12 Days of Google Christmas

A man looking on his phone as well as his laptop

12 Days of Google Christmas – Day 7 (Mobile Site Visits)

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Mobile Site Visits

BE CONNECTED! That’s the word on the street with all the opportunities to get the latest deal, updates, news, emails, directions and so much more with just a tap or swipe of your finger. Using mobile phones to log online is in – and it’s here to stay.

What are Mobile Site Visits?

Mobile site visits on your Google Analytics count the number of people who visited your website via their smartphones. This statistic will even show what network the visitors came from. Note – this doesn’t necessarily count apps – but actual visits to your website via a cellular phone.

Why Be Concerned With Mobile Site Visits?

Here are some reasons why you should make sure to have a mobile website for the vast amount of mobile audiences that have developed:

  1. The number of people using the mobile web is up to 83 million people according to this article on mobile website visitors. Definitely too much of an amount of the population not to cater to.
  2. Mobile websites have an advantage over apps. Some of the advantages of having a mobile website include having an optimized mobile website available for your mobile audience. The alternative is an app, but due to the amount of apps and building of those apps that would have to be done in order to get it to work properly over a majority of smartphones, a mobile optimized website only takes one.
  3. Smartphones are making their way to the top of the food chain above the PC market. People want their information fast and at their fingertips so getting that information whether it research, latest deals or news is being sought after more and more on smartphone devices.
  4. Mobile sites allow you to stay on top of the trends. Social media and smartphones have become a way of life and with the way technology advances so quickly, if you are not getting on the boat, you’ll be left behind while all your competitors are sailing without you. A more optimized, mobile, website means more clients/customers in the door. We vote yes!

How to Get Your Website Mobile

Getting your site optimized for a mobile phone or tablet has never been easier! With a myriad of ways to go about this, we’ve scoped out the easiest ways to get your designers and developers the best mobile platform. By creating a mobile Cascading Style Sheet (CSS), inserting a Meta Viewport Tag, and even linking an “Apple Icon”, your customers can find your website accessible even on the go.

Mobile CSS can help display and organize your website for the mobile platform. This is just like making a printer-friendly version of your website. For example, we’d use something that looks like this:

<link rel=”stylesheet” href=”http://domain.tld/mobile.css” type=”text/css” media=”handheld” />

The meta viewport tag tells us how to rotate your website when found on a mobile device. This may make your design
simpler, or more accessible for those with smaller phones. It also tells your newly optimized website if it can rotate with the
user’s gyroscopic rotation or if you can zoom in or out:

<meta name=”viewport” content=”width=device-width,initial-scale=1,user-scalable=no” />

Apple Icons are built more for the iOS and Apple’s iPhone® or iPad® and are specific for that audience. However, it’s always best to make sure every visitor can make the most out of your mobile website. This icon allows the users to create a shortcut to your website right on the main screen of their phone. With quicker access to your website, you’ll be sure to see more usage:

<link rel=”apple-touch-icon” href=”/filename.png” />

As smartphones and tablets take more and more of the market share away from laptops and desktops, you will in turn see people ask for information about your mobile website. A study was done by AT&T recently, saying that out of everyone who
uses their smartphone to search a business, 48% of those people walked through into that businesses’ doors.

So, before you start thinking about your next big revision to your website, consider making a mobile site instead. With the modern technology, you have at your fingertips you can be sure that no matter where a customer is, they are capable of finding your business.

And your Google Analytics will tell you just how many people that is…

12 Days of Google Christmas – Day 6 (Average Site Time)

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What is time on site? It’s pretty much what it sounds like: how long someone is spending time on your website, checking out its content and different pages. Google Analytics (GA) has a great report feature that takes this information and measures it in a way you can read and understand.

Time on Page

When a person is directed to your website, the clock starts ticking. Let’s say the person is on your homepage, Page A. GA uses the time stamp to know when the person first began viewing Page A and keeps track. If the person clicks on your ‘About Us’ page, Page B, the time stamp is recorded again and so on and so on for subsequent pages the viewer looks at. However, let’s say the viewer looked at four pages total on your website. Google Analytics is only able to record the time for the first three pages, because there is no way to measure the time of the fourth page before the viewer exited your website. The viewing time of the fourth page is recorded as ‘0’ and not used in any averages.

