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Google analytics has become a great source of data about visitors to your website – assuming your configuration is correct. Sometimes configuration issues inadvertently block your view of what is really happening. Common issues can include…
1. Not having your analytics snippet in the correct place.
There are many legacy variations of the analytics snippets. In addition, what was the correct installation a couple of years ago may have dramatically changed, depending on if you have an asynchronous snippet, etc. We still run into snippets calling for urchin.js for their Google Analytics, which are quite a few years old. The best place – currently – to have your analytics code is inside the <head> tag, and right before it ends with the </head> tag. This will prevent interference with other scripts, which we have seen mess with bounce rates, conversion tracking, ROI, sleep schedules, general happiness, and more
Your filters could have been created years ago and for long forgotten purposes. In Google Analytics, check your Admin area (under view, on the right halfway down) to see if you are filtering traffic. Look at the filters – do you know who created them and why they are present? Some have complicated REGEX rules and it can be difficult to decipher. Everyone should have at least one profile with no filters. We usually name this profile with RAW in the name. This system allows anyone to easily see if a filter has “gone rogue” and is filtering out good traffic.
There are also these problems with getting good data, and you did not even cause them:
1. Incomplete data / views
Most businesses are using the free version of Google Analytics, and sometimes experience “sampling” in important reports.
Sampling in Google Analytics (or in any analytics software) refers to the practice of selecting a subset of data from your traffic and reporting on the trends detected in that sample set. Sampling is widely used in statistical analysis because analyzing a subset of data gives similar results to an analysis of a complete data set, while returning these results to you more quickly due to reduced processing time.
In Analytics, sampling can occur in your reports, during your data collection, or in both place.
(Image of sampling)
2. Organic keywords
Years back, Google Analytics allowed you to see the query typed in by visitors. It was so powerful! It allowed you to see quite a bit of information about your prospects – perhaps too much. It has now become standard that search engines, browsers, and analytics itself is restricting this information. If you are new to analytics, you probably have not missed what you do not have. However, if you have been doing this a while, take a second to reflect on what was lost. We are right there with you. Hmph.
3. Referral spam, organic keyword spam, language spam
In addition to losing out on good data, there is often too much noise in otherwise good data. Using fake browsers – bots that can run analytics code, all sorts of things are being inserted into your analytics. Some of the offenders might put
– “Vitally was here” in the list of languages your visitors use
– or make it look like visitors are coming in droves from some site you’ve never heard of (which is either selling SEO or hosting malware).
Spam is analytics has become a major nuisance and we constantly have to deal with it while compiling reports. We see the same offenders across multiple accounts, and create a custom analytics segment to filter them from reports.
Want to try our segment? Click this link and scrub your own view of your account:
(There are other great segments on the Internet too, but we have customized this one for our clients.)
In calling out spammy guest blogging practices, Matt Cutts wrote about “the decay of a once-authentic way to reach people.” Guest blogging and multiple author blogs tend to do many things right, but Matt pointed out that some SEOs using guest blogging have gone to the dark side recently.
Where they have gone wrong:
- Automation – Where online marketing practice becomes easy to automate, it becomes easy to abuse. Any gaming of Google’s algorithm is really where abuse begins.
- Lack of relevance – Many guest bloggers were targeting any old blog, and spamming instead of outreaching. If high numbers are part of your guest blogging outreach, consider you may be spamming instead of trying to connect authentically. Good outreach means trying to build relationships, not creating large quantities.
- Doing it “just for the links” – Google doesn’t have any problems with the marketing of quality content through outreach, content promotion, etc. When the content is high quality, it makes sense for it to be offered, shared, distributed. This test is key: Is the resource or practice helpful even when it doesn’t provide links?
(See more http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/guest-blogging/)
The short answer is “no”.
It’s long been assumed that “social signals” referred to popularity and activity on sites like twitter and facebook. It turns out that is incorrect(in 2014). For some people, Matt Cutts dropped a bombshell when he announced that twitter and facebook were treated like any other site.
