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  • 4 Hidden Gems in Google Analytics

    Monday, May 2, 2016 by

    4 Hidden Gems in Google Analytics

    Have you been trying to figure out how you can improve your website? It’s nearly impossible to create a higher converting or more valuable website if you only operate on guesswork alone. To truly take your website to the next level you need to be tracking and collecting valuable website data.

    There are numerous ways you can optimize your website based upon collecting website and user data. One of the most effective and easy-to-use tools is Google Analytics. This free tool can give you tons of valuable data. However, even those who do use this tool only end up getting basic traffic reports.

    Below we’ll show you four different ways to you can use Google Analytics to greatly improve your website and conversion rates.

    Let’s get to it.

    1. Do Continuous Testing

    Google Content Experiments is a tool within the analytics platform that allows you to test varying aspect of your website to see which changes will improve your conversion rates.

    Split-testing is the only way to know for sure which changes will tangibly improve your website. To run a content experiment navigate to the section of your analytics dashboard via Behavior>Experiments, as shown below:

    Google Analytics Content Experiments

    Then, name the experiment, create an objective, and set up the area of your website you’d like to test.

    Common elements you’ll want to test include:

    • Your headlines

    • The size and color of your CTA/CTA buttons

    • Landing page copy

    • Overall page verbiage

    • Font-size

    Make sure that when you’re running a test you only test for a single variable at a given time.

    2. Know What Devices Readers Are Using

    It’s important to know which devices your users are utilizing to access your website. For instance, if most visitors are using their iPads to view your site, yet you know your site performs poorly on this screen size, then fixing your site will lead to an increase in user experience.

    This data can be found within the Audience>Mobile>Overview section of your analytics dashboard.

    Google Analytics Device Overview

    Take note of any devices or screen resolutions that are the most commonly used, and make sure your website performs well across these. Remember, most user preferences are shifting towards mobile. This might not be true for your market, but it is true for most.

    3. Measure Site Speed

    Site speed can effectively kill your conversion rates and overall visitor satisfaction. Most users will expect your site to load quickly, so it’s important to decrease your overall website loading speeds.

    To pinpoint any slow loading pages navigate to Behavior>Site Speed>Page Timings. This will give you an idea of any underperforming pages.

    Google Analytics Page Timings

    To find suggestions that will help you improve your overall loading speeds navigate to Behavior>Site Speed>Speed Suggestions.

    Google Analytics Site Speed Suggestions

    This is a great place to start optimizing your website. Slow loading websites don’t do anyone any favors.

    4. Pinpoint Any Traffic Leaks

    Do you know which pages of your website are losing the most traffic?

    Most sites have traffic funnels, where a user will enter at one point, go through a funnel, and hopefully get converted into a new lead. However, there are usually holes in your site that will cause a user to exit the funnel. It’s important to diagnose these, so you can patch them.

    To find traffic leaks navigate to Behavior>Site Content>Exit Pages. Look for any pages that have a very high exit rate. These are the pages you’ll want to spend some time figuring out why people are leaving the page in such high numbers.

    Google Analytics Exit Pages

    Google Analytics can be an extremely powerful tool to unlock the potential of your website, if it’s used effectively. The hidden gems we showcased above are the just starting point to creating an analytics strategy that gets you results.

    What’s your favorite way to use Google Analytics? Please share in the comments below.

    Screenshots provided by Jeremy Jensen

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  • The ABCs of Creating An A/B Test With Google Content Experiments

    Thursday, April 21, 2016 by
    The ABCs of Creating An A/B Test With Google Content Experiments Which of these two calls-to-action would be more successful when placed on one of your website’s pages? “Want to learn more? Click here!” “Limited-time offer – click here now!” Think that’s an easy one to answer? Actually, it’s just a rhetorical question; there’s no correct answer. For example, a reader just being introduced to a product might respond better to the first option offering more information, while another who’s already been pre-sold might jump on the second choice. Different audiences will respond to content in very different ways. In fact, there’s no legitimate way to determine which one would be “more successful” until you define “success.” Is it total number of sales? Gross income? ROI? Size of the email list you’ve built? You have to specify the goal you’re trying to accomplish before you can judge “success.” Choosing between calls-to-action is difficult enough. It’s even harder when you’re trying to decide between two different versions of an entire page. That’s when A/B testing becomes imperative. And thankfully, Google Analytics now makes it easy to create an A/B test for your content, with Google Experiments.

    What Is A/B Testing?

