Smart Solutions Blog

A Few Google Analytics Tricks

December 18th, 2012

From Smart Solutions

Here are a few Google Analytics tricks that we love and we think you will too! These are three tools inside Google Analytics that we use on a regular basis, and that you can use to help your reporting and tracking be a little more effective.

Google Analytics Advanced Segments

With the myriad of buttons available for you to click inside the Google Analytics interface, many tend to get left out in reporting and tracking. One of those is the Advanced Segments button. It’s in the top left corner of your analytics screen. By clicking that button and selecting up to four segments, you can see exactly what you want to see—whether you want to track your Paid Search Traffic, Returning Visitors, Visits with Conversions or just Mobile Traffic!

Advanced Segments in GA

Compare Weeks, Months and Years in Google Analytics

Compare monthsYou don’t always just want to look at one set of time when it comes to tracking visitors on your site. Instead of just looking at the month of November, why not see how it compares to the month of October? Or better yet, what about November of last year?

If you choose this option, GA will highlight your traffic from last year in orange, and compare it to this year’s in blue. This is a huge help for businesses who have seasonal traffic, who can’t accurately compare month to month.

A/B Experiments with Google Analytics

If you haven’t set up an A/B test with Google Analytics yet, now is the time! This tool can be found under the Content section in GA, and is probably the best way to figure out what your visitors think about your business website. We wrote a blog post back in 2011 about A/B testing, and we can help you set it up inside Google Analytics if you have any questions!

Those are just three of the many tricks that Google Analytics has to offer. Although we give monthly reports to all of our clients, we definitely suggest that everyone take a look inside their analytics, and learn a little bit more about the visitors browsing the site, how your site is performing and what you could do better!

Contact Smart Solutions for more information on getting a business website that performs better!

Bend WebCAM Wrap Up

November 12th, 2012

From Smart Solutions

Two full days of networking, listening, asking questions, tweeting and taking notes have come to a close, and it’s time to look over everything that we learned—which isn’t easy. There are a few things that stood out throughout the conference, though—and we’ve outlined them here! At the bottom of this post, we also have a link back to the Bend WebCAM live blogs, so you can get more in-depth information on each individual session.

Don’t Neglect Social

The rising importance of social media was discussed in almost every session this year—but as a supplement to SEO, not replacing it. Many speakers (Danny Sullivan, Marshall Simmonds, Eric Enge) also stressed the importance of a Google+ account and optimizing it with keywords, connecting it to your website and setting it up for Google Author.

There was one entire session on Pinterest this year, from Andy and Matt at Avalaunch. The session outlined the history and development of the visual social network, and gave ideas on how to optimize your website for it (don’t use flash!). They also gave us a great site for tracking Pinterest analytics: Pinerly.com.

And of course, throughout the entire conference, we were all tweeting and taking pictures and posting to Facebook all the things we learned!

Accept Google Algorithm Changes

Danny’s opening keynote was extremely helpful on a lot of subjects, but there was one thing that stood out the most in his presentation: Google is going to keep on updating their algorithm, so just live with it. It may be harsh, but it’s true! Google is still the number one search engine—and will be for a while—so if you can’t accept their algorithm changes, you’ve got a problem! Danny had a lot of other insightful things to say, and it was awesome having him at the conference!

Interactive and Connected Marketing

The time of throwing out information and hoping someone hears is far behind us in 2012. We’re deep into an age where people expect their ads to be tailored to them, to relate to their circumstances and to interact with them. You’ve got to know your customers and how they want to be marketed to. Make it more personal, use video and let your customers get involved in your brand!

SEO is not a Project

This was a favorite point of ours—from Marshall’s session on Bootstrapping your Search Marketing Program. In his session, he made sure to stress that SEO should never be viewed as a one-time project—but as a part of the ongoing content structure. Each company should have a strategy for ongoing site search engine optimization.

Slow Down with Digital Marketing

In Cal Wexley’s session entitled “Thinking,” he made it very clear that it was time for all of us to stop publishing for the sake of publishing, and to go back to simply being creative. Create ideas that are simple and repeatable—and try your best to be the best part of somebody’s day!

So often these days, businesses get focused on pushing out content and getting their name out into the public space, that they forget to spend time thinking and figuring out just what it is their customers are looking for. Slow down with your marketing—and think!

Bend WebCAM 2013

Bend WebCAM was once again worth every penny, and we were so happy to be a part of it! And it might be a little early, but be sure to block out October 24th and 25th of 2013 for next year’s event!

Check out the live blogs for more information on the sessions at Bend WebCAM 2012.

