How NOT to read Searchmetrics data

January 3rd, 2013 | Analysis 5 comments

Today I have just discovered an article which is a perfect example of how not to interpret data. It’s really misleading so I decided to write a short answer.
So here is the original article.

“Groupon is Big Loser in UK Penguin 3 Update”

And here are my responses.

[…]LinkResearchTools report shows that Groupon has taken an 82% hit on its rankings in the UK and is one of the biggest victims of Google’s latest search algorithm update, Penguin 3.[…]

I don’t know about you guys but I have never heard of LinkResearchTools before. However I can hypothesise as to what mislead Simon into reaching this conclusion.
Searchmetrics Suite: Loser statistics
Above you can see the top 10 websites that have lost relative visibility since the last update. You can find this table in:

Visibility ChartsOrganicLosers (relative)

or use the link below.
http://suite.searchmetrics.com/en/research/visibility-charts/organic/losers/percent?cc=GB
When using Searchmetrics you should consider what market (country) and what website you checking.
•         UK Market <–> Groupon.co.uk
•         US Market <–> Groupon.com

Here are the charts

Groupon.com in Google.com (56,781 points)
Searchmetrics Suite: Organic Search Groupon.com

Groupon.co.uk in Google.co.uk (46,735 points)
Searchmetrics Suite: Organic Search Groupon.co.uk
So you can clearly see that everything looks fine.  Where is that drop then? The article I quoted above presented Groupon.com SEO Visibility in Google.co.uk (instead of Google.com). This is how it looks.

Groupon.com in Google.co.uk (482 points)
Searchmetrics Suite: Organic Search Groupon.com in Google UK
You can see the spike week before.
Let’s calculate the drop.

  • 8,330 SEO visibility at 27/12/2012
  • 482 SEO visibility at 03/01/2012
  • -94% = (( 482 / 8,330 ) – 1)*100

Should Groupon worry about this? Absolutely not.  Visibility of Groupon.com in google.co.uk is nothing but a noise.
Would you like another example? Check SEO visibility of German website welt.de in google.co.uk

Same story – random spike and generally very low overall visibility.

Welt.de in google.co.uk (267 points)
Searchmetrics Suite: Organic Search Welt.de in Google UK

As well as brand + some random keywords that welt.de ranks in google.co.uk
Searchmetrics Suite: Rankings Welt.de
How does the same welt.de website looks like in Google.de?

Welt.de in google.de (602,747 points).
Searchmetrics Suite: Organic Search Welt.de in google.de

 

Now let’s go back to article I quoted at the start:
[…]Groupon.com saw an 82% ranking drop in the wake of Google rolling out its Penguin 3 update according to LinkResearchTools. It sits in the company of findaproperty.com, which also fell prey to the search giant’s results pages reshuffle with a -90% change. […]

[…]As for findaproperty.com, Google could be punishing the site for cloaking since its merger with Zoopla earlier this year. The commercial sales and lettings listings website now redirects to Zoopla’s domain and may have tumbled by as much as 77% because of it.[…]


So Simon refers to FindAProperty.com and Zoopla.co.uk – lets check how these two websites appear.

Try to open FindAProperty.com – you will be redirected to Zoopla.co.uk.
Digital Property Group and Zoopla merged in mid 2012.
And this is clearly visible when Zoopla decided to redirect FindAProperty.

Searchmetrics Suite: Organic Search FindAProperty.com

–          You can see that FindAProperty lost visibility because of redirection
–          At the Same time Zoopla achieved boost
–          Type “FindAProperty” in google.co.uk  – zoopla is first

So it’s not a “punishment”.

Other examples:
UpMyStreet (blue) and Zoopla.co.uk (green). Drop in visibility of UpMyStreet and boost in Zoopla is because of redirection. (UK Market)
Searchmetrics Suite: Organic Search UpMyStreet.com

Finally NutsOnline.com and Nuts.com domain migration (US Market)

Searchmetrics Suite: Organic Search NutsOnline.com
So once again the article I referred to was really misleading. This is why I decided to prepare this short response highlighting the importance of data handling and detailing various pitfalls that the unwary may stumble across.

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I am +Lukasz Zelezny, a London living SEO Evangelist and conference speaker. I was working for FindAProperty, PrimeLocation, ThomsonReuters, HomeAway and others. Apart from SEO I am a drum and bass producer and traveller who loves north part of the planet Earth. Follow me at @LukaszZelezny and contact via LinkedIn http://www.linkedin.com/in/seomanagerlondon. Find more at Zelezny.uk.
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Comments (5)

Comments (5)

  1. 2013/01/04

    “Facts are stubborn, but [analytics] are more pliable.” – Mark Twain

    It’s amazing what can be uncovered by selectively (or by accident) looking at the wrong time period. Combined with viewing data from the wrong market, it becomes simply embarrassing.

    Fairly easy mistake to make, but should definitely have been caught before publishing.

    Good article illuminating the underlying errors.

  2. 2013/01/07

    Hi,

    First of all article is really nice, but i have some doubts about searchmetrics data. Data is true, i believe on that my concerns are different.

    When i am looking at organic visibility of my customers, sometimes i see big ups or downs. And most of the time it is all about brand terms, if brand advertise in tv organic visibility increase,when tv ad stops it starts decreasing. Increasing visibility is nice but when it starts dropping customers are asking this.

    If i have a chance to look non-brand data it will be better for understanding really organic ups and downs.

    Is it possible?

  3. 2013/03/14

    Data is the most important to analyse. There are always ups and downs in the total organic search. For example in my business on Mondays I see more orgnaic visitors then on saturdays and sundays.

  4. 2013/04/04

    This is absolutely integral to how you should interpret data. Thanks for the clarification!

  5. 2014/11/12

    This is exactly the reason why you should hire a proffessional company to manage your SEO campaign. It’s so easy to misunderstand something and to screw upp all your efforts.

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