Social Media and Authorship Integration for SEO

As promised, here is our article on the most advanced search engine optimization techniques that will take your well-ranked webpages to the next level. There are three ways to integrate your SEO efforts with you social media involvement, as well as building up your brand, your blog’s authors, and your presence on Google+, Facebook, and Twitter.

Search Engine OptimizationSound impossible? With the use of some of the new markups that these social networks recognize and respond to, it’s not! Let’s get started.

In the last article on SEO, I went over some very basic info on schemas, which include marking up sections of your content with special code to indicate to search engines what they are. If you don’t know anything about them, read that article first. Google Webmaster Tools has a fantastic Structured Data Testing Tool for making sure these rich snippets are formatted properly and are being read correctly.

Google Plus, Google’s mildly-popular social network, has a feature where you can create authorship links between your Google+ profile and your blog’s content. First, you’ll need an email on the same domain as your website that you have associated with a profile on Google+. You’ll also need a Google+ profile itself, which is free to set up, and an image of yourself. This is how your blog entries or other webpages can show up with your author photo in Google search results.

The next step is to set up the Google code on your website needed to create the authorship attribution. This can be done in two different manners. The first is with code in an anchor tag link. This might be if your blog has a biography box in the sidebar or below each post. We use this type of code on our website, and you can see it in action in my bio box for the Google+ link, which links to our TrafficMotion Google+ page. An example is here:

[crayon][/crayon]

A second way to do this is with a link in the head section of your webpages. This tag is slightly different, but you’ll still need your Google+ profile link. An example, using our site’s info, is here:

[crayon][/crayon]

I have my link going to our TrafficMotion page, but I could easily have it point to my personal page instead. As that page has almost no info on it and is even lacking an image (not a huge G+ fan here), I link to the official company page. The last step is to set up your Google+ profile as a contributor to your website, and you can find that in the About section of your profile.

About Tab on Google+Contributor To Section on Google+

Now, let’s talk about social sharing. We’ll start with Google+ and Facebook, since both of them use the same format. With social snippets, you can customize the default image, title, and description that these social media sites use when people click sharing buttons on your pages. Twitter uses its own special code for this, which we’ll look at in just a moment. Here are the most common tags you can use for Google+ and Facebook sharing. And these tags go in the head of your pages.

[crayon]

(you can also use video, book, music, and so on)
(use the canonical URL here, in most cases)
[/crayon]

Easy enough, right? Now, when people click the sharing button on your website, you’ve outlined to Google and Facebook exactly how you’d like the information to appear when it’s shared. Users can modify this information, but at least you are indicating your preferred format.

Now, let’s move on to Twitter. In a decent number of Tweets, there is a “View Summary” button, which gives more information about the link shared.

View Summary Tweet
See the View Summary link? How do you get one of those?
Expanded View Summary on Twitter
And here’s how the preview looks when expanded.

Where does this information come from? It comes from Twitters own special tags, which you can include on your website, both for preferred default sharing information and authorship attribution! This code also goes in the head of each page you want to mark up for better Twitter sharing.

[crayon]
(again, use the canonical URL)


(the default image you want associated with your article preview on Twitter)
(insert your personal username for the authorship attribution)
(insert your company username for the site attribution)
[/crayon]

Again, pretty easy, right? If your site has a limited number of pages and no blog, setting this up might take a few hours of work but it’s done for the entire site, with proper social media and authorship integration. If you run a site on WordPress or another CMS, there are plugins that will do much of this automatically for you after setting them up.

Now get out there and implement social media with your HTML markup and your search engine optimization strategies!

1and1 Debt Collection Agency Threat Letter

I’m posting this under the Webmaster Tools category, even though it’s more of a generalized rant against a lack of customer service and respectful negotiation.

We’ve been customers of 1and1 since 2005 or 2006 when we switched to their domain and hosting services. I’d be hard pressed to remember any missed or late payments in those 7-8 years, and we’ve remained loyal 1and1 customers throughout, despite the often difficult and counter-intuitive user interface.

But when our business needed to switch debit cards a few weeks ago, we were without a payment option for the space of about a week. A few things tried to bill us but were declined. Usually, we got an email about the declined payment, let the company know of the situation, and made the payment as soon as the new card was ready.

Not 1and1, though. They sent a letter threatening to freeze the account and even send us to collections! For $44.97!

1and1
I think two rational organizations can negotiate a late payment of $44.97 without getting collections and courts involved, right?