Calculating Time on Page :
Page A time stamp : 12:45:10
Page B time stamp : 12:47:30
Page C time stamp : 12:48:55

Subtract Page A from Page B to calculate time on Page A at 2 minutes and 20 seconds.
Subtract Page B from Page C to calculate time on Page B at 1 minute and 25 seconds.
Because the viewer left your website after looking at Page C, no time stamp is recorded and there is no time for Page C.

Time on Site
Time on Site simply adds all the time on pages together for a total. So with our example, Time on Site would be calculated 3 minutes and 55 seconds.

Average Time on Page
GA uses time Time on Page and the number of views in this calculation.

Average time on page =  Total time on page / Page views

Bounces, or zero time spent on a page (such as Page C in our example), are excluded in this report.

Average Time on Site
On this calculation, page ‘bounces’ when a person clicks off your website are included.

Average time on site = Total time of all visits / Total number of visits

Putting it all Together

Google loves information and as a website owner, you probably do too! But, there is so much to measure when a person views your page and no simple way for you to do it yourself. Google offers this really handy and simple report to use as a tool to help better understand your website and maximize its reach to viewers so you can focus on keeping your website up to date, informative and interesting to its audience!

12 Days of Christmas – Day 8 (Entry Pages)

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Entry pages are pages within your website that provide a “digital handshake” for your potential clients when they are trying to connect with or researching your business online. Each entry page is focused on a specific keyword or keyword phrase. Entry pages assist in providing simple concise information based on a specific aspect of your business (individual product/service).

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The Gift of a 10 Percent Bounce Rate

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I sure have been a good girl this year. Google has brought me a 10 percent bounce rate. I know what you’re thinking, I must have been a perfect angel for a bounce rate like that. Although it depends on the industry and the type of page, a decent bounce rate is hovering between 40-50 percent.

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12 Days of Google Christmas – Day 3 (Keywords)

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So for today’s Google Christmas, we’ve picked a controversial and often misunderstood subject – keywords. Did you ever have a Christmas where there was a particular item that you really, really wanted and you could hardly wait to open your presents on Christmas morning? Have you ever received nice gifts, but it just wasn’t what you had dreamed, wished, and hoped for? Do remember the disappointment? Well, that same disappointment is exactly what Google is trying to avoid when a user types in a search term and they don’t get the results they were looking to receive.

Remember that Google’s “customer” is the searcher. When you type in a search for “Betty’s Home Cooking Restaurant,” you don’t want to get results for “Bob’s Deep Fried Cooking” across the street. Years ago when people were first starting to learn about keywords, some devious people used a tactic where they would put in their competitor’s name in their keywords. They also started keyword stuffing (putting tons of keywords into this field). And for all those reasons, they were put on Santa’s naughty list…I mean Google stopped using the keyword field as part of its algorithm of results. Bing and Yahoo do still use keywords as a small part of their algorithm, but it does not play a significant role.

Why worry about keywords?

So why are we talking about three keywords? Good question. There are two reasons; first, keywords can be used as a strategy that helps you focus on the content of any single page on your website. Secondly, Google Analytics and Google Places both show you the keywords (or keyword phrases) that were entered by the searcher when they clicked on the link to your website. Let’s break these two items down separately.

Using keywords to create strategic content

Part of the way that Google determines how relevant your site is to the searcher is by looking at a combination of your page titles, your meta description and the content on your web page. One of the best ways to keep this all consistent is choose three keywords for your page (what is this page going to be about), and work the rest of your content around those three keywords strategy.

Google also provides some great tools for determining your keyword strategy in their external keyword search tool (free and available to anyone). This will help you determine the most highly searched terms on a monthly basis.

If you find that the keywords you have chosen for your page cannot be consolidated to three keywords, you may have too many different topics on your web page and we would recommend starting a new page to cover the different types of content.

Analyzing your keyword search results

In Google Analytics (and in Google Places) you have the ability to see the keywords that users entered when they clicked on the link to your site. You can use this information to better optimize your web pages.

