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How to set up a Google Analytics Account

January 6th, 2017

Google Analytics Account Setup

Websites have pervaded our culture in the past 10 years. It’s difficult to avoid using them. In the US, businesses rely on websites to generate leads and sales to keep their margins in the black. For retail, in particular, customer trends are tracked to determine the best ways to identify, target and reach different demographics. Google Analytics (GA) is an online tool designed for just that purpose. When Google Analytics first launched in 2005, data was collected and reported on a per website basis. As digital marketing evolved and web users increased exponentially, Google Analytics’ functions expanded as well. Two notable changes included improved organization and analyzation opportunities.

The biggest update changed the way that website metrics are accessed and stored. Originally a website’s stats were available as “example.com stats”, but after GA’s upgrade in 2014 to universal analytics it was changed so that each website became a property, had a label (accounts), and separated levels to analyze data (views). Compare it to switching from taking notes in a marble notebook, then moving on to a looseleaf binder with dividers to keep multiple aspects of one subject in one easy to reference location.

This structure change enabled website owners to share their data with service providers and team members more easily and securely since users could be locked down to just one view, and GA administrators could limit or edit permissions as needed. Views could be created for specific teams so that they had their own area to track and test items for individual campaigns (a bonus for data geeks like me). The recommended setup is to have at least three views to preserve data integrity: Master, Test, & Unfiltered (or Raw Data).

One drawback is that while Google made the new view recommendations, these were not retroactive to existing accounts. Three years later when you’re setting up a new account, it’s still not automatically implemented by Google. Sure, analytics walks you through naming the website’s account and property, but then it essentially leaves you on your own to figure out how to manipulate and manage the views. To get the most out of your analytics tracking, these three views and appropriate filters should be implemented before you begin to track metrics.

Below we will detail the best way to get your business’ Google Analytics account tracking properly, whether you’ve been tracking traffic for years or are setting up your first account.

How to set up a new Google Analytics Account

1. Log into http://analytics.google.com/analytics/web

2. Click on Admin

3. Under the account dropdown, choose “Create New Account” at the bottom of the list. ***Note*** Each Google account has a limit to the number of accounts it can have access to. The most common limits are 50 or 100 and vary depending on the age of the account.

4. Enter required information as prompted.

Go ahead and implement the tracking code on the site via your preferred method (manual code drop or Google Tag Manager). Once you’ve done that, navigate back to the previous Analytics screen.

Next we’re going to create two new views so that we have a total of 3. The views allow us to filter data while maintaining its integrity.

5. Back out of the Property ID area and click into the View drop down. Click “Create new view” and name one of the views 1 Master. At this point you’ll need to update the default time zone to your actual time zone, if you haven’t already. Click Create View.

6. Repeat, but this time name the view 2 Test.

7. Rename the original view to 3 Unfiltered

Each view allows us to gauge something different:

  • The master view will be the view we look at whenever we do our analysis. It will contain all applicable filters that we wish to track.
  • The test view is used to experiment with implementation and execution. This is handy while figuring out if coding strings catch the way we had originally intended, without corrupting the data in the master view. Create new goals, filters, and attribution models with confidence, knowing that errors can be made and fixed without impacting anything else. Once the new items prove to work they will be applied to the master and unfiltered views.
  • The unfiltered view will serve as a backup for all of the data collected to aid in any future recovery attempts. It’s especially useful if you realize that you inadvertently filtered out a source of traffic or need to evaluate spam traffic hits and trends.

 

Can you add more views?

Sure! Just remember there’s a limit of 25 views per property, so choose how restricted you’d like to make each view wisely. New views may be set up to display specific information sets to relevant teams. For example, you may create a view just for tracking PPC campaigns, and another just for the IT team.

How do I break out an existing property?

If you already have analytics running and haven’t worked with views before, then you are likely working with one view. What we need to do is create two new views and rename the original. The question is which of the three views will the original view become? It depends on whether there are any filters applied to it.

If there are no filters, rename the original view as the Unfiltered view. This way you will be able to maintain the longest possible history of pure data.

If filters are already applied, rename the original view as the Test view to maintain sample data for testing.

Speaking of filters, which ones should I be applying?

The main filter you should be applying is an IP block for your company or team’s access to the website. This is important because it filters out unneeded visits that may falsely inflate stats. When we get down to it, does it really doesn’t matter how many times Ken from Tech had to reload the About Us page while he was uploading the new copy? Not really. If we keep those reloads in with the pertinent data it would cause the Time on Site and the Sessions metrics to skyrocket, and analysts may read it as the page being more interesting to users than it actually is.