    Even if you’re not familiar with the concept of A/B content testing, it’s simple to understand. Let’s say you’re considering changing one of your website’s pages (call it “content A”) and have written an alternate version of the page (call it “content B”) that you think might convert better with your visitors. If you show half of your traffic “content A” and half of your traffic “content B,” and then measure the results (remember, you need to define your goal in advance) – you’ll be able to tell which page works better and whether you should make a permanent change. You might think that anything that sounds so easy must be difficult or expensive to implement. It was, once upon a time, and there are still a number of complicated and costly in-house software programs you can use for A/B testing and much more sophisticated analysis. However, there are now a number of web-based solutions which will let you do A/B content experiments, from the inexpensive Optimizely (which has a simple-to-use WYSIWYG interface) to the well-known and much pricier KISSmetrics (which lets you dive deeply into a massive pool of data). For standard A/B content testing, though, you can’t beat the Experiments system that’s built into Google Analytics. That’s partly because it’s surprisingly full-featured, partly because it’s not too difficult to set up – and mostly because it’s absolutely free. Let’s look at how it works.

    How To Create an A/B Content Test With Google: The Preliminaries

    We’ll assume that you already have a Google Analytics account and that the code is installed on your website. If not, go ahead and set it up. We’ll wait. Welcome back! You probably think that we’re going to dive right into setting up an A/B content test, but that’s getting ahead of things; you wouldn’t pull out a recipe and start baking unless you knew you had all of the ingredients you needed on hand, and we’re going to do the same thing here: ingredients first. To start, make sure you have your “B content” – the page that you want to test against your current page – ready to go and posted on your website, with the URL readily available so you can cut and paste when you need it. (You can actually test up to twelve pages at one time in the Google Analytics Experiments tool, but for now, it’s easier to discuss A/B testing than A/B/C/D/E/F/G/H/I/J/K/L testing.) If you’re going to test click-thrus to another page, have that URL available as well. Next, decide exactly what you’ll be using as your criterion for success; most will want to maximize revenue or transactions, but some may want to track the time spent on the page, ad clicks, or another metric. It’s important to make this decision before setting up your test. Finally be sure that your Google Analytics tracking code is posted on both pages that you’ll be testing. How To Create an A/B Content Test With Google: The Experiment OK, let’s get started. Open your Analytics control panel, where you’ll select the “reporting” tab, then look in the left-side navigation bar for the “Behavior” section, and click on “Experiments” underneath it. Click the “START EXPERIMENTING” button on the next page, and you’re ready to set up your A/B test on the screen that opens. (If for some reason there’s already an experiment set up in your account, click on “Create experiment” to start a new test.) The “Create a new experiment” screen will open.
    1. Enter whatever name you’d like to use for the test in the “Name for this experiment” field; make it something unique that will be easy to recognize later because your test will be running for weeks or months, and you may want to create other experiments in the meantime.
    2. “Objective for this experiment” is the most difficult area of this screen. It’s where you’ll be identifying the criterion for success you decided upon in the last section. There will be existing choices in the “Select a metric” drop-down menu like Adsense (to measure impressions or clicks), Ecommerce (to measure revenue or transactions), and Site Usage (to measure metrics like time spent on site or average number of page views). If you want to use an Ecommerce metric, you’ll need to have Ecommerce reporting enabled in your main Analytics setting and the correct JavaScript added to your pages. You can get exact instructions about this in the Ecommerce section of your Analytics dashboard.
    You can also create your own goal, such as click-thrus to a new page or number of video views, by clicking “Create a new objective.” The easiest way to set this up is to select “custom” on the first page that comes up, enter a name for the goal and select its type (Destination, Duration, Pages or Event) on the second page, enter the relevant destination page or event (the one you have ready to cut and paste) and an optional monetary value per click or sale on the third page, then click “Save goal.” Click back to the “Objective for this experiment” page and you’re all set. Don’t worry, this is actually a lot easier than it might sound.
    1. The next choice on this screen is “Percentage of traffic to experiment.” This selects how much of the traffic to your site will see the original page and how many will see your “B content” page – but there’s one tricky thing to consider. With this drop-down, you’re choosing what percentage of visitors will be participating in the test, not how many visitors will see each version of the page. That means that if you choose 50%, you’re not deciding that 50% of visitors will see “A” and 50% will see “B.” You’re deciding that 50% will see “A” by default (the normal page they’d view) and 50% will be entered into the A/B experiment – so 75% of your visitors will end up seeing “A” (50% + 25%) and 25% will see “B.” Bear this in mind when making your selection.
    One other note: if your alternate page is very different than the original, you may want to limit the percentage of visitors participating in the experiment in order to minimize potential revenue or conversion losses. You can always increase the percentage in the middle of the experiment if things are going well.
    1. The “Email notification” choice is self-evident.
    1. “Advanced options” has one important selection you must make. Checking “Distribute traffic evenly across all variations” will ensure that each of your pages continues to receive an equal amount of test traffic. If it’s not enabled, Analytics will automatically start sending more traffic to the page that’s performing better. The former will give you a test that’s standardized across the testing period, while the latter will start maximizing performance as the test proceeds while still rendering accurate results. There are two other advanced options you can consider: “Set a minimum time the experiment will run” will prevent Google from naming a “winner” too soon, and “Set a confidence threshold” allows you to decide how decisive a measurement you want before Google declares one page better than the other.
    Allow yourself a sigh of relief. It now gets much easier. After you’ve saved your changes, the next screen is “Configure your experiment.” This is where you copy and paste the URLs for the “A content” and “B content” pages; click “Save Changes” and you’ll be shown the experiment code for the A/B test. Copy it and paste it onto the “A” page, right below the <head> tag near the top, then click “Save Changes” again. If you’ve done everything right, Google will validate the code and tell you that you’re all set – or if there’s a problem, you’ll be shown the errors which need to be corrected. In rare cases, Analytics won’t be able to find the code on a complicated page or a web server whose settings prevent it. If this happens and you’re sure you haven’t made any mistakes, don’t worry about the validation. Click “Start Experiment” and off you go. (You can also choose to “Save for later” if you’re thinking about making changes.)