For example, if you notice that customers are only coming to your website if they know your name, then you have some serious optimization work ahead of you. Ideally your top keywords should not be your company name, but rather the products or services that you are offering. Speaking of which, if any optimization company tells you that they can get you to the first page of Google and they do it by optimizing your company name – BEWARE! People who already know your company name should not be the audience you are primarily targeting. You need to reach NEW customers!

Thanks to Google Analytics (and Google Places) you have the ability to know exactly how people are searching for and finding your website. So don’t disappoint your potential customers on Christmas morning (or any other day of the year), target your customers through proper page keyword strategy and enjoy the results of your hard work and planning!


11 … Indexed Pages

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Indexed pages… huh?

Basically, an indexed page is a page on your website that has been crawled by the search engine spiders and put into that search engine’s library of pages. So, for example, your “about us” could be one example of an indexed page.

So what’s the big deal?

Well, let’s just say that content pages on the web work the same way as presents under the tree. The more the better, right?


Here’s a few reasons You Need Indexed Pages

1. Website pages (aka content or indexed pages) help future customers know who you are.

You may be one of those nay-sayers who says “nobody reads these pages,” however we beg to differ. If you offer services, people are going to read about them. Especially if they’re not quite sold on what you do. Sure, some people may not read it. But your next loyal customer might. And for that reason – it’s totally worth it. Put several pages of content on your website.

2. It makes you look like you know what you’re doing.

Minimal content on the web does no good for your reputation. But, if you offer your site as a resource, you’re positioned as the expert. Don’t just tell people what you do – tell them why they need to do it. What benefits it will bring. And why you’re the best to use for whatever it is you do.

3. Website pages are like candy for Goo

Bottom line – your website will be found more easily if you have several pages. The more the better, really. Each time you have a page on your website, Google “indexes it” – which is good for you. To explain it simply….

  • You add a page on your website about chocolate chip cookies, for example.
  • Google sees that you have a page, and that it’s about cookies, and chocolate chip cookies.
  • Google adds a note in their big “book” that says you have a page about chocolate chip cookies on your website.
  • When someone goes to Google, looking for info about chocolate chip cookies – Google knows you have a page about that and displays it in the search results. (the rank of your page depends on a lot of other things, see the other 12 days to get an idea…)

See? So – the more pages you have that Google can “index,” the more likely people will come across your site.

How Do I add More Indexed Pages?

So, have I sold you on indexed pages yet?

But – what if you already have a site and you’re not sure how to add more pages? Here are a few ideas:

  • Expand on your existing content. Go into detail. Don’t just say “lawn maintenance,” but add a new page for each:  mowing, seeding, aerating, etc.
  • Integrate a blog into your website. Each time you post a new blog post, that’s seen as a new page on your site by Google. So, this is a perfect way to easily add content (not to mention keep your website fresh.)
  • Add paragraphs to your current site. If you have the right pages you need, find ways to add to new paragraphs, or change them up a little bit. When you edit a page, Google will take notice and also re-index your page.

Don’t disappoint the search engines

One last word about indexed pages…if your website was created all in Flash, it’s like having beautiful presents under the Christmas tree that are really empty boxes! It’s fun to look at them on the outside, but it’s disappointing when you open the box. Likewise, flash websites can look beautiful and really cool from your point of view, but they often don’t contain anything under the hood. Most flash websites don’t display any of the content that you see on the user side of the website. So when the search engine spiders come through to index the site, they usually find a little bit of code telling them that this is a flash website and not much other information. They leave without indexing anything and you do nothing to help your placement on the search engine results pages.

Hopefully all of this makes sense! Basically, what you need to remember is the more pages on your website, the better. They’re like cookies to Santa – and will bring guaranteed good results.

12 Days of Google Christmas – Day 2 (Referring Sites)

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“It’s that time of year when the world falls in love”

This lyric from “The Christmas Waltz”, recently updated and recorded by She & Him (a favorite duo of mine), says it perfectly. We are all hoping for love this holiday season. Love from family. Love from friends. Love from all the people who are doing their holiday shopping online.

