Blog Posts About Analytics
By Ava Naves, Principal
Google Analytics assessment: MRI of your GA set up. Photo credit: Alan Levine, Creative Commons
Google Analytics (GA) is one of those areas where a bit of knowledge can be dangerous. Because sometimes* the GA code installation can be pretty straight-forward, many organizations assume that, once the code is in place, the job is done and no periodic maintenance is necessary.
Unfortunately, that’s not the case. To make sure you’re making digital marketing decisions based on accurate analytics reports, it is important to invest in a Google Analytics assessment from time to time. Think of it as preventive health screening for your data. Here are a few reasons why:
Are your filters up-to-date?
There are many filters that should be added to your Google Analytics views, but let’s just look at a filter to exclude internal traffic. This filter is put into place to dismiss visits from your staff and contractors. But let’s say your company office moves, and your IP address changes. When that happens, that filter needs to be modified. Otherwise, especially in large teams, you may see a spike in number of sessions reported on GA. The reason will be growth in internal traffic (which is not relevant at all to your marketing efforts).
By Ava Naves, Principal
“Frequently update your company’s Facebook Page.”
“Consistently upload quality videos to your YouTube Channel.”
“Write one ‘can’t miss’ blog post per week, optimized for search visibility, obviously!”
“Publish ‘x’ number of tweets every day.”
“Review your latest analytics reports every month… and don’t even think of letting your presence on Pinterest and LinkedIn fall by the wayside.”
STOP! THINK! How many hours have you retained from your agency, or how many hours is your in-house team actually able to devote to implementing your online marketing strategy and accomplishing these tasks? You wouldn’t have an architect draw plans for a house without first assessing your financial resources. In this case, you need to also consider other resources — namely time and skill. Yet, since I founded The Online Strategy House in 2009, there have been so many times when I have chatted with clients and found out that at some point in the past they had a strategy that was just out of reach.
A competent digital marketing professional will identify the tactics that will have the most impact on your digital goals, based on the hours at your disposal. If working with your in-house team, the consultancy or agency must also weigh the skill set that your human resources bring to the campaign.
That is why I always kickstart projects with The Online Strategy House’s new clients by embarking on Discovery Sessions. Among other objectives, our Discovery Sessions enable us to understand our clients’ “bandwidth reality” so that we can develop their strategies based on their assets. This is not the time for clients to be boastful or to have strong egos. If your agency asks you how much time your staff will have to devote to the implementation of your digital marketing plan, then be frank and realistic. If you hire us, or another agency, on a retainer basis, then both parties must be mindful of the number hours available per month for your account.
As a client, ask the hard questions if need be: what areas should be the priority? You may even look at question on a more granular level. For example, when optimizing YouTube videos for enhanced search visibility, what’s most important if there isn’t enough time to get everything done at once? Should your staff first optimize the titles, descriptions and tags? Or should they invest their time in transcribing your videos so that they can upload the closed captioning?
Likewise, before you’re seduced by the latest online marketing “shiny toy”, have your agency explain the impact that it will potentially have in achieving the goals set out by the strategy. This is especially applicable to social media, where it seems that a new platform is launched every month.
As my father says, “tempus irreparabile fugit” (Latin for “time irretrievably flees”). So use your company’s or agency’s time wisely. Focus on what matters and on what is realistic.
By Ava Naves, Principal, The Online Strategy House
Most people wouldn’t think that there’s any link between vintage cars, Hollywood legends, and Information Architeture. That is so, but little did I know that my teenage crush on James Dean would come in handy at one of the SEO and Web Analytics classes that I’ve taught at the University of British Columbia.
I’ve been strangely fascinated by the actor ever since I was around 12 or 13, and that has led me to memorizing several bits of what, until recently, I deemed to be useless trivia. For example, I know that he…
- Was driving a 1955 550 Porsche Spyder when he died
- Had his fatal accident on September 30th, 1955
- Played the violin as a young child
The course that I’ve taught at UBC, here in Vancouver, presented best practices in SEO and Digital Analytics that can guide the optimization of new and revamped sites. One of the topics of the first session was how Information Architecture (specifically site hierarchy and structure) affects SEO.
When I first developed the materials for that class, I somehow had the idea of using a fictitious site for a reseller of vintage car parts as an example. Fast forward to a few weeks later, during this term’s first lecture. When I got to the part where I talked about SEO and Information Architecture (IA), I mentioned Porsche as the theme of one of the make-believe directories in the site. The next step would be to explain that one of the subdirectories would include information on parts for Porsche classic cars, like the convertible that James Dean was driving on that fateful September afternoon. But then… I forgot the model of the vehicle! I usually like to include that in the example because it is unexpected and students often find that amusing.
By that point it was around 8:30 pm, and I was cognizant of the need to to keep the students involved so that they would understand those important IA and SEO principles. And my coffee was… not kicking in anymore. So there I was, staring blankly at the white board, saying outloud: “Right… what was that car that James Dean was driving…”
To my surprise (and relief), one of the students jumped off his seat and came to my aid. Very enthusiastically, he said: “A 1955 550 Porsche Spyder!” That was a moment when everyone in class realized that learning about SEO, IA, and Digital Analytics can actually be enjoyable.
When that class was over for that evening, the student paid me one of the dearest compliments I’ve ever received. He said: “I was dreading this class but this was actually fun!” I know that students sacrificed personal and family time to attend that three-hour course every Wednesday evening, so I very much appreciated that.
Thank you, Jimmy!
P.S.: Maybe you’re part of a company that could benefit from a custom online marketing workshop. Give us a shout… we’ll make it fun!