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.
With how much the online marketing industry loves to make sweeping proclamations such as “content is king” and “links are dead”, you would think someone would have been there to declare that mobile now rules the internet, or some similar claim. But, somehow no one has made a big deal out of the fact that mobile devices accessing the internet now exceeds desktop devices as of early this year. Rebecca Murtagh explores what this means and how mobile devices are using the internet over at Search Engine Watch.
Late last week the SEO community had a good laugh at the expense of a self-proclaimed SEO expert who openly tweeted at major brands about renewing link buys. It appears the links were initially bought through iAcquire shortly before the service was penalized for participating in link buying schemes, and now that they are expiring, a former client is attempting to reach out directly to the link buyers.
The conversation that caught the eye of the SEO community was a long and outright discussion between “Vince” (@VitaliyKolosWDL) and T-Mobile. Search Engine Roundtable managed to screenshot the entire conversation before T-Mobile wisely began deleting their responses. Interestingly, “Vince” hasn’t deleted any of his tweets despite openly talking about selling links and even linking to the page being used to sell links.
Obviously, if the SEO media noticed the conversation, it didn’t take it long to reach Matt Cutts from Google, who probably summed up the situation in the shortest way possible:
While the person tweeting to companies hasn’t deleted anything, it does appear their website has been penalized already. It took five days since the first tweets started to appear, but unsurprisingly Web Design Library has tumbled down the search results. Search Engine Watch says the site was appearing on the 8th page on a search for [web design] on Monday, but come Tuesday the site didn’t pop up until the 48th page of results.
If you haven’t gotten the notice that selling links can get you in trouble, take this opportunity to look up the numerous other sites that have learned the hard way. Google is treating both those who buy and sell links harshly, and they show no sign of stopping. If “Vince” was as educated in SEO as he claimed, he would have already known this and he definitely wouldn’t have been using an open forum like Twitter to talk about it.
Bing is quickly expanding their new timeline feature for celebrities and historical figures. Just a few weeks after premiering the feature for athletes participating in the Sochi Olympics, Bing has added the feature to searches for about half a million famous people.
If you haven’t seen the timeline feature, it is similar to Google’s Knowledge Graph, as both highlight important information on figures in a concise column. For example, the column includes standard information such as height, spouse, children, and parents. But, with the timeline feature, Bing also includes a chronological list of important events or dates in the life of the figure you searched for.
The timeline includes footnotes for all the major events, as well as listing the year they occurred. But, don’t expect to get those results for every celebrity. Bing says that in some cases where “you would be more interested in another type of information” about the celebrity, the timeline information won’t be shown in favor of more relevant data.
Search Engine Watch points out that this is most true for actors and singers. When you search for Prince, you won’t be shown a timeline. Instead, you will be shown information about his most popular sings, albums, and even romantic interests.
If you use Bing and haven’t run into one of these timelines yet, just keep searching for celebrities or historically important people. Bing has made it clear the half a million celebrities with timeline featured are just the start of an even more robust search result system.
The biggest question this raises is whether the timeline will always be exclusive to celebrities, or whether Bing’s relationship with Klout may indicate an intention to expand their Klout-verified snapshots with features similar to timeline. Would you want searchers to be able to automatically see a timeline for you in a search engine?
Google is attempting to bridge the gap between apps and normal internet use, and it appears their first step is to make apps part of the search results for Android users. When logged in, you will also be able to see what apps you have and search the content within them.
“Starting today, Google can save you the digging for information in the dozens of apps you use every day, and get you right where you need to go in those apps with a single search. Google Search can make your life a little easier by fetching the answer you need for you – whether it’s on the web, or buried in an app,” Scott Huffman, VP of engineering, announced on Google’s Inside Search blog.
These results won’t be ads for apps. Instead, when the best results for a query come from an app, Google Search will include the app in the result and make it easy to download or access. If you already have the app, you will just have to touch “Open in app” and you will be taken to the relevant content.
