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 

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 or Google Webmaster Tools: Search Traffic – Search Queries 

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 What strange search terms have you found on your site?

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.

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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.

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Configure the Filter

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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!

Mobile & Social feature highly in Google Analytics’ new profile filters

This reflects the increasing significance of these two areas to marketing and how important it is to be able to segment your Visitors in multiple ways so that you can gain a better understanding of them and hence target them more effectively.

The full list of new fields and their values is:

Mobile    

  • Is a mobile device (Yes or No)    
  • Is a tablet (Yes or No)    
  • Mobile brand name (e.g., Verizon, NTT DoCoMo)    
  • Mobile model name (e.g., Galaxy Nexus, iPhone)    
  • Mobile marketing name (e.g., Galaxy S3, which has two different models)    
  • Mobile pointing method (e.g., physical keyboard, onscreen keyboard)    
  • Mobile has QWERTY keyboard? (Yes or No)    
  • Mobile is NFC supported? (Yes or No)    
  • Mobile has cellular radio? (Yes or No)    
  • Mobile has wifi? (Yes or No)

Social    

  • Social network (e.g., Google+, Facebook)    
  • Social action (e.g., on Google+, when a user clicks the +1 button, the social action is plus)    
  • Social action target  (e.g., the content for which you clicked +1)

Content & Traffic    

  • Hit type: (e.g. page, social, transaction)    
  • Internal search term (Search terms used in a property’™s internal search engine)    
  • Internal search type (Searches confined to a specific category or area of a property“ e.g. Mens)

Audience / Users    

  • Browser size (in pixels)    
  • IP version  (IPV4, IPV6)

E-commerce    

  • Local currency code (currency code used in transaction)

And you can see the complete list at https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/1034380

Universal Analytics comes out of beta

They waited until 2nd April (so that no one thought it was an April Fool?), but Google’s Universal Analytics (the replacement to Google Analytics(GA)) has finally come out of beta.  It now includes all the features that were only previously in GA:

  • Remarketing – that Google AdWords facility that appears to follow you round the internet putting up adverts for something you have (once) expressed an interest in
  • Audience Reporting a segmentation by both demographics (age and gender) and interest, so that you can see whether or not your visitors fit your target audience

(N.B.  To obtain these reports you need to make a one line change to your tracking code and enable the option in Analytics).

  • There is the ability to assign a User Id to a visitor and track via that rather than by cookie (again minor tweaking required!).  This is great for any site where people log on e.g. Intranets, Extranets and shopping carts.  Included is even a new report which shows how the same people use different devices:
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  • Finally, they have admitted that there are time zones other than Pacific Standard Time!  If, like us, you get regular reports emailed to you, they should arrive in a more timely manner.

So, the time for procrastination is over and you should now upgrade if you haven’t already!

Google Analytics is dead, all hail Universal Analytics!

Over the past year we have been working with Universal Analytics (a more advanced version of the classic Google Analytics (GA)).  This is produced by Google themselves and therefore we have been surprised at the lack of people that have heard of it! The new, big announcement is that Google now provide an upgrade path (http://ow.ly/qlDE1) so that you can take advantage of the new features such as:

  • Custom dimensions and metrics enabling more sophisticated reporting
  • Simplified tracking code that can reduce page load times
  • Better cross-domain and cross-device tracking support

and combine it with your historic GA data so that you no longer have to look at two systems. 

What do you need to do?

Edit: all properties have now been auto-transferred to Universal Analytics.

Over the next few weeks a new tool will become available in your Property Settings.

This will enable you to transfer all your Google Analytics data into Universal Analytics, at which point you just need to change the tag on your site and you’re away!  N.B. Data will still be collected by the old tag while the tag changes take place and it is important that you run the upgrade before changing the tag or you will lose data. If you do nothing, eventually your properties will be auto-transferred (in Phase 2 of Google’s release plan), following which Google have promised to process all data from the Classic tag for up to 2 years.  However, we think this is a wonderful opportunity to review your analytics and take advantage of the new functionality that is becoming available in the new Universal Analytics! Up until now, the recommendation has been to run both, side by side, as there were still some things in GA (particularly related to the integration with Google AdWords) that were not available within Universal Analytics.  N.B.  If this is true for you, then you should seek advice and probably wait until Phase 3 of the Universal Analytics Upgrade when it will be out of beta and all features are promised to be supported. Finally, to date, we have achieved the currently required dual tagging using the Google Tag Manager to minimise the work required by the web developers as that allows us to make tag changes without needing to worry them and we have found this very effective.  As you need to be changing the tagging at some point anyway, we strongly advise that you move to the Google Tag Manager when you do so, to minimise future web development costs.