Four quick daily Google Analytics checks

Here are four quick daily Google Analytics checks courtesy of Senior SEO Manager Jack Stonehouse. 

Google Analytics is a free service offered by Google that provides insights and data for your website traffic. It has a vast amount of useful information that you can use to ensure your business is on track. It can however be quite overwhelming when you log in there are hundreds if not thousands of reports you can view and create.

Below are a handful of quick and simple checks you can do for your website. I prefer to change my date view to show the last 30 days or so, this gives me a better trend across the month. I will also review all the reports compared to the previous 30 days and the same period last year. Comparing year on year will help identify any seasonal trends.

What we are looking out for is any major change that isn’t in line with the normal trend.

1. Channels

The channels report is found by going to Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels. This report covers the main mediums that send you traffic. The key channels are:

  • Organic Search – This is all traffic from Search Engines (Google, Bing, Duck Duck Go etc.)
  • Paid Search – This is traffic from PPC ads such as Google Adwords
  • Direct – This is traffic that comes from users that type your website domain name straight into the browser, it is also a catch-all for traffic that Google cannot identify and is just placed in the Direct bucket
  • Social – This is traffic from social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest
  • Referral – This is traffic to your website from other websites
  • Email – This is traffic from Email campaigns

The key stats to check on the channel report are Users, Sessions, Bounce Rate, Conversion Rate and Revenue/Goals (Revenue for E-commerce websites and Goals for all other sites).

 

You can change the data that is displayed on the graph by using the menu/drop down highlighted red in the screenshot above.

2. Referrals

The referrals report is found by going to Acquisition > All Traffic > Referrals. This report shows traffic to your website from other websites.

This check is just a quick one to see if there are any new websites that are driving traffic to your site. If there are you could potentially contact them to see how you could both work together to increase the traffic further. This could be through providing them content with another link back to your website, or if have an affiliate system setup, you could ask them to sign up.

3. Landing Pages

The landing pages report is found by going to Behaviour > Site Content > Landing Pages. This report shows which pages users land on when they first come to your website.

This is important to monitor for any vast changes in visits, some common situations for an increase in landing page traffic are if a social post goes viral, you get a good backlink that is driving traffic or a key term starts ranking in a high up position in the Search Engine Results Pages.

4. Ecommerce Overview

The ecommerce overview report is found by going to Conversions > Ecommerce >Overview. This report is just for sites that sell products and shows key information such as revenue and conversion rate.

You need to enable this report by adding ecommerce tracking to your website, it is also recommended you add enhanced ecommerce tracking so you get even more in-depth data to review.

Key stats to watch here are any drop in revenue or conversion rate, some reasons could be due to an item going out of stock or an issue with the checkout process.

For more detailed statistics you can also view the following e-commerce reports (once you have enabled enhanced tracking):

  • Shopping Behaviour
  • Checkout Behaviour
  • Product Performance
  • Sale Performance

If you have any questions then please leave a comment below or get in touch with our friendly team here.


snail-on-a-mouse

4 quick tips to speed up your website

Snail on a Mouse
Your website might have an amazing design, be well optimised for conversions and get good levels of traffic but there is one issue that could make all your hard work go to waste: your site speed is too slow.

The time it takes for your website to load is now one of the most important factors that affects how well it converts. With the industry focus having shifted firmly onto mobile search by users who have little patience and demand near instant search results, a load time of 5 seconds can result in up to 25% of your search traffic bouncing and going to one of your competitors instead.

And we don’t want that, do we?

The good news is that there are some pretty straightforward things you can do to speed up your website. However, before you start tinkering, it’s a good idea to benchmark your current load time first. There are many tools available to help you do this – we recommend using GTmetrix, Pingdom Tools or Google’s own tool PageSpeed Insights.

Once you have established your benchmark, take a look at these 4 simple ways of making the necessary improvements to your site. In our advice, we’ve focused mainly on WordPress websites but you should be able to implement these solutions on most websites.

1 – Get the right web hosting service

Let’s start with the basics. If your web hosting is poor, then frankly none of the tips mentioned below are going to make any difference. This is a key area to get right from day one – but what is ‘right’? There are so many different types of web hosting – shared hosting, reseller hosting, VPS hosting, dedicated hosting – with some services costing as little as 99p while others will set you back over £100 a month. Which to choose?

When it comes to hosting, the old adage ‘you get what you pay for’ couldn’t be more appropriate. Cheap 99p-type deals will most likely be on second-hand servers with thousands of other websites hosted alongside. While this may be sufficient for, say, a small blog that gets a handful of visits per month, higher traffic levels won’t be able to cope and your website will crash.