    How To Create an A/B Content Test With Google: The Results

    Once everything is set up your A/B experiment will start right away, and after a day or two you’ll begin seeing results which can be viewed in your Experiments list. The main window will show the test’s status, major details and the number of visits the pages have received; if you click on the experiment’s name, you be taken to a more detailed window. There you can see a wealth of information in table and graph form, based on the goal you selected when the test was set up. This can include the percentage of users who accomplished the goal, and the numerical or monetary value of their goal completion, if applicable. You’ll be able to tell how well each page is doing, see comparisons between page performance, and even Google’s estimate of the probability that the new page will outperform the old one by the time testing is complete. If you allow the A/B test to run to its normal completion, you will see one of three possible status reports:
    1. Ended (Time limit reached), which means the experiment ran for three months (or the time period that you chose during set up) without a clear winner.
    2. Ended (No winner), which means there was no statistically significant difference between the performance of the two pages.
    3. Ended (Winner found), which we probably don’t have to explain. The winning page will be identified on the data page, along with all of the specifics.

    FAQ

    Here are a few frequently asked questions about the use of Google Experiments for A/B testing – and their answers. Q: Should I start making changes to my site if I see an early trend in my reports? A: No. It can take several weeks for traffic to stabilize and reliable trends to emerge; even if the numbers look overwhelming, Google won’t declare a winner for at least two weeks to allow data to stabilize. Q: Is it a good idea to test more than two pages at once? A: It can be, but bear in mind that additional variations will mean that a lot more traffic will be needed to draw reliable conclusions, since visitors will be divided between all of the tested pages. More traffic requires more time, so be prepared to wait longer for results. Q: Should I consider a “multi-armed bandit” experiment? A: For those who aren’t familiar with the term, it refers to the “Distribute traffic evenly across all variations” option discussed during the set up of your experiment. You’ll remember that if you don’t choose this option, Analytics will begin diverting more traffic to the better-performing page over time, which is known as the “multi-armed bandit” approach (named after a hypothetical slot machine experiment). While this may seem counter-intuitive to proper testing procedures, there are advanced mathematical models showing that this approach is not only statistically accurate but more efficient, so you get results more quickly while maximizing performance. If you trust the science more than your gut, it’s a good alternative. Q: Should I run more than one experiment at the same time? A: As we’ve mentioned you can up to twelve concurrently, but be aware that as you run more and more tests, they can start interacting and produce results which are difficult to analyze. You can try it, but it’s safer to run just one or two at a time unless you’re sure they won’t conflict. Q: Can you run a Google Experiment with pages that serve dynamic content? A: Not if the content is served by means of permalink-type URLs. If the pages use query-string parameters, you should be OK.
  • Use These 10 Nifty Google Operators To Search Like A Pro

    Thursday, April 7, 2016 by
    Advanced Search Operators on Google Don’t you wish that sometimes Google could read your mind? It’s easy to waste time typing in search after search, only to give up in frustration, after not being able to find what you’re looking for. If only there were a way to unlock some hidden features of Google search that could help you find exactly what you were looking for. Well…there is, and they’re called Google search operators. Below we highlight some of the most common Google search operators that will help you craft more defined searches, so you can find exactly what you’re looking for every time you search.