The Internet Community and the Election

November 6th, 2012

From Smart Solutions

Google and Bing are tracking votes in real time, as well as hosting fun front pages today; Facebook is counting votes according to its own application; and countless other websites around the web are joining in on the Election Day excitement. First, get out and vote – then watch as everything unfolds.

(Click the pictures to go to each of the respective pages)

Google – their Election Day Doodle, and an interactive map that gets updated in real time!

Google Election Doodle google-election-image

Bing – their colorful homepage and another map to keep track of how the election is going.

Bing Election Results 

Facebook – their fun map that keeps track of users that use their voting application.

facebook-election-image

New Linkedin Business Page Design

October 9th, 2012

When you work in the area of Internet marketing, you get used to lots of change. New networks to pay attention to, new ways to market your business, new tools to help you measure successes, and new designs on all the websites you use the most.

Social media websites tend to get hit the most with new designs, and Linkedin is the latest to get a new design on their business pages. We just updated ours this morning, and it looks pretty good! The design may remind you of a certain other social network that recently hit one billion members, but we think it’s a step in the right direction for Linkedin. Their old design wasn’t much to look at, and this one is a huge improvement.

new-linkedin-business-pages

They don’t make this design easy on you though—the new area for your main profile picture (just to the left of your business name) is an odd size. We sized our image to 374×174, and that seemed to fit well. However, our logo isn’t usually that size, so it took quite a bit of adjusting.

linkedin-new-business-page

The cover photo is somewhere around 646×221, and offers a chance to brighten up and keep visitors more interested in your Linkedin business page. (to the right are a few examples of how businesses are using the cover images so far!)

If you’re one of the administrators on your company page, you’ll see that Linkedin has placed this cream-colored box across the top of the page! Administrators have it easier than ever with sharing and editing on the new business pages, and overall, we think it’s a great change.

new-linkedin-business-page

Are you ready to start optimizing your new Linkedin business page design? Head on over and check it out, or interact with the new design on the Smart Solutions Linkedin page.

Social Media Advertising

September 27th, 2012

Ads are everywhere online, and growing steadily on social media channels. Log into Facebook, browse Twitter, search Linkedin, watch a video on YouTube—you’re going to see ads. While you may not click on many of the advertisements marketed to you, you do see them, and chances are you remember them.

But are they viable? Are Twitter Ads and Facebook Sponsored Posts a quality investment of your marketing budget? Let’s examine three of the top social media advertising options available to businesses today.

Twitter Advertising

This is a form of advertising that we’ve been seeing a lot of lately. Not just seeing ads in our Twitter streams, but Twitter pushing us to pay for our own ads.

twitter-advertising

You can choose one of two types of ads—either Promoted Tweets or Promoted Accounts. Choose your type based on what you want as a result: Either increased views on one tweet, or an increased amount of followers to continue tweeting to over time.

twitter-ads

Twitter Advertising isn’t something that we recommend for small businesses, because it isn’t a time-tested advertising method yet. However, for medium to large-sized businesses with a little extra in their marketing budget, we say give it a try!

Want to see who else has benefited from Twitter advertising? Check out the success stories.

facebook-advertising

Facebook Ads

While it can seem like Facebook is too big for small business advertising, it differs from Twitter in one (very important) area—it’s more personal. The way Facebook is put together allows for a more personal experience that Twitter simply doesn’t have. Geo, gender, interest and age targeting allow you to zone in on the exact audience you want to see your ad on Facebook.

Facebook also allows for a few different types of advertising. One is the typical ad to the right of your screen, which links to either your business Facebook page or an external URL.

Another is the promoted status, which will show your ad to friends of the users who like your page. This is a great option to choose if you have a promotional campaign running for a certain product or service.

Check out some of the businesses that have benefited from Facebook Advertising: Facebook Ad Success Stories.

Ads on Linkedin

linkedin-ads

If your company is specifically business to business, advertising on Linkedin might be your best bet. Linkedin is the social network for professionals, and people are more likely to be looking for business services on a site like Linkedin, as opposed to Twitter or Facebook.

Ads on Linkedin look a lot like those on Facebook, and can link to any URL you’d like—a company page, personal page, products/services page, careers page or an external URL.

Linkedin also offers a very cool feature—up to 15 variations in your ad, in order to test which style of ad is best for your audience! Facebook allows you to do several ads as well, but not as easily or quickly as Linkedin’s service.

Not convinced? Take a look at some Linkedin success stories!

What Social Media Advertising is Right for You?

We’d love to discuss it with you! Give us a call or send the web marketing team an email, and we can talk about how to make social media ads work for your company.

