Analytics for Success

Analytics GraphEvery website owner wants to have access to their site’s visitors statistics. All of them, almost without exceptions. Even the ones who are not planning to derive any financial profit from their Internet presence would still want to know who visits their websites, why do they visit them, what are the times they choose to visit and what are the total number of visitors.

The amount of detail is what differences some website owners from others. While some people are happy with just a quick, general report, others will want to drill down into the details. Those are the ones who will be happy to learn about RackNine’s Site Analytics service.

Site Analytics is the perfect solution for executives planning new marketing initiatives based on accurate visitor traffic patterns and trends on their websites, allowing them to easily figure out which customer and customer segments are most valuable.

Marketing Professionals will benefit from knowing where visitors are coming from, what keywords attract them and what do they do on their websites, highly valuable pieces of intelligence that will help them convert more visitors into customers.

Content and Web Developers will be able to track the most popular landing pages and optimize them accordingly, emphasizing the type of content people are most interested in, and turning off those website design elements that may be turning visitors away.

Site Analytics has a large array of advanced options that set them ahead of many other popular tools, such as Google Analytics. Among its most valuable features are:

  • Stats at-a-glance
    Get the information you want – without having to click through countless screens – with our customizable dashboard view.
  • Real-time results
    With Site Analytics’ real-time statistics, you don’t have to wait until tomorrow to find out if changes to your site are working. Plus, heat mapping and pinpoint functionality tell you which sections or links are getting the most attention.
  • In-depth reporting
    Dig into the details and get a better understating of your customers with more than 30 reports. Find out who’s visiting, when they’re on your site, how they’re getting there and much more.
  • Choose your view
    Site Analytics lets you decide how you want to view your data with three graphing options (Bar, Area and Line) as well as the ability to export to Microsoft Excel® or Adobe® PDF.

View the table below for a feature comparison between RackNine’s Site Analytics and Google Analytics:

RackNine Google
Analytics™
SUPPORT & FEATURES YES YES
Real-time statistics Visitor data available right away YES YES
Page views Number of hits supported each month 50 million 5 million
Pinpoint tracking See which links are clicked on the most YES YES
Overlay heatmap See where visitors are clicking and where they are not YES — —
Log file analysis and export Rely on hard-coded server logs YES — —
VISITOR REPORTS YES YES
Current visitors Visitors currently on the website (real-time functionality enabled) YES YES
Visitors Visitors and unique visitors YES YES
Visitor information Information on current and recent visitors YES YES
Visitor paths The paths visitors take on your site YES YES
Depth of visit Number of pages viewed per visit YES YES
Time on site The time visitors spend on your site YES YES
Loyalty Return visits during the time range YES YES
GEOGRAPHICAL REPORTS YES YES
Postal codes The postal codes of your visitors YES — —
Countries The home countries of your visitors YES YES
Regions The home states of your visitors YES YES
Cities The home cities of your visitors YES YES
PAGE REPORTS YES YES
Most popular hour What hours hits are at their highest YES — —
Most popular day Popularity by day of the week YES — —
Page views The total number of page views YES YES
Pages The pages that are requested YES YES
Entry pages The pages on which visitors entered your site YES YES
Exit pages The pages from which your visitors left YES YES
Bounce rate Page visitors both entered and left from YES YES
Exit links Where your visitors went when they left your site YES YES
SYSTEM REPORTS YES YES
Browsers Visitor browser preferences YES YES
Operating systems Visitor OS preferences YES YES
REFERRER REPORTS YES YES
Referring domains The domains that drive visits YES YES
Referring pages The pages that drive visits YES YES
Search engines The search engines that drive visits YES YES
Keywords The search engine keywords that drive visits YES YES
SERVER REPORTS YES YES
Errors Pages that generated errors YES — —
Hits The total pages and files served to your visitors YES YES
RESOURCE REPORTS YES YES
Files Non-Page hits and downloads YES List of all content
Resource types Hits broken down by page and file type YES — —
Bad resource links Your site’s broken links YES — —
BANDWIDTH REPORTS YES YES
Bandwidth How much you’re using because of hits YES — —
File bandwidth How much you’re using because of downloads YES — —
eCOMMERCE REPORTS YES YES
Conversion summary Tracking Ad ID campaign success YES YES
Conversion details Detailed analysis of Ad ID campaign success YES YES

 

If you’re serious about Analytics these are the kind of advanced features that will make all the difference in the world and set you apart from the competition. There’s a quote commonly attributed to Andrew Lang that says it all, “An unsophisticated forecaster uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts – for support rather than for illumination.”

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How to Get Search Engines to Index your Website

Search Engines use web crawlers (computer programs that browse the World Wide Web in an automated way) to create a copy of all the visited pages that will later be processed and indexed to provide the basis for the search results.

When the crawler, also called spider, visits a web page, reads it, and then follows any hyperlinks it finds to other pages within the same domain. This is in short the basic procedure followed when a site is being “spidered” or “crawled.” The spider returns to the site on a regular basis to look for changes. How often it returns depends on the frequency of updates and overall importance of the site.

