Google Introduces Universal Analytics

Obsessed with data and search insights? Just your luck! Last week, Google announced its beta release of Universal Analytics to all Analytics users. Better tools and analysis means that you’ll be able to do more for your website and visitors. A business can now follow visitors, from their first visit to their first purchase and beyond. The new features allow businesses to better track and integrate their online marketing campaigns with offline campaigns. And as their blog post showcases, it will help businesses with:

“- Understanding how customers interact with your businesses across many devices and touch-points,

– Insights into the performance of your mobile apps,

– Improvements of lead generation and ROI by incorporating offline and online interactions so you can understand which channels drive the best results,

– Improved latency on your site by reducing client-side demands.”

Here are some more things you can look forward to with Universal Analytics. What are you waiting for? Don’t forget to sign-up and try it out if you haven’t already:

Which Google Analytics Metrics are the Most Important?

Before you start looking into paid tools for analyzing website metrics, it’s best to familiarize yourself with Google Analytics. Once you get started, you’ll find that there is SO much stuff to dig into. The next step is to pick a few metrics as a baseline so you don’t drive yourself insane with data overload.

Keywords and search queries are always an important metric, but as we all know, Google has been limiting that option and showing the dreaded “(not provided)” unless you have a paid search campaign. So, the question is, which Google Analytics metrics should you look at?

Depending on your type of site (blog, e-commerce, affiliate, informative, portal, etc.), these metrics will vary and some might not be so crucial in determining success. Here are a few you might want to keep in mind:

Bounce rate
When you think of measuring the quality of a page, bounce rate is one of the first things that comes to mind. There’s a specific formula for calculating bounce rate: total number of visits viewing only one page/ total entries to page.

The higher the bounce rate of a webpage is, the more it means that the landing page isn’t relevant to visitors which is causing them to leave. Check out this infographic to learn more about average bounce rates for different industries.

Mobile Devices
Wondering if you should have a mobile page the redirects to the desktop version of your site or if all pages should be converted to fit a mobile screen? Viewing this report will help you decide and optimize for your mobile website so that it’s compatible with most popular devices whether it’s the iPhone, iPad or Galaxy SIII.

On the other hand, if you’re not getting that many visitors for mobile, it might be a good time to hold off or draw up a better plan for a mobile site in the future.

Traffic Sources
Where are visitors coming from? What search engines are they using? Is social media really an important part of traffic referrals?

You can find answers to all these questions and more under this option. If you thought Facebook or Pinterest isn’t that important, you might be surprised to discover untapped potential. Although many sites rely heavily on Google for search traffic, other sites might find that direct traffic is a big part of the pie. This means more of a focus on branding and getting visitors to remember your URL and type it in directly. The possibilities are really endless here and I think this is one of the most important metrics that Analytics has to offer.

Landing Pages
Although your home page is important, it’s equally as important to recognize that some/most people won’t come to your site from there.

In organic search, you want to optimize specific terms to that exact page so that visitors land on what they expect to find, not just your home page which is broad and forces them to find what they’re looking for. Looking at top landing pages an analyzing based on the metrics above can help you better optimize your site and keep visitors on site for longer.

Learn more about Google Analytics and let us know what you like to keep track of.

Optimization for a Lower Bounce Rate

bounce rate How high is your website’s bounce rate? Obviously, a lower bounce rate is desirable. But depending on your industry, the “norm” can greatly vary.

If you take a look inside your Google Analytics account, it’s important to remember to look not only at the OVERALL bounce rate, but the bounce rate of individual landing pages. This applies whether you’re reorganizing your website or setting up new pay per click landing pages. Let’s say that your overall average is around 40%, but if you take a look at your home page, you find that the bounce rate is 80%! This means that 80% of customers aren’t finding what they need and leaving very quickly.

As a starting point, here are a few things you can look at:

Page load time: Let’s face it, who likes sitting around waiting for a page to load? If your site is slow, you can make it more effective by optimizing photos, your layout and cutting down on unnecessary content.
Design – Do you have a search engine friendly web design? Sometimes, a more complex design might sound appealing to make your site stand out while squeezing in all the information you want customers to find. But this won’t help your website unless it’s something that your customers are responding to, and not what you’re personally partial to! Take a step back and do some testing between some more simpler designs to find out for sure.
Relevancy – Here’s one more reason not to use broad keyword terms all over your website. Although you may want to rank for a variety of different keywords, your customers will want to find exactly what they’re looking for. If a certain keyword brings them to your site and they find that it’s irrelevant, your site is not useful. The last thing you want to do is to mislead potential customers. The best solution is to optimize per page/section and use specific keywords that describe exactly what they can expect to find on that page.

In the end, remember that a bounce rate is only one of many factors you can use to gauge your progress. But it is an important one as optimizing for a lower bounce rate can also improve your content focus, site design and even SEO.

