “the screen resolution of most visitors is ‘xxx'”. Sure, these elements might be useful to a very small degree if, and only if, you are looking at ensuring your site is designed to meet the right audience.

But, if you did your homework, your site should already be designed to fit any visitor that arrives, no matter the platform, browser type, screen resolution, or what ever it is you come up with relating to design.

Now there are many flavors of analytics that may work for your needs. In this article I am going to focus on Google Analytics. It’s free, it’s powerful, and it flat out can get the job done.

So, we’re talking Google Analytics setup to provide us with valuable decision making data. To get this type of information, just installing Google Analytics alone is not going to be enough. You need to take advantage of the full tracking capabilities to provide you with data from all your advertising channels. This will help you understand where to invest your time and resources to optimize a given channel—ideally that which provides a positive ROI.

I’ve written about Google Analytics in a number of past articles and discussed the ecommerce tracking, goal / funnel tracking, etc… so I won’t go into that in this article (although in future articles I will revisit these areas as much has changed in GA since the writing of those.)

In this article I am going to talk about tracking paid search traffic channels, specifically from Yahoo (Search Marketing).

As anyone running paid search campaigns might have already gathered, it’s fairly easy to track Adwords traffic in Google Analytics when you link the two and flip the proper auto-tagging switches, but it’s not so easy to track paid search traffic from Yahoo (or MSN for that matter but that topic is for my next article.)

Yes, Yahoo offers its own ppc tracking tools—including its own form of analytics. However, anyone that wants to find out from within Google Analytics how their paid search traffic from Yahoo is performing, has to do a little work.

In fact, currently—for those of you not already separating this out within your analytics—your paid search traffic from Yahoo (and again, MSN) comes over mixed with the organic traffic and is listed as such within Analytics. This isn’t good.

Google Analytics Screenshot of Yahoo / MSN Traffic

Google Analytics Screenshot of Yahoo / MSN Traffic

This is a problem. How can you make informed decisions about which channel of traffic provides the biggest bang for your buck when it’s mixed with organic. You can’t—at least not real easily.

So to track paid search traffic from MSN and Yahoo we need to separate them using the link itself and the variables we can pass to native Google Analytics. In short we need to develop a proper URL structure that we can use from within our MSN and Yahoo paid search ads themselves. These links must contain information which passes data to Google Analytics about the origin of that traffic.

The official term is called URL Tagging. Sounds complicated yes, and it could be, if it weren’t for this handy little tool that Google provides.

It’s called the URL Builder.

The URL Builder gives us the power to fill in a few fields click a button, and return a pre-built URL that we can use within our ppc campaigns. These would represent what are known as the Destination URL’s for a given keyword (you do break your destination URL’s down to the keyword level right? Doing so gives you more control and if you’re not, you should be.)

Let’s dive in and show you how you can gather keyword level data from Yahoo paid search, but one last thing you may be wondering before we do.

If you are wondering whether you need to provide a unique URL for each keyword the answer is no. Yahoo by default passes variable information to you with each visitor. All you need to know is what they pass and what to grab to insert into your analytics. That’s what I’m going to show you here.

Google’s URL Builder

Here’s is a crash course in Google’s URL Builder:

Google URL Builder

Google URL Builder Screenshot

The URL Builder let’s you enter your landing page (website URL) and associated variables including source (search engine), medium (cpc vs. email, organic, etc…), term (your keyword), content (ad version), and name (your campaign). After completing the form, the URL Builder provides you with a full tracking URL that you can copy/paste into your Yahoo or MSN ads. Here’s an example:

  • Landing page:
  • Variables: Source = ‘Yahoo’ (or could be ‘MSN’), medium = ‘CPC’, term = ‘Ecommerce Coaching’, campaign = ‘Coaching Program’ and content = ‘Ecommerce Coaching National Ad’.
  • Custom Tracking URL:

Tracking Yahoo PPC With Google Analytics

First thing we need to do to get Yahoo to send us the data we are after is to turn on auto-tagging from within your Yahoo Search Marketing account or you’ll get nothing but the keyword coming over (and that doesn’t help a whole lot on its own.)

Yahoo Search Marketing Tracking URL Section

Yahoo Search Marketing Tracking URL Section

To do this you’ll need to login to your YSM (Yahoo Search Marketing) account and go to:

Administration > Tracking URLs

Once that is complete Yahoo will begin to pass a lot more data than just the keyword over in the query string and we’ll be able to retrieve that data from within Google Analytics.

