Hi SEOmoz fans. I’m Paddy, I work at Distilled. Welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. We’re going to go through eight link building tips in eight minutes. I’ve just presented at MozCon, and we did 35 ways to get links in 35 minutes. This is a lot shorter, but
Read the complete story: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/seomoz/~3/JW3NduSZC3g/eight-link-building-tips-whiteboard-friday
Web publishing platform WordPress is attempting to provide users of its VIP service with Twitter-like instant blogging functionality through its new Liveblog Add-on. The add-on enables users to post updates from the front end of their site, without using the WordPress admin dashboard.
In addition, Liveblog viewers will
You’ve probably seen the extremely comprehensive noob guide to online marketing by Oli Gardner, or the companion noob guide to link building from Mike King, you’ve also likely seen one of the many posts or presentations on SEO for startups (here, here and here) –
Now that tax season is over, it’s once again safe to say my favorite A-word… audit! That’s right. My name is Steve, and I’m an SEO audit junkie.
Like any good junkie, I’ve read every audit-related article; I’ve written thousands of lines
Read the complete story: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/seomoz/~3/JvCDDy2KdiQ/how-to-perform-the-worlds-greatest-seo-audit
Howdy SEOmoz fans. Welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week I want to address some of the myths that form in the SEO world that get people really scared and worried and asking questions in QA and on Twitter and on forums going, “Hey, wait a minute. I
Realtime Google Analytics data inside a Google Doc—a panacea!
Don’t believe me? Check out that screenshot below. In this blog post I’ll show how you can do this yourself, and I’ve created an easy template to help get you started.
Google Analytics is my favorite analytics product. And it’s only been getting better with the new interface, flow visualization, and multi-channel funnels. Google Analytics is still best game in town for the price (it’s free)!
But, despite all the flexibility that Google Analytics offers, sometimes you want to access data in a spreadsheet and create a truly custom report. That’s where the Google Analytics Data Feed API comes in.
This blog post is going to show you how to create a custom report by connecting a Google Spreadsheet directly with your data from Google Analytics. When data is available directly in a spreadsheet you’re able to make interesting comparisons, create the dashboard of your dreams, or chart data however you’d like. And the only requirement is that you have Analytics setup for your website. I’ve created a simple Google Spreadsheet template that makes the whole thing easy.
Analytics geeks: hold onto your seats!
It all started with the Data Feed Query Explorer
(Those who want to start accessing data in Google Docs should jump right to the next section.)
Before we dive in, a little background. A few weeks ago I was looking for a solution to directly access Google Analytics data in Microsoft Excel or Google Docs using the Google Analytics API.
I first discovered Google’s excellent Data Feed Query Explorer. The explorer lets you connect to your Analytics account and pull custom data until your heart’s content. This tool is not only an efficient way to figure out what’s available via the API, but it’s also great for pulling custom data. Want to see which organic keywords drove conversions on your site? Enter the details as below, after authenticating and adding your appropriate profile ID:
The Data Feed Query Explorer is a great way to explore the Google Analytics API, and to understand what data is available. If you’re interested in understanding the API, experiment with the tool but also check out the the API documentation.
While this tool is helpful, it didn’t meet my goal of accessing this data within a live spreadsheet such as Google Spreadsheets. Enter Mikael Thuneberg. Mikeal wrote an excellent set of scripts that pulls data from the Google Analytics API, and allows you to access that data within a Google Spreadsheet. Nice work, Mikeal. He provides this code free of charge (and it’s included in my template below), but feel free to reach out to him if you’re interested in paying an expert for your custom reporting needs.
I used Mikeal’s scripts to create a template that accesses Google Analytics data and allows you to customize it in almost any way. Let’s get started!
Connecting Google Analytics to Google Docs
I’ve created a brief screencast to walk you through connecting your Google Analytics account to the template I’ve created, but the instructions are also written out below the video. (A small disclaimer: this spreadsheet is provided without warranty or support, so please use at your own risk!)
1) Make sure you have a Google Analytics account with data. Duh.
Make sure you’re logged into Google Analytics on the computer you’ll be using with my spreadsheet template.
2) Open the spreadsheet template and save a copy.
