How to Set Up Google Analytics on Your Website

Last time we looked at your Current Online Presence and discussed some basic questions.

  • Do you have a website?
  • Do you or your organization have full control this site?
  • Do you have access or do you have someone that can quickly update your website?
  • Do you currently track what happens on your site? (i.e. Google Analytics, Omniture, etc.)

Now let’s assume that you answered yes to the first three points, but you’re not currently tracking what happens on your site. There are many different website analytics programs out there, but we recommend Google Analytics to most of our clients. It is cost effective (Who doesn’t like free?!?) and very powerful. In this post I’ll walk you through how to set it up on your website.

Let’s get started!

First thing you need to do is head over to the Google Analytics site: http://www.google.com/analytics/

If you already have a Google Account go ahead and sign in, if not, create an account.

google anaylitics homepage

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Once you’ve created an account or clicked sign in, you’ll be greeted with the following screen.

login to GA

Click on the sign up button.

Next you’ll have to choose what you want to track: “Web site” or “App.”  Choose “Web Site” and fill out the form. *Make sure you choose the correct time zone or your timing will be off. This could affect your reporting later.

Since this is also a new account make sure you set up the account name. This can be the name of the web site, the name of your company or anything else you would like to use. Don’t use your name though this might cause confusion, unless of course this is the name of your company too.

Lastly choose your Data Sharing Settings. We recommend keeping these checked. This way you can link/share data with other services from Google such as Adwords as well as receive benchmark data from other websites in your industry.

Then click “Get Tracking ID” and agree to the terms and conditions.

  GA set up form

Next you’ll be put into the “Tracking Info” section of the Admin Panel. This is where you set up what type of website tracking you would like to use.

  • Subdomains
  • Multiple top-level domains
  • Display Advertiser Support
  • Custom campaign tags (we’ll discuss custom campaigns in a later post)

You can see the full descriptions in the image below.  I you are only using one top level domain (i.e blackbirdesolutions.com) you can leave this section the way it is and go on to the next step. If not chose the appropriate options. Our site uses Subdomains so I clicked on the “Subdomains of blackbirdesolutions” toggle and switched it to “On.” As you do this you’ll notice the code changes in the box under your selection. It adds the line of code:  _gaq.push([‘_setDomainName’, ‘blackbirdesolutions.com’]);

GA website tracking setup page

Once you have your code. Copy and paste it into your site. You can do this manually by adding it to the <head> section of every page right before the closing head tag: </head>

Example:

<head>
<meta http-equiv=”Content-Type” content=”text/html; charset=utf-8″ />
<title>Untitled Document</title>
<script type=”text/javascript”>

var _gaq = _gaq || [];
_gaq.push([‘_setAccount’, ‘UA-xxxxxxxx-1’]);
_gaq.push([‘_setDomainName’, ‘blackbirdesolutions.com’]);
_gaq.push([‘_trackPageview’]);

(function() {
var ga = document.createElement(‘script’); ga.type = ‘text/javascript’; ga.async = true;
ga.src = (‘https:’ == document.location.protocol ? ‘https://ssl’ : ‘http://www’) + ‘.google-
analytics.com/ga.js’;
var s = document.getElementsByTagName(‘script’)[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(ga, s);
})();

</script>

</head>

In our last post I recommended using a content management system or CMS. Most of them will have a plugin or section in their setup to add Google Analytics code. Our recommendation, WordPress, uses plugins. We use a plugin called Google Analyticator, which allows you to authenticate with your Google login. So there’s no copying and pasting needed.

Once you’ve copy and pasted or linked your account to your CMS, you’re all set!

You can now track what visitors are doing on your site. Later we’ll help you with reporting and understanding the data in Google Analytics.

google analytics report overview

 

Happy tracking!

Ready, Assess, Fire, Aim – Laying the Groundwork for Online Marketing

This is the second post in our series “Killer Online Marketing for 2013

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Many of you have probably heard the popular mantra, “Ready, Fire, Aim.” This is often adopted to keep people or organizations from getting bogged down in the analysis face of making decisions and to promote action. So it can be interpreted as; Take Action, Learn from these actions and then make corrections.

