Facebook or website, website or Facebook?

A great local photographer, Gary, came in yesterday to discuss the traffic on his website and what he could do to get more customers.  We went through the numbers and offered some practical advice:

  • Add Titles to all the pages so that Google knows what they are about
  • Carry on blogging as that is bringing traffic to the site, but add the Google Campaign parameters to all the links so that he can identify which type of blogs are working best
  • Add fresh photos to certain galleries because they are driving people back to the site

and then the discussion moved on to Facebook A website is about sales – it is your shop window, inviting people in to hopefully buy.  But it doesn’t get people to walk past the shop in the first place – it isn’t a marketing tool.  Gary has a Facebook page, but admitted he doesn’t do much with it concentrating instead on the website, but I would say that for local B2C sales (i.e. businesses selling to consumers) Facebook can be, not just a second shop window, but also a wonderful marketing tool.  What is more, most of Gary’s customers come from recommendations and Word-of-mouth and that is exactly what Facebook is – recommendations from your friends. If Gary can get a percentage of his clients to mention his page then that becomes free advertising when it appears on the Newsfeed of their friends.  With not too much arm twisting, there could be several touch points per client along the lines of: “I’m looking forward to having my photo taken at xxx this afternoon””Just come back from a great session with xxx””Wow – xxx just sent me these awesome photos!” and, of course, for Gary, this last one would include a picture or two and they are loved by Facebook.  All he needs to do is to gently ask people to post and Bob’s your Uncle! Of course the real answer to the question is to do both, but few local businesses push Facebook to get anything like its full potential.  Are you a local business selling to consumers?  If so, how do you persuade your customers to engage – we’d welcome more ideas, so please comment below! P.S. See Gary’s photos at www.facebook.com/photoreceptorcell

Creating a Webtrends report to see daily page views over a month for a specific page

Webtrends trend reports break down monthly data by daya, but you can’t see the results for a specific page without creating a custom report.

Having seen this request twice in a couple of months I thought I would share how to do it!

Unfortunately it is necessary to create a custom report as the trend reports available don’t break the metrics down by page.

Create the report with:

Dimensions: Pages, Time Period
Measures: Page Views, Visits, View Time, avg. View Time (calculation)

It isn’t perfect but at least you get the information.

Webtrends report Pages by Day

Problems are:

  • because the dimension is “Time period”, you have to select a specific month to get the days, (selecting e.g. 2015 gives you the data by month instead)
  • the order of the time period is not by day, but by the number of page views (or visits etc.) so you have to extract the report and reorder it
  • depending on the number of pages you have, you may exceed the report limits.  If this happens you would need to do one of the following:
    • increase the table limits
    • segment the site areas into different profiles (my client had already done that for other reasons)
    • add a Filter to the report for specific pages (if you are only interested in some of them)

P.S. If you can find a way to improve this, please share!

3 Sources of information about your market, category and brand

Website analytics are rather like accounting systems in that they look back at what has happened and, whilst the past can be used to be help predict the future, a Balanced Scorecard approach needs to draw on other, forward-looking information.

Fortunately such data is easily available if you know where to look:

1)  Track what people are looking for

Website analytics search reports are excellent indications of what is working in terms of driving visitors to your site.  But how can you find out about that vast majority that haven’™t come to your site?  What are they looking for?

Even if you feel that Pay Per Click advertising (PPC) is not for you, there are free tools available that were created to understand what people are searching for. One obvious example is Google’™s “Keyword Tool” (https://adwords.google.com/o/KeywordTool), which provides you both Global and Local Search volumes not just of the keyword you type in, but all variations on it (including many you may not have thought of!). You can apply various filters and even enter your competitor’™s URL to find out how their site is optimised for search and therefore getting traffic for.

2)  Understand what people are saying

Social Media provides a wonderful opportunity to listen in to conversations about your own brand, your competitors and the market in general.

Being a new industry there are still many vendors with offerings at every level of sophistication (and price!).  As a minimum you should be regularly monitoring a variety of key phrases through a free tool such as Twitter or HootSuite and, if you want to interact with those conversations, consider tools like Radian6 or uberVu, which add a level of automation and aggregate reporting on metrics such as “sentiment”.