Keep Track of Your SEO Measurements

September 7th, 2012

SEO measurements imageSEO measurements (tracking and reporting) are essential pieces of any SEO strategy. Knowing how your site is being affected by your marketing team’s effort is necessary if you want to know what is working and what is not.

There is a plethora of available search measurements that you can track, and we’ll list off a few below, to help you decide which measurements would be best for your team to keep track of.

Search Engine Ranking

This is typically the most used tracking by SEO businesses. And it is a big one—moving up in search engine rankings isn’t easy and doesn’t happen quickly! This one is great to monitor because it’s all about visibility on Google’s SERP. However, it shouldn’t be the only SEO measurement that you track, and shouldn’t be considered the most important

New Visitors

Tracking your new visitors is fairly easy in most analytics programs, and it’s a great feature to keep an eye on. Do you know if your website visitors are mostly returning or if they’re new? Instead of taking a guess, track your new visitors vs. your returning visitors! Figure out if your current SEO efforts are helping to bring in those new customers.

Bounce Rate

This type of tracking doesn’t deal with SEO efforts so much as it deals with your website’s design. Which aspects of your page are converting and which are holding you back? You can test your bounce rate by using different designs, button styles or calls to action, and track which ones get you the conversions you want through A/B testing.

Conversions

This tracking is where the money is. Literally. It’s most often used on e-commerce sites, but a conversion can be anything you want it to be. Forms or landing pages are two easy-to-track types of conversions—but you can choose what it is. Whatever you want your potential customers to do on your site—track it! This is the most valuable kind of tracking—because you know what each one is worth!

SEO Measurements for Your Website

It all comes down to what is most important for your business and your website. What is most important to you, and most valuable for creating sales and connections on your website? THAT is what needs to be tracked.

There are tons of free and low cost SEO tools out there that can help you keep track of your SEO measurements. And if you need any help with SEO work or SEO measurements, give us a call or contact our web marketing team at any time!

Regular Web Content Creation

August 31st, 2012

Web content creation is a fancy way of saying something simple—writing for the web. We’ve discussed writing for the web before, but it’s such an important subject, that we want to make sure we’re getting our point across—regular content creation cannot be ignored!

Blog Posts vs. Website Pages for Content Development

This aspect of web marketing covers a lot of ground. Most online businesses handle content creation in one of two ways—by hosting a blog on their website or simply adding a number of new pages to their website every year. Both aspects work great, and there are reasons to use both. We lay out the pros and cons of these two below:

Content Creation by Keeping a Blog

Businesses choose this option in order to keep a steady flow of conversational language. This option also allows you to write on time-specific subjects—which don’t work as well as actual pages on the website, because they become outdated and need to be removed from the site.

Content Creation by Adding New Pages

People choose this option in order to have more long-lasting pages. Blog posts from the past are often difficult to find, so by putting pages directly in the navigation of the website, people can find them more easily. However, it’s important that these pages be written to stand the test of time, unlike blog posts.

Reasons to Participate in Regular Content Development

There are multiple reasons to have a regular content development schedule—and we certainly won’t list them all—but here are a few to convince you:

Keep Your Site Fresh

If you go the blog route, don’t make the mistake of thinking one blog every 2-3 months is enough. When people see that you aren’t updating your website, they might conclude that you treat your customers in a lackadaisical manner as well.

Keep Spiders Coming Back

If Google’s spiders come to your site 4 times in one month and see no new content each time, what is going to bring them back another 4 times next month? It won’t expect any new content from you, so it won’t feel the need to crawl your site more than once or twice a month.

Keep Visitors Coming Back

Don’t forget—it’s not just about spiders! If you’re providing interesting, relevant information on a regular basis, your visitors will want to come back too! And one of those visits might result in a purchase.

Content Development Subjects and Topics

There are a couple of questions you’ll want to ask yourself, when putting together a schedule of topics for your website content creation:

What kind of keywords do you want your business to rank for?

Choose a few target keywords for every page or blog post you write. Know what you want your business to show up for on Google’s SERP.

What subjects do you want your business to be known as an expert in?

Choose subjects that will assure customers that you’re an expert in your field. A bakery website would be a great place to have an article about different types of flour, but a law firm probably wouldn’t benefit from articles on that subject.

What information relates to your industry that you could write about?

If your business is pet grooming and you’re writing articles about wine storage, you’re probably not drawing in the audience you want to read your work! Choose subjects that relate to your industry that your target audience will be interested in.

If you need help putting together a content creation schedule, or would like to bring someone on to participate in content development with your team, contact our web marketing team to learn more about our services!