Open this Google Spreadsheet template, and save a copy to your own Google Account (as you cannot edit this public version). Once the spreadsheet is open, choose “File”… “Make a copy”.
Get the Google Spreadsheet template here!
(open this and save a copy to your own Google account)
3) Enter your Google Analytics username.
Give the browser a few moments to make the duplicate copy. Once the copy is created, enter your Google Analytics username (usually an email address).
4) Enter your Google Analytics password.
Enter your Google Analytics password. Once entered, you may hide that row to obfuscate your password.
If the cell below the Profile ID shows an Auth Token (a very long alphanumeric string) you have successfully authenticated. If you have an issue, ensure you are logged into the same Google Account for which you are trying to access. If you still have any issues, such as a CAPCHA warning, wait 30 minutes and try again.
5) Enter your Google Analytics Profile ID.
You’ll need to determine the Google Analytics Profile ID of the site you’d like to create a custom report for, and enter it into the Google Spreadsheet.
Log into GA (in a seperate browser window) and open the profile for which you’d like to access data. Getting the profile ID isn’t easy, and it differs based on which version of GA you use.
Once you’re logged into Google Analytics, grab the profile ID from the browser address bar. Here’s where you can find it depending which interface of Google Analytics you’re using.
Finding your Profile ID in the Old Google Analytics Interface:
If you’re using the old Google Analytics interface, your profile is highlighted below in yellow. In the example below it is 2917495 and should be entered into the spreadsheet as characters only.
Finding your Profile ID in the New Google Analytics Interface:
If you’re using the new Google Analytics interface, your profile is highlighted below in yellow. In the example below it is 2917495 and should be entered into the spreedsheet as characters only.
Once you have the profile ID, add it to the appropriate field in the spreadsheet template. If everything worked, the cell below the Profile ID should display an Auth Token (a very long alphanumeric string). If you have any issues, ensure you are logged into the same Google Account for which you are trying to access. If you still have issues, such as a CAPCHA warning, wait 30 minutes and try again.
6) Click the “Custom Report” tab to start accessing your data!
Now you’re all set! Click on the “Custom Report” tab at the bottom of the Google Spreadsheet to start interacting with your data. Edit the cells in yellow to change what data is pulled, and for what data ranges. Read on to learn more about choosing which metrics to pull, and how to filter the data.
Customizing the data
When you jump into the “Custom Report” tab of the spreadsheet you’ll notice several of the cells are yellow. You can update these cells to change what data is pulled from Google Analytics. For a full walkthrough of the spreadsheet template, be sure to watch the screencast earlier in this blog post.
There are four ways you can change the information that’s pulled from Google Analytics into the spreedsheet.
Metric: Change which metric is pulled in that column of the spreadsheet—for example: visits, pageviews or bounces. Change this value and the cells below will update to pull that data. Check out Google’s Dimensions Metrics Reference for details on what data you can access.
Filter: Change how the data below is filtered, i.e. what data is included. Here you can specify a filter that will show only metrics for which the filter is true. For example, setting ‘ga:medium==organic’ in the filter cell will only show data where the traffic medium is organic search. The filter section is where you have a lot of power—you can even use regular expressions to do advanced filtering. To learn more about setting the filter cell, read Google’s Data Feed documentation.
Start Date: Enter a date in the MM/DD/YYYY format to select the start date for cells in that particular row.
End Date: Enter a date in the MM/DD/YYYY format to select the end date for cells in that particular row.
How to make this actionable
So you’ve connected your Google Analytics account to a Google Spreadsheet. Now what? There’s a lot you can do when you access your analytics in this format; I’ve included a few ideas below:
- Put interesting metrics next to one another. Have you ever wanted to see your total visits next to your organic search visits and goals completions? By choosing the metrics that get displayed in each column you can compare metrics however you like.
- Compare a variety of date ranges easily. Want to compare several days, weeks or months? Change the start and end dates and you can compare multiple periods.
- Create advanced filters. Get creative with your filters. Try creating a filter for organic search traffic (ga:mediun==organic), or for a set of keywords using regular expressions. There are unlimited ways you can slice and dice your data!
- Create calcuated cells. Add a column to the spreadsheet and cacluate your conversion rate by dividing your goal completions by your visits.