The parameters identifiers that Yahoo uses to pass various paid search data in the query string are:

  • {OVKEY} representing the keyword
  • {OVADID} representing the ad itself
  • {OVCAMPGID} representing the campaign itself

Inserting these parameters into the utm_term, utm_content, and utm_campaign sections of your URL, you’ll be able to successfully pull the keyword you bid on, the ad it came from, and the campaign that held the ad into Google Analytics.

So going back to the above example (bullet points) the url for Yahoo would look like this after we inserted the parameters:{OVKEY}&utm_content={OVADID}&utm_campaign={OVCAMPGID}

Yahoo Parameters in Google URL Builder

Yahoo Parameters in Google URL Builder

Notice in place of the term, content, and campaign level data we entered earlier there are now Yahoo specific parameters that fill the string with dynamic data.

That’s all you need to do to begin to track the information on Yahoo paid search in Google Analytics. In the next article I’ll show you how to do the same thing using MSN Adcenter and after that one show you how to drill down on this data from within Google Analytics to find out what it’s all telling you.

Don’t be afraid to use this same strategy to track all kinds of marketing activity. Using this technique you can track email campaigns, banner advertising, or just about anything else you can imagine.

Do You Make These Mistakes With Your Ecommerce Business?

January 14, 2010 by  
Filed under E-Commerce Optimization, Featured

As an ecommerce coach and mentor, I frequently get asked questions from store owners on many different aspects of how to run a successful online business. A large portion of the questions are different, but there are a handful that always make me step back and wonder how so many store owners can make the same mistakes time and time again—not know how to, or be willing to correct them—then ask why they are unable to generate sales.

In reality, this list of mistakes could be very long. There are so many factors that affect the success or failure of an online store. Afterall, running an ecommerce business is not as easy as some make it out to be—but it could be with the right blueprint.

If I developed a complete list of all the mistakes I come across while working with store owners, it would likely span many pages and be difficult to determine where to start prioritizing your attention. So what I have done is taken that overwhelming list and broke it down into what I consider the top fifteen mistakes—in no particular order—that many ecommerce stores make.

Here are what I consider to be the top fifteen mistakes most ecommerce stores make:

  1. Thinking that driving more traffic to your website will increase sales. This is one I see all too frequently and is one that just drives me nuts. It’s this simple, if your website is not setup to convert traffic properly (which means you must understand your target market, ideal customer demographics and profiles to speak to them properly) then it doesn’t matter how much traffic you drive to your site … you’re sales will not increase.

    Furthermore, if you are targeting the wrong traffic type but your site is ready to convert, your sales will not increase. More is not always better—that is, unless the right elements are in place to maximize sales from it.

  2. Weak site design in relation to your target market. Do you design your for your market or do you design your site thinking that alone will sell your product?

  3. Not marketing enough or properly. You can’t generate sales if nobody knows you exist. Marketing is critical but it must be done correctly to gain the maximum benefit.

    I get store owners telling me they have had a site in place for “xxx” amount of time and still no sales … what’s wrong? That’s a loaded question as there is often a list of things they are missing, but I’m amazed to hear some reply “No” to me when I ask them “are you performing any marketing for your site?” Sometimes you gotta spend money to make money.

    If you aren’t willing to spend money to advertise then your chances of success are reduced and you can’t expect to magically generate sales.

  4. Not testing your site to find what really works. Continual testing is a vital component to reaching the upper echelon of conversion rates. Another question I get from store owners is “how do these other stores achieve such high conversion rates?” Once again, the question is loaded.

    There a many multiple factors that contribute to achieving higher conversion rates. One of the common factors across all successful ecommerce stores who see some of the highest conversion rates is that they test all the time. If you ignore your site, you can’t be disappointed when your bottom line reflects it.

  5. Not optimizing your product pages for increased conversion. Your product page has a single overall objective with sub objectives that help support and meet that main objective.

    If potential customers can’t get past your product page they have no chance of ever entering the checkout process (for some reason store owners have a hard time understanding this.) An optimized product page (from a conversion perspective) takes advantage of multiple factors that combined help the visitor do their job to achieve the objective.

  6. Inadequate site usability. Usability in a basic sense reflects the “ease of use” with which a visitor can interact with your website. Proper usability is all encompassing. It’s role it so provide your customer with an easy, smooth, un-interrupted path to their destination—a sale. There are a number of things that can help you determine if usability is a problem and then help you improve upon this.

  7. Lack of comprehensive marketing plan. This is one of the number one reasons most ecommerce businesses are destined for failure before they even start. Without a marketing plan you’re like a ship set sail in open waters without a compass.