Online Marketing and The Minor Details

The devil is in the details. We’ve all heard this saying before and it can relate to online marketing in so many ways. What this idiom means is that it’s the small details that can often make a relatively simple task more difficult and time consuming. As you look closer, there are more things that can be worked on and you’ll understand why an internet marketing campaign can always be changed and made better!

Here are a few minor but important aspects of online marketing that can be easily skipped over or even forgotten:

  • You only focus on optimizing for Google – If you completely skip out on Yahoo and Bing, you’re missing out on a smaller but still very important demographic. Ranking well on these sites will help your business if you’re struggling on Google.
  • You ignore free, local resources – I went kayaking at a local rental place after seeing good reviews on Yelp. However, I was surprised to see a comment by a customer stating that the address in the listing was wrong. This means that the business has not claimed the listing or bothered to correct this mistake. When resources like this are free and you’re already receiving numerous positive reviews, it can only reflect negatively on your business if you choose not to be more involved.
  • You focus too much on organic rankings – Search engine rankings can be volatile and unpredictable depending on competitors, search trends and even holidays. I’ve known people who obsess over their rankings on a day-by-day basis – as in yesterday I was number 2 but today I’m number 3, what happened? This is not an effective way to gauge your progress and your efforts can be more helpful to your long term brand presence in organic searches.
  • You always use exact keyword matches – It can be tempting to always use exact keywords when linking in anchor text. But with the Google Panda updates, Google is on the lookout. This mean that you can be penalized for excessive exact match anchor text. The bottom line is that Google wants more natural linking keywords that are actually helping people instead of just appeasing their Google bots.

These are just a few things I could think of at the top of my head at the moment and the list is never ending. Even if you don’t have time to sit down and digest all the details at once, it’s good to go over what you can from time to time so that you have a clearer view of the bigger picture. Don’t like the minor details overwhelm you!

Tracking Site Speed for Landing Page Optimization

load time

Did you know that Google Analytics gives you insight on Site Speed? Pay per click marketing is all about effective landing page optimization and this feature can help tremendously with understanding how to improve your PPC campaigns.

While we’re all so concerned about the type of content and calls to action on landing pages (and rightfully so), it’s also important to consider the role that page load time plays into your PPC campaign’s success. In the end, this will affect the user experience so that they stay or bounce away.

Looking at Site Speed data will help you get a better understanding of how page load times can affect quality score. These reports will have a thorough breakdown of what your slowest loading pages are. You’ll also be able to see the types of browser and internet connection your visitors have. If most of your visitors are using Internet Explorer 3 on 56K dial-up, that could be an issue. The best thing about having this information at your fingertips is that it gives you an opportunity to fix problems and create faster loading landing pages that are helpful to your visitors.

If you’ve used the Site Speed report before, what do you think?

To learn more about adding this tracking feature to your site(s) check out this article from Google.
*Remember, this tracking snippet goes in BEFORE the </head> portion of your code.

6 Tips to Start a Successful Blog

It’s becoming more and more apparent to me that you must learn how to blog to stay ahead in search marketing. Search engines love fresh content and blogs allow you to easily add fresh content. In the last 2 years I’ve noticed entire sites in our industry turn their entire site into a blog. The blog platforms out there are very robust and offer you many benefits.

Here are 6 tips to create a successful blog:

1. Get a unique domain name. If you sign-up for a blogger account or a wordpress account you’ll get a sub domain and it will be tougher for search engines to find your content. Domains are going for as little as $7 a year now so make the plunge and buy your own domain name. Go to mydomain.com if you’d like to register a domain today.

2. Setup hosting. Hosting is also very cheap these days. You can spend as little as $5 per month to host your blog. This along with the domain name adds up to $67 for the entire year. Make sure and pick a hosting company that has 24/7 support and that has been around for some time. There are many hosting companies out there and some will not be around for the long haul. A few of my favorites are Dream Host and Media Temple.

3. Create an outline ahead of time so you have some topics to talk about. Make sure it is relevant to your businesses. If you sell books online than you could do book reviews and link directly to the books on your site.

4. Promote your blog. There are blog directories out there where you can submit your blog so you’ll start to get some readers. Also promote your blog on your main site. We (emarketed) have a banner on every page of our site pointing people to our blog. Also include a link in your email signature to direct people to your blog.

5. Get involved with other blogs. Comment on other peoples blogs and include a link back to your blog. This falls in line with promotion as well but helps you with getting in to the habit of reading others blogs which helps you get familiar with blogging. You’ll start to notice how blogs are written, how people interact with blogs, and hopefully gain some readers for your blogs.

6. Setup Google Analytics to track your blog traffic. Google Analytics is an amazing free program that can be installed on your blog in a few minutes. WordPress has a plugin where you install and just input your Google ID number for Google Analytics. You can see what site someone found you on, how long they stay on your blog, what size monitor they are viewing your blog on and so much more.

Hope this helps. Feel free to leave a comment if you think of some others that I missed. I know there are many but this will get you off to a good start.