- Create your ultimate dashboard. Probably the most useful way to use this report is to create a dashboard of your favorite key performance indicators. This spreadsheet can automate your weekly or monthly reporting by pulling all of the relevant metrics in one swoop!
These are just a few of the many ways you can use Google Analytics data within a spreadsheet. I’d love to hear your ideas for how to make this actionable—please let me know in the comments.
A few technical notes
- The Google Analytics API is rate limited, so you may occassionally receive errors because your spreadsheet has made too many API calls at once. Unfortunatly, there’s no easy way around this expect to reduce the number of rows or columns of data you’re pulling. Please let me know in the comments if you’ve found a good workaround for this.
- Your password is in plaintext in the Setting tab of the spreadsheet. Be sure you don’t share this Google Doc unless you want someone to have access to your Google Analytics password.
Be a data ninja!
I hope this template is useful and that you’re now able to do all sorts of fancy things with your web analytics data. Please let me know how it works in the comments!
The Internet is made of kittens, but it’s paid for by advertising.
SEOs don’t talk about advertising much, perhaps because it’s the conceptual opposite of “great content.” The truth is, advertising is the gasoline that runs much of the web. Without ad revenue, great sites we love like Search Engine Land, Smashing Magazine, and even Wired might cease to exist.
Ads are great, but as SEOs we need to present them as the commercials that they are, not the main show.
Optimizing for CTR the Old Way
Not long ago, it was common to see sites like this dominating the SERPs.
(Thanks to Michael Gray for the lead)
When Panda struck, sites like this got hit hard, time and time again. Even websites with superior content were penalized if they contained over-aggressive ads above the fold. I don’t know if the site above was penalized by Panda, but I’m guessing their traffic is not as healthy as it could be, and a simple layout change would help significantly.
1. Ads as a Ranking Factor
The 2011 Ranking Factors showed a slight negative correlation between rankings and the amount of Adsense on a page.
Several Panda updates have rolled out since this data was collected, and I would expect the relationship today to be even more negative.
Although Adsense isn’t the only game on the market, it’s the one ad network SEOs get the most information from. Matt Cutts has said that his team sends one way messages to the Adsense team in order to help webmasters comply with Google quality guidelines.
In April, after Panda hit, Adsense changed how they advocate best practices for ad placement. Gone (or at least tucked away) were the old heat maps.
2. Panda Friendly Layouts
The new layouts specifically advocate for ads that do not push content below the fold.
These are the types of layouts that should be safe no matter what kind of ads you run. You can see earlier versions in their one-click optimizer, but these older layouts don’t go very far in placing content first. Use at your own risk.
3. Balance Your Template Footprint
Ads are a component your template footprint. A template footprint is any non-unique content that appears on every page, as opposed to content that makes the page unique.
It’s best to keep your ratio of unique content to footprint as high as possible. If you can’t reduce your template footprint, at least place your content in the highest, most prominent place possible in order to stay out of the penalty zone.
4. Future Proof Your Ads
The new Adsense recommendations are great for this round of Panda, but what about next year? In my opinion, they represent the minimum of what you should do to avoid a penalty.
The New York Times does a good job of balancing ads against content. Their strategy neither ignores users nor puts them at risk for near-future algorithm changes.
Aggressive ads tend to alienate users, which can effect your bounce rate, time on site, pageviews and other user engagement metrics. All of these can have undesirable long term consequences. For publishers dedicated to long term profits, there is a better approach.
5. Beyond CTR – Smart Ways to Increase Ad Revenue
It’s true that higher click-through rates give webmasters incentive to place ads above content. But CTR isn’t the only way to increase earnings. You can optimize several other factors to your long term advantage. If you are an Adsense publisher, you are familiar with these concepts.
2. Cost-Per-Click (CPC)
3. Cost Per Impression (CPI or CPM)
All of these can be optimized for higher earnings. Number 4, impressions, is the most actionable from an SEO point of view. If you’re producing great content and promoting it the right way, then your pageviews will soar. Here in the States, the SuperBowl will always make more in ad revenue than reruns of Murder, She Wrote.