Before you close your facebook account though, consider what this means:
- Of course, you should continue using social media. If you were involved before just to increase your rankings, you were offtrack. There are many reasons to use social media for connecting with prospects, partners, and content. Similarly, your email does not improve rankings, but you should still use it.
- In being treated like any other site, having a large number of pages on the site linking to yours can help bolster the authority of your own page. Let’s call these other pages linking to your page “followers” or “follows”, “friends” or even “retweets”. That network of links can convey authority on any site. Unfortunately, facebook and twitter are blocking Google’s crawling in many ways. Some might not even be necessary. So it will be interesting what information we uncover in the future.
- Google+ does not block Googlebot, of course. And the internal links from your circles and overall activity are indeed likely to be used in a future Google algorithm. Matt Cutts gave help debunking a study last summer that assumed a relationship between Google+ shares and higher rankings. The study redo concluded that both shares and rankings were correlations, and there wasn’t a relationship of causation there.
Google announced that it rewrote pretty much it’s entire algorithm last month in that “unnamed update.” It’s the biggest change since 2001. Seventy percent of the Search Engine Results Pages were affected! Compare that to Penguin, in which something like 3 percent of SERPs were affected.
The new Google algorithm is code-named “Hummingbird.” Many of the basics are the same:
1. Content should be accessible / easy to navigate for search engines.
2. Keywords should be properly tagged, with special boost to those using:
a. Semantic markup
b. Rich snippets
c. Google authorship
3. Authoritative links
According to one expert, “Quick SEO” is firmly in the past. We couldn’t agree more: Google has been strongly advocating this direction for some time. And the Panda/Penguin updates began steering the industry more than 2 years ago. Panda & Penguin aren’t going away: They are parts of the new algorithm and are likely to get additional updates in the future.
Across our clients, we saw very little change. Certain keywords had light movement up or down on August 20, but not by much. If you follow Google’s rules, you don’t get hit.
WHAT’S NEW IN HUMMINGBIRD?
1. Mobile/Voice/Location queries
Google expanded it’s ability to deal with mobile/voice & location based queries like: “What’s the closest place to buy the iPhone 5s?”
They also have more comparisons showing via the “knowledge graph” for queries like: “space needle versus empire state building”
2. “Entity search”
In keyword based queries of yesteryear (and even “yestermonth”), google sometimes couldn’t figure out queries like “windows replacement” and “windows 7 replacement”: Is it a PC user or a homeowner asking?
Google is using a database of facts about specific, unique entities (people, places, businesses, events, etc) to figure out how to return the best results. Think about the broad keywords you are targeting, and consider how you can “talk around” these topics.
3. Hashtag search
The only posts that will show up on Google searches are those that were shared publicly, or shared with you (if you’re a Google+ user). Clicking on one of the Google+ posts leads you to Google+ where the search is reproduced.
There are also links at the bottom of the sidebar to perform the hashtag search over at twitter or facebook, but these are bumped below the fold in less than 2 seconds – as new Google+ posts fill the sidebar.
1. Create content around your “entities”
Engaging, shareable, linkable content is now more important than ever. Do you have every kind of content about your subject? Consider videos, images, lists, podcasts, infographics, and articles regarding the entities you want to be found for. These are likely your broad keywords, but don’t go too broad.
2. Tag content with semantic markup & rich snippets
Google is smart, indeed. But semantic markup & rich snippets make it easy for Google to understand the correct answers for their users questions. Rich snippets have grown in importance, and are now “must have” for search engine visibility.
While Google is still working out the kinks in authorship for brands, it’s becoming increasingly important that authorship be implemented.
3. Content Marketing Link Building & Social Media Marketing
Having great content was never enough, and it still isn’t. There are more ways than ever to get the word out. Some will even help you win authority links.
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