There’s almost nothing in this letter that I disagree with, in terms of the fact. Yes, we were late making a payment. Yes, 1and1 can cancel the contract. Yes, they can freeze the account and take all of our sites offline for days. Yes, they can sell our account to a collections agency and tack on another $18.95 if they want.

What I have a problem with here is the lack of respect that 1and1 shows for customers that have loyally supported them for nearly eight years. And it’s not as though we had ever had a history of late payments with them, or a history of attempting to steal their services without paying for them.

I might not even have a problem with a letter threatening a freeze on our account if it was unpaid. But a threat to send us to collections after single missed payment is simply overkill.

In fact, it’s enough to persuade us to leave 1and1 for good. Most of our clients’ websites are on HostGator anyway, which gives us and them an easier way to access… well, just about everything that we ever need to access to service their websites. And HostGator didn’t immediately send us what amounts to legal threats when our old card was declined for a few days.

What happens when 1and1 sends accounts to collections? Obviously, a $44.97 problem immediately turns into a larger one, with the $18.95 charge, plus whatever charges the collection agency is legally allowed to tack on. Also, the collection agency would be able to sue us and get a judgment. Both the collection and the judgment would appear on my credit report for 7-10 years, whether I paid or not.

And of course, if the collection agency was really nasty, and I didn’t bother showing up to a court hearing to tell them all of my income and assets so they could deduct their judgment from my bank account or something, they could ask the court for a “bench warrant,” which amounts to a day in jail for 1and1 debtors’ prison.

After working with enough low income homeowners and consumers on various foreclosure, real estate, and financial websites, I know that a threat to send to someone to a debt collection agency is really a threat of jail time, or legalized killing by a police officer for resisting 1and1’s debtors’ prison.

After being with 1and1 for close to a decade now, I’m really disappointed by their lack of communication, negotiation, and customer service skills. Rather than waiting for more than one payment to be declined or putting a temporary freeze on the account and then sending legal threats, 1and1 jumped straight to debt collection agency threats.

Ironically enough, I think I received this letter after we had made the payment on the account. So it was resolved even though our websites were frozen for a period of a weekend.

But no thank you, 1and1. I don’t know if your letter contained hollow threats or not, but we’re not intimidated by your threats of collections, with all that implies: lawsuits, judgments, hearings, bench warrants, jail, tasers, and guns.

I’m sure you can find others to pay for your services in the future, but we have too much respect for ourselves to continue being your client.

There are plenty of other web hosting companies out there who would be happy to receive our business, and who understand that sometimes payments are declined for any number of reasons (lost, stolen, expired cards), and will give customers the benefit of the doubt for at least a few weeks without resorting to threats.

[Note: Google is full of horror stories of 1and1 actually following through on its collection agency threats. I guess they weren’t hollow threats at all. Here’s one story, and another, and another, and another, and another.]

Advanced On-Page SEO Tactics for Web Designers

When considering different on-page SEO techniques, it’s always a little difficult to separate the basic from the advanced tactics. In a previous article a couple days ago, I wrote about some tips for optimizing individual pages, and before that I wrote about planning SEO from the very beginning of a website’s design process. In this article, we’ll look at some more advanced techniques that may or may not apply to any given site.

Search Engine OptimizationFirst, though, I wanted to mention a couple tactics that are not really on on-page one so much as it is an on-site optimization technique. Every site should have an XML sitemap, and that sitemap should be submitted to Google and Bing’s webmaster sections. A sitemap provides the search engines with the overall structure of the pages and directories, and makes it easier for search engines to crawl sites. Sitemaps can be created by hand, with a sitemap generator available online, or with a plugin if you use WordPress or another CMS system. Remember to set the relative priorities of different pages and sections of your website!

The other on-site SEO technique is using a robots.txt file to keep some pages from being indexed. These might be duplicate pages for printed versions of articles, or PPC-only landing pages. With a robots.txt file, you can tell search engine robots which pages you do not want showing up in their search results, and you can disallow directories, individual pages, or even individual files like image or PDF downloads. Robots can also be instructed not to index a page on a page-level basis, but it is easier to keep a file of all the pages you do not want indexed in your website’s root directory for easier access and tracking.

Finally, let’s get started with the advanced on-page SEO tactics!

