How To Get Intel On The Competition

Use PressTrends' WordPress WooCommerce Plugin Helps You To Convert
An Actual Benchmark.

Ever look at a competitor’s site and think to yourself, “How is this guy more popular than me?!”  An ugly and cluttered theme, broken links, obvious keyword fishing, and terrible content (it’s his, isn’t it?) are all beating your clean, attractive, well-maintained, and thoughtful (it’s yours, right?) WordPress website.  What is he, the other guy, doing that you are not?  Unfortunately, you can’t look in the backend of his site or examine his analytics data to get an idea of what he might be doing right.  Or can you?

You can’t, but PressTrends offers the next best thing: PressTrends.me.  This service (with WordPress plugin) analyzes your website and compares it to other similar websites across a variety of different benchmarks.  It then helps you to figure out what you can do (whether on or off-site) to reach your goals, with the recommendations based on the best practices discovered through their analysis of a ton of other websites.

But how do they arrive at those benchmarks? In addition to PressTrends.me, they also offer PressTrends.io which allows theme designers and plugin developers to track what users are doing with their products (learn more about that service here).  PressTrends uses the huge network of sites belonging to both of those services to compile data on what those sites are doing, right or wrong. After the ad, learn more about how it uses benchmarks to make you better than the rest (or at least as good).

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Getting Started

To get started with PressTrends, simply download their WordPress plugin.   After installation, the plugin will ask you to sync up your site with the appropriate Google Analytics account so that it can grab the data it needs.   You do not need to sign up for the service to use it, but some of the features we discuss below will require you to purchase an upgraded version of the plugin (pricing here).  For a more detailed guide on how to install PressTrends.me on your site, check out this handy tutorial they provide.

PressTrends' WordPress WooCommerce Plugin Builds Conversions.
Create Your Own Goals.

After installing PressTrends.me, you now have to tell it what your website’s goal is so that it can customize its recommendations and suggestions.  They offer five different goal settings:

  1. To have a solid community of engaged readers.
  2. To support advertising through impressions and clicks.
  3. To turn visitors into customers through product purchases (requires WooCommerce).
  4. To have an active community of registered users (requires BuddyPress).
  5. To turn visitors into registered attendees of events (requires The Event Calendar).
Having selected your goal, you can save the Settings and PressTrends.me will start using the data and preferences to begin analyzing your site and creating recommendation to help you optimize your site and actions to increase conversions.

Analyze

The analysis of your site’s data produces two sets of metrics: Critical Metrics and Secondary Metrics.  Each metric provides your score, that of your benchmarks, and a smiley or frowny face to indicate how well you stack up against the competition.  These metrics change based on the goals you had chosen; here are some of the Critical Metrics (options #4 & #5 are still under development):

  1. For option #1, it records the Visitors/30 Days, Visitor to Comment Conversion, Avg. Time Between Comments.
  2. For option #2, it records the Visitors/30 Days, Pages/Visit, Average Time Between Publishing.
  3. For option #3, it records the Visitors/30 Days, Visitor/Checkout Conversion, Sales/30 Days.
PressTrends Measures Your WordPress Site's User Engagement.
A Screenshot of PressTrends’ Critical Metrics.

As you can see from these metrics, the plugin decides what information to highlight based on what your goals are: it focuses on comments as an expression of engagement, page visits as a surrogate for ad impressions, and sales conversion as a measure of e-commerce success. Beyond the Critical Metrics you have the Secondary Metrics.  The Secondary Metrics are more broadly WordPress-specific and focus on how your site is functioning as a platform.  Those metrics look at your site’s:

  • Visitors (Visit/30 Days, Bounce Rate, Pages/Visit, Avg. Load Time)
  • Posts (# of Published Posts, Comment Conversion %, Total Categories, Total Pingbacks, Avg. Time Between Publishing)
  • Comments (Comments/30 Days, % of Comments Approved, % of Comments Spam)
A Screenshot of PressTrends' Secondary Metrics.
A Screenshot of PressTrends’ Secondary Metrics.

Additionally, if you have selected one of the more specialized integrations, you will see metrics that are specific to those functions.  For example, there is a Shop metric for the WooCommerce module which produces the following stats:   Cart/Checkout Coversion %, Avg. Sale/30 Days, Avg. Time Between Checkout.

