Google Analytics Moves to Sessions – Goodbye Visits

I notice today that my Google Analytics screen now refers to “sessions” rather than “visitors”. New visits % are replaced by “new sessions %”. The description unique visitors has disappeared to be replaced by “new users”. In some respects this latter description brings Google Analytics into line with Statcounter, my other web analytics platform of choice. I would also suggest it is a description more easily understood by clients than unique visitors.Google Analytics Sessions Screen

The Google Analytics Sessions Screen

Apr17

Google Removes Adwords Keyword Search String Data

The paid search industry has been buzzing with rumours and actual facts about Google’s latest move to remove the search string from Google Adwords searches.

The search term data is still available in Google Adwords search query reports and still available within matched search query reports in Google Analytics. However, third party systems that parse the search string will no longer be able to do so. See this example from a Statcounter report that I have just run.

Analytics Data Searches 11-4-14

Analytics data searches minus the keyword

As this image taken from a Statcounter report shows 4 of the 6 paid searches are now showing “Keywords Unavailable” and look remarkably similar to the organic searches next to them.

Apparently the data is still available via a Google API and many of the third party vendors of Google Adwords software have mounted major PR offences to push this information out into the search marketing community.

Meanwhile, a Google Analytics matched search query report covering the same period shows all the keyword detail.

The most comprehensive assessment I have seen so far is by Larry Kim on Search Engine Land.

Apr11

Matt Cutts: Facebook and Twitter Signals Don’t Help You Rank

I’ve just picked up on this 4 minute video from Google’s Matt Cutts.  Covered in an article on Search Engine Land, the video is Matt’s response to the question: Are Facebook and Twitter signals part of the [Google] ranking algorithm? How much do they matter?

Matt’s short answer is no. He specifically refers to Facebook likes and Twitter followers as not being ranking signals. His caveat is that this is “currently” and to the best of his knowledge. Remember he works for the anti-spam team. And does not directly oversee management of the Google ranking algorithm. Matt goes on to explain why the social signals are ignored.

My initial response was to share the video and related post on my LinkedIn and Twitter accounts. I also asked the question about the implications for all those social media agencies that are still out there telling people that social media signals do have a direct relationship with Google rankings. Within the video Matt points out that an observed correlation – that is websites with lots of social signals may rank highly on Google – is not necessarily causation.

Jan23

The Content Marketing Show – Strategy

Last Friday I attended the Content Marketing Show in London. This is just the third show in the series. The show is put on by the same people as Brighton SEO. My rationale for attending was to keep up to date with the latest trends in content marketing and the impact it is having on SEO practise.

Content Marketing Strategy Model - Brilliant Noise

Content Marketing Strategy Model – Brilliant Noise

There were several good presentations over the day. However, for me, the most informative was the presentation on content marketing strategy by Lauren Pope of Brighton digital marketing agency, Brilliant Noise. Lauren showed us a model for content marketing strategy, then explained how she goes about sourcing, creating, publishing and amplifying relevant content.

As in all of these models and constructs, the key is how each of the elements link together. Getting a clear idea of purpose and sharing and agreeing that idea with others in the marketing and PR team ensures that content marketing is built on strong foundations.

Conveniently, and as a aide memoire, all of the key elements begin with a “P”.

  • Purpose
  • Principles
  • Platforms
  • Processes
  • People
  • Performance

Nov12

Winning the Work – Digital Marketing, Analytics, Big Data

Following yesterday’s Workforce Revolution conference I have put together my initial thoughts on Winning the Work into a presentation.

At this stage it is very much a work in progress. I will be adding and amending content. And will be pleased to accept any thoughts from other delegates to the Workforce Revolution conference.

Brand Client Engagement

Brand Client Engagement

The discussion covered a number of areas in relation to digital marketing and social media. I also expounded my thoughts on reskilling and repositioning one’s expertise to match market opportunities and demand. Three areas of mention included digital marketing in general, digital analytics specifically and the current flavour of the month, big data.

