Modern Career Paths: Achieving Web Analytics Certification

Posted December 19, 2014 by
Eshna Verma

Eshna Verma

Analytics is the process of looking at a website’s traffic and conversion numbers and trying to improve and optimize the performance of the site, the traffic flow, and sales. For most website owners, it’s a sideshow to the real concern: sales. Most business owners and webmasters want to know how to get more people to the site and how to get those people to pay for something, be it an affiliate program or a homegrown product or service offering.

But, most business owners and webmasters need an analytics specialist. Is that you? That depends. If you love combing through numbers and optimizing things, it might be. Here’s how to get your web analytics certification.

There’s a Certification For This?

You bet there is. Most people don’t realize that web analytics is an actual career – one created by the sheer number of websites out there that need some way to measure metrics. Like marketing agencies of old, new web analysts are being asked to measure the effectiveness of online advertising, but not in the way you might expect.

Analytics tends to focus on onsite metrics like visitor flow, total traffic, unique visitors, conversions and goals on site.

So, for example, a web analyst would be concerned with where people are coming from (e.g. PPC ads, organic search, etc) and how they interact with a website. You may end up being a data junky at your first job (which may be entry-level) or you might be thrust into an IT role, hand-holding new clients and trying to get them comfortable with tracking anything since they don’t even know what that means.

What A Web Analyst Does and Doesn’t Do

A lot of web analysts mistakenly believe that they are destined to sit in the manager’s chair. And, while that might happen eventually, be comfortable with the idea that you may never rise above the role of support.

Some people love being an individual contributor, and you can make a lot of money in this role too. You get to set the agenda, and let managers manage. You get to work largely by yourself, and report to maybe one or two people.

Or, you can try to get yourself into a manager’s role. This can be a lot more demanding, and you may not feel quite as satisfied if you’re taken away from the actual analytics side of things and thrust into managing people who manage the analytics – this tends to be the problem with larger companies. There’s simply no room for a manager to do analytics.

In most cases, as an analyst, you’re not going to be working by yourself unless you work for yourself as a small business or independent contractor (self-employed).

Pick Your Tools Of Choice

There are so many tools on the web for analytics, the choices (and decisions) can be daunting. Choose two tools, and you should be fine. For example, you could use something like Omniture, WebTrends, or ICoreNica. You could also use Yahoo! Analytics or Google’s own free platform – both are great and compete nicely with the higher end paid platforms.

And, honestly, you’re going to be hard-pressed to get more information from Google outside of its own analytics program.

Free resources, like Conversion University, can also help you get more acquainted with these analytics programs and how to make best use of them.

Regardless of the analytics tool you use, you should also use another tool that’s not clickstream-based. Why? This shows your future employer that you’re not a one-trick pony, that you really do understand analytics, and that you’re not just a data miner.

Data miners are cheap and expendable. You don’t want to be that person during a recession. Choosing a program like Compete, Google Insights for Search, Trends for Websites, or DoubleClick Ad Planner will help you diversify you skillset and sweeten the deal for the employer.

Get Education

Getting a formal education won’t hurt, either. While you could go to university, it’s not absolutely necessary. In fact, you’re probably better off staying out of the college scene. Web Analytics changes so fast that by the time you graduated, everything you learned would be obsolete.

Fortunately, online companies offer Web Analytics certification courses that get you up to speed quickly while also giving you a base to work from to perpetually expand your skills as needed.

You can also pick up a book or two, like Cult of Analytics or El Arte de Medir, or Meta Analytics. Finally, start reading good blogs. This is where a lot of the best information resides. The Omniture Blog is one of the best out there.

Don’t forget to get experience either. Start a blog of your own, work on a friend’s blog, or offer your services for free to a local business. Once you’ve mastered your craft, you’re ready to apply for a real job.

Eshna Verma is a writer at Simplilearn. She has done Masters in Journalism and Mass Communication and is a Gold Medalist in the same. A voracious reader, she has penned several articles in leading national newspapers like TOI, HT and The Telegraph. She loves traveling and photography.

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