Are there any other benefits to this set up?

Yep! User rights can be defined per level, which means that you can define where users have access to. For example, now you can give Ken access to view the data for your client facing website and not for the company’s intranet that is on another property. You could even limit Ken’s access to just a specific view. For example, if Ken is part of the Web Dev team, he could only see a view set up for IT to diagnose errors without having to use advanced filters to sift through marketing campaign implementations.

As you can see, setting up Google Analytics properly from the start will make accessing your site’s data easier to find and understand for everyone involved in working on it. The best part is that once it’s set up there’s no need to drastically change the settings. Happy analyzing!

Have questions on how your analytics account is set up or want a pro to look at it for you? Call Active Web Group today and let our team of experts set you up for success.

Google Chrome Takes Steps Towards a More Secure Web in 2017

December 23rd, 2016

Most of us browse the web under the assumption that where we go, the sites we visit, the search terms we use, the time we spend on any site, as well as purchases we make, are private. Many are not, allowing third parties to view, collect, and repurpose any and all user data extracted from sites that are not encrypted. Additionally, whenever users access a non-secured site, those unknown third parties can also review or modify the site before it opens on your screen, replacing real content with bogus messaging, images, etc.

How can users identify sites that are secure from those which are not? Websites that are secure will begin their URL with “HTTPS:” Sites that are not encrypted start their URLs with “HTTP:” But who looks at a website’s URL when we are shopping online? Or click on a link for more information? Beginning in January, 2017, Google Chrome, the popular web browser, will begin to roll out new connection security measures aimed at informing web users when they are on a non-encrypted website. Not only will this enable web users to make more informed decisions when using the internet, but also encourage more websites to better serve their clients and customers by establishing a secure socket to protect themselves and their visitors from potential security breaches and fraud.

Security Measures to Influence Ecommerce to Take Action

Next month, Google Chrome will begin labeling HTTP connections as “non-secure”. On the public side, site visitors will see this message when they log in:

The icon and text that reads “Not secure” informs users as to the site’s security, and their vulnerability to third parties, and enables them to make a decision as to whether they will continue to a site where their actions may be a matter of third party record. This proposed update is expected to promote more online businesses to upgrade to secure socket sites that encrypt user data, making it more difficult for third-parties to hijack data for their own purposes, including logins and credit card information.

Google expects that the proposed enhanced-security rollout will influence online businesses who have been encryption stragglers to take action. To date, Google has stated, a substantial portion of web traffic has transitioned to HTTPS, and its usage is ever-increasing. As a step to affect greater compliance, Google expects the measure to be successful and cites that since an initial report 11 months ago, 12 more of the top 100 websites (by number of users) have transitioned their serving default from HTTP to HTTPS. (Author: it is not known how many of these top 100 sites are encrypted, only that 12 have transitioned to HTTPS in 2016.)

Following this rollout, Google intends to extend HTTP warnings by labelling these pages as “Not Secure” while users are in Incognito Mode (where there is presumed to be a greater sense of privacy). Eventually all non-secure pages will be labelled as such, the goal is to provide maximum security as part of an enhanced, issue-free, user experience.

Active Web Group designs, builds and maintains websites utilizing the latest techniques and technologies to ensure web security for our clients’ businesses. For more information and a confidential consultation, contact us at (800) 978-3417.

Google Begins Mobile-First Indexing

November 23rd, 2016

The majority of Google searches are performed on mobile devices and the volume increases yearly. Yet, up until now, Google has indexed sites based on a website’s desktop version. This created a discrepancy between ranking and relevance when searching on a mobile device. That focus has recently shifted.

Attempting to make search results more relevant, Google has begun to implement tests that will lead to the indexing of mobile content to determine ranking results. These experiments will create a more accurate website representation in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) across devices and increase the mobile user experience in the process. What does this mean for your website?

If your website is already mobile-friendly, there is no need to change or upgrade. In fact, you should gradually see your rankings increase. However, if your website is not mobile-friendly, your website may not receive the same advantages.

What if I don’t have a mobile presence?

If you don’t have a dedicated mobile site or a responsive site, the search engine bots will continue to crawl and index the desktop version of the site. There will be no penalties due to not having a mobile site. However, there will also be no advantages. As the internet and your industry becomes even more competitive daily, why ignore this opportunity to gain additional market share?

All indications point to this ultimately being what we’ll call a “bonus point” update. In other words, websites that are better adapted to mobile use will be awarded points which will allow their websites to rise in the SERPs and rank higher. Long term, it would be best for your website to be mobile accessible.

Don’t want to be left behind?