Great! We all need to take action. However, we have a slightly different mantra when it comes to online marketing campaigns.

Ready, Assess, Fire, Aim

Nobody (especially your client or boss) wants to waste money. So the first part of our series is about seeing if you’re ready, by assessing your current situation and ready, assess, fire, aim laying the groundwork for online success. We see too many people that just start firing away without any idea about where they currently are or a plan for what they want to accomplish. Usually they get frustrated quickly and give up with the complaint, “online marketing just doesn’t work for me.”
We don’t want that to happen to you!

Let’s get started.

Current Online Presence

The center of your online universe is your website. Don’t let anyone convince you that you no longer need a website. Facebook, Google+ or whatever other platform may be hot at the time you read this, is not a replacement for your website. Besides a host of other problems, what’s hot now may not be in the future. Remember that thing called MySpace?

Now, we need to figure out if you have the basics to get started. The following is a checklist to help you judge this:

  • Do you have a website?
  • Do you or your organization have full control this site?
  • Do you have access or do you have someone (this could be you, a team, department, consultant or consulting firm, etc.) that can quickly update your website?
  • Do you currently track what happens on your site? (i.e. Google Analytics, Omniture, etc.)

If you answered yes to all of the above, Awesome! You’re ready for the next step. If not don’t fret. We have some recommendations.

Do you have a website?

There are many ways to tackle this one. Of course it wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t tell you we can help you with this. We’d be happy to build a custom site for you. If you would like to find out more info about this, website constructionjump over to our Web Development page.

Don’t have the money yet or you’re a do it yourselfer? There are options for this too.

For do it yourselfers that aren’t so technically minded, we love Squarespace. They offer many templates that you can customize without have to know any kind of coding, although they do also offer packages for developers as well. They’ll even help you register a domain. But I’ll let them tell you more about it. Watch the Squarespace Demo.

For do it yourselfers with more technical ability we recommend WordPress. This is a popular blogging platform that has grown into a full website content management system.  It is open source software that is free to download. You can host it yourself or you can sign up for an account at WordPress.com.  For just a blog using their domain (yourname.wordpress.com) it is free, but for a site and domain etc., there is a fee.

Do you or does your organization have full control of your site?

This eliminates Facebook and similar platforms as an option because they can make drastic changes to your presence without warning. Think back to all the changes Facebook has made in the last couple of years. Do you remember what company pages used to look like with tabs along the top? I can’t stress enough your website is the center of your online universe and you need to be in control of it. Below is an example flowchart for how things should be structured online.

oline marketing flowchart

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Do you have access or do you have someone (this could be you, a team, department, consultant or consulting firm, etc.) that can quickly update your website?

This is also very important. To successfully capture leads and prospect you need to have the ability to create/remove landing pages, lead capture forms as well as other pages. (We’ll talk more about this when we get lead generation.) This also includes some form of blogging.

We hear many complaints from people where they had a developer create a site for them, but then it becomes a huge hassle and is costly to make edits or add and remove pages. The best way to alleviate this is to make sure when you build a new site, or if you already have a site, set it up on a content management system or CMS.

A content management system (CMS) is a computer program that allows publishing, editing and modifying content as well as maintenance from a central interface. Definition from Wikepedia

I already mentioned a couple of options: Squarespace and WordPress. Our first choice for web development is WordPress, but there are a few others that are worth mentioning.

  • Joomla Open source and free to download.
  • Drupal Open source and free to download.
  • Expression Engine Core version is free. There is also a pay version that offers more functionality.

Any one of these would be a good and would give you the ability to add and remove pages as well as blog.

Do you currently track what happens on your site? (i.e. Google Analytics, Omniture, etc.)

Website analytics are a key component of any campaign. Without some sort of measurement you have no idea if your campaigns are successful. Plus, how can you improve if you don’t know how you’re doing?

