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When it comes to marketing your business, it’s all about image. How people perceive your business will decide whether they decide to come in the door or walk away. This is especially true online.

One of the first images people will see when they find your business is almost always your photos in your local listings on search engines. Thankfully, Google has given you more control and more data on how your images are performing.

With the new insights for photos on business listings, you can see how people are responding to your listing and images and compare them against your competition.

You can easily see the new insights in your Google My Business listing by clicking the Insights tab on the top navigation bar. At the bottom of the screen, you’ll find a graph comparing your business to “businesses like you”.

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You can refine the time-period you want to look at by the past 90 days, past 30 days, and past 7 days.

Unfortunately, you can’t select exactly what businesses you are comparing your site against, nor do you even get to know who the “businesses like you” are. But, the new tool can still be an effective way to make sure you are making a great first impression with your listings on Google.

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Google Analytics is an essential tool for making sure your website is performing as you would like and making improvements to keep growing, whether you are a high-level marketer or a business owner who just launched their site.

If you aren’t familiar with Analytics, however, or the technical jargon that fills your reports, it can be difficult to make sense of the huge amount of information available. That can make it hard for someone new to running a website for their business to make sense of the huge amount of information available in Google Analytics.

Thankfully, you don’t have to depend on analysts, marketers, or your company’s “computer guy”, to understand how your site is performing with Google Analytics. Search Engine Watch has put together an easy-to-understand glossary for all the jargon and confusing labels that you will come across, making it simple for you to know exactly what your reports are saying about your site.

You can see the handy guide from Search Engine Watch here.

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Google Analytics is an essential tool for webmasters and marketers looking to take control of their marketing efforts and increase both revenue and engagement. Now, Google is taking the platform even further with the introduction of the new enterprise-oriented measurement platform, Google Analytics 360 Suite.

In an announcement posted this week on the blog Inside Adwords, Vice President of Analytics, Display, and Video Products Paul Muret said:

“Sophisticated marketers who use analytics platforms are 3X more likely to outperform their peers in achieving revenue goals. It’s no wonder enterprise-class marketers have been telling us they need more from their marketing analytics tools. Many toolsets can’t cope: They’re too hard to use, lack sufficient collaboration capabilities, are poorly integrated, and require hard to find expertise.”

Muret also told Marketing Land that marketers are “trying to engage with brief moments of engagement” referring to so-called micro-moments. “If the value is not delivered” within the brief window of time, “consumers will quickly move on.”

The new platform is intended to deliver an enterprise-oriented analytics service that is both comprehensive and easy-to-use while focusing in on those brief moments of engagement and opportunity.

Google has remained mum on if there are any new data sources feeding into the Suite, and cross-device tracking remains the same. Rather, Google Analytics 360 Suite is intended to expand upon Google Analytics Premium, its previous enterprise-oriented analytics platform.

The suite includes four new tools, as well as two old mainstays:

Google Audience Center 360 (beta). This powerful data management platform (DMP) helps marketers understand their customers and find more like them across channels, devices, and campaigns. It offers native integration with Google and DoubleClick, plus it’s open to third-party data providers, DSPs and more.

Google Optimize 360 (beta). This website testing and personalization product helps marketers deliver better experiences. Marketers can show consumers multiple variations of their site and then choose the version that works best for each audience.

Google Data Studio 360 (beta). A new data analysis and visualization product that integrates data across all suite products and other data sources ― turning it into beautiful, interactive reports and dashboards. Built-in real-time collaboration and sharing is based on Google Docs technology.

Google Tag Manager 360. Built from our industry-leading tag management product, it empowers enterprise marketers to move faster and make decisions with confidence. It offers a simplified way to gather site information (all those tiny bits of code) and powerful APIs to increase data accuracy and streamline workflows.

Google Analytics 360, formerly known as GA Premium, will roll out exciting new capabilities throughout the next couple of months as investments continue to grow. It will serve as the measurement centerpiece by analyzing customer data from all touch-points and integrating with our ad products to drive marketing effectiveness.

Google Attribution 360, formerly known as Adometry, has been rebuilt from the ground up to help advertisers value marketing investments and allocate budgets with confidence. Marketers can analyze performance across all channels, devices, and systems to achieve their most effective marketing mix.

All these tools are available on the dashboard, and Google has said the platform also includes a broad set of integrated third-party providers, such as customer relationship management platforms.

The individual products will be offered à la carte, under to-be-announced pricing. Google Analytics Premium and Adometry will be relaunched under the Google Analytics 360 Suite platform “in the coming months.” Google Analytics Premium and Adometry customers will also be offered access to the new tools in a limited beta test in the future.