The first one is having updated content on your website, something that Google and other search engines love! You should have a blog for your business and keep to a content creation schedule. This is also important for social media marketing. For SEO, you can have links to the most recent posts on your homepage or throughout your site, do contextual linking on old page to new relevant articles, and have links to related articles on existing pages. Remember to use the relevant anchor text and title tags in your links.

Second, if you have duplicate content on your website, you can indicate to Google which page you want them to index. This is known as setting canonical URLs, and you do this with a link tag in the head of the document. It may look like this:

<link href="http://trafficmotion.com/social-media/" rel="canonical">

Third, let’s talk about paginated articles. Some longer articles on websites may stretch to four to ten pages. What if Google ranks Page 5 of that article in the search engines? That would be no good at all, as you’d want them to rank Page 1 for all of that content, rather than each page individually. This is even more important since the title remains the same for the entire span of pages. With more link tags in the head of a document, you can indicate next and previous pages, like so:

<link href="http://examplesite.com/article?page=1" rel="prev">
<link href="http://examplesite.com/article?page=3" rel="next">

Next, there are becoming available a large number of ways to mark up your content to give it more meaning. This is done through the use of schemas. Using scheme markups, you can set properties for ratings, book titles, offers, addresses, and more. The process can be a bit complicated, but Google Webmaster Tools has a Structured Data Testing Tool to determine how your markup would show up in Google’s search results and to discover if you have made any mistakes with it.

Local product or service oriented websites should strongly consider using schema markups for their addresses. Typically, local sites will have their address on every page of their site, usually in the footer of each page. Two best practices including, first, setting up the geographical settings in Google Webmaster Tools; and, second, using schema markup to indicate the local address. This can help Google determine whether to show a site in the local listings or where to include it on Google Map results.

Hopefully that gets you thinking about different ways to mark up your static HTML content for search engine optimization purposes. In the next article on this topic, I’ll explore some different ways to tie all of the SEO, schema, and even social media topics together for a comprehensive page optimization strategy that even your visitors will help you promote when they share your articles on social websites.

In the meantime, drop us a comment if you have any other advanced on-page SEO tips!

Google Analytics Individual Qualification

Las Vegas, NV – With a Passing Score of 88%, Nicholas Heeringa Has Joined a Select Group of Google Analytics Qualified Individuals

Google Analytics Individual QualificationInternet Marketing Director for the web design and online advertising company Traffic Motion, Nicholas Heeringa recent became Google Analytics Certified.

Nick passed the Google Analytics Individual Qualification Exam on July 23, 2013, with a score of 88% and joined the exclusive list of certified analytics professionals in the United States.

The certification, which is valid for 18 months, allows individuals the opportunity to learn more about how Google Analytics works and how its data and reports can be applied to help companies and their websites turn traffic into conversions. The qualification, awarded by Google Analytics upon completion of a 70-question exam, signifies that Nick possesses the theoretical and practical knowledge of the most popular web analytics platform on the internet. The exam covers such issues as account setup, ecommerce tracking, event tracking, goal conversions, Intelligence Events, and real-time tracking, among others.

To become certified, an applicant must pass a comprehensive exam and demonstrate a solid background of web analytics and Google Analytics knowledge. “As web analytics moves from the IT department to the marketing department in many organizations, knowing how to use Google Analytics to optimize user experiences on the web will become more and more important,” states Nick. “Passing this exam is one more way to demonstrate our company’s dedication to continual improvement and professional development.”

Traffic Motion recently released a fully updated list of services that it provides in the areas of website design and internet marketing, including Google Analytics setup and implementation. Nick also prepared a Google Analytics IQ Study Guide for other professionals who want to become Google certified.

About Nicholas Heeringa
Nick is the Internet Marketing Director for Traffic Motion, which helps both local and national companies with website design and online advertising services. Businesses wanting to realize the true value of their websites can contact Traffic Motion and get a free trial of the company’s services by calling (888) 557-0095.

On-Page SEO Tips for Web Designers and Business Owners

When starting to design a website and optimize the pages for organic search results, there are a number of basic concepts to keep in mind. Unfortunately, many business owners do not know how search engine optimization works, and will not create content with SEO principles in mind. It is up to the web designer and site owner to plan together how the site’s information architecture will work, and plan the SEO in advance.

Search Engine OptimizationThe on-page SEO of a website is some of the easiest and most basic concepts to grasp, so there is really no good reason not to implement best practices when creating a new site or redesigning an old one. Let’s take a look at a few of these best practices that all sites should follow.