With website analytics you can track simple metrics such as; Visitors, Bounce Rate, Referring Sites, etc. Where it really gets exciting though is when you start looking at more complex reports like Page Efficiency Analysis, Visitor Acquisition Efficiency and Conversion Rates vs. Medium. (We’ll help you create reports like this in the “AIM” portion of our series)

Here are two of the leading website analytics tools that we recommend:

Adobe’s Omniture

This is a pay tool that is very powerful and used by many large well known organizations. It is a very complex tool that can track just about anything you want. The downside is, it can be pricey for many smaller organizations and the complexity can be a bit overwhelming.

Google Analytics

Google offers a free version as well as a pay version. The pay version, like Omniture, is costly and mainly for large organizations. However, the free version is a great tool. This is what we use for our site, and what we recommend to most of our clients. It is very intuitive and easy to configure, as well as very powerful.

Google analytics example

With this simple list you can make sure your foundation is ready.  If you didn’t answer yes to all the questions, then the next step in your action plan is to make sure you turn your “noes” into “yeses.”

Have questions or comments? Let us know in the comments.

In our next posts we’ll talk about how to put some of these tools to work as well as onsite SEO.

5 Changes to Google Analytics You Need to Know Now

I’m typically not a big fan of infographics, but thought this one was quite good. Brian Clifton Author of Advanced Web Metrics with Google Analytics shared this over the weekend. There are several changes coming to Google Analytics that are going to be pretty important. You’ll find 5 of them below.

 

What's coming next for Google Analytics

Google Webmaster Tools Adds Search Query Alerts

If you already use Google Webmaster Tools (If not, you should be!), then you’ve probably seen the Search Queries Feature, but Google has now added alerts for Search Queries data. So now you can be notified when something changes with the search queries where your site is showing.

The Search Queries feature gives insight into how your site is performing. It shows things such as impressions, average position and clicks to your top pages. Usually these metric follow a pattern. With the new service you can be notified when something out of the ordinary happens, such as a spike or a drop.

Here’s an example alert:

This way you’ll be on top of things if there is a technical problem with your site or to better understand if there is a send change in the trends in the demand for your content. Sometimes these changes can be a result of a database failure that causes errors in some of your content, or a mention of your site on a social network, blog or another site. All of these scenarios would warrant a closer look.

Also, don’t forget to turn on your email notifications:

google webmaster email notifications

Read the announcement over the Official Google Webmaster Central Blog

How to Use Google Analytics to Maximize Effectiveness in AdWords

Often times clients fall for the expectation that use AdWords can be set up and forgotten and the dollars will roll in with very minimal engagement on their part. If you’ve spent any time running an AdWords campaign, you probably understand that this is typically not the case.

In many cases bidding for the 1st position ad could bankrupt a company.  Here are some questions to ask yourself. Does the number 1 position produce the most cost effective option? Can I bid for a lower position and get more bang for my buck?

So, after you ask these questions you might start pouring over data in AdWords; Exporting, pivoting, creating tables etc. This could consume hours of your time.

But not to worry there is help in the form of Google Analytics!

google analytics

Keep reading to find a quick way to measure the best position for you keywords by analyzing the visits, bounce rate, conversions and more.

  • First log into your Google analytics account
  • Next, in the sidebar menu click on “Advertising”
  • Then “AdWords”
  • And then at the bottom of the “AdWords” menu, click “Keyword Positions”
analytics keyword positions

Here you can see the number of visits the keywords in AdWords are receiving and the corresponding site metrics. You can see how long visitors are staying on the site, the bounce rate and if you are tracking revenue in analytics, even if you aren’t using Analytics to track revenue this can be extremely useful.

google analytics keyword positions smudged

Average time on site: You can see here that the best position is actually #2.

google analytics keyword positions TOS

In terms of “Bounce Rate” the #2 and #3 positions have better rates then the #1 position.

google analytics keyword positions bounce rate

After looking at the various metrics, you can determine the target position where you get the best results. In this case it’s position 2 or 3. If you are tracking the value of your conversions you can show the average value for each position.  In this case the only position that converted was the third.

google analytics keyword positions ecommerce avg revenue

This makes it quite simple to decide where to target.

