What Can Google Analytics Tell You?

We have been using Google Analytics with our clients for several years, and it is one of the most powerful, no cost tools available. Just about any activity or interaction from visitors on your site can be measured with Google Analytics. In this post, we’ll focus on a few specific features that can help you make adjustments to your website and keep it moving forward.

  1. Do I need a mobile website?

    Google tracks mobile and tablet views to your website, so if you have seen a steady increase in the percentage of traffic coming from these sources, then it would be safe to say you should explore adding a mobile website or responsive design elements. With the recent “Hummingbird” changes to Google’s rankings algorithm, not having a mobile website will likely cause a drop in your rankings if they haven’t already started doing so. Data for this is available under the “Standard Reports” tab on the left, then “Audience,” “Mobile,” and “Overview.” All you need to do is sort by an appropriate time period. Typically, we advise that a recent, significant increase, or anything over 10%, indicates a site that is a good candidate for a mobile version or a responsive redesign.

    Google Analytics can help you determine if you need a mobile website

  2. What are my top traffic sources?

    Creating a diverse Internet marketing plan for your website is important to building traffic. Tactics can include an ongoing, organic SEO effort, a pay-per-click campaign, multiple social media pages, and more. Google Analytics can show you which of these efforts is yielding the best results. This data is available under the “Standard Reports” tab on the left, then “Acquisition,” and “Channels.”

    Google Analytics can help you determine where your traffic is coming from.

  3. Do any pages need to be reviewed or updated to improve the user experience?

    Your website is built for your customers, and making sure they like what they find on your site is important. Of course, knowing what any given customer will like isn’t easily identified, but looking at site data can give you some clues. Ideally, you are looking for a low bounce rate with a high average time on page (although there are exceptions, such as a contact page, where users are normally getting your phone number and leaving relatively quickly). This bounce rate and time on page data is a fantastic way to see if your content is useful and being read. If it’s not, then you can test out alternatives. This is available under the “Standard Reports” tab on the left, then “Behavior,” “Site Content,” and “All Pages.” You can set up custom filters right above the grey menu bar below the graph by clicking the blue “advanced” bar. In our example, we defined all possible problem pages as anything with 50 page views, a bounce rate over 80%, and an average time on page under 50 seconds.

    Google Analytics can help you determine if you need any page reviews

As we have noted in the above examples, Google Analytics can be an important resource to research and answer many performance-related questions about your website. If you have a question you’d like to ask us about your website, be sure to reach out to our team via our contact page, or send us a message on our social channels. And if you realized you probably need a mobile website (now that you examined the data), we can help with that, as well!

Modular Design is Cool

2013 will likely be looked back on as a year where modular design became a popular solution for many websites. Grid-based designs are ever growing, responsive websites are becoming an expected norm, and even modular interfaces are becoming increasingly popular. These structures allow for focus on designing, clean structuring and improved work speed.

windows-8-modern But what actually is modular design? If you are familiar with Windows 8 Metro UI, you have a good conceptual starting point. Despite how you feel about Windows 8, they stand as a prime example for showing abundant content all at once and in a clean and easy to navigate fashion. Another place is the social media site Pinterest, that takes every “pinned” image, tosses it into its own box and then into its column. It allows them to easily add more content into boxes without worrying about how it may affect anything else.

Here are some quality websites, using very contemporary uses of modular design:

The modular look can easily be very bold in appearance with some work to make it softer. Some will want to shy away from this thinking if it doesn’t fit their brand, which is true sometimes, but often it is a great way to cleanly lay out a lot of content, and really encourage the user to interact with the website! The more they interact, the more they enjoy your brand!

If you have an interest in modular design, contact us to pursue a website with this currently trending design theme.

90% of Searches Affected by Google “Hummingbird”

Google made a huge change last week that is not only the largest since 2009, but the change also affects at least 90% of all searches. Unlike previous Penguin and Panda releases that just updated or enhanced the current search algorithm, the new Hummingbird launch brought the release of a brand new search algorithm. This means if you own a website, you were most likely affected by this change, and should probably reevaluate your internet marketing strategy to move beyond just a traditional focus on keywords.

To explain why, you’ll need to understand just how Hummingbird affects Google searches. Google has now moved toward catering to semantic search results, or those searches that are conversational, such as a search that asks a question. In order to do this, Google’s algorithm had to better determine how keywords tie together and what you were really looking for, as opposed to delivering results that contained those keywords you searched for. As more and more people use their mobile device for internet browsing and voice search, it was only a matter of time until Google revamped their search algorithm once again to deliver better results to users.