The overall strategy is this: based on your list of keywords (you did do keyword research, right???), align each individual keyword with one page, and design the URL, page title, and meta description with the keyword in mind. Then, develop a content creation and publication strategy for getting pages (or articles or blog posts) with these keywords onto the site. Then, after a few months, review the current rankings for the pages based on the keywords they were designed to rank for.

In terms of page titles, do not just use the company name on every page, or generic page titles like “About Us.” Use the 64 characters that you can make of a title and include the targeted keyword first. Then, either add the company name for branding purposes, or include a few related, supplementary keywords.

The meta description has been somewhat forgotten about over the last half-decade or so. Once upon a time, sites would stuff keywords in the description and keywords meta tags in order to manipulate search results. Thus, a meta description will not necessarily help your rankings, but it will give the search engines a snippet of text to use on the results pages. Use the targeted keyword in the description, and both your title and description will appear bold in search engine results. Descriptions can be around 150-160 characters, so plan them accordingly.

With on-page content, try to include the targeted keyphrase in an H1 header tag. If your site uses the business name as the only H1 on the page, then use the keyword in H2 tag. Either way, mark it out as an important part of the page content. Also use the keyword somewhere in the content of the page. Don’t manipulate or keyword-stuff, but your targeted phrase should be somewhere on the page! If you can include it in a <strong> or <em> tag, even better. And for longer articles, feel free to use the phrase multiple times.

Images and videos can also be optimized to help your page rank well. If you are using images in your articles, then name the main image with your keyword. Also use the “alt” tag to describe the picture, using your targeted keyword. It is also important to use image alt tags to be in compliance with regulations regarding equal access to websites.

The same goes for HTML5 videos that you may embed on your site. Alternatively, you can optimize the title and description if you embed your own YouTube videos on your website. One more tip is to surround the video you embed with text that describes the video and includes your keyword. You may even be able to set it off with another heading tag.

Finally, your URL structure should reflect your SEO efforts. Use your targeted keyword in the URL for that page, and hyphenate two- or three-word keyphrases. Also consider your site’s folder structure, as you may want to group related content together. This can make restructuring the site more difficult, though, so plan in advance.

[Those are my basic tips for optimizing a website for search engine friendliness. Now it’s your turn. What other SEO principles should web designers and business owners take into account for a brand new or newly-redesigned website?]

For New Marketing Clients, Be a Visitor and a Designer

When taking on a new client for internet marketing efforts, what is the first step that you should take? Should you take a look at the anlytics? The AdWords account performance data? Check out the CMS system they use and find areas where you can improve and streamline the site to make the calls to action more clear and recognizable? Although all of these are important steps, they shouldn’t be your first step in analyzing a site’s marketing needs.

website design blog iconThe first step should be visiting the website. Yes, it’s just that simple. Take the time to visit the client’s website, focusing on discovering the purpose of that site.

The main question you are trying to answer on your own, without the company’s involvement, is, “What is the business trying to do with its web presence?” It may be an ecommerce site, a lead generation site, or a content publisher, but what is the primary purpose?

Next, try to discover the main goals of the website. Once you know the primary purpose, you can start looking at ways the business attempts to reach those goals. Do they include calls to action to fill out a form, or follow them on Facebook? Are they promoting a newsletter subscription with a free downloadable white paper? What are the goals?

You can discover a lot of this information just by reading the website, including both the main site’s pages and the company blog, if one exists. Also, while you’re reading the material on the site, use some of the features available. That might include a Site Search, interactive Flash applications, or drag-and-drop games. See how the site functions for visitors, what works and what doesn’t.

This should give you a good idea of the website’s merchandising, service-providing, and ease of use strategies. After just this small amount of time browsing the website, from 10-30 minutes, you should be able to point out the primary purpose of the business, as well as the main goals of the website itself.

With this information, you can identify macro- and micro-conversions that can be measured to determine the success or failure of the website as a whole and individual pages in particular. You should also be able to tell what the company is prioritizing on the website. Is the form on every page, or is there a call to action on every page? Is social media involvement a higher priority on the website, when the company wants to highlight other promotions?

Additionally, visiting the website should help you identify clear problems on the site right away, as well as features that are unique and beneficial for visitors. Write down a list of what’s good and what’s bad on the site before you even take a look at the analytics and conversion data for these features and sections.

Finally, browsing the website will provide you with the fastest manner of determining the site’s use of Titles, URLs, and content, as well as the overall information architecture and the general user experience as visitors enter, browse around, and either convert or leave.