Now we’re going to automate this, so jump over to your AdWord account. Click on the “Campaign” you want to look at in the left navigation menu. Then click on the “Keywords” tab and search for the keywords you would like to automate. Select the keywords by ticking the box on the left and then select “Change max. CPC bids when…” under the “Automate” dropdown menu.

Here set the bid amount that you would like to use for raising the bid and the position you want to hit. Under requirements choose “Avg. position” and “worse than.”  Then enter the position. You can also adjust the frequency. I typically start with every day and I like first thing in the morning so you can start each new day with the appropriate bid. Don’t forget to “Preview results.”

google adwords change bid

You’ll need to also set an upper limit as well, so that you bids don’t blow up because of the automation. In this case choose; “Decrease bid”, “Avg. position” and “better than” and enter the position you want to hold.

Once you’ve set up both rules don’t forget to monitor your data and the rules carefully to make sure you are still on track. It may take some tweaking to hone in on the best settings.

With this you should be able to automate your AdWords account by using your Google Analytics, but still nothing beats a set of eyes. So, make sure you are checking up on how things are going. 

—————————————————————————————————

Need help with your AdWords accounts or or deciphering the Analytics behind. We can help: Contact us for a free quote.

Very Sneaky of You Google – Google Hides Old Version of Analytics in Footer

If you haven’t weened yourself off of the old version of Google Analytics, you may have logged into and to your horror discovered there is no longer a link to the old version on the header.

no old version of google analytics in header

Instead of the tear it off quick like a band-aid approach Google is trying the slow smoker’s patch version. If you look at the footer you’ll see that last comfort patch there giving you the security you need. But, enjoy it while you can, we all know it won’t be there long.

old google analytics in footer

Is Google Walling Out the Rest of the Internet to Make Their Search Better?

In the last few months we’ve seen a number of changes released by the search powerhouse Google. The updates are coming at a fast and furious pace. Today’s addition as well as one of their previous changes have been doing more than raise a few eyebrows. There is sure to be more talk about anti-trust issue.

Let’s start with the older change that took place in October of 2011. Without much fanfare Google started withholding keyword data for organic search. The way that they are doing it is if a searcher is logged into their Google account and performs a search on Google.com, this data (i.e keywords) is now not passed through so that site owners can see what that visitor search for before landing on their site. It now simply says [not set]. There has been much speculation if this was just a money making move to promote their premium analytics platform. But guess what there was another surprise for us today and this is what I believe the real reason they are withholding data: Enter “Search Plus.”

Search plus is an update to how Google’s search engine works, making it more social. Here are the basics.

  1. Personal Results, which enable you to find information just for you, such as Google+ photos and posts—both your own and those shared specifically with you, that only you will be able to see on your results page; 
  2. Profiles in Search, both in autocomplete and results, which enable you to immediately find people you’re close to or might be interested in following; and, 
  3. People and Pages, which help you find people profiles and Google+ pages related to a specific topic or area of interest, and enable you to follow them with just a few clicks. Because behind most every query is a community.

At first glance this may sound great, I can use Google to find all the info I want to find from the people I care about. It’s also obviously a shot at Facebook and Twitter. But, if you read into it a bit more, it may seem kind of scary and this is where the anti-trust suits will really focus.

Of course the social aspects are going to come from Google’s own Google+: Not Facebook, not Twitter. (Just as a disclaimer Google has tried for years to get access to Facebook and actually collaborated with Twitter, but Facebook wouldn’t allow it and Twitter didn’t renew their deal.) Does this give preferential treatment to Google products and sites? That seems pretty obvious.

To do this Google needed to created a way to secure search data so that people’s private data isn’t out there in the public.

When it comes to security and privacy, we set a high bar for Search plus Your World. Since some of the information you’ll now find in search results, including Google+ posts and private photos, is already secured by SSL encryption on Google+, we have decided that the results page should also have the same level of security and privacy protection.