    1. Search For Exact Phrases

    Searching for exact phrases in Google The most effective way to find very specific search information is to use quotation marks around your search terms. This will run a search for your phrase in the exact order they’re presented. For instance, if you search for “how to play basketball” it will search for that exact phrase in that exact order.

    2. Search For Information Within A Single Website

    Google information within a specific website If you’re looking for information that’s featured on a single site, then you can use a crafty search variation to filter out all other websites. Just search for relationship site: huffingtonpost.com to search for all mentions of the term relationship across the website Huffington Post.

    3. Search For Similar Content

    Find Related Sites Using Google Advnanced Operators If you know there’s a website you love and enjoy, and you’d like to find more content that’s in alignment with that website, you can use a search term like related:cnn.com. Just substitute the site mentioned above for the site of your choosing.

    4. Exclude A Type Of Word From Your Search

    Excluding a word in Google search Sometimes the word or phrase you’re searching for might have an alternate meaning that you’d like to exclude from the search results. For cases like this you’ll want to use the exclude modifier, which will look like this: inception -movie. The image search results aren’t always modified, per the example above.

    5. Search For Words Within The Text Of The Website

    Find words within the text of a website Sometimes you’ll be looking for an exact phrase to appear within the text of the website. This will enable you to find the exact phrase you’re looking for. This search can also be expanded to the page title or URL as well. Using intext: will search the text, intitle: will search the title, and inurl: will search for the URL.

    6. Search For Number Ranges

    Search number ranges in Google If you’re looking to search for a number that’s in-between a range of numbers, then do the following search, president 1910..1920. Substitute the phrase and numbers for the range you’re looking for. This is a great kind of search if you’re trying to answer a specific question that demand and exact date.

    7. Search For An Either Or Scenario

    Using the OR Operator in Google When you’re searching for something, but don’t know the exact terminology that’s going to be used you can use this search to help you find what you’re looking for, for instance, web app OR website, can be used to help you determine the difference between the two terms.

    8. Search For A Particular Location

    Search by location in Google If you’re looking for news stories, or information, that are tied to a specific location, then use the search new bakery location:austin. This will only pull up websites that are related to your search terms, and are in close proximity to the location you specified.

    9. Search For A Specific Type Of File

    Search Google by File Type If you’re doing research, or need to find a certain downloadable file type, then you can use Google to execute this search for you. This will only work if the file you’re looking for is hosted on the specific website. To look for certain files, use a search like site:cnn.com filetype: pdf. You can also use a more general version of this search, without including the exact site specification to turn up a larger number of results.

    10. Search For Missing Words

    Find missing words in Google Sometimes you might be looking for a missing word to a song lyric, or phrase. By using the * symbol Google will attempt to find that missing word for you. For instance, we’ll do a search for the phrase “* in the rain.” This brings up a collection of topics that are related to that missing word search. Never again do you have to go without the information you need to find. By using the operators above you’ll be able to craft expert searches that will help you find the perfect statistic, research document, reference, or obscure movie fact. Have more advanced Google search operators that you use? Let us know in the comments!
  • 5 Google Analytics Metrics Every Small Business Should Monitor

    Tuesday, April 5, 2016 by
    Metrics To Use in Google Analytics The Internet has made marketing easier than ever before with the abundance of tools that exist online. These online tools allow us to connect directly with potential customers without ever having to leave home. Since marketing is defined by the action of promotion and adverting, it's very important to know what's working, and what efforts are eating your time and budget. This is where data comes into play, and despite the ease in which we can share content, knowing which data metrics are important can be much more challenging. Why is this? Well, because there are virtually hundreds of ways you can examine how your content is reaching customers, but only a few measurements actually tell you what's providing returns on your investments. In this article I'm going to discuss five Google Analytics reports that every small business owner should be monitoring.

    1. The Acquisition Overview

    To find this report in the Google Analytics dashboard select Acquisition > Overview. Reviewing Acquisition Overview in Google Analytics This report will break down how many people have visited your site within a given interval, and where they came from. The most important number within this report is search traffic, with a good rating being above 50%. This is because 'search traffic' is synonymous to how many people found your website using a search engine. If your website is optimized correctly, you should be appearing within the first couple pages of Google. 75% of people using a search engine won't look beyond the first page, and so if your search traffic is under 50% it might be time to work on improving your SEO.

    2. Social Reach and Engagement

    To find this report select Acquisition → Social → Landing Pages. How To See Social Reach in Google Analytics Social media metrics, while they're straightforward to get, can be difficult to correlate between reach, engagement, and action. However, the best figures to pay attention to are which Social Networks are sending you the most visits. If you're using more than five different platforms, this report will show you which platform deserves the most attention. If Facebook is driving the most traffic, you can then head to Facebook Insights and see what type of content is producing the best returns.