This is the initial step towards analyzing a website and then creating strategies to improve conversions and market to new segments of visitors. All too often, though, marketers spend very little time looking at a new client’s website, and just jump into looking at the data. Spend the time looking at the site as both a potential customer and as a marketer, and you will gain valuable, actionable insights before you even take a look at their current acquisition strategies.

Study Resources for the Google Analytics IQ Exam

When preparing for the Google Analytics Individual Qualification exam, I had already used Google Analytics for several years. However, even with that base, there’s so much that’s always changing in GA, and sometimes multiple ways to do the same thing. What I wanted before taking the test was a formal introduction to the platform, as well as some study guides.

web analytics blog iconThe first place I started was with the Google Analytics IQ Lessons. These consist of fifteen short videos from Google explaining the very basics of the the Analytics program. It’s a great introduction, but, simply put, it’s not enough to pass the test. With a lot of experience in GA, you might be able to pass after watching the 2 ½ hours or so of videos in the IQ Lessons, but it won’t be nearly enough if you’re pretty new to GA.

However, watch the videos at least a few days before you take the test. And try to download or copy-paste the notes from the slides and study them. They’ll help you answer some of the easy questions on the exam, and might give you 40-50% of the material that you’d need to pass the entire test. A good introduction, but not enough.

The second comprehensive resource I used was Brian Clifton’s book, Advanced Web Metrics with Google Analytics. If you’re going to get one resource to learn GA and study for the test, make sure it’s this one. This book has the most updated information and might give you 85-90% of the material needed to pass the test on your first try.

It’s almost hard to say enough about Advanced Web Metrics with Google Analytics as an introduction to GA. It goes in depth on nearly every aspect of the platform, including ecommerce, profiles, setting up accounts, filters, segmenting data, and which reports show what. Even more important, Clifton worked at Google on the Conversion University and IQ projects, so he knows what he’s talking about.

One of the more important study guides I used was the Google Analytics Reference Guide, from BlastAM.com. It consists of a two page Reference Guide, and a one page Regex Reference Guide. While I didn’t get many questions about regular expressions on the exam, the Reference Guide is a quick read for a few days or few hours before taking the exam.

In two pages, it doesn’t go into huge depth as to any particular topic, but it provides a good overview of each major section and use of Google Analytics. These include ecommerce tracking, cross domain tracking, AdWords integration, cookies, referrers, Intelligence Events, and more. It even has a small section on Real-Time Reporting.

And the main topic that the exam tested me on that I wasn’t familiar with was Real-Time Reporting. Google seems to be focusing more on this aspect of the Analytics platform, which is relatively new. It’s barely covered in Clifton’s book, which was published in 2012. I think there were at least 3-4 questions referencing it in the exam I took.

Finally, the last study guide I used was Slingshot SEO’s “How to Pass the Google Analytics IQ Test,” which you have to sign up to download for free. It had a couple dozen pages of definitions and example questions. The main thing I learned from this guide was how tricky the questions could be regarding eCommerce tracking, and were they ever right! It’s a basic guide, but worth reading.

The two main sections that I felt somewhat unprepared for were ecommerce and Real-Time Reporting. While I got an 88% on the exam and could probably identify which questions I got wrong, I’m almost certain they were in these areas.

Ecommerce is a more advanced implementation of Analytics and requires some communication between the analytics, IT, and vendor system people within an organization. Real-Time Reporting is somewhat new, often useless, but seems to be a new focus for Google.

My recommendation for anyone considering taking the test would be to read Advanced Web Metrics with Google Analytics first, then watch the Google Analytics IQ Lessons videos. Finally, read at least a couple of study guides (including our own free one located here), and familiarize yourself with the Analytics platform and the Intelligence and Real-Time Reporting features.

72 Questions You Need to Know for the Google Analytics IQ Exam

Here’s another fun Q&A post for you when you’re studying for those pesky Google Individual Qualification exams. This one covers much of the material that I came across on the Google Analytics IQ exam that I studied for over the past couple of weeks and took yesterday.

web analytics blog iconThere are a few topics that I don’t really go into here. Coming up with good questions for them is a bit tricky, and you should read much more about them than whatever I can write here! Those topics include eCommerce in particular, and some more material on Profile Filters. Just understand how Profile Filters are applied, and what the consequences are for applying the same two filters, but in reverse order.