The app results will be grouped together, so don’t expect them to hurt many sites’ rankings or visibility. These results are just another option added for user convenience.
Currently only a few apps are compatible with the Open in App feature, including:
“This is just one step toward bringing apps and the web together, making it even easier to get the right information, regardless of where it’s located,” Huffman wrote.
Search Engine Watch reports the new ability is currently limited to English version users of Android 2.3 or higher within the United States.
Marketing has become a holistic practice. You can’t just focus on one channel and expect to have the impact that those who are using every method to connect with the public are getting. For online marketing this means you can’t rely on just SEO or PPC to get the visibility you want. A new study from the digital marketing tech company Kenshoo proves this point by showing that marketers using social advertising and paid ads together see better conversion rates than those who only use a single channel.
In what Search Engine Watch reports to be the first study of its kind, Kenshoo discovered that when a person was exposed to both a brand’s Facebook ads and paid search ads, there was a 30 percent more return on advertising spending than when a person was only exposed to paid search ads exclusively.
“The fact that Facebook advertising on its own during this study was declared a successful initiative and had such a strong impact on paid search is indicative of the power of the platform,” Kenshoo said in its report.
“If marketers only had one Key Performance Indicator (KPI) to compare media channels, the metric of choice would be ROAS [return on ad spend], which is calculated as Revenue/Cost. For example, if an advertiser spent $20 and generated $100 in sales it had a 5x ROAS. Even media with different conversion goals can be easily evaluated based on how much it returned versus how much it spent.”
Kenshoo also noted that click-through rate improved along with returns on ad spending. Paid ads saw a 7 percent increase in CTRs when a person had seen both Facebook and PPC ads, “indicating that social advertising was able to positively impact consumer awareness and perception of the brand.”
When combined, search and social advertising also resulted in 4.5 percent lower cost per acquisition, according to Kenshoo.
“On the surface, 4.5 percent may not seem significant when compared to some of the other high numbers reported in this study,” Kenshoo said, “yet ask any advertiser if they could lower their costs to bring in orders by this amount and they would all jump at the opportunity.”
Maybe Google really is listening. At long last, they have finally added one of the most requested features for AdWords by implementing the simple “Undo” function. It is exactly what it sounds like, basically backing up settings for all aspects of your account and keeping track of the changes you made. If you click the button, your campaign will return to the state it was at the specified time.
The most obvious benefit of the new feature is that it will make testing in your campaigns easier. If your newest test results in a lower click through rate (CTR) or cost per action (CPA), all you have to do is undo the changes with a single click.
“The ability to undo changes in AdWords will be a valuable feature to advertisers,” Lisa Raehsler of Big Click Co. told Search Engine Watch. “Sometimes changes will have a different impact on an account than what was intended. Simply using ‘undo’ will save time and ultimately money.
“But remember that account edits influence one another,” Raehsler said. “Some optimization edits are interdependent, so a change on Monday may have forced another change on Thursday. Now the ‘undo’ button is something to consider as a change in and of itself.”
There are still some kinks to be worked out, as it currently doesn’t appear that all changes are being documented, and it is unclear whether multiple changes are being grouped into a single undo.
For business owners this means you can more easily control and target your advertising campaigns. You don’t have to undo your changes by hand any longer, which saves you time to invest in other more important tasks.
The “Undo” feature isn’t live for everyone yet, so it may just be an experiment Google is running. But, hopefully they decide to work out the bugs and make it a universal feature. We have certainly been asking for it long enough.
There’s a new manual action showing up in Google Webmaster Tools, according to Jessica Lee from Search Engine Watch. Webmaster Tools was updated over the summer so that site owners could be notified when a specific type of manual action had been taken against the site, and since then the waters have been fairly quiet. This new type of manual action, referred to as “image mismatch” is the first change we’ve seen since then.
If you see this message on the Manual Actions page, it means that some of your site’s images may be displaying differently on Google’s search results pages than they are when viewed on your site.
