Meet Web Analytics Pros in #highered: Joshua Dodson, Web SEO Analyst at Eastern Kentucky University

August 31st, 2012 Karine Joly No Comments

If you have any interest in Web Analytics for higher education and haven’t heard about Joshua Dodson yet, you’re probably not a regular reader of this blog ;-)

A Google Analytics Certified Professional, Joshua DodsonJoshua has been teaching our 4-week online course on Web Analytics for higher ed for the past year and, let’s say his 87 and counting students -all professionals working in universities and colleges – just love him.

After a brief stint in the consulting world (Converge & Stamats), Joshua went back to his true love and now works at Eastern Kentucky University. He has also started to blog regularly at higheredanalytics.com

As I explained in my interview with the Digital Analytics Manager of the University of Alberta and the Web Analytics Manager at BCIT, I’m on a mission to make Higher Ed Analytics Heads more visible within our community (If YOU work on Analytics full time in higher ed, post a comment below or shoot me an email! I want to interview you as well).

So, it seemed natural to ask Joshua, one of the few true experts in the field, to answer some questions on his job, his responsibilities, the challenges as well as what you can do in only 5 hours per week working on analytics.

1) What are your main Analytics responsibilities at your institution?

As the Search Engine Optimization Analyst for the online programs at Eastern Kentucky University, my responsibilities range from assessing the effectiveness of the various traffic sources to making website changes that improve the user experience on the website.

As you know, analytics doesn’t stop at just reporting. Once we have the data, it is important to act on the information and make changes as necessary. The changes might be to the copy, to the navigation structure, or to on-page elements that could be clarified. I am happy to say that I have a hand in all of these areas.

http://www.eku.edu/

2) Can you describe a typical week at work?

My position is still relatively new, so I’m sure that what is typical will continue to change over time. Some of the common things that I might do in a week include analyzing search terms and comparing the terms to what the target audience searches for, setting up custom tracking and Goals for new sections of the website, creating and optimizing web pages, and assessing the effectiveness of these efforts.

3) You belong to a very small minority in higher education that gets to work full time on analytics. What is the best part of your work? What about the worst?

For me, the best part is figuring out what works and what needs improvement, and then actually making the necessary changes. I have the benefit of being able to do both, which is really great.
I haven’t found the bad parts yet. One thing that can be challenging, though, is coordinating efforts. Since universities are very complex organizations, there are a lot of moving parts. So ensuring that each person involved has the information that they need can require extra attention.

4) If you had only 5 hours per week to work on analytics, what would you do?

I would start by ensuring that all of the necessary tracking code is in place (comprehensive tracking code across all web properties with Event Tracking, as needed), I would make sure that the most important Goals are in place, and create a few important Advanced Segments (these may be specific to a current campaign or related to a specific search term I am optimizing for). Once these elements are in place, it is very easy to get useful information without a ton of time. It is possible to add extra time to analysis and get deeper, but looking at a few reports of Goal Conversion information by source or top content can quickly provide insights and add items to a to-do list.

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