As an absolute minimum, a website that is used to advertise a service should be hosted on a VPS (virtual private server) to give you more control over the hosting. With ecommerce websites, it’s important that they’re hosted on a dedicated service designed to deal with large volumes of traffic and that is secure enough to handle payment transactions.

2 – Optimise your images for web

When a website is built, it is best practice to upload any images in the required size, i.e. the size that will actually be displayed on the site. However, this doesn’t always happen. Often, the developer will upload images in whatever size they’ve been supplied, perhaps scaling them to fit using CSS. This is far from ideal since large image files (1MB+) can seriously slow down your page load speed.

WordPress does a pretty good job at resizing, and of course there’s always Photoshop. In addition, there are a number of free online tools you can use to compress images, such as tinyjpg which allows you to upload up to 20 images at a time and gives you the optimised images as a download, ready to use on your site.

Also available are plug-ins such as wp-smushit but these won’t give you as much control as resizing manually, and if you’re not happy with the image quality you’ll have to restore a back-up and re-upload from scratch, which is neither user friendly nor time efficient.

3 – Implement browser caching

Caching is a way of telling your browser to store certain elements of the website, such as image and CSS files, so they don’t have to be loaded every time. Implementing this is probably one of the quickest ways to improve your site load time.

There are literally hundreds of WordPress plug-ins to help you do this, the most popular being W3 Total Cache. It works straight out the box and you can also tweak the settings to enable more advanced caching, such as minifying CSS and JavaScript.

Some servers offer settings such as gZip and other caching plug-ins, but these vary depending on the server type, operating system and web host. It is certainly worth contacting your host to ask about any additional settings they may be able to activate for you.

4 – Maintain your WordPress plug-ins

It should go without saying that any WordPress plug-ins that you use should be kept up to date at all times. No doubt you are aware that any failure to do so puts your website at risk of being hacked. But did you also know that old plug-ins using outdated scripts can lead to your site slowing down?

What’s more, unused plug-ins in WordPress will sometimes still load, and may use the database, even if they’ve been disabled. A by-product of this is that your site will take longer to load. Make sure that any plug-ins that you don’t use are completely deleted from the website.

At Artemis, we’ve been helping businesses to get the most out of their websites since 2004. From local campaigns for small companies through to global ecommerce sites for international brands, our capable SEO team is fully focused on achieving tangible, measurable results for each client. Why not get in touch to see what we can do for your website?


SEO Extensions for Chrome

chrome-extensions

There are thousands of Chrome extensions to use when it comes to SEO, so finding the gems out of all of these is an ongoing task. I tend to add a new extension a week, but often find it has issues or just doesn’t work how I want it to.

Below are my top picks of extensions that I use on a daily basis to help increase my productivity and make my life a little bit easier!

BuiltWith Technology Profiler

This extension gives you an overview of what CMS a website is using, the server information, email information, nameservers and SSL Certificates to name a few.

 builtwith

Redirect Path

This is a great extension that shows you any redirects, 301, 302, 307, and error codes 404 and 500. It is ideal for doing quick redirect checks if you are moving a page URL and don’t want to fire up Screaming Frog to run a redirect report.

MozBar

A pretty standard extension that 99% of SEOs most probably have installed. Doesn’t need much explaining, but gives you basic stats, DA, PA, followed links to name a few.

Google Analytics Debugger

This is extremely useful when it comes to debugging any issues you have with analytics. It shows you every time the GA code is fired, any events that are fired, and any errors.

You start it by clicking the extension icon and then loading the Javascript console (press F12 in Chrome). It will then print the information surrounding the GA code on the website.

ga debug

SERPs Preview Tool

This extension gives you an overview of what your page would look like in the Google SERPs. You can also make on the fly changes within the extension so you can see what any changes you might make would look like in the SERPs.

It is worth noting that it can be a bit temperamental and doesn’t always pick up the meta description.

serp preview gif

Fat Rank

Fat Rank is a very easy to use one off rank tracker. You can quickly check the rank of any keyword in any country for the website you are on.

fatrank

You just navigate to the domain you want to see the rank for, enter your keyword and away you go. You can export up to 50 keyword ranks to CSV for Excel which is nice!

fatrank export

Ayima Page Insights

This extension gives you information about the page that you are currently on. It flags up any issues, graded by severity (Yellow, Orange and Red).

It identifies some on page issues such as no or too long a title tag and multiple H1s. It also flags up more technical issues such as the canonical tag pointing to a different URL.

ayima

Tag Assistant

This is an extension by Google that flags up any tracking codes that you have on the website. It shows you if any of your tags have errors, and how to fix them.

tag assistant

It also shows how each tag is being called if it isn’t hard coded into the website, for example if your Analytics code is being run through Google Tag Manager

tag assistant2

LinkMiner

LinkMiner is a great extension that helps you very quickly identify broken links on a page. Be it for checking your websites, or for outreach when checking a links page to outreach to a site owner as an example.