Is Google Pushing Its Other Services?

It’s obvious Google has motivation to push its other products and services, and it’s interesting to see some of the ways it is trying to get you to purchase services such as Adwords. There are a lot of different ways Google is starting to tie all its products together. These include:

  • Google Adwords
    • If you’re trying to see how well you’re doing for certain keywords or strings, you can no longer have this data available to you…unless you have an active Google Adwords campaign which will show you which keywords are most successful in driving traffic.google
  • Google Authorship
    • As you can guess, with a semantic search it is important to have updated information that answers questions your customers may be interested in. One of the best ways to do this is to keep an active blog, and if you tie in Google Authorship with your blog, your posts will start to appear in the search results.
  • Google+
    • Google reps have given talks about how Google Plus enhances search experience, as well as impacts the user’s search experience. If you are active on Google Plus, you are naturally providing Google with more data to return to your target audience. As social signals are used more and more in search results, it makes sense that Google Plus should be a focus in your SEO campaign.

These changes just reinforce the old saying that content is king. The more relevant content you deliver to your customers, the better your site will do in the search engine results. It is imperative you keep your website and/or social channels updated with what your customers want to know. All the clues are pointing towards a multifaceted approach to internet marketing, and if you are just focusing on a keyword based SEO, it may be time to start considering mixing in other options like blogging or social media.

Top 5 Reasons People Leave Your Website

There are a multitude of reasons people may leave your website, whether it be the speed, content availability, design usability, or lack of desired results. While all websites are different, there are a few constant factors to account for in order to please your users.

 

1: Slow Page Load

page-speed This is the number one reason users abandon your website. An average user spends about three seconds waiting for a page to load before becoming hasty and abandoning your site. Besides only having a negative effect on the patience of the person, it reflects negatively on the overall brand of the company as well.

There are many ways to speed up your site, some being quick and easy, while others are more time consuming ventures. We can optimize images, compress transfer of files, minify CSS and JavaScript, and enable browser caching. These are a few of the core items that can be tweaked to enhance speed.

Two recommended tools for measuring page speeds are:

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Brand Posting on Facebook

You risk hurting your business by not taking advantage of social media. Not only are you missing an opportunity to connect with the people who spend a significant amount of their free time browsing Facebook, Twitter, or a number of other social outfits (which is a majority of them), but you are also jeopardizing SEO efforts with your website. Even if you don’t realize it, social factors are becoming more and more tied into your Google, Bing, and Yahoo rankings, and by not having a presence you are unnecessarily harming your brand.

 If your brand is new to social media, or you are thinking about venturing into this new means of advertising, you should be aware that the one-size-fits-all approach with regard to brand posting is highly inadequate. Just like other advertising avenues, you need to understand your audience and the best way to connect with them.  Once you figure out what your audience is looking for, the rest is pretty simple if you follow these general rules regarding posting. Remember, the most important thing is to stay active, posting a minimum of once or twice a week.

Post content that is of interest to your audience

You’d be amazed how many brands are just posting for the sake of posting. These brands are easy to spot, as their entire wall resembles one big billboard. Don’t get us wrong, you do want to drive sales and have related posts, but this needs to be balanced. You should typically strive for 85% useful content, and only about 15% of sales-oriented posts. How quickly do you hide ads on your Facebook page? Your fans will do the same to your page if this happens, and it will prevent them from staying engaged with your page as they will no longer see your updates.

Optimize the content for shares, likes, and comments

The news feed is prime real estate. Depending on how many other brands or friends a person has sharing content with them, your message may not even get seen. You can increase your chances of locking up a spot on the news feed by creating engaging content. The more likes, shares, or comments a post has, the more likely it is to be shown. This has a snowball effect, as Facebook also takes into account how often someone interacts with your page, as well as if their friends interact with the page also.

Ask for feedback, shares, or likes

If you’ve optimized the content for it, why not encourage the feedback? Asking questions or requesting shares or likes for your posts actually works! You can get creative with this as well. If you’re asking an either/or question, have a response tied to the share, like, or comment buttons. For example, if your post is attributing a favorite flavor of ice-cream, you could say something like, “Our chocolate fanatics share this post, those who prefer vanilla like it, and if you prefer a different flavor, let us know in the comments.”

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These are just a few of the many tips we could share with you when it comes to representing your brand on Facebook. If you have specific questions feel free to leave us a comment below, or reach out to us via our contact page. We also offer full-service  social media services for those who don’t have time or interest in managing social media, but who understand its importance.