As a result, Google has applied a manual action to the affected portions of your site, which will affect how your site’s images are displayed in Google. Actions that affect your whole site are listed under Site-wide matches. Actions that affect only part of your site are listed under Partial matches.
If you end up receiving that message, it is up to you to ensure that your site is showing the same images to users both on your site and within Google image search results. It is possible “anti-hotlinking” tools can cause the issue, so you may have to look through your site’s code on the server.
As with all manual penalties, once the problem is fixed you have to submit your site for reconsideration and wait. And wait. And wait. Eventually, after you’ve waited for what seems like forever, you’ll get a message in your Webmaster Tools account informing whether the manual action will be revoked after review.
Manual actions are penalties at real, living Google employees have placed against your site after determining that you are violating Google’s guidelines. The majority of manual penalties have related to outright spammy practices such as user-generated spam, hidden text, and unnatural links.
Think you can get away with not responding to tweets directed at your brand’s Twitter account? It shouldn’t come as a surprise that ignoring those tweets or even putting off responding, can be terribly damaging to your brand. Social media users have come to expect brand interaction, and Lithium Technologies has released findings that say more than 70 percent of Twitter users have come to expect a response from any brand they’re interacting with. On top of that, 53 percent expect that response within the hour.
Twitter users expect responses even more when they are complaining to a brand. When users are upset, 72 percent think it is reasonable to expect a response within the hour. On the other hand, responses are less expected when users are giving positive feedback or comments.
If you’re dealing with complaints, putting off responding can quickly turn damaging. Over half of the respondents said they would begin to create negative consequences such as telling their friends about their bad experience and expressing concerns through even more channels. One complaint on Twitter can turn into terrible word of mouth rather quickly.
Search Engine Watch has more details from the survey, but it is fairly clear that Twitter users expect interaction, and you’re hurting yourself by not engaging them back.
Metrics are an essential part of every online marketer’s life. They are an absolute necessity for knowing exactly how your campaigns are performing and how you can best make improvements. It may be of some surprise however that these metrics can be broken down and separated into four basic lifestyle stages of marketing: attracting, engaging, converting, and renewing. Everyone has their preferences, but Noran El-Shinnawy has some suggestions for the best metrics for each stage in your process.
Stage 1: Attract
In the first stage, it is best to simply let yourself be guided by a set of three questions, metrics aren’t necessarily as important as ensuring your are communicating the right message to your audience. If you can say yes to the following three questions, you’re on the right track.
Is this the right message?
Is this the right audience?
Is this the right time?
For PPC, getting these three questions right relates to how you are handling techniques like keyword choice, targeting, and bidding.
Stage 2: Engage
Creating the ads is the fun part of marketing. You get to be creative and finally engaging your creative side of your brain is a welcome relief from data and graphs. The metrics will help you measure how others are relating to your copy, but you can also check out these five tips for writing better ads.
Stage 3: Convert
Cost Per Conversion
Revenue Per Conversion
Most often we find ourselves thinking about ROI purely in terms of dollars and sales. But, not every business benefits from that model. For others, ROI could be better informed by being associated with the value of page views, leads generated, and other such considerations.
Start out by installing a conversion tracking and analytics tools. This will open your eyes to the other possibilities for determining your ROI, while keeping you in-tune with the important numbers like total revenue and advertising cost. If you invest in your metrics, you can make smarter bidding decisions, and keep your focus on the most profitable ads for you.
Stage 4: Renew
Returning Visitors Revenue
The end phase is where you make improvements and complete the cycle. After the third phase, visitors have two options. They can convert, or they can choose to not convert. In both cases, there is valuable information to be gathered.
If they didn’t convert, investigate and find out what kept them from converting. You can go after them with targeted remarketing campaigns, or you can analyze their path to determine why they weren’t convinced to convert. Was there a technical problem on your site?
Did they not find your products or services compelling? Were your prices too high? Finding out these answers tells you what you need to do in the future.