In a matter of seconds, it shows you how many links there are on a page, how many are working (with a 200 header status) and how many are broken (4XX or 5XX header status). You can then export this data to a CSV file to play around with in excel. The links on a page are then highlighted green or red to show if they are working or not.

linkclump
On page highlighting of live and dead links
On page highlighting of live and dead links

 

A more recent feature that was added to this extension was to run it on a SERP to see stats about each website that is returned for a keyword.

linkclump serp

Link Clump

With this extension, you can very quickly open, copy or bookmark links that are on a page. You can set it up to work with a shortcut, or in my case I choose to have it activate when I right click my mouse.

I find it works best when you want to get some more detailed stats about URLs by using URL Profiler or SEO Tools for Excel, as you can very quickly copy the links off a page into these two tools.

Awesome Screenshot

Does what it says on the tin! You can very easily screenshot a section of the webpage, what is currently visible or you can grab the whole webpage.

Once you have taken your screenshot, you can very easily write notes, or add symbols to the shot to share with colleagues.

If you create an account with Awesome Screenshot, it enables a few more options including being able to share a screenshot with others and allow them to add comments to the image.

awesomeSS

February 2017 updates

Full Page Screen Capture

Sometimes Awesome screenshot can be a bit buggy when it comes to Parallax sites or sites with sticky headers. This is a great alternative to grab a screenshot of the whole page. No fancy extras like cropping or being able to add boxes and arrows, but works great!

Pushbullet

This plugin is great for quickly sharing links, pictures, text, in fact pretty much anything you can think of, between browsers and mobile devices. You can also add your friends to the plugin, so you can quickly send anything to them as well.

Another feature is that it can display mobile notifications, such as text messages and phone calls on your desktop and allows you to interact with these. So for example, you can reply to text messages direct from your browser, and see any calendar notifications etc.

All in all, it is a great plugin that helps save time!

Page Ruler

Page Ruler is a quick and easy way of measuring the size of anything on a web page. It not only gives you the dimensions of the item selected, but also the top, bottom, left and right pixel sizes which is great for workign out the margin and padding if you are a web developer as well.

ColorPick Eyedropper

This plugin gives you a few different pieces of information about any colour on your screen. You can highlight anywhere and it gives you a box with the hex code, RGB, and HSL (Hue, Saturation and Lightness).

This is handy for very quickly grabbing Hex codes for if you are designing any banners, or need to change the CSS.

I hope that you find these handy, and if you have any extensions that you use and want to be added to this post, then leave a comment below, and I will check them out!


Expanded text ads Changes January 2017

As of the 31’st January 2017, Google Ads will be changing its advertisement formatting. You will no longer be able to create Standard text ads and will now only be able to create Expanded Text Ads (ETAs). The idea of these new adverts is to get more information into the same place so that people can learn a bit more about your company before visiting your website. The Expanded text ads have been designed specifically to look better on mobile phones which could benefit many businesses’ as they could be targeting people who are always on to go. PPC can be one of the best promotional techniques to get your business out there either locally or worldwide. Google Ads can be extremely expensive so you want to make sure you’re getting value for your money, and one of the easiest ways to do this is to design an ad that speaks to your target audience and brings them to your website.

So whats going to change?

The main question on most people’s mind is what is the difference between a standard text ad and an expanded text ad? Well, the title gives it away really, the amount of space available for text has been expanded. In other words, you have more space to promote your business or offer; instead of the normal two 35 character text boxes that you would’ve been given when creating a standard text ad, you will now be given one 80 character text box which means you have a bit more space to get your message across. Headlines have also been updated. Now instead of just being able to have one 25 character headline, there are two lines available, both of which allowing up to 35 characters! This is the first thing somebody will look at when they see your ad, so make sure your title is gripping and draws the reader in. This has been specifically designed for smartphones and will therefore, change a number of lines your title is spread across depending on a person’s screen size. Google is definitely trying to make adverts better for people who are on a mobile device.

The URL which is shown on your add has also changed. Instead of showing your display URL you can add path fields; for example, if you owned a music website and wanted to advertise your Rock Music band page instead of just www.music.com appearing you can now have www.music.com/rock-music/bands. Not only will this help your adverts relevancy, but it might also persuade people to click on the advert as they know what the page will be about!

Conclusion

This update from Google will make a huge difference when it comes to viewing adverts from a mobile device, while making it easier to  get your messaging across in the adverts at the same time. Any Standard text adds created before the 31st January  will still be available after, however, you will not be able to edit them or create any more. If you haven’t already, start making the most of the extra character limit and get your ads moved over to ETAs.