How to Choose a Domain Name

Clients often ask us “What name should I use for my website?” It sounds like an easy question, but there are actually a number of variables to consider before you rush to secure your new domain name with a re-seller. Here are five considerations to take into account when choosing your own URL:

1.    Length of the URL

Often, choosing a short name for your URL (website address) is the best way to go, especially if the name is directly linked to who you are or what you do. But having a short name isn’t everything. If the words you chose aren’t memorable, are spelled abnormally, or are awkward contractions of other words, you might be better off using the longer option.  For instance, www.thelightingworks.com would be more memorable than www.ltngwrks.com, even though it is longer. But www.lightingworks.com might be even better, since it captures the core name without being hard to remember.

2.    What to do when a URL is already taken

Chances are, unless your organization or business is very unique, your first choice for a domain name is already in use by someone else. This is no cause for panic, however, as this problem is often remedied by simply being creative. Adding geographic-specific attributes to your URL like www.palightingworks.com or www.lancasterlighting.com, for example, may be the solution.

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Why a “Super-phonebook” SEO Program may not be your Best Investment

If you are looking to join the millions of others committing money to online marketing, you probably have given thought to the large “Super-phonebook” companies that claim to be the best choice for your online marketing needs. Before you start spending money or make a commitment, there is a lot of information—and some misinformation—of which you should be mindful.

There is no shortage of horror stories floating out there in cyberspace about why people have regretted going the “Super-phonebook” route. But we wanted to find out for ourselves, so we placed a call and talked with a representative about the opportunities they could offer their clients. In comparing their options with a smaller, more customer-focused business that offer similar services, we began to understand the reasons for the complaints.

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Sharp client recently featured on the popular tech blog, “Gizmodo”

Have you ever bought a new pair of bright, white tennis shoes, only to have them look old and dirty after an ill-placed step through a puddle? Or perhaps you’ve worn a crisp, new shirt at a barbeque and quickly realized that shirt wouldn’t look new for long. Maybe you’ve simply had a beverage accidentally knocked over, right near your smartphone that happens to be lying beside it on the table. Whatever the careless moment or unfortunate incident, a small company out of Lancaster, PA has developed a product that guarantees to revolutionize how we protect our personal possessions from life’s unfortunate run-ins with these liquid-based hazards. NeverWet™, a longstanding Sharp Innovations client, has recently partnered with Rust-Oleum™ to bring this technology to a store near you. For about $20 a can, you can purchase NeverWet’s™ two part super-hydrophobic coating that effectively resists water and other aqueous solutions, acids, bases, salt solutions and most foods.

See NeverWet™  in Action..

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Now Trending: Social Media

Which-demographics-use-what-social-media

American culture has very much been influenced in the 2000’s by the impact that the internet has made on society. Perhaps the most exemplary of our cultural fascination with the internet is the magnitude of the growing trend toward social media. Whether we like it or not, mastering the social media ‘game’ as businesspeople seems like a skill we must acquire to reach the younger generations. But to what extent is the social media experiment exclusive to the “Generation-y’ers” among us? A recent study conducted by the Pew Research Center presents some pretty telling data on the social media puzzle.

Contrary to what may be popular belief, 52% of the 50-64 year age bracket use some form of social media; 77% of 30-49 year-olds check in on a regular basis, and 83% of consumers ranging from 18-29 years of age will visit their social media page regularly. It’s probably not a surprise to you that social media usage ranks more prominently among America’s younger adults, but the fact that over half of all baby-boomers check into their Facebook/LinkedIn account at least semi-regularly? Wow. That’s enough to make you re-think your marketing strategy!

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Long Live the Hardware – Consumer Electronics Show

The CES, or the International Consumer Electronics Show, for those of us who aren’t in the technology awards circuit, commenced Monday, thus handing out its yearly prize to Samsung. Samsung won out in the 2013 edition of the CES’ convention over viable foe, Sony. The North Korean tech wizard claimed this year’s title through an array of products, led by its patented Galaxy S3 system, powered by Google’s Android OS. Many in the tech device know-how consider the Galaxy S3 the world’s only formidable competition for Apple’s iPhone, riding the coattails of a November sales report which positioned it as the world’s best-selling smartphone.

Media Credit: Mobile and Web News

The victory comes with a small disclaimer. Industry giants like Apple, Microsoft, and Google did not “compete.” The yearly convention, according to some, has become somewhat nostalgic, as your usual industry trailblazers are not in attendance or in consideration. The reason for the nostalgia is the distinction in the tech market between hardware and software. Most experts point to software as being the primary player which drives the technology market, that’s why it’s no surprise that software leaders like Apple and Google were “left out.”

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