Oct17

The Great British Workforce Revolution

The Workforce Revolution Conference

The Workforce Revolution Conference

I am out of the office on Wednesday 16th October attending The Great British Workforce Revolution conference in London. The conference aims to discuss and tackle the issues surrounding the growth of the independent director. As well as attending the conference I am involved in a panel discussion entitled “Getting the Work“. My specific brief is to cover the areas associated with utilising digital marketing and social media.

The conference is a collaboration between leading interim management agency Russam GMS and Angel News. Angel News is the leading European news service for the investment market, especially for business angels, investors and the companies they back.

The conference’s main sponsor is Santander Breakthrough.

Oct15

Google Analytics Improves Interface

This morning Google has improved the way it presents data in Google Analytics. This has a high relevance to us at Simply Clicks. Not only does Simply Clicks provide a web analytics service for most of our clients but we also undertake web analytics training, key component of which is Google Analytics. The constant changes underway at Google, including amongst many other things the growth of “Not provided” search and the changes to Google Adwords, have meant that many of our training schemes need more than the usual updating.

Google Analytics Acquisition Panel October 2013

Google Analytics Acquisition Panel October 2013

The first change I have spotted is the change of the “Sources” panel on the left hand side. This has panel has been renamed “Acquisition”.

The panel then contains a number of sub-headings. The old sub-heading for “Search” has now been replaced by “Keywords”. Ironically this splits in paid and organic search. I use the term ironically because of course organic keywords are now dominated by the “not provided” category.

Two new sub-headings are “Overview” and “Channels”. These two sub-headings allow you to see at a glance the performance by the major sources of traffic i.e. Paid search, organic search, direct, referrals and social.

The explorer bar now also has the addition of a summary view. This provides a complete overview of the performance of your website, combining most of the relevant data that used to be contained over the three separate views of Site Usage, Goal Set and E-commerce into 9 columns. These columns are grouped into three and shown separately as groups of three metrics under the headings “Acquisition”, “Behaviour” and “Conversion”.

Google Analytics Summary View October 2013

Google Analytics Summary View October 2013

I have taken a screen shot of a 7 day, this year vs last year comparison.

This shows all nine columns of the summary view. In many respects, this summary view has made the other views redundant as it contains the most important metrics.

I have only used the new version of Google Analytics for 10 minutes or so but it is already growing on me. Unlike many of Google’s other recent changes.

Oct09

The End of SEO as we Know it?

Brighton SEO September 2013 Screen

Brighton SEO September 2013 – One Week On

A week ago today I attended to September 2013 conference of Brighton SEO. I attended various presentations and took several opportunities to speak to many of the sponsors and stand holders. Much of the material presented was of high quality. Since then, I’ve spent a week mulling over much of what was presented and discussed and have finally organised my thoughts in a way that it is worth putting pen to paper. So to speak.

The broad consensus expressed at the conference was that SEO practise had changed radically since the spring 2013 conference. And that we were witnessing the end of old style SEO. A summary is as follows:

Negative Elements – Old SEO

These things are dead

  • Orthodox link building led SEO
  • Anchor text
  • Poor quality content
  • Article marketing
  • Link buying – if not dead – much riskier than in the past

In essence Google are getting ever smarter at spotting spammy SEO and driving the websites that utlise spammy tactics from the top rankings.

Positive Elements – New SEO

These activities become more important:

  • Strong branding
  • Strong marketing programmes
  • Building and managing technically sound websites
  • The publication and distribution of unique and compelling content
  • The ability to participate in dialogue with customers and other stakeholders

As a general consequence of the new environment many of the existing SEO agency business models are now defunct. The models deployed by many SEO agencies no longer work and could, in many case, actually be harmful to a client’s marketing prospects. Further, many SEO agency business models must be called into question. Who needs a link buying budget and someone to manage the link buying programme when the output will be worthless? What about the measuring and tracking software used to count and analyse inbound links of your own and competitor websites?