Source: Robert Scoble / Flickr

Source: Robert Scoble / Flickr

Most online advertisers consider conversion tracking an essential part of their toolkit. After all, why pour money into advertising if you can’t properly see how effective it is and optimize it? However, there are many businesses who are not using conversion tracking or importing goals from Google Analytics into AdWords. Google says they have a new feature just for them.

The new Smart Goals are powered by Google Analytics and aim to help businesses without a way to measure conversions evaluate their advertising efforts and optimize their campaigns.

Unlike conversion tracking and Analytics goals, Smart Goals don’t measure actions taken directly on an advertiser’s website. Instead, it uses the anonymized conversion data collected from other websites by Google Analytics to identify visits “most likely” to convert based on Google’s estimate.

The announcement explains:

To generate Smart Goals, we apply machine learning across thousands of websites that use Google Analytics and have opted in to share anonymized conversion data. From this information, we can distill dozens of key factors that correlate with likelihood to convert: things like session duration, pages per session, location, device and browser. We can then apply these key factors to any website. The easiest way to think about Smart Goals is that they reflect your website visits that our model indicates are most likely to lead to conversions.

To set up Smart Goals, advertisers will need to link their Analytics and AdWords accounts and must receive at least 1,000 clicks rom AdWords over a 30-day period “to ensure the validity of your data.” From there, select Smart Goals, under Goals in the Admin tab.

Advertisers can even preview well Smart Goals can work for their site before activating it by exploring the new “Smart Goals” page under Conversions in Analytics. This page lets you analyze the behavior of Smart Goals visits and compare those to the visits deemed unlikely to convert. If you like what you are seeing, you can then import Smart Goals into AdWords.

Once Smart Goals have been imported, advertisers can set a target cost per acquisition (CPA) with the Smart Goals being the acquisition. The announcement says, “in this way, you’re able to optimize your AdWords spend based on the likelihood of conversion as determined by our model.”

Google says Smart Goals will be rolling out over the next few weeks. While it may serve as a reasonable solution for some businesses, for most Smart Goals may seem like a bit of a stop-gap solution. To really take control of your online advertising and guarantee you are getting your money’s worth, you will want to use conversion tracking,

If you need help getting started, contact us. We can get you set up and help you optimize your advertising to ensure the best results.

It’s been a long time coming, but starting yesterday you can download the official Google Analytics app for iPhone and iPod Touch. The Android version of the app has been available for quite a while, but naturally there was a delay before Google pushed it out to Apple devices.

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While the app can run on the majority of Apple mobile devices, it is optimized for the iPhone 5 and requires a device running iOS 6.0 or later.

There aren’t a bunch of new features, but the app opens the opportunity for webmasters to keep up to date with Analytics on the go. You’ll find features such as sources, page views, visits, and TechCrunch says users will even have access to Real Time reports, which will allow you to monitor data as it occurs.

Google Analytics is easily one of the most trusted analytics platforms out there, but new findings are suggesting it may not be as accurate as once thought. Most recently, Groupon published a study which indicates that as much as 60% of what Google Analytics calls “direct traffic” is actually from organic search.

The study was conducted by Groupon’s Director of Product Management, who manages their organic search. While not entirely scientific, his study involved completely deindexing Groupon from Google for 6 hours.

Deindexing means absolutely no traffic would be coming from Google for the duration of the study, which allowed the study to calculate roughly what percent of traffic is coming from organic search.

During the six hours the site was deindexed, Groupon’s direct visits dropped by 60%, which led Groupon to believe that 60% of what is called direct traffic is actually coming from organic search traffic.

Groupon isn’t the only site to conduct a study like this. Not long ago, Conductor, a well-respected internet marketing firm, released a similar study which led them to the conclusion that 47% of traffic came from organic search. Nearly a third of that was attributed to direct visits.

Conductor Corroborates Groupon’s Findings

Conductor Study

After Groupon released their findings, Conductor decided to revisit their initial study to see what would happen to the results if included the conclusions from Groupon’s study into their own data.

Conductor’s new findings state:

By taking 60% of visits originally attributed to ‘direct’ and reallocating them to ‘organic search’, organic search went from 47% of all visits to 64%. Direct visits dropped from 29% of visits to 12%. This significant discrepancy—17% separates the ‘before’ and ‘after’ allocations should be enough to give marketers pause—and question the assumptions on which their digital strategy lies.

While none of this means you should give up on Google Analytics (it is the best insight you have to website performance and how Google views your site), it does suggest that it is entirely possible that a much larger percentage of traffic is coming from organic search than previously thought.

