Simple Web Analytics with Free Tools

16 09 2009

7/8/10 UPDATE.  The Newssift Web site is no more.

I’ve just come across an intelligent search tool from the Financial Times called Newssift.  Don’t be put off by the simple interface.  Try a search and see what’s different about this search tool:

  • Newssift only looks at business news sources.
  • It’s intelligent: It knows the difference between Gerry Ford and Ford Motor Company.
  • It provides a great deal of information beyond just the relevant articles for each search
    • Sentiment of articles: positive/neutral/negative
    • Article sources.  Where they came from: online, newspapers, magazines, blogs, etc.
    • Top Organizations: Which organizations are mentioned most in the articles?
    • Top Places: Which places are mentioned most.
    • Top People: Which people are mentioned most.
    • Top Themes: Which themes are mentioned most.
  • And finally, you can concatenate a search within a search.  That is, you can run a broad search using a search term and then add a second search term to search within the results of the first search.

This is a very useful and free tool, but it also has the ability to do some broad Web analytics for free.  I am not suggesting that you should use this to replace what the Web analytics tools do, but if you need a “quick and dirty” answer to get you headed in the right direction, or to do your initial homework before you chose a Web analytics tool, this is really interesting.

For example:  Suppose you had a Jesuit university that wanted to completely re-think their branding and messaging on their Web site.  Their question is, all religious considerations aside, and purely from a business point of view: What should they emphasize first on their Web site,  the term “Catholic” or the term “Jesuit?”

If you did an intelligent search on Newssift on 9/16/09, you would find the following:

Term: Jesuit

  • Articles: 280
  • Positive: 83 (30%)
  • Neutral: 116 (41%)
  • Negative: 81 (31%)

Term: Catholic

  • Articles: 6,489
  • Positive: 1,548 (24%)
  • Neutral: 2,083 (32%)
  • Negative: 2,858 (44%)

The search of the terms “Jesuit” and “Catholic” returned higher positive sentiments for “Jesuit” in the articles published on 9/16.  The term “Jesuit” also had a lower negative rating.

Term: Jesuit + Term: University

  • Articles: 112
  • Positive: 39 (35%)
  • Neutral:  50 (45%)
  • Negative: 23 (21%)

Term: Catholic + Term: University

  • Articles: 1,369
  • Positive: 429 (31%)
  • Neutral: 502 (37%)
  • Negative: 438 (32%)

Drilling deeper, combining “Jesuit + University” resulted in a higher sentiment rating (35%) than did the terms “Catholic + University” which had a positive sentiment rating of (31%)  These findings would suggest that the university explore emphasizing the term “Jesuit” first.

A couple of things to bear in mind as you interpret these results:

  • This is a “quick and dirty” approach and is no substitute for  a more detailed analysis using more in-depth Web analytic tools such as: Alexa, Scout Labs, Nielsen BuzzMetrics, Omniture, etc.
  • The terms “Catholic” and “Catholic + University” did have far more articles written about them, and regardless of sentiment, have greater overall awareness.
  • Newssift only checks news items from select business sites.  The results reflect only business sentiment.
  • Newssift typically does not return a high number of results from Blogs as a news source.  It would be interesting to know more about which blogs Newssift looks at.
  • Companies such as SEO SpyGlass offer free, limited versions of their products.  In this case, it is restricted to analysis of results with the Yahoo!  Search engine only.  For Google, Bing, etc. you will need to purchase the full product.
  • Google of course, offers Google Analytics for free.  Code must be inserted into your Web site at the html level for this to work.

Newssift is an interesting tool and I would encourage you to check it out and play with it.  I am sure that there are many more creative uses of this service.




2 responses

16 09 2009

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


16 09 2009

Thank you!

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