3)  See what people are doing

This is where digital analytics finally comes into its own.  What Search phrases drive Visitors?  What do they search for when they get there?  Do they search for things but cannot find them?  Also, even if you think you only have a website, your visitors will get different views of you on their pc, tablet and SmartPhone.  Studies have shown people browse on a tablet and then go and buy on a pc.  Is that true for you?  Do you understand how behaviour changes dependent on the device and can you use that?

Bring it all together

To ensure that you keep ahead of the game, you should be using everything at your disposal, making it available to the key staff in your organisation and building it into the culture to use it to inform decisions.  The information is there in a way is has never been before;“ use it, your competitors will! 

Why do I appear as number 1 in Google for random queries?

If you’ve ever taken the time to examine your Google Search Query reports or seen it in your eLignum Website Performance Dashboard, you may have been surprised to see yourself ranked as number 1 for bizarre search phrases like “Elephant Hire”, something that your Stationery Outlet hasn’t got round to providing just yet. So what is going on here? Do you need to ditch the flowery pads and the fountain-pens and become a mahout? Unfortunately no, and here’s why… The first thing to understand is that the report shows the average position that your site appeared for a particular given query. This is not the same as a page rank (named after Larry Page“ apparently!) which provides a ranking of a website’s overall importance.  For search queries, don’t think of Google as a website ranking machine that holds a big list of websites ranked by importance for each possible query. Results are returned on the fly and are constantly shifting and changing. Did you know that there are 3 billion Google Searches a day and around 500 million of them have never been made on Google before? The result is that for a fleeting moment, you may appear in one of these 3 Billion searches in the number 1 position for a totally random word that just happened to be in the article you just blogged. This is recorded by Google Analytics & Webmaster Tools and then shows up in your query results. Query that phrase now in Google, you will be unlikely to see your site in the results.  Search Queries that have generated many Impressions will provide much more accurate indications of where you appear in search results. They will show the average position for the top performing page. You can use this information to gauge how well your site’s content is performing in attracting customers through search and therefore how it is contributing to your site’s overall goal. Combine this with the Content Keywords result in Webmaster Tools and you should get an idea of the type of thing you need to include in your next blog to figure in your desired search query. So don’t worry about the odd random freak outlier phrase turning up in your results. But do keep looking at the report, use it wisely to strategise your content production to maintain a healthy presence in Google. You can find the report in Google Analytics under: Aquisition -“ SEO – Search Queries 

elephant 1.PNG

 or Google Webmaster Tools: Search Traffic – Search Queries 

elephant 2.PNG

 What strange search terms have you found on your site?

How to stay on top despite Google changes

It is nearly the end of the year and a time to reflect on the whole menagerie of Google changes from Pandas through Penguins to Hummingbirds!  To a greater or lesser extent, these have had an effect on the rankings of your pages and leads us to ask the question – how can we keep up? For obvious reasons, Google doesn’t publish its algorithms, so you would have to spend ages scanning the net to find out what the gurus think.  This is fine for the professionals, but for the average business, which just wants to blog or create some additional pages it is far too time consuming.  That is where getting into the head of Google comes into its own! At its heart Google is a Search Engine.  If a “better” search engine came out tomorrow, we would all start using it and Google’s business would disappear overnight.  This is why they are constantly striving to improve – they need to stay ahead of the pack. Therefore the page at the top of the rankings is the one Google believes best fits what was being searched for.  After all, if they don’t do that, someone else will!  So, we need to make sure that Google thinks our page is the best. That is why “Content is King”.  Read what is on your page dispassionately.  Do you still think those pages that are beating yours in the rankings seem to answer the searcher’s question better than yours?  If not, then improving your copy is the first place to start. So, how do we keep up with the raft of new animals Google will introduce next year?  Answer: Think like Google; “if I am a robot reading this page am I going to think it perfectly suits what my prospective visitor is going to want to read?”. I don’t know what further changes are coming down the line, but I do know what they will be trying to achieve, so if we align our goals with Google’s and try and achieve the same thing then everybody will be happy!