We hope we have provided some clarity and direction for your online enterprise. Assisting our clients’ to fulfill their online business objectives is our goal. For a confidential review of your website, we invite you to contact Active Web Group’s Digital Marketing Specialists at (800) 978-3417.

LEADING LONG ISLAND WEB DESIGN FIRM TO “JUMPSTART” CLIENTS’ ONLINE BUSINESSES

July 19th, 2016

Leading Long Island Web Design Firm Forms Alliance with Conductor To Deliver Comprehensive Web Development Packages for Clients

Hauppauge, NY, July 19th, 2016: Active Web Group (AWG), a leading digital agency headquartered in Hauppauge, NY, today announced it has formed a strategic alliance with Conductor, the enterprise technology industry leader, to deliver customized web development services. Active Web will support Conductor’s “Jumpstart Packages” initiatives. These are professional collaborations with clients to determine their online goals and objectives. AWG will then craft customized websites that fulfill these stated objectives and have the capacity to grow along with their businesses.

“Our Jumpstart packages are designed specifically to enable customers who want the benefits of investing in organic marketing, yet don’t have the resources to make it happen,” said Seth Besmertnik, CEO, Conductor. “AWG was the natural choice in selecting an agency partner for our Web Development Jumpstart package as they are market leaders in building customer-first websites, and have acquired top clients through their knowledge and expertise. This partnership brings our best-of-breed technology together with leading service, creating an integrated experience for our customers to succeed and deliver results.”

“Active Web Group has built thousands of solid client relationships by providing highly effective eCommerce and lead-generation websites for their enterprises,” notes Michele Gray, Chief Operating Officer, Active Web Group. “As Conductor’s Jumpstart Program Ambassador, Active Web Group will incorporate our experience and expertise using Conductor’s superior platform to increase quality leads and conversions even faster.”

In recent years mobile users have eclipsed those who use desktop computers, thereby dictating that websites must be responsive and easily accessible from cell phones and tablets. Active Web Group fully understands this user paradigm as well as Google’s mandates. AWG crafts client websites sites that are fully-compliant and very SEO-friendly, making them an ideal partner for Conductor.

Online business owners interested in increasing their market share can receive more information on this program by contacting Conductor directly.

ABOUT CONDUCTOR

The Conductor Searchlight platform generates customer intent insights that lead to compelling content, increased traffic, and higher organic marketing ROI. Conductor enables marketers to understand their prospective customers’ intent by revealing the trends and topics they are searching for at every phase of purchase process. Customizable dashboards and workflows guide marketers through the content creation process, empowering them to continuously measure, refine, and demonstrate the effectiveness of their SEO and content marketing efforts. Conductor’s forward-thinking customers include global brands like Citibank and FedEx, emerging leaders like Birchbox and Munchkin. Conductor was ranked #38 by Inc. Magazine in its Fastest Growing Private Companies list and has been recognized by Crain’s Best Places to Work in America for six years running. Learn more about Conductor at www.conductor.com.

ABOUT ACTIVE WEB GROUP

Since 2003 Active Web Group has provided thousands of firms nationwide with the digital agency services required for their online businesses to gain market share and remain competitive. Our specialties include Email Services, Web Design, Web Development, Responsive Web Development, eCommerce Website Development, Pay-Per-Click, Affiliate Marketing, Remarketing, Programming, Social Media, Search Engine Optimization, and other Digital Marketing services. Learn more about Active Web Group at www.activewebgroup.com.

Local SEO – Why Keywords Matter

June 27th, 2016

Local SEO

For businesses, such as restaurants, that draw their clientele from their immediate area, selecting and implementing the right local keywords will drive relevant traffic to those client websites. For ecommerce businesses who draw their customers from anywhere, implementing the correct national keywords will attract the most prospects to their sites. Remember, when it comes to ranking on the SERPs, businesses are not ranking for keywords, they are competing for industry relevance. The right keywords and skillful and continuous SEO campaigns and initiatives will ensure that your clients receive their rightful market share.

What Are Local and National Keywords and Why Do They Matter?

Keywords are an integral part of any Search Engine Optimization (SEO) campaign. Before we delve further into keywords, let’s agree that without an SEO campaign, an online business is essentially not in business. Without continuous application of SEO initiatives, including keywords, those searching online for your goods and services will not be able to find you. So whether you’re using them within website content or for PPC, keywords are used to reach your target audience. Did you also know that a keyword is not always just a keyword? Keywords can be used effectively as part of a marketing strategy to target a specific demographic in a given location. Not understanding that keywords can be localized or nationalized means that you may unintentionally be targeting the wrong website users.