If you sell ads, be the SuperBowl of content publishers. Produce the best content you can, and you can sell your premium ad space for top dollar.
For many SEO professionals, on-page optimization is back to basics. But sadly, there seem to be a lot of us who still make some very basic mistakes. In this post, I’ll try to add on to my previous writing on perfecting on-page optimization by sharing some visuals that can hopefully help to hammer key points of the practice home.
#1: The Value of Optimization and the Danger of Overdoing It
I generally abide by the 80/20 rule when it comes to keyword use. 80% of the value to be had comes from 20% of the effort. Nail the title, the headline and make sure the phrase is on the page (and the page is actually on the subject of the keyword) and you’ve done your job. The additional impact on rankings to be gained from perfectly calculating the number of repetitions or ensuring every paragraph fits into the “theme” of the keyword and document is likely to be a waste of time better spent on other priorities. That’s what this graph tries to illustrate:
Nothing in the on-page world is going to provide exceptional ranking influence, but getting perfect is often only marginally better than just nailing the title and headline. If you’re spending a ton of bandwidth on the last 80% of work (providing 20% of value), I might re-consider your to-do list.
#2: On-Page SEO is More than Keywords
When I first got into SEO in the early 2000’s, the search engines seemed to have a fairly naive algorithm for content analysis, which led to SEOs adopting equally naive tactics for on-page optimization. Years later, these tendencies, sadly, still persist.
Yes, it’s essential to effectively target your keywords in your page titles, headlines (or early in the body copy), URLs, etc. But content analysis has become far more sophisticated with engines “reading” pages almost the way humans do and pattern-matching good content, design, layout and usability. There may even be some elements of on-page analysis that look at the authenticity and passion of the written word (or something that approximates it).
In the graphics below, I’ve tried to illustrate this:
I’m not suggesting one shouldn’t optimize for keywords or that using terms and phrases that stay relevant and on-topic won’t help. I’m merely noting that optimizing for the experience real, human users have and the value they derive from your work can produce outsized returns to simple, classic on-page optimization.
#3: How Search Engines Can Measure a Page’s Value
This one’s less of an illustration and more of a text-based diagram. I wanted to help explain all the signals Google can measure from their many sources of information, and how this can potentially affect SEO:
Google’s tremendous reach across the Internet, measuring nearly everything and every way people interact with web pages brings with it powerful data. That data is likely used to improve the quality of search results by helping the stuff that appears authentic, editorial and high quality to rise up while the junk falls to the bottom (at least when the data+algorithms work properly).
For on-page optimization, this means we can’t merely focus on keyword targeting. We need truly great content.
#4: Consolidation vs. Multi-Page Targeting
The question of whether to target two keyword terms/phrases on the same page or build individual pages for each seems to be a consistent struggle for SEOs. I field a question like this almost every week, and in 9/10 cases, the following flowchart would provide the right answer:
It’s not complex – and that’s the beauty. When targeting similar phrases or phrases that can work together and target the same intent for most users, a single page should suffice. When the phrases cannot logically work together in a title/headline or when the intents don’t have a high liklihood for overlap, it’s time to build different pages and target the keywords separately.
Feel free to use these in your presentations, websites and internal/client documents (though a source credit is much appreciated). And best of luck with your keyword targeting + on-page efforts!
Google Analytics affects everyone in search engine marketing (unless you use another analytics package!) but not everyone knows how to take full advantage of it. To take full advantage of it we have to share knowledge and that’s what I’m here to do. I’ll be sharing some great advanced segments, how to do multiple goal conversion tracking and the secret success behind cross domain tracking.
1. Advanced Segments
Advanced segments provide you with the ability to take your reporting up a gear. So many people mention it, but how and what should I be doing? Asking that question in a mirror won’t provide any answers but here’s something that will….
Social media segment
If you are paying for social media traffic then it’s imperative that you check the value it yields to sales i.e. does it even generate any direct sales? Here’s how to find out:
Click on the My Site tab Advanced Segments Then click on +New Custom Segment Choose a name for it Then click on +Add a dimension or metric then add “Source” as a dimension have it as “include” and “matching regular expression” then using a bit of regex, type the following in the field.