Following on from this, an SEO agency needs to look more like an advertising agency. Business strategy and branding require a different set of skills from raw link building.

I’ll be adding to this post of the next few days.

Sep20

Get a Life – Facebook is Bad for You!

The Economist Facebook Get A Life

The Economist Takes a Look at Facebook Users

I’ve not blogged for a while on Simply Clicks. I’ve been busy with new client accounts and have just spent two weeks in the South of France. However, an article on The Economist website caught my eye.  The article covers research into the happiness and wellbeing of Facebook users. Essentially it refers to two pieces of research that appear to show, that the more someone uses Facebook, the less happy they feel. In essence, heavy Facebook use is bad for you.

There are several caveats. First, the samples are quite small. In one study, just 82 people and the other 584 Facebook users. Secondly, the reasearch is largely confined to young adults in their twenties. Nevertheless, the research tends to indicate that relying on the social media platform your networking leads to a loss of self-esteem. This in contrast to networking in the offline world. One reason given is that posts on Facebook tend to amplify success and doctor the reality, tending to create feelings of envy.

Ironically, as the image above shows, 24,000 Facebook users had “liked” the article in the two weeks after publication. I suspect that as readers of The Economist they may tend to be lightweight users of Facebook. Anyhow, on a personal basis, as a lightweight user of Facebook, both socially and commercially I tend to feel vindicated by this research. Now, a similar study on LinkedIn would be more interesting from my perspective.

Aug29

Getting to Grips with Blog Comment Spam

Since the dawn of blogging, and its role within the world of SEO, we have all been subjected to some degree of spam activity. And spam is not limited to our blogs – email, mobile phones and even letterboxes are being littered with pointless unwelcome communications that many of us throw in the bin before it’s even looked at.
Comment spam on blogs is a special nuisance and I have been looking for a solution to prevent it for some time.
Some blog platforms make this slightly easier than others. WordPress, for example, provides several preventative approaches and plug-ins to help tackle the spam issue. Akismet provides some assistance with spam posts and is one of the favoured options, although I have noticed it doesn’t actually catch all spam comments and therefore a manual check will still need to be carried out. Blogger allows you to operate a verification, moderation and log-in based systems. The latter has become more important with the rise of Google+ author identities but it is a system that remains open to abuse.
As a result, even if you operate a small blog network as I do then it’s likely you will need to check for comment spam on a regular basis. I’ve noticed that once a network of spammers has found your blogs (especially if they are well optimised) then they will keep returning. Sometimes even utilising ‘bots’ to post onto the blogs and therefore automating the process and making them easier to spot.
Because the amount of spam posting I have seen seems to have increased dramatically over recent months, I have spent a lot of time turning off comments systems on my blogs. Again, WordPress allows this function as does Joomla, but some of the online platforms such as Blogger still require manual removal. The latest spam blitz I’ve received has been for WordPress track backs. So track backs are now being turned off.

There are several ways that these spammers will try and create links on your blogs. Over time I have discovered the following processes:

  • Traditional commenting on blog posts
  • Commenting on blog pages
  • Responding to existing comments
  • Pingback and track back requests

I thought I had all these eventualities covered when I spent time switching off commenting options on all my blogs as well as pings and trackback requests.
Infuriatingly, I have recently started receiving more comment moderation emails. When I looked at the blogs they were for I thought “How are they doing it as I have already switched the systems off on this blog?” This time they are attaching comments to images – more settings I will need to try and alter in order to avoid further issues!

Since the Penguin and Panda updates from Google we have learnt that the value of poor quality backlinks is diminishing rapidly, although many companies (often foreign) are clearly still offering low cost ‘link-building services’ and will go to any lengths to create their link network. In the meantime, those of us with genuine, quality, well-maintained blogs to manage, will have to spend more and more time fighting the anti-spam war!

Jul29