    3. Total Conversions

    One of the biggest mistakes most businesses make when reviewing their reports, is strictly looking at site averages, and not setting up any goals. Without setting up goals you won't be able to see whether or not your visitors are taking actions to complete conversions, i.e. making a purchase, subscribing to your newsletter, or signing up for a service. Setting Google Analytics Goals To start setting up your goals:
    1. Go to your Google Analytics standard reports
    2. Click on the “Admin” button in the top right.
    3. Click on “Goals”
    Here you can create a number of customized metrics to account for specific actions that take place on your website. Common goals include: Tracking specific URL's, visit durations, sign-ups from specific URLs, and conversions from social media advertising.

    4. Bounce & Exit Rates

    You've probably heard the statistic before, but for the emphasis of this metric, as it has been shown you only have three seconds to capture a visitors attention on your website. Therefore, it's highly important to trace which pages are bringing them in, and which are causing them to 'bounce' in search of more appealing content. Bounce Rate - Bounce rate measures the number of visitors who landed on a specific page and then left without visiting any other pages on your site. Exit Rates - Exit rates will show you visitors who landed on your site elsewhere, viewed two or more pages, and then decided to leave. This is equally important as it also indicates a page where your visitors tend to lose interest.

    5. Conversion Rate By Channel

    Measuring conversion rates by specific channels will assist you in determining your ROI. Google Analytics has a campaign tracking tool that monitors specific URLs attached to Ad campaigns. For example, by running a Facebook Ad campaign targeting a product, or landing page for a service, you'll be able to analyze meaningful data on how well that campaign is performing independent of other campaigns. If you have any questions on how to set-up any of these metrics, feel free to leave it in the comments!   Screenshots provided by Jeremy Jensen 
  • How To Optimize Your WordPress Images For Google Image Search

    Thursday, March 10, 2016 by
    Optimize WordPress Images For Google Search Images are one of the essential foundations to any good website. Functionally, aesthetically, and technically, images have many aspects of which a lot of website owners don't realize can, and should, be optimized. Every time someone opens one of your web-pages on WordPress, all of the content whether it's text, images or additional pieces of code that power the plugins, need to be downloaded from the server onto their computer. Images that are optimized correctly can greatly benefit your SEO by appearing in image search results, assisting to steer more traffic back to your web page. For the purposes of this post I'll be covering the basic methods for easily increasing your images search-ability from the WordPress dashboard, in addition to mentioning a few good plug-ins that will help load your images faster.

    Image Metadata Within The Dashboard

    Optimizing Images on WordPress For Search Search engines may be able to find duplicate images on the web, but unlike humans they cannot describe what an image is. Within the media uploader on WordPress there are four boxes capable of being filled out in order for your images to be fully optimized. The four boxes are the title, the caption, the alt text and the description. Title The title of your image is generated from the file name you had saved on your computer (Which can be changed). Rather than leaving your images named “Image_10.jpg,” give it a name that describes the photo in short form. It is most important to give the image context for non-essential information, but isn't taken directly into account for SEO ranking. Caption The caption does not directly affect how well your images rank in the search engines, but they do grab peoples’ attention on your page, and keep them browsing longer. On-page time is a huge factor when determining the value of your site in search engine algorithms. The caption will appear under your image in a grey box, and should provide a good description of the image itself. Alt Text Alt text is added to images for times when someone may have images disabled on their browser, or when images failed to load. Make sure to add alt text that includes the SEO keyword you're trying to rank for. Description The description section actually plays a vital role when someone lands on the attachment post page for the image. It is formatted to allow more text, and your focus should be to give a thorough description for long keyword searches, but keep it entirely relevant.

    Image Optimization Plugins

    The main purpose of image optimization plugins is to take images that may be too large (File-size, or dimension) and compress them to load faster, thus improving your sites ranking. WP Smush.it This plugin can optimize one image at a time, or in bulk, whether it's a .jpeg, .png, or .gif. It will take larger files (1mb free version, up to 5mb pro edition) and compress the file size without deteriorating the quality of the image. While many people are under the assumption that high-res photos are better for viewing purposes, you really only need a certain resolution to achieve the same result while greatly improving your site's functionality. PB Responsive Images In 2015 Google implemented a new algorithm penalizing websites that aren't adaptable for mobile devices. The same shift applies to sites that don't have responsive images and text. This plugin reformats your images to adapt to different screen sizes, giving you the greenlight when search engines crawl your site for adaptability. Do you have any additional tips to help optimize images for WordPress? Please share in the comments!
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