3 Sources of information about your market, category and brand

Website analytics are rather like accounting systems in that they look back at what has happened and, whilst the past can be used to be help predict the future, a Balanced Scorecard approach needs to draw on other, forward-looking information.

Fortunately such data is easily available if you know where to look:

1)  Track what people are looking for

Website analytics search reports are excellent indications of what is working in terms of driving visitors to your site.  But how can you find out about that vast majority that haven’™t come to your site?  What are they looking for?

Even if you feel that Pay Per Click advertising (PPC) is not for you, there are free tools available that were created to understand what people are searching for. One obvious example is Google’™s “Keyword Tool” (https://adwords.google.com/o/KeywordTool), which provides you both Global and Local Search volumes not just of the keyword you type in, but all variations on it (including many you may not have thought of!). You can apply various filters and even enter your competitor’™s URL to find out how their site is optimised for search and therefore getting traffic for.

2)  Understand what people are saying

Social Media provides a wonderful opportunity to listen in to conversations about your own brand, your competitors and the market in general.

Being a new industry there are still many vendors with offerings at every level of sophistication (and price!).  As a minimum you should be regularly monitoring a variety of key phrases through a free tool such as Twitter or HootSuite and, if you want to interact with those conversations, consider tools like Radian6 or uberVu, which add a level of automation and aggregate reporting on metrics such as “sentiment”.

3)  See what people are doing

This is where digital analytics finally comes into its own.  What Search phrases drive Visitors?  What do they search for when they get there?  Do they search for things but cannot find them?  Also, even if you think you only have a website, your visitors will get different views of you on their pc, tablet and SmartPhone.  Studies have shown people browse on a tablet and then go and buy on a pc.  Is that true for you?  Do you understand how behaviour changes dependent on the device and can you use that?

Bring it all together

To ensure that you keep ahead of the game, you should be using everything at your disposal, making it available to the key staff in your organisation and building it into the culture to use it to inform decisions.  The information is there in a way is has never been before;“ use it, your competitors will! 

Data is Worthless if You Don’t Communicate it

A Harvard Business Review article by Tom Davenport caught my eye with this wonderful title as a neat distillation of our philosophy.

I often say to people that if a report is not used as the basis of a decision, then it actually has a negative value taking up valuable time reading it when that time could be more profitably spent on something else!

The article discusses how data is often captured, processed and stored, but then hidden away, “never seeing the light of day”, and this is something we see often in the world of web analytics.  There are so many out-of-the-box reports that it is easy to become overwhelmed by the data, giving up and not using any of them.  The key here is to sift through them, determine what is going to be important on a regular basis and hide the others.  At the beginning of most implementation projects we typically hide 80-90% of the reports so that the only ones that are left are those that are going to contribute on a regular basis to the organisation’™s decision making.

That is not to say that the other reports should never be looked at.  For one client who had to produce monthly web traffic reports we looked at the trend of Visits over both days of the week and time of day.  Interestingly traffic at weekends was 80% of that on a week day and, even more surprisingly, traffic at midnight was still 80% of the daytime peak.

This turned out to be entirely logical as their website was aimed at lorry drivers, who would be out working during the day and catching up on administration at home.  However, it hadn’t been thought about before and all website maintenance happened at 6:00 pm as they thought no-one would be using it then.  So, it was an easy and indisputable decision to minimise disruption by moving maintenance to the early hours of the morning instead (sorry IT guys!).

We put these graphs in their monthly report so that the entire organisation gained a better insight to the website usage as a one-off feature.  However, after that, we put both these reports on a shelf and didn’™t bother with them again for a while, only checking them occasionally to ensure that there was no change.

For me, the best bit of the HBR article came at the end, which recommends a simple framework for communicating each analysis:

  •     My understanding of the business problem
  •     How I will measure the business impact
  •     What data is available
  •     The initial solution hypothesis
  •     The solution
  •     The business impact of the solution

which encapsulates the process we follow with our clients, ensuring that we solve real problems with a measurable success.

