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12 Days of Google Christmas

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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…

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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 – 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!

 

12 Days of Christmas – Day 9 (Unique Visits)

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9,000 Unique Visitors

Before we delve too far into the intimate details of Google Analytics and all things “Unique Visitors,” there are a few things I need to get off my chest. As Turn The Page’s resident motorcycle riding, cigar smoking, rum drinking resident bachelor I have to say that when it comes to The Twelve Days of Christmas, excluding the nine maids a milking is a true crime against humanity. Just saying.

Now that we’ve officially established that I’m definitely not a prince even among the non-princely, let’s get down to the only reason anyone in their right mind would choose to peruse my attempts at literary diatribe, Google Analytics Unique Visitors.

What are Unique Visitors?

First, let’s tackle the question of what are Unique Visitors? And, how does Google, that John D. Rockefeller of the web world, comes up with its magical little numbers?

Unique Visitors are a function of those wild little cookies you’re always hearing about when talking about web browsers. Unfortunately for me and my inner fat kid, web browser cookies have nothing to do with those Girl Scout Thin Mints I love far too much.

Browser cookies are bits of information stored in Google Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, or whatever other browser you use to surf the digital highway. The underlying goal of cookies is to shorten the time it takes to load your favorite web pages. The first time you visit a website, a “crumb” from one of those cookies is placed in your browser and unless you clear them, it lets Google know it’s not your first time on the site. Every time someone visits a site and there isn’t one of those delicious cookies in the browser, Google Analytics tags them as a “Unique Visitor.”

The unique visitors number helps give you an idea of how many new people are stopping by. Great you say, but what happens is someone clears their cookies? There lies the fly in the ointment.

Take Caution When Comparing Unique Visitors

Google’s Unique Visitors  statistic is not the Holy Bible in terms of new visitors. To bring it into perspective let’s look at an example.

  • On Monday, Lindy, the Turn The Page Christmas Elf, visits your website on her home computer using Apple’s Safari browser. This is unique visitor number one.
  • Knowing Apple products (yes Amy Driver, this is here just for you), Safari crashes and our favorite elf reloads your page using Firefox, which would represent unique visitor number two.
  • At work Lindy the Elf visits your website on her work computer establishing unique visitor number three.
  • Now let’s say her employer clears the cookies from all their computers daily. This means when Elf Lindy visits your site again the following morn, even though she uses the same computer, it becomes unique visitor number four. That’s right, one true unique visitor counted four times. So how do we interpret the unique visitors statistic if it’s off?

Use the Statistic From a 10,000 Foot View

Use the unique visitors statistic to gain a 10,000 foot view of the overall trend of your website. Be aware that if you try to read too deeply into that analytic, you can muck the whole thing up. There’s a level of innate inaccuracy within this tool. You need to look at the number over a longer period of time with a larger sample size. This should help to average out the switching of browsers and/or use of multiple computers and give you a more accurate perspective of the overall trend. Okay, now that we’ve cleared the air on that there’s still a landmine or two that needs to be avoided.

What Matters is What You’re Doing with your Unique Visitors

What really counts is what you’re doing with all these unique visitors. In the end it’s really about conversions. Bare with me, I’m going to revert back to my company bachelor status in a muddled attempt to make it all clear.

If I head out to the bar on Friday with the intent of meeting a fair maiden, hit on every single one of the nine maids a milking and fail to get a single one of their phone numbers, how successful have I been? Not very.

So, in the world of online marketing, at the end of the day, you need to be looking toward your conversion goals (i.e. the date next Friday after I collected all nine maids’ phone numbers).

Set a Goal of Return Visitors on Your Website

My final lesson is to not be so focused on the idea of new visitors that you forget that one of the biggest goals is getting them to come back and turn into something other than a unique visitor. You want them to request a quote, buy a product, click on your blog, or call you. That’s the ultimate goal of your website.

As always I hope this helps and if you’re one of the nine maids and you’re reading this, you have no idea how upset I was when Rob cut you out of Turn The Page’s Twelve Days of Christmas. The good news is if you shoot me an email we can sit down over a glass of wine and I’m positive together we can convince Rob to include you next year. Happy holidays and put a little rum in your eggnog for me.

12 Days of Google Christmas – Day 4 (Landing Pages)

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Do you think if Santa Claus had a website it would be easier for him…and us?  Just think, kids could submit their wish lists directly to the big guy himself, bypassing trips to the post office drop off location.

Have you been to the post office this time of year?  It’s not a pretty site.  No more standing in lines at the mall or one of the many locations Santa will be visiting….have you heard of Skype?  The thought of no more parking lots, driving around looking for spot near the door, worrying if that cute little girl in front of your child has had a flu shot, because she just sneezed all over your kid…visions of peacefulness could dance through parents heads’ all over the world.  So this brings us to a crucial part of a fully functional working website.. the landing page.  It’s not as if Santa would need to worry about driving traffic to his site but what will he want to do once he gets the traffic there?

Definition of a Landing Page:

The definition of a landing page is just what it sounds like (not to be confused with Santa’s landing site on your roof): it’s the page your website visitors arrive at after clicking on a link. It could be your home page, or any other page in your site. Keywords will drive your traffic to a specific page.

What a Landing Page Does:

The best use of a landing page is not what it is, but what it can do for you. Your landing pages should provide a customized sales pitch for the visitor…did the elves overdo it on production of the red painted wagons this year and you need to make sure they go out?  The best way to go about this is consider where the person has come from, who they are and what keywords they searched.  By providing a good match, your chances of engaging the visitor goes up as your conversion rate should.

Well written landing pages almost always have better conversion rates than simply leading people into the home page of your site. When you drop people into the homepage of your site, it’s not good to ask them to fend for themselves. Too many choices are not always a good thing.  They arrive and spend a couple seconds before giving up and hitting their back button to move on to your competitor.

When a Landing Page Should be used:

You should create targeted landing pages anytime you can control where people will be coming from, and your goal is a specific transaction such as sales, registrations, sign-ups, etc. This is particularly true if you are paying for the traffic with banner ads, sponsor links, or pay-per-click.

Landing pages will give you a true pulse on the effectiveness of your website. It’s kind of like if Santa had a landing page – he’d know exactly what every kid needed and have even more efficiency under his big black belt.

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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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!