In terms of eCommerce, there were a handful of questions on the exam and I found them to be the most difficult. This is probably due to the fact that implementing eCommerce tracking can involve your IT or web development team, rather than just making some small manipulations to your Google Analytics Tracking Code.

There were only a couple of questions on regular expressions, so don’t worry too much about them. Match types (exact match, head match, and regular expression match) were also quizzed once or twice. Just understand the differences between them, rather than worrying about having to construct any. Those questions were fairly simple, compared to some of the stuff on Profile Filters and eCommerce tracking.

But I suppose that’s enough of me talking to you. Here’s the Google Analytics questions and answers that you need to know to have a shot at passing!

Q: What is the purpose of “_trackPageview()”?
A: To register a pageview in Google Analytics.

Q: True or False: Google Analytics can NOT track visits to cached pages.
A: False. The Analytics tracking code will still be executed on a cached page.

Q: True or False: by default, Google Analytics will track the number of visitors.
A: True

Q: True or False: by default, Google Analytics will track the referrer that directs visitors to your site.
A: True

Q: True or False: by default, Google Analytics will track the average amount of time spent on your site.
A: True

Q: True or False: by default, Google Analytics will track the click path of individual visitors.
A: True.

Q: Where can you find the Google URL Builder?
A: The URL Builder is located in the Help Center.

Q: What can the URL Builder help you with?
A: The URL Builder can help to create URLs with tracking parameters already attached.

Q: True or False. You should manually tag banner ads with campaign tracking variables.
A: True

Q: True or False. You should manually tag email campaigns with campaign tracking variables.
A: True

Q: True or False. You should manually tag non-AdWords PPC campaigns with campaign tracking variables.
A: True

Q: True or False. You should manually tag organic search results with campaign tracking variables.
A: False, you can’t do this.

Q: True or False. You should manually tag AdWords campaigns with campaign tracking variables.
A: False, autotagging will do this for you.

Q: True or False. You should manually tag bookmarks with campaign tracking variables.
A: False

Q: How can you track visitors from a newsletter, banner, or email marketing campaign?
A: Manually tag the destination URLs of the campaign that you send visitors to.

Q: What is the formula for ROI?
A: (Revenue – Cost) / Cost; be prepared to do some basic ROI calculations during the test.

Q: What are the three minimum campaign variables you should utilize to tag a URL using manual tagging?
A: Source, Medium, and Campaign.

Q: What is the correct parameter to identify different versions of an ad?
A: Use the content parameter utm_content

Q: What is the formula for Click-Through Rate?
A: Clicks / Impressions

Q: Google AdWords data is not showing up in your account as google / cpc. Why might this happen?
A: It can happen if autotagging is not enabled in your AdWords settings, or if a redirect is stripping out the gclid.

Q: True or False: You can view Campaign data in Google Analytics with AdWords manual tagging enabled.
A: True.

Q: True or False: You can view Placement URL data in Google Analytics with AdWords manual tagging enabled.
A: False.

Q: True or False: You can view Match Type data in Google Analytics with AdWords manual tagging enabled.
A: False.

Q: True or False: You can view Ad Group data in Google Analytics with AdWords manual tagging enabled.
A: False.

Q: Reports show that visitors are coming from paused or discontinued campaigns. Why might this be?
A: If the visitors were originally referred by that campaign, and are now coming back as direct visitors, they will be attributed to the paused or discontinued campaign.

Q: What is a referrer?
A: It is the URL of an outside website from which a visitor comes to your website.

Q: On your website.com, you are seeing traffic coming from website.com / referral. Why might that be happening?
A: You may have several subdomains and the Google Analytics Tracking Code is not configured properly.

Q: A search engine appears in the list of referring sites. Why might this happen?
A: It could happen if someone was referred to your site through a personalized search page, for instance.

Q: What are the two most common ways that visitors can be recorded as “direct / (none)” in Google Analytics?
A: If they type your website’s URL into their browser directly, or if they come to your site through a bookmark.

Q: In the Google Analytics Intelligence Events, what types of alerts are available?
A: You can get Daily alerts, Weekly alerts, Automatic alerts, and Custom alerts through Google Intelligence.

Q: True or False: You would use Intelligence to set up a custom alert.
A: True.

Q: True or False: You can use Intelligence to alert you if weekly revenue increases or decreases by an unexpected amount.
A: True.