What to do with Google Algorithm Changes

August 23rd, 2012

The usual route that webmasters take for handling Google algorithm changes is to freak out every time Google announces one, and run scrambling to figure out how your website can benefit from (or at least not be ruined by) it. Surprisingly enough, there IS another option—one that involves a lot less stress and pulling out of hair. It’s revolutionary and controversial, but here it is:

Make a good website.

We know, it’s a little crazy, but here’s the thing—Google just wants to know that your site isn’t full of spam. They want to know that your site is well designed, user-friendly, easy to navigate and provides quality content.

This is what Google is trying to move toward—an index of better websites than they have now. The best way to get ranking well is to make a better website. The list of qualities we listed above is important to have in mind when you’re building a site and when you’re updating it. We expand each quality below:

A Well Designed Website

Google’s spiders won’t see your design the way that a website visitor will, but they do see the HTML—how clean it is, how orderly it is, and how up to date it is with new trends in web development and programming.

User Friendly and Easy to Navigate

Google can judge how user friendly your site is by bounce rates, as well as how your site is set up on the back end. Don’t hide or orphan pages, and make it easy to get from one page to another.

Provide Quality Content

Stop spinning articles and write good copy that relates to your industry. Continue to update it as it needs to be updated, and add more content as necessary. Keep searchers in mind as you write, and incorporate keywords that are applicable.

Make a good website—it’s as simple as that. Keep an eye on Google algorithm changes, but know that if you’re making a website that incorporates these qualities, Google would be hard-pressed to find a reason to drop your site in their next algorithm update.

Do you have more questions about how to make a great website? Contact our web development team to learn more.

Google Analytics’ Social Media Features

August 17th, 2012

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it another million times—every website owner should be checking their analytics consistently. The time of letting your website work as a business card is long gone, and the time to learn more about how your site is performing is now.

Google Analytics makes it much easier to see how your site is performing, and they’re constantly adding new features. A feature that was added in just the last few months is this: better social media tracking. Google Analytics has always tracked traffic from social media, but not as a separate entity—this feature will (or should) transform the way you handle your social media accounts.

How to Use Google Analytics’ Social Media

If you log into your Google Analytics account, you’ll find the social media feature under “Traffic Sources” on the left hand side of the screen. The last option is “Social.” Our favorite social media tool on there (and the one we’re examining here) is “Social Visitors Flow.”

The social flow is a chart that shows you where each of your visitors arriving from social media is going. The major social networks bringing traffic to your site are all listed there, and you’ll see right away which ones are working for your business. At Smart Solutions, we came to the startling realization that although we were putting the majority of our social media time into Facebook, the best visitor performers actually came from Linkedin—one of the sites we hadn’t put much effort into.

Google Analytics Social Flow

[picture from analytics.blogspot.com]

Examining this chart for your business website will help you to segment and distribute your social media time into the social media sites that are actually bringing valuable visitors to your business website.

If you don’t have Google Analytics in place for your website just yet, go get it set up! It takes only a few minutes to install the code on your website, and the benefit you get is well worth the effort.

Google’s Social and Search Integration

August 9th, 2012

If you’re still resisting joining Google+, stop. Google is not backing out of their new social network, and any resistance at this point is only hurting your business. They continue to integrate Google+ into their search engine more and more, and every sign points to rewarding websites that use their social network.

In this post, we’re going to quickly examine a few of the ways that Google has integrated their social network into the SERP.

Google Author

This integration is the most noteworthy—it’s something you’ll see whether you’re logged into your Google account or not. Bloggers with Google+ profiles are able to get their content featured a little more distinctively on the SERP. Google will pull in a profile picture from their Google+ accounts, if they simply add a bit of HTML to their blog posts. See our blog post on Google Author for more information.

Google Author Example

Google Places Becomes Google+

The Google Places to Google+ crossover was probably the most drasticof Google’s social integrations. All of the local businesses that set up accounts inside Google Places were moved over to a new look—the Google+ look.  URLs changed over to plus.google.com and reviews were changed from the 1-5 star  to the 30 point Zagat system.

Google+ Local

Google+ SERP Share

This only happened (or at least was only noticed) a few weeks ago on Google—sharing enabled from right on the results page of Google. This isn’t a huge change (you can only see it if you’re logged in), but it’s just another sign of how Google is integrating Google+ into every aspect of their search engine.

google-plus-share-image     google-serp-share-image

So what are you supposed to do now that you have this information? Embrace Google+ wholeheartedly and learn how to use it best for your business. And remember if you need help, your team here at Smart Solutions is available to assist with social media inquiries.

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