Finally, if you get the upgraded version, you will get information on two other sets of Secondary Metrics: Social Sharing and SEO.  The social sharing counts up the number of times your site and its content have been shared across platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and Linkedin.  The SEO metrics, though, are especially exciting.  Integrated with SEOmoz.org, the SEO metrics allows you to calculate your site’s MozRank and Domain Authority while analyzing your External Links.  For those of you who have wanted to use SEOmoz.org’s service, but have been a bit wary of the price, this is an excellent way to get an idea of what it can do for you.

There is an additional level of analysis that is also available to you on PressTrends.me’s site, Correlations, which allows you to see which metrics influence other metrics.  An example below:

A Screenshot of PressTrends.me's Correlations service.
A Screenshot of PressTrends.me’s Correlations function.

Optimize

In terms of optimization, the plugin limits itself to giving suggestions and recommendations rather than creating any custom fields, templates, etc.  As such, it does not conflict with your other plugins that might be used for Search Engine Optimization or Content Optimization and can be easily integrated as another tool.  As for the suggestions themselves, they differ, of course, from website to website, but here are some of the suggestions that it offered me (these versions are a bit abridged):

  • PressTrends Generates Suggestions That Build Traffic And Drive Conversions.
    Get Suggestions The 21st Century Way.

    Publishing: Publish content at least once per day.

  • Publishing: Publish content around 1pm on Wednesday.
  • Comments: Allow for Comment Notifications.
  • Social: Focus more attention to Google+, as Google+ dominates search results.

The emphasis for the suggestions is on trying to create conversions.  Depending on the purpose of your site, conversion can have a different meaning and result in different metrics and suggestions. For a blog that is interested in building a large user base, comments and other forms of social engagement are treated as conversions.  If your site is intended to maximize advertising revenue, the plugin produces roughly the same metrics but with an emphasis on page views and visits (it does not grab advertising data, so clickthrough rate or impression are not tallied).

If your site is intended to sell products using WooCommerce, they have a different set of suggestions (like they had a different set of metrics) intended to help you drive conversions.  Here are a few examples:

  • Checkout: Offer customers additional payment options.
  • Products: Offer customers additional core or complementary products.
  • Checkout: Minimize the number of clicks to checkout.

Some Reservations

I did have a couple of reservations about the plugin:

  • PressTrends Benchmarks Establish Your SEO & E-commerce Competitiveness
    I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream For Math.

    It needs more math.  Knowing that you are above or below a certain benchmark is certainly useful, but I would also like to know how many standard deviations I am above or below the mean.

  • It needs more site categories.  I have an education site, but there was no category for education, so I had to check the box for technology.  This miscategorization means that I am looking at the wrong benchmarks and receiving the wrong suggestions, greatly reducing the effectiveness of the service.
  • It needs better documentation.  For a lot of the metrics, the explanatory documentation was completely lacking.  With a couple of the metrics, I had to guess what they were referring to or measuring. [Edit: They have done a lot to improve the documentation, see the Comments, since we mentioned this.]
That being said, they are actively working on improving the service and platform.  When I had a small issue with getting the Correlations panel to display my site’s info, they handled it within minutes.  7, to be precise.  That is worth a little bit of applause in its own right, and should give you some confidence that they will deepen the service’s functionalities in the future.

Comments (3)

  1. PressTrends is quickly becoming a valuable source of info for us at both http://storefrontthemes.com and http://skematiktheme.com. While we’re still lagging behind on implementing the suggestions it made, they seemed to be on point…we need more blogging! That’s obvious, since we have only blogged about product releases.

    We’ve also implemented it in a few of our themes at Storefront and the feedback it has given on how customers are using our themes has been pretty darn cool :-). Definitely recommended for any developer.

  2. We’ve worked on providing better documentation today and have added a Library – http://www.presstrends.me/library/ – to help with that. We’ve also added some more details on the metrics and how we calculate them. It’s still a work in progress, but much better than what we had at the time of this post (yesterday). : ) Thanks again for the great review and the awesome feedback!

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