Click on test segment (check that it works!). Obviously find out the most relevant ones to your site and build up an accurate social media segment. Apply this to your reports and you can now segment your social media channel. Try cross tabbing by goal conversions to find out which channel is bringing in the beans.
Long tail keywords segment
Another useful advanced segment is to understand the long tail demand. Follow the same methodology to get into the advanced segment dashboard but follow this:
Click on +Add a dimension or metric then add “Keyword” as a dimension have it as “include” and “matching regular expression” then type the following in the field.
Applying this segment to your reports will show you keywords with greater than two words. To filter more or less keywords simply change the number, for example if I wanted searches with greater than four keywords then I would modify it as follows:
When applied to your reports it will show you keywords with greater than three words.
Non Branded keywords segment
This is useful if you want to understand search without any branded terms. Follow the same methodology to get into the advanced segment dashboard but follow this:
For this to make sense, imagine my company is called John Lewis.
Click on +Add a dimension or metric then add “Keyword” as a dimension have it as “exclude” and “matching regular expression” then type the following regex in the field.
Exclude these terms and the misspellings of the brand terms. Applying this segment will allow you to differentiate between non branded keywords. I wonder how relevant this will be to SEOs with the introduction of SSL Search by Google?
2. Multiple Goal Conversion Tracking
Goal tracking is simple, name your goal, add your goal URL i.e. /thank-you, setup a funnel etc. That’s all great but let’s say we have two paths to get people to register on our site as follows:
Path 1 – www.fabian.com/my_work = they registered from my home page and landed on my dashboard page.
Path 2 – www.fabian.com/download = they registered in order to access my free carpet samples.
Both destinations lead to a registration, so how do you create a goal with multiple URLs? Here’s what to do:
Get to the goal dashboard name your goal select goal type as “URL Destination” then enter some regex into the Goal URL as shown below on the “Match Type” field, select Regular Expression Match and save it.
You can remove the dollar ($) symbol at the end of it, if you want to capture dynamic elements.
To see a breakdown of the goal and to check that it is recording the correct pages, use the Goal Verification Report or Goal URLs (new analytics). I’ve tested this and it works 100%.
3. Cross Domain Tracking
The GA tracking cookies are first party cookies, which mean they can be used only by the website that sets them. If a visitor decided to leave the site to a different domain, the tracking cookies won’t work. For example if your site accepts third party payments on another site then you will need use cross domain tracking to preserve the referral.
For cross domain tracking to work you need to have the Google Analytics Tracking Code (GATC) on both domains and the third party site must not prohibit query string parameters.
Step 1 – Modify the GATC
Go to Analytics Settings Tracking Code Select “Multiple top-level domains” radio button Google Analytics will provide you with two new lines of code as shown below.
It’s possible to get a cookie with a domain of www.seogadget.co.uk and .seogadget.co.uk which would mean getting more than one set of cookies per visitor. According to Justin Cutroni, it’s usually best practice to use the primary domain of your website instead of the ‘none’. For example I would use ‘.seogadget.co.uk’ to avoid multiple instances of the Google Analytics tracking cookies.
Step 2 – Transferring the cookies
Analytics has two methods to transfer the tracking cookies between the two domains which are _link() and _linkByPost()
Both extract the cookie values from the cookies and place the data in the destination page URL as query string parameters. Imagine our primary domain is www.seogadget.co.uk and our 3rd party payment site is www.moneyforfabian.com then apply the following:
Example 1 = If your website transfers the visitor between domains using standard anchor tags, use _link()
a href=”http://www.moneyforfabian.com” onclick=
“_gaq.push([‘_link’, ‘http://www.seogadget.com’]);return false; “Buy Now/a’]);
Example 2 = If your website uses a form to transfer visitors between domains then you need to use _linkbypost()
form name=”post_form” action=”http://www.moneyforfabian.com” method=”post”
Once you’ve applied either _link() or _linkByPost(), your site visitors will be tracked across the two domains.
Everything discussed has been tested and works like a charm. If you come across any problems implementing these techniques drop me a line on twitter @panduuf or drop a comment below.
As always I’d love to hear your thoughts, thanks for reading it and I hope it’s useful.