Source: Panayotis Vryonis

Source: Panayotis Vryonis

Analytics is one of the most ignored aspects of web marketing, despite the fact that everyone is concerned with their site’s statistics. Tons of SEOs check their statistics even daily, but almost everyone relies on either a set of analytics tools or the generic settings in Google Analytics rather than looking deeper, and using more focused methods like Custom Reporting.

Relying on the generic settings in Google Analytics has two downsides. One, obviously, is the lack of focus and clarity that comes with not personally directing what statistics you are watching, and how you are gathering that data. The other is that Google Analytics changes just as often as every other part of Google, and if you aren’t holding the reins, your results will probably shift, making your data inaccurate.

If you want to take on custom reporting for your analytics, you will have a better idea of how you are performing, and what aspects of your site need work. Greg Habermann suggests starting your custom reports by looking at five recent changes to Google Analytics that you can take advantage of. All you have to do is take the initiative.

Google’s Dan Friedman recently took to the Google AdWords blog to discuss new integration between AdWords and Google Analytics. As David A. Utter reports for eCommerce Bytes, Friedman also shared a few tips for how users could benefit from the data gleaned from Analytics.

High Engagement Groups

Analytics allows you to discover ad groups that, on average, stay on your site longer and visit more pages per visit. Typically, those numbers would suggest a group with high levels of engagement and one that would give you great returns with an increase in your ad budget.

High Engagement, Low Conversions

You may notice a group or page that seems to have high engagement, but isn’t yielding enough conversions. Use this information to target those users with promotions or any other way to light the fire beneath them and get them to turn into a conversion.

Short Visits and High Bounce Rates

Monitoring for pages that aren’t doing so well is important too. But you can turn a negative into a positive. If you notice a certain page isn’t yielding the results you’d hoped for, use that page for A/B testing. You may discover a way to improve your site as a whole.

Want to know how to evaluate your buisiness’s performance in social media? Is your time and effort getting acceptable returns? Andrew K. Kirk, of Social Media Examiner, has 4 goals you should be tracking to ensure a positive social media ROI.

1. Brand Recognition

Obviously, you need people to be aware of your business. But the more people know, the more likely they will become active members of your online community.

Track your growing popularity with Klout, which gives you a social influence score based on your performance across multiple social media sites. Log your score each month and think about what actions you took during that time frame. Soon, you should be able to pinpoint what positively and negatively affects you online presence.

2. Traffic

Just as people need to be aware of your business, people also need to visit your website. Visitors will likely learn more about your business directly from your site than from anywhere else.

With Google Analytics, you can easily track visits and discover what is affecting those.

3. Repeat Business

Any business needs repeat customers to thrive. For your online presence to thrive, you need visitors to return to your site and stay longer.

To track loyalty, you can customize Google Analytics and then do a little math. Well worth it in the end.

4. Conversions

The previous steps don’t necessarily translate into an improvement in your bottom line. Afterall, the effort you put into your online presence better be worth it. You should know the ratio of overall visitors to your site to conversions. You should also know the correlation of social media activity to conversions and the source for the majority of your traffic that converts.

Again, Google Analytics has you covered. By setting up some goals and tinkering a bit, you’ll soon have all the data you need to measure your goals and get the most out of your time on social media.

Google’s algorithm changes over the last decade have really made huge shifts in the way we search things. They also really help developers stay on their toes.

Initially, the SEO business was all about rankings. You told your client how you would get their keywords to the top of the search, and then showed them how high they were coming up in searches. Of course, it took a while to get their site to the top, but once you did, they were content.

Now, thanks mostly to Search+, it is the job of SEOs to get their clients to stop thinking about ratings. What Search+ has done is customize the results for every search you make based on search history, location, social media usage, and other criteria. That means everyone gets results catered to them, but it also results in your client’s site not appearing high in the rankings for some people.

Sujan Patel offers some other methods of tracking how your websites are performing, all of which can be found in Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics.

There are simple reports like “visitor growth” that show how your site is trending quickly and clearly, as well as old metrics that have risen in popularity. Such measurement tools like Impressions give you ideas of how your pages are appearing for similar search terms.

Another old metric that has become much more useful is your site’s average ranking. In January, Google announced changes to how they score site’s average rankings and now it gives a much closer average of “how a link’s position in Google search results should be important.”

While the older ways of Google made it easier for you to see how your site is performing, the changes in recent months have actually been an improvement for marketing towards target demographics. Unfortunately, this means improving your analytic skills is essential if you want to succeed. You may not be able to give your client keywords to search to see their performance, but if you know your analytic tools, you can still quickly show them how your SEO path is helping them grow their business.