If we put the two changes together: Google withholding data from marketers and site owners and the new “Search Plus” it might sound pretty scary to Google’s competition, but unfortunately the encryption and the preferential treatment is something they have to do if they want to compete in the social arena.  What I don’t get though is with all the programming wizardry they have, why can’t they figure out how to pass the keyword data to website owners when someone clicks on a link even on an encrypted results page? Either way this creates walls between Google’s platform and the rest of the internet.

What do you think?

R.I.P. Google Analytics

I saw this ad on Facebook today and I have to questions.

rip google analytics

  1. Are you backed by a billion dollar company?
  2. Are you free?

I’m guessing the answer to both those questions is “no.” So, I’m pretty sure I’m not going to click…. sorry.

Need help with Google Analytics? We can help! Click for more: Website Analytics

Website Analytics How to: Advanced Segments in Google Analytics

“Not everything that can be measured counts” – Albert Einstein

This is a great quote to apply to analyzing website traffic.

When using Google Analytics, or any other website analytics tool, it is easy to waste a lot of time measuring and looking at data that really isn’t useful. Great you can see that you had 5,623 visitors last month, but what does that really mean. To get meaning out of the data you need to dig deeper. Advanced Segments in Google Analytics helps you look at more and more valuable variables. Check out the video from Google:

5 Reasons Why You Should Be Using Website Analytics

I’m always amazed at how many websites I come across that are not using website analytics or any kind of site monitoring software. In fact most servers and hosting services at least have some sort of statistical software installed by default. It’s usually something like Webalizer which is very basic, but it’s at least a start. I put together a list of the top 5 reasons why you should be using website analytics to hopefully shed some light on why analytics are so important.

 

    1. You can’t measure what you don’t know. This is probably the most obvious and important reason for website analytics on the list. Everyone who has a business always wants to know the ROI (return on investment). Well, how do you measure website ROI if you have no idea what is happening on the site. Without someway to track, record and report the number of visitors to the website and their engagement level you including various metrics such as, source, referring sites, pageviews and time on site, you really have no way of knowing if your site is working to promote your business. Furthermore you have no way of knowing how to improve your website so it does benefit the business.
    2. Website AnalyticsTrack traffic sources that bring visitors to your website. How are people getting to your site. Are they using search engines, finding you through social media portals, referring sites or some other source. This is a great way to see if your multi-platform campaigns are working. Is your engagement on other websites and platforms online driving traffic back to your site? Traditional media can also be tracked with website analytics. Often changes and spikes can be seen in the site metrics when a website is mentioned in a traditional media source. For example if a radio advertisement that mentions the website is run for day you will hopefully see a spike in the direct traffic metric of your analytics.
    3. Track what search engines and keywords are driving traffic to your site. Using website analytics you can see what keywords are using to find you and across what search engines. This is very important if you are running any kind Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising campaigns as well as a way to judge how your site is doing organically. You can even drill further down into the site metrics to see exactly how a visitor engages with your site when find you through search particular keywords. Some key metrics are pages/visit, average time on site and bounce rate. You can then see what keywords you should target for the best results.
    4. Track what content is being viewed. You can what content is viewed and measure how much and how often through pageviews, landing pages and top content. The exit pages ad bounce rate are also very important metrics to measure if your content is good or not. High bounce rates or exit rates on a particular page is a good indication that visitors are do not find the page to be useful.
    5. Track sales funnels and conversions. This is the most complex reason, but also hugely important. You can set up sales funnels or goals that you would like your visitors to navigate and track the results. You can see where visitors enter and fall out of the goal funnel. This can be a huge help for identifying problems and improving your conversions.

Google analytics example

This list only scratches the surface of what is possible with website analytics. If you don’t have analytics on your site now, getting it set up should be a top priority. The great thing is, you can use Google Analytics to monitor your website and it’s free! If you don’t have the time or inclination to do it yourself we can help with our website analytics solutions.