Read the full article at http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2013/06/data_is_worthless_if_you_dont.html

The importance of your LinkedIn photo

What is the first thing that people see on your LinkedIn profile? … Your photo. I am constantly amazed at the number of people that haven’t uploaded their photo – how can contacts be sure it is you?  Sadly many potential connections will be lost because they won’t be willing to invest more than a few seconds in identifying the right “Fred Bloggs”. What should your LinkedIn profile photo look like? Many years ago I had a colleague who desperately wanted to work at one of the top Strategy Consultancies.  At the end of the day he stood outside their office watching them all leave and noting what they wore so that, when he went for an interview, he would be able to dress the part.  The finishing touch was buying a pair of glasses that he didn’t need because they made him look more intellectual and most of them wore them!  Did he get the job?  Of course he did! So, whenever you go to a job interview or a sales meeting, you should dress appropriately and your photo must reflect that same person.   If your LinkedIn profile still has an avatar or you are using a Facebook picture taken at a party then get a proper one up there – NOW!

How to delete unused Webtrends reports!

1.    Login to Webtrends V9 with the Administrator role
2.    Click on Administration

Webtrends Administration

3.    Select Web Analytics > Report Configuration > Custom Reports > Reports

Webtrends reports

4.    Use the Search facility to find the report you wish to delete:

Webtrends Custom Reports

5.    Hover the mouse to the right of the name and pick Show Uses from the Dropdown Menu:

Show uses in Webtrends

6.    This will show you the list of profiles that use that report (or tell you that it is not used):

Show Uses of Webtrends Reports

7.    If you are still sure that you want to delete the report, you need to remove it from each profile in the above list first.  Click on Reports and Profiles and Edit each one.
8.    Select Reports from the Advanced tab, scroll down to the relevant report and uncheck the box.  Save the profile and repeat for all the others.
9.    When the report is no longer used in any profiles, or if it was not in use to start with, it can be deleted.  Go back to the list of reports and choose Delete from the Dropdown menu (you will be told if you still need to delete it from a profile):

Delete Webtrends report.png

10.    Confirm that you want to delete the report and add a Change Comment.
11.    That’s it!

Separating the Wheat from the Semalt Chaff

Using Filters in Google Analytics. 

If your nicely sieved reports have recently been plagued, as ours have, by Semalt.com, I’m sure you’ll be feeling frustrated and angry. Maybe you hadn’t even noticed, in which case you’ll be disappointed that the traffic increases you’ve been enjoying are not legit. Either way, you’™ll want to remove this interloper as soon as possible and get back to reporting nice unsullied data. Here’s how to do this:

So what is Semalt, and what’s the problem?

Semalt is a company that tracks a site’s position in search engines. To get this information it relies on sending a crawler to your site. Usually crawlers, spiders and bots are not included in Google Analytics traffic reports as they do not use Javascript, however the Semalt crawler is being recorded as referral traffic. This is a problem for the veracity of your reports (it looks like you’ve suddenly had a load more visits). So, how do we separate the wheat from this Semalt chaff? By filtering of course!

And if you’ve never used filters before, don’t worry here’s a step by step guide to removing the Semalt traffic. Note: this filter excludes Semalt.com but you could easily adapt it to filter other unwanted traffic such as internal employees. 

Don’t risk your data – create a new View.

New GA view.png

The first thing you need to do is create a new View. This is important because once a filter has been applied to a View the data cannot be unfiltered. For this reason it is recommended that you keep one unfiltered View that contains all of your data. 

Creating new Filters 

Once you have created a View that you are happy to filter, click Filters in the Admin section of Google Analytics.

NewGAfilter3.png

Configure the Filter

New GA filter 4.png

Finally, tell Google what you want to keep and what you want to get rid of. In this case we want to filter out (exclude) anything with the referral path of /crawler.php this is the Semalt crawler. 

And that’s it. Your new View will report traffic minus Semalt so you can relax knowing you are reporting un-inflated traffic. 

If all that seems a bit too much, let us do it for you.

Add ga@elignum.co.uk as a user on your Google Analytics Account and we will do the rest.

Contact Us for help!