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12 – 404 Page Errors…And How They Affect Your Site

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You would think that we would have something really great as the twelfth day of Christmas, like 12 new positive reviews on your site, 12 new likes on your Facebook page, or maybe even 12 new followers on Twitter. Sadly, having Google show you 12 404 page errors on your website is kind of like waking up on Christmas morning with a lump of coal in your stocking.

What is a 404 Page Error?

A 404 page error simply put is an error that is generated when a page cannot be found. It can happen for a variety of reasons. Here are some of the most common.

Typo in a link

We’ve all done it before…we’re working at such a break-neck pace that we inadvertently misspell the name of a website or page name on a website. The easiest way to avoid this is to use your internet browser tabs. Tabs are one of my favorite improvements in the internet browser experience in the last five years. They allow you to have multiple sites open in a single “window”….but I digress.

In most browsers, if you press CTRL+T (Command+T on a Mac) your browser will open another tab. On this second tab, browse to the page to which you would like to link your page and copy all the text in the address bar. You can use  CTRL+C (Command+C on a mac) to copy the link. Now go back to your page where you are placing the link and in the link field type CTRL+V (Command+V on a mac) to paste it.

Changing a website page name

Every page on your website should have a name. If you have an older site or if it wasn’t built by someone who understands search engine optimization, chances are your page names may be something like services.html, products.html, or contact.html. If you are working with a search engine optimization company, such as Turn the Page Online Marketing, one thing that will be suggested is optimizing your page names.

Instead of calling a page products.html, if you sell kitchen faucets at killer prices for example, a better page name would be affordable-kitchen-faucets.html. Or if you install faucets locally, you may want your services page to be called something like faucet-installation-kansas-city.html.

However, when you change the name of a page, even if you update all your menus and links within your own website, you never know who may have an external link to that page floating around on the internet. The best thing to do to avoid a 404 page error, is to add a 301 redirect that points your old page name to your new page name. You will mostly likely need to contact your website host for help in adding a 301 redirect, unless you have advanced access to a control panel for your website.

Changing your website domain

Although we don’t often recommend changing your website domain because of the authority that comes with the age of a domain, sometimes it is unavoidable. So if you are going to change it, you could end up with a lot of 404 page errors floating around out there with links to pages on your old domain.

Similar to a page name change, if you change domains, you will want to initiate 301 redirects. Don’t make the mistake of adding just one 301 redirect from your old website to the new website domain. Best practice is that you add a 301 redirect for every single page on your site.

When a website page is deleted

Lastly, if you feel the need to delete a page on your website, users will also receive a 404 page error for any links that were going to that old web page.

I know I sound like a broken record (similar to the 12 days of Christmas song), but the answer once again is a 301 redirect. Even if you aren’t replacing the deleted page with a similar page, you should still redirect users to another page on your site. It’s best if you can add a 301 redirect to a page that has similar information as the deleted page, but if all else fails, redirect it to your home page.

Accidents happen, so make it look pretty

Even though Santa checks his list twice, I’m sure he’s made a mistake from time to time and you will do the same when it comes to 404 page errors on your website. So in the event that you do end up with a 404 page error on your site, you can at least be prepared for it by make a “pretty” 404 page error.

You might be wondering what the heck that means, but I’m sure you have seen it before. A standard 404 page error sort of looks like a blank page and when most users see it they immediately respond by hitting the back button on their browser due to fear of the unknown.

If you have a savvy web developer, they will have already created a “pretty” or custom 404 page error for your site. This will look like the rest of your website with possibly a link to your sitemap. That way, when users come across a broken link, they still feel like they are on your site and they have a quick way to find the page they are looking for.

To test your website to see if you have a custom 404 page error, simply go to any page on your site and type some additional gibberish into the address bar before the .html (or .php, .aspx, etc.)

Google Webmaster Tools is ready to help

Just one of the many great things about Google Webmaster tools is that once you are logged in, you can quickly see on your dashboard if you have any 404 page errors, referred to in Webmaster tools as “crawl errors”.

So here’s to hoping you don’t wake up with coal in your stocking or crawl errors on your site on Christmas morning. We hope you enjoyed our 12 Days of Google Christmas!