Q: How can you use the Landing Pages Report in assessing website performance?
A: You can use it to identify landing pages with high bounce rates, and to determine where visitors are entering your website.

Q: What is one indication of a poorly performing landing page?
A: A high Bounce Rate, perhaps greater than 90%.

Q: What is Bounce Rate?
A: The percentage of visits on a website where the visitors views one page and leaves without any interaction on the website.

Q: You are getting high bounce rates on a landing page from a particular keyword. Why might this be?
A: If the content on the landing page does not meet the expectations of people searching for that keyword, they may immediately leave your website and contribute to a higher bounce rate.

Q: Which metric can you use to determine if one type of campaign was responsible for initiating conversions?
A: The Assisted Conversion Value

Q: Your visitors have a habit of visiting your site several times before converting. Which metric could help you determine whether or not a particular keyword is part of a conversion path?
A: Assisted Conversions

Q: What are some valid location dimensions?
A: Country/Territory, City, and Region are valid dimensions. Address is not a valid dimension, as Google Analytics does not track Personally Identifiable Information.

Q: True or False: Bounce Rate is a dimension.
A: False. It is a metric.

Q: True or False: %New Visits is a dimension.
A: False. New Visitors is a dimension, but %New Visits is a metric.

Q: True or False: Screen Resolution is a dimension.
A: True.

Q: True or False: Region is a dimension.
A: True.

Q: True or False: Browser is a metric.
A: False, it is a dimension.

Q: True or False: City is a metric.
A: False, it is a dimension.

Q: True or False: Average Time on Site is a metric.
A: True.

Q: True or False: Pageviews is a metric.
A: True.

Q: You want to find out which keywords visitors from Chicago use to find your website. How can you do this?
A: In the Map Overlay report, select the Keyword dimension for the city of Chicago.

Q: How can you determine the conversion rate for people on a certain Operating System and located in a particular city?
A: Looking at the Operating System report, choose City as your secondary dimension.

Q: People are spending more time on your site. How can you tell if they are actually interacting more on the site?
A: Look for an increase in Pages per Visit.

Q: What does the Visit Duration report show you?
A: It categorizes visits based on the amount of time they spend on your website.

Q: If a visitor conducts two transactions on your website during one visit, how many conversions and how many transactions will be tracked by Google Analytics?
A: 2 transactions, and 1 conversion.

Q: If a visitor subscribes to your newsletter, than someone else on the exact same computer also subscribes during the same session, how many conversions will be tracked?
A: Google Analytics will count 1 conversion.

Q: What is a good metric for measuring the quality of traffic to your website?
A: Conversion rate.

Q: If Channel X equally initiates and assists in conversions, what would its Assisted/Last Interaction Conversion value be?
A: It would be exactly 1.

Q: What does the Site Search Report tell you?
A: It can help you determine how your visitors are searching your site.

Q: How can you determine whether people who use your Site Search have a higher conversion value than people who do not?
A: Go to the Site Search Usage report and view the Goal Conversion tab.

Q: What types of goals can Google Analytics track?
A: Destination URLs, time on site, pages per visit, and events.

Q: What is available in Google’s Real Time Reporting?
A: You can view pageviews per second, pageviews per minute, and active number of visitors.

Q: Can Real Time show you whether or not the Google Analytics code snippet is working on a particular page?
A: Yes, according to Google.

Q: You just added new content and would like to see if people are viewing it. Can you use Real Time to determine this?
A: Yes.

Q: What are some ways you can use profiles?
A: You can look more closely at traffic to one subdomain, you can look more closely at traffic to one directory or section of a website, and you can limit access to some segments of data.

Q: You want a profile to include only Google AdWords data. How can you do this?
A: Use an Include filter.

Q: Is profile filter order applied in order, or all at once?
A: In order, so be careful how you apply filters on your data.

Q: True or False: You can apply an Advanced Segment to historical data.
A: True.

Q: True or False: You can compare Advanced Segments side by side in reports.
A: True.

Q: How can you track user engagement on websites that use Flash or AJAX and are located on one HTML page?
A: You can use Event Tracking, or track interactions as Pageviews and set goals.

Q: What is the purpose of a virtual pageview?
A: To track activity that visitors may complete that does not result in a natural pageview.

Q: How can you track Flash Events with Google Analytics code?
A: _trackEvent() or trackPageview() will work.

Q: You have two buttons on your website and would like to track if people click on Button #1 more than Button #2. Can you do this in Google Analytics? If so, how?
A: Yes, you can track this. Use Event Tracking.