As SEOs we often live in a bubble, sometimes it’s a social media bubble where we only tweet amongst our peers, sometimes it’s a literal bubble that we don’t explore outside our comfort zone, but that bubble can easily keep us from seeing things that to consultants in other fields is painfully obvious. At the end of the day, an SEO consultant isn’t any more special than a CPA or a Financial Planner, we’re all consultants and ultimately our job is to give our clients what they want.
The question then is, what do our clients want?
Our clients want value, our clients want progress, and they’re willing to invest in consultants to get what they want, but it falls to us to prove not just the value that we know exists in SEO and other Inbound Marketing tactics, but to also deliver the perception of value. Not only to our primary contact, but to their superiors and anyone else who might be reading the documents you leave behind.
I was talking with Tom Critchlow about this and he said something to me that I asked his permission to share here and I couldn’t agree with him more. Tom said, “There’s no good nailing value, if you don’t nail perceived value.”
He’s absolutely right. Starting out as an SEO consultant, my every focus was on the value of SEO and I believed with all my heart that White Hat SEO was valuable, that our tactics would increase our client’s revenue, that we had the answers to the recession’s tough questions.
I set out, a one man operation at the time, to educate my local business community about SEO. I spoke at luncheons, attended more networking events than I did actual client work, and just “hustled” to steal the term from Gary Vaynerchuck.
Our company grew, we gained clients, Image Freedom as a brand started to develop, we were providing SEO but my salesmanship abilities were primarily responsible for creating that perceived value. Value that was not shown in my documentation or my reports. My documents sucked, our logo sucked, our analytics reports changed every other month. We were a mess, all strategy, no presentation.
Image Freedom completely lacked consistency, and while we were growing, we were hindered by our emphasis on SEO’s ACTUAL value, which you and I know intimately as readers of SEOmoz and members of this community, but I wasn’t doing a good enough job on the perceived value component.
In 2010 we hired Prologue Branding, a consulting duo who helped us develop a consistent brand message throughout all of our documents, a great new logo, conducted past and present client interviews, the works. They stripped us down to our core.
It wasn’t an easy experience to embark upon. Client interviews, especially the interviews with clients we’d let down, or who I’d failed to help maintain that perception of value with. It was a painful but humbling experience that I recommend every entrepreneur experiences on at least an annual basis.
Through pain comes growth and I lost many nights of sleep re-developing documentation, research, reports, guides, and whatever I could to help me bring the perception of SEO that my clients took away from our meetings closer in line with the reality that SEO really was a fantastic tool for growing their business.
We used to provide PDF’s of our research, our audits, print outs from Google Analytics (don’t lie, you know you’ve done this) and basically weak leave behinds that were far from inspiring to our clients. They perceived disorganization, inconsistent brand messaging, and that just wasn’t the message I wanted them to take away, but I was stuck in my craft, I was the SEO, I knew what they needed and if they could just accept that it all lived in my head and not on paper then we can get on with the work of creating this value.
I was dead wrong.
Perception is reality, and through my branding audit, through our rebirth as a team and as a company, we started delivering not just perceived value in presentations and workshops about SEO, our documentation expressed that value, our audits were professionally printed and spiral bound. The documents felt substantial to hold, they escaped the “unicorns and rainbows” theoretical hindrance that effects so many in the Social Media and SEO spaces and became documented plans, strategies, and it was hard to look at what we delivered without knowing that we had a plan and you were in the right hands to get your business to where you want it to be.
I’ve owned an Internet Marketing company for two years now. As a team, we’ve exceeded my every expectation but we’ve made our share of mistakes along the way. If I can pass on one piece of wisdom to my fellow Entrepreneurs, to my fellow SEOs, it’s the need for expressing the perceived value of what you do, and not just your belief in the value of your trade.
You’re on SEOmoz, you’re educated about SEO, you’re reading tips and tactics from the greatest SEOs I’ve had the pleasure to meet and learn from. What you do is valuable, and you can break out and be a success. You can grow your business into a brand to be proud of.
Just don’t forget that perception is reality. As soon as we established the perceived value of what we did, our clients started investing more into SEO, our momentum started to snowball beyond what we had expected and we were able to deliver, without fail, not just the things we knew our clients needed, but also the things our clients wanted.