    It doesn’t take that long with the right tools to complete a marketing plan. Your marketing plan is your guide for moving business forward. It is essential to your survival and success.

  8. Too many obstacles to shopping. This is very much a usability issue and could have been included in the point six above. Adhering by the KISS principle is crucial to helping customers do their job.

  9. Poor customer service. Do you answer your customers questions before they ask them? Knowing what they expect and at what moment will improve your customer service.

  10. Failure to prepare a proper foundation for success. Proper planning is the first step toward ecommerce success. A weak foundation yields weak results. A strong foundation results in great rewards.

  11. Poor order fulfillment. This is self explanatory for most … for others the answer is not so clear. One of the fastest ways (albeit not the only one) to lose a current customer is with poor order fulfillment.

  12. Not taking advantage of optimizing the Customer Experience your business provides from beginning to end. If you don’t know what that means, or how to do it then you are in real trouble.

  13. Poor checkout procedures. Don’t think that providing a checkout alone will close the sale. Without the right elements in place you’ll find the only thing that increases is your shopping cart abandonment rate.

  14. Failure to focus and specialize. You can’t be everything to everybody. Doing so will get you no where.

  15. Failure to provide proper customer assurances at the right times and in the right locations. A few simple tweaks of your site can mean the difference between increased sales or increased frustration.

Remember, this is just the tip of the iceberg in a long list of mistakes that prevent ecommerce stores from achieving success.

If you want to find out answers to all your questions, correct the mistakes you are making, and learn how to build a successful ecommerce business, I invite you to join me and the other store owners who have taken advantage of my online coaching system, Ecommerce Amplifier.

You’ll get instant access to a number of invaluable tools, resources, and expert advice, that help you maximize your online store—increasing conversion and winning more sales. Plus, I’ll also teach you the same six step blueprinted process I developed and use to help others build sustainable and successful ecommerce businesses—regardless of your level of experience.

Got any mistakes you want to add to the list? Post them in the comments section below, I’d love to hear them.

Free Tools To Enhance Your ECommerce Website and Social Media Campaigns

January 11, 2010 by  
Filed under Design & Usability, Social Media

I hate paying for things that I can find and use for free, particularly when it comes to my online projects. 
In an effort to save myself time and money, I rely on a handful of free online tools to help me improve my websites, online marketing and social media campaigns. These websites include:
E commerce web design
Smashing Magazine ( Smashing Magazine is a hidden gem I advise everyone to bookmark. While the site is aimed mostly at web designers, its  templates and free tools (not to mention the inspiration) are aimed at anyone with a penchant for the web. Of particular interest to e commerce web site designers and owners is the icons section (, which features hundreds of downloadable e commerce buttons, graphics, icons all for the price of mentioning the artist’s name in your credits.
HubSpot Website Grader ( HubSpot, like Smashing Magazine, offers a bevy of free tools you can use to grade your website and campaigns. To grade your website, enter your site’s URL on the first screen of the site. The resulting grade (out of 100 points) and report will indicate where and how you can improve your website. These improvements can include information on meta data, keywords, Google Page Rank, Traffic Rank, inbound links. A similar grader is available for blogs as well.
Google Webmaster Tools ( As a self-professed fan of Google Products, I use Google Webmaster Tools in concert with my Google Analytics to make sure my websites aren’t doing anything hinky. A simple verification is all that’s needed to unlock information on inbound links, top search queries, keywords and crawl errors. Like the two sites listed above, Google Webmaster Tools is also free. 
E commerce social media campaigns
HubSpot’s (  Part of the same family that offers the Website Grader, also includes tools to help you rank and improve your Facebook Fan Page, Twitter rank and posts, Press Releases and calls to action. Similar to Website Grader, all of these tools are absolutely free.
Mashable ( Mashable isn’t a tool so much as a multitude of posts about all things social media. From how-to’s about construction a YouTube channel to the lasts report on Google’s new phone, Mashable is a free website (no subscription necessary) that will have you sounding like an online expert in no time. The site also includes how-to guides for understanding and using both Twitter and Facebook.
E commerce extras
Sometimes you just want to try a new tool for the sake of streamlining your productivity. These two websites offer daily doses of free tools to try: ( On this site you can find apps to organize your email discussions or wishlists, design a custom website, get feedback on an idea or even download a directory of cool Twitter Apps.
Lifehacker ( As the name implies, Lifehacker helps with hacks for your life. From creating your own Gummy candies to finding out the best DVD ripping software, Lifehacker, will have you wondering how you ever survived with out it.