Q: What are the three elements of Event Tracking?
A: Categories, Actions, and Labels.

Q: Using regular expressions, how could you filter out the IP address range of 222.11.222.1 through 222.11.222.10?
A: ^222.11.222.([1-9]|10)$ (Use the IP address range tool for questions like this one!)

And that’s all I’ve got for you! I’ll be back in a day with some great resources for further study! I think I used a book, the Google Analytics IQ video series, and 2-3 more website study guides. I’ve had experience with Google Analytics before, but now I feel much more like an analysis ninja than I did a week ago!

Google Analytics Individual Qualification Test Initial Thoughts

I just took and passed the Google Analytics IQ test. I’ve got some blog articles coming up, and some drafts that just weren’t finished over the past few days. But for now, I’m going to take a break and celebrate passing this test. I’ll have a much longer write-up on it in the coming days, and a new study guide full of questions. There are a handful of online resources that I used to pass it, as well, and I’ll link those as well.

web analytics blog iconStay tuned for a lot more Google Analytics content over the next week or so as I put together all of the most useful information and reflections from the past two weeks of reading and studying.

A couple early observations, though:

  • The Analytics test isn’t as hard as the AdWords Advanced Display Network Test.
  • But it is harder than the AdWords Fundamentals Test.
  • You’ll need to study more than the 2 1/2 hours or so of videos available through the Google Analytics IQ center, but those videos will give you a good base.
  • There was a lot more practical application questions than simply definitions.
  • There were hardly any True or False questions on the whole test, so be prepared to think a little more deeply.
  • There were some either-or questions, and a lot of multiple-answer questions.
  • Some great books and short study guides are available out there, so make sure to read!
  • But read only the most updated information; I took a look at some older books and Analytics has changed quite a bit since 2011, when a lot of popular books were published.

Check back tomorrow for more info on the Google Analytics IQ Test!

 

Keep SEO in Mind When Designing a Website!

One of the more difficult parts of redesigning a website for a client is when a site was not originally designed with any SEO intent. This often isn’t the fault of the business owner, or even the original designers, if the site is fairly old. Nonetheless, it is always better to design a new website in advance with search engine optimization taken into account. And for brand new sites, it is imperative.

Search Engine OptimizationBoth site owners and web designers should always remember that SEO is a long-term strategy for a website, and is designed to result in free traffic. With a little advance planning, a well-implemented SEO strategy can reduce the need for other forms of paid advertising, because a larger portion of traffic is discovering the business organically through the search engines.

Keyword research is the foundation of SEO and should be done when deciding how many pages to put on a website. It is part of creating a well-structured information architecture for a company’s online presence, and makes the experience easier both for search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing, as well as the end users and daily visitors of a site.

The Google AdWords Keyword Tool and Google Trends are some of the most basic ways to begin searching for keywords related to the primary idea behind the website. Is it a fitness site? A marketing site? A sports ecommerce site? An audio/visual equipment rental and sales site? Doing keyword research before creating each page can give structure to the site and build in SEO tactics from the start.

With any keyword tool, there are three things that site owners or designers should be looking for. The first is keywords that have low to medium levels of competition. The higher the competition, the longer it will take to rank well, and the more expensive the process may be, especially if you have to purchase links or engage in a drawn-out guest blogging or article marketing strategy. Go for the low-hanging fruit of low and medium competition keywords first.

Second, look for keywords with a decent number of searches. Google displays the Local Monthly Searches for keywords, which indicates how many times that keyword is searched in a month in a certain geographical region (usually a country). If there are a lot of searches, it may be difficult to rank well as it is most likely a very generic keyword. If there are only a handful of searches, it may not be worth the effort. Ideally, local searches of under 10,000 but above 800-1,000 are appropriate for SEO targeting on a budget.

Third, look for keywords where the intent is clear. It doesn’t matter if people have searched for the phrase “qkkco” 4,500 times over the last month. How would you optimize a page for that? Also, if they have searched for the keyword “LA Fitness,” the intent is clear but your site may not be able to help them. Instead, look for keywords that are not too vague, and not as specific as brand names.

Finally, before deciding on a list of keywords to target for search engine optimization efforts, take a look at the current search results for those words. If they are dominated by authority sites and national brands with million dollar advertising budgets, you may want to work on something else. It may be too difficult to rank well for those keywords with just onpage web design SEO tactics.