Thanks for reading and feel free to get in touch if you want any advice around your PPC campaigns.


Panda, Penguin, Possum – What’s what?

panda-penguin-possum

September was a bit of a manic month for SEO, with the new Google update named Possum affecting the local search results as well as Penguin going real-time in the algorithm. In this blog, we will go over three of the most important recent updates in the SEO industry and establish what they are doing to your search rankings.

Panda

Panda was first launched in February 2011 (hitting Europe around March 2011). It was one of the biggest and most significant Google updates to hit, with up to 12% of Google search results being affected.

The Panda update was introduced to stop websites with poor quality content from ranking at the top of the Google search results. It forced webmasters to focus on quality rather than quantity.

How to avoid tripping the Panda filter?

  • Don’t use duplicate content – Using content that already appears on another website is one of the ways you can get hit by the Panda algorithm. Google will only rank the original source, so this will have no benefit to your website.
  • Don’t write thin content – We often see thin content on websites; this is when a page is only a couple of sentences long. This is unlikely to rank and will only end up causing you issues.
  • Ensure the content is in the website’s native language – Outsourcing content can seem like a quick and easy way to get content up on your website, but remember, well written content isn’t cheap. There are plenty of websites out there that offer content for £5 or less, but the chances are they will be provided by people whose native language isn’t English. Look for writers based locally to you who can provide you a better service.
  • Write quality content – Really it all comes down to this: write good quality content for the user about topics that provide value and information to the people who visit your site.

Penguin

Google launched the Penguin update in April 2012. It affected around 3.1% of search queries. There have been multiple updates since then and it is now part of the core algorithm. It was created to lower the rankings of sites that were using tactics such as creating spammy backlinks, buying links and using private blog networks.

Google introduced the disavow tool in October 2012 which allowed webmasters to tell Google which links to ignore. So if you had undertaken any unnatural link building, you could basically say sorry to Google and upload a list of bad links. This only affected a site hit by Penguin when the update refreshed which, up until recently, was over two years ago, so lots of webmasters were waiting for a while for this to take effect.

In September of this year, Google announced that Penguin was now part of the core ranking algorithm, and they wouldn’t be stating anymore updates around Penguin.

What does this mean for webmasters and SEOs?

Google will now automatically discount low quality and spammy backlinks without a disavow file in place (although they are saying you should still disavow bad links).

Any new links built to a website will now have a near immediate effect on a website’s ranking; no more waiting a few weeks for the algorithms to refresh!

Possum

Possum is a name given by the SEO community to the update at the beginning of September 2016 that affected local SEO.

The Possum update changed the boundaries by allowing businesses that were based outside of the town or city’s location to rank for a local term. It also started to limit the number of results shown per address. So, for example, if you are a solicitor with many different departments verified in Google My Business, Google may choose to only show one of these in the results.

It is also limiting the way virtual addresses are shown, as many businesses will use the same address to try and get exposure in a location where they don’t have a physical office. The good thing about the new update is that there isn’t as much of a need to try and trick Google now as they can show you in the results for a town close to your office.

If you need any more information, or have been affected by Panda, Penguin or Possum, then give us a call for a chat – 01444 645018


Google officially launches AMP results in Mobile SERPs

 

Google has today started to display Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) pages in SERPs that trigger a news listing. To see the new AMP results, search for anything that triggers the news results box such as ‘The Brits’ or ‘Pensions’ from a mobile device.

You can identify the AMP compatible pages by the green lightning icon and AMP next to it.

AMP Small

When you click onto an AMP result, it loads a version that Google has cached. This is to help increase the speed that the page loads. You can also swipe left and right to see more results, rather than having to go back to the SERP and clicking onto the next result.

AMP Gif opto

 

If you run a website that triggers a news result SERP, you should start to implement AMP as soon as you can. There is plenty of documentation out there, but we recommend looking at the official AMP site for more information. If you use WordPress, you can install this plugin to help optimise your pages for AMP.

How does it work?

AMP works like the majority of other HTML pages, apart from it uses a reduced set of functionality that will still load in any modern mobile web browser. There are a number of technical and code based advantages when using AMP which helps page load time and the user experience.

Google also caches the AMP pages in the cloud to make the load time even better for users.

As it is a fairly new technology, it will be interesting to see if Google starts rolling this out to non news based SERPs. We are monitoring it closely here at Artemis to see how it progresses.

If you are looking for any help setting up AMP on your website or any help with your Search Engine Marketing, then please feel free to give us a call on 01444 645018 or drop us an email.