(Very) Short History Lesson

Search engine results pages (SERPs) are the pages that are shown after a user types a term or words to locate something on a search engine, then clicks the search button. This is called a query. The search engine runs a process to pull all the entries that are related to the query and then presents them to the user as a results page. Over time, the bots have become more intuitive in the way that they can find the results for these pages you were actually looking for. The websites that the bot pulls as matches are found across multiple dimensions. The main dimensions are:

Words – are the words you searched for on the website

Location – is the phrase that you searched for geographically based

Intent – is the phrase as it is implied or is there a secondary or third influence to the query

When search engines were first created, the most they could do was match words from your search query to the words on a website. Once websites became more mainstream, people wanted to be able to find local businesses easier, so the search engines evolved to be able to return geographically based results. To find these listings, users had to enter their queries in the following manner:

[search term] [city] [state]
-or-
italian restaurant hauppauge ny

This only worked so well, though, as website owners listed as many cities and states that they could think of servicing on their site. As Google is wont to do, they started learning. They implemented a tool off of their search box which allowed for users to pick the location they wanted to search from. While this tool was implemented, Google learned which queries were actually location based and which ones were less so. Today, the search engine has removed this search feature and automatically serves SERP content based off of whether the query was found to be a national or locally-based. For those trying to find items or services in locations other than their own, Google will continue to honor the old location syntax in use before the location tool was implemented.

Okay, My Head is Spinning—Just What Does this Mean for My Business?

It means that keywords should be reviewed for reach (local or national),as well as for relation to the website they’re being associated with. Just because keywords have a city and state appended to them does not mean that they will automatically work for localized SEO. This is due to the search volume.

By adding the city and state to a keyword, you’re actually creating a new keyword. (This is why a keyword is not always just a keyword.)

Let’s use italian restaurant as an example. The keyword italian restaurant currently has 165,000 average searches per month. However, this keyword is one that returns a localized SERP, which means that users will find local restaurants. If we choose to initiate a local search originally using italian restaurant hauppauge ny the average monthly search volume is 30. Therefore, by pursuing the keyword italian restaurant hauppauge ny you are cutting your chances to receive users by 99%.

A local keyword is a keyword that returns results from the surrounding geographical area. An example of a local keyword is “italian restaurant”. This query will return local business listings that are close to where you initiated the search from, and allows you to find a great bowl of pasta quickly.

A national keyword is a keyword that returns results from the rest of the country. An example of a national keyword is “white board marker”. This query will return listings to help you learn about what you searched for, without regard for location.

ROI vs. KPIs

June 10th, 2016

ROI vs. KPIs

To gauge the performance of any online business, a sound Search Engine Optimization campaign will gauge the impact of determined Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) on that business’ Return on Investment (ROI). Both are benchmark metrics to gauge the health of any enterprise. To begin, every business should have a business plan, which includes clearly stated business objectives and the KPIs that will indicate that their business is on track toward achieving an acceptable, if not exceptional, ROI. When creating an effective SEO campaign, only the KPIs that influence business outcomes should be monitored. To be effective, KPIs must be:

Relevant

Only metrics which are relevant to achieving business goals and objectives should be considered as KPIs. If the business sells a product and also maintains it, the number of products sold is a relevant KPI. The number of units it maintains, is not. A quick relevance check is to gauge if a proposed KPI metrics performance has any impact on the firm’s ROI. When those KPIs that do vary off their projected course, it is understood that corrective action be taken immediately. Or, happily, if the variance is an unexpected uptick in sales, for example, to continue on the existing path without intervening.

Accountable/Quantifiable

KPI performance will reflect a number that indicates at a glance how performance is behaving. That number, such as units sold, will also indicate if the business is on track to achieve stated business objectives.

Specific

Indicators provide information about a specific area of a business. When determining a KPI the question should be, what performance is expected of this marker and what action will need to be taken if the KPI fluctuates up or down?

Actionable

Effective KPIs reflect the objectives the company is carrying out. If the company sells a product, how many units of that product must be sold to break even, or to show a profit? If a KPI is units sold, and it has been determined that a certain number of units must be sold by a given date, then steps must be taken to remediate if the number of units sold falls short by that predetermined date

Timely

KPIs need to provide real-time feedback so business owners and planners can readily see any issues as these develop and intervene quickly. If the bulk of one’s revenue is tied to holiday retail sales and pre-holiday sales are lagging, intervention in the form of a promotional sale may be implemented to ensure that revenues are not further impacted.

Achieving a Healthy ROI

Successful businesses do not blindly create business goals and objectives, and then hope that sales figures make their goals a reality. Business needs determine business goals and KPIs indicate if the journey to that destination is going well or needs to be rerouted. It could be stated that if a healthy ROI is the goal of any business, then the KPIs are the means to the end. An example of ROI would be if sales for a given product eclipse the costs incurred to manufacture, warehouse, distribute and sell it. In other words, not just the cost per unit to produce the item, but also the costs incurred throughout the supply chain as well

Who needs an SEO campaign to manage this? Every online business. A professional SEO campaign is effective, accountable and actionable, just like KPIs. Their performance is tracked, gauged, compiled, reported and analyzed. These results are delivered to business clients at regular, timely intervals and explained in detail, as required. Fluctuations are noted immediately and downward metrics are tracked and remediated as necessary. For a confidential consultation regarding a professional SEO campaign that utilizes the right KPIs for your business to achieve a solid ROI, please contact us.

Reaching Your Customers in a Content Saturated World

May 26th, 2016

Reaching Your Customers in a Content Saturated World

Websites – The Internet is Full of Them

In an online world that offers numerous solutions to any given problem, businesses must use every advantage available to make a connection with potential customers. The goal is to establish a relationship of sincerity and trust over their competitors. Websites are the ideal medium. Through different advertising efforts, a website allows businesses to infiltrate user’s lives in unobtrusive, and often unrealized, ways to better the user’s lives with their products or services. In order to create this spark, a website must be carefully crafted with a number of skillsets, yet once the site is produced there is often an area that is overlooked – what the site actually says.

There are an overwhelming number of business websites that are practically void of content

Copy and other content projects are left as the last item on the checklist of things to complete pre-launch. It is also often delayed to post because copywriting is comparably easy to execute and is a continually evolving portion of the website. Once the site is launched, business owners typically step back from the website to concentrate on their core business objectives. Content then becomes a project that they will get to “when they have time”. Sometimes writers will be hired from freelance sites such as fiverr to draft some basic pieces to fill empty pages. Then the thrifty web business owners spin or duplicate this same content across the remaining pages of the site. The result leaves users with a website that may be beautifully functional but unable to deliver the unique information they were looking for. Search engines do not approve of this approach either.

Unlike a TV or Radio Commercial, Internet Users are Looking for a Way to Interact with an Entity
Internet users become prospects when they visit a website. Once they arrive they are looking for products or information. This intel can range from getting a sneak peek behind the scenes of how a service works, or how a product is produced, or maybe even an entity’s mission statement. If the website serves up information that has been copied from other websites, or can be found generically elsewhere, then they have no reason to remain on your website when Wikipedia will suffice.

These types of issues have become so rampant that even Google has stepped into the fray. They have implemented the Panda algorithm as part of their core algorithm. This means that now Google will be reviewing and rating websites based on what the site actually says, how effectively they convey it, and how well it matches a user’s intent. The results of Google’s change are that many websites have lost their once steady rankings in certain verticals to make way for websites that offer clearer answers to users’ queries.

Users Make Snap Judgements About Websites

Websites have a total of 5 seconds to grab a user’s attention and answer their need. If the site’s content fails to convey the answers users are looking for in that timeframe, the opportunity to connect is lost. In the worst scenario, poorly focused copy leads to a website being delisted from search engines. In a better version, the site is ranked for terms in the wrong verticals. This leads to a reduced number of leads because the wrong demographic is utilizing the site.

Place Content at Front of Mind

How do we avoid these scenarios? Or even fix them? By placing copy and its relevancy at front of mind. Ensure that the content and copy presented is relevant to the type of user you’re trying to attract. Simply put, know your demographic and write content that speaks to them. Present information clearly and concisely, make it easy to read and easier to understand.

If you’re unsure of how your website’s copy stands up against the competition, contact us here at Active Web Group. My team and I will be happy to perform a complimentary content audit on one of your website’s pages. You can call us at 1-800-978-3417, by filling out our contact form on the right, or by sending an email here.

Breaking News: More searches performed on mobile devices vs. desktop computers

May 8th, 2015

We SEO’s have been waiting for this moment for about a year and a half. Google has officially confirmed that more searches occur on mobile devices than on computers in 10 countries, which include the US and Japan. Google also groups tablets like the iPad in with computers, so smartphone-generated searches are truly outclassing tablets, laptop computers, and desktop computers combined. Read More »

Mobile Friendly Search Results

April 1st, 2015

In the USA, 94% of users prefer to use their smart phones and tablets to perform local searches instead of using their desktop devices. If your site doesn’t currently read well on a mobile device, chances are you’ve already lost business by not being able to convert mobile users. Now to add to it: Google may not even rank your site in mobile search results at all. Read More »

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