Google search results for RackNine

Everything the spider finds goes into the second part of the search engine, the index. The index, sometimes called the catalog, is a giant database containing a copy of every web page the spider comes across. Every time a web page changes the database is updated with the new information, allowing search engines to take a query from users and return all the pages on the index that match it.

Sometimes it can take a while for new pages or changes that the spider finds to be added to the index. Thus, a web page may have been “spidered” but not yet “indexed.” The big difference is that if a page is not in the search engine’s index, it will not appear in search results.

Among the common issues inexperienced webmasters encounter when trying to index their site are missing submissions, that occur when search engines are prevented from indexing a website because they simply don’t know the site exists. One way they find a website is if through links from other sites. Another is by submitting directly to those search engines where you wish to have the site crawled and indexed.

Once it has been already indexed your site might already be coming up as a search result, but might be buried behind the competition. To see if your site is indexed, go to a search engine and type site:www.yourdomain.com (where ‘yourdomain.com’ is your domain name) in the search field. If your site displays as a result, it’s indexed. Your next step is to optimize your website and improve its search engine rankings.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of improving internal and external aspects of a website, or Web page, to increase its organic visibility for search engines. SEO involves editing the website’s HTML code and content to make it more search engine friendly, and then promoting the site to increase its relevance on the Web.

To make the most of optimizing the code you need to understand that search engines do not see Web pages like you do. Generally speaking hey cannot process raw images, neither translate them into meaningful content. Search engines crawl your website by reading the code created with HTML  and the actual text that it contains. If your site includes just images, Javascript, or Flash®, then search engines might not identify the content to index. A page made up mostly of those elements displays almost blank to a crawler and the search engine has a great deal of difficulty indexing it.

Another common problem is encountered when the site contents aren’t accessible because it requires registration or its pages are protected with a password. Just like a site is programmed to keep non-registered users out, it also blocks search engines from crawling content. To by-pass this barrier you could submit a site map and tweak the code to correctly identify accessible key pages of your website for search engine review.

Last but not least you must always remember that on the Internet “Content is King”, and your copy should always target your audience group. That will help search engines classify your website and index it accordingly, improving your chances of having the site appear high on search result pages for queries related to your content.

If you decide to do it on your own keep always in mind that it can take weeks, even months, for search engines to index the contents of your website. Our SEO team at RackNine can analyze your website and help you develop an adequate strategy to cut those times considerably. Contact us for more information.

 


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Analytics Intelligence

One of the most overlooked features of Google Analytics is the Intelligence Alerts tool, that constantly monitors Internet traffic using a sophisticated algorithmic intelligence engine that detects any statistical variations in traffic patterns. The algorithm is intelligent enough to know the difference between a “natural” change that can be attributed as part of a larger trend and an “unnatural” change that might require your attention.

Every time something out of the ordinary affects the traffic patterns in your website the software adds an alert in the automatically generated Intelligence reports. You can also configure custom alerts that are triggered by a number of factors, such as for example, a sudden increase of traffic from a particular city or referring site.

By default, Google Analytics delivers three kind of reports based on frequency, Daily Alerts, Weekly Alerts and Monthly Alerts. Analytics Intelligence sorts through all the historical data and alerts automatically get posted to your account.

Analytics Intelligence is fairly easy to understand and configure. First you must select the type of alert you’d like to display: Custom, Web Analytics (automatic), AdWords (automatic). Then, in order to display the dimensions, metrics, and significance ratings of alerts for a particular time segment (day, week, month), you have to click one of the bars in the graphs that are presented.

You can compare the actual performance with the expected performance. Analytics calculates expected performance from previous performance values, and calculates significance from the difference between actual performance and expected performance. As the difference between actual and expected values increases, so does the significance rating.

The Alert Sensitivity slider allows you to set sensitivity for automatic alerts. As you reduce alert sensitivity, you receive fewer alerts, but each alert has a higher significance rating. The opposite happens with a higher setting that will generate more alerts, but each with a lower significance rating.

To create a custom alert follow these steps:

  1. Open one of the Intelligence reports (Daily, Weekly, or Monthly Alerts).
  2. Below the bar graph, in the Custom Alerts field, click Create a Custom Alert.
  3. Alert name: Enter a name for your custom alert.
  4. Apply to: If you want to apply the alert to additional profiles, open the other profiles menu, then select the check box for each profile to which you want to apply the alert. The alert is then available to you in any of the other profiles you select.
  5. Period: Select the frequency at which the alert can be generated (Day, Week, Month).
  6. Send me an email when this alert triggers: Select this check box if you want to receive an email when the alert is generated.
    If you want other people to also receive email, open the other email addresses menu, click Add new email address, enter the address and label, then click OK.
    Learn more about the email alerts that Analytics sends.
  7. Set up your mobile phone: Click this link to enter your mobile phone number, and configure the system to send a text message when an alert is generated.
  8. Alert Conditions:
    • This applies to: Select the dimension to which the alert applies.
    • Alert me when: Select the metric to which the alert applies, the condition that generates the alerts (e.g., Is less than, Is greater than), and enter the value for the condition (e.g., Is less than 20).
  9. Click Create Alert.

Watch the video below for a graphic explanation on how to use Analytics Intelligence in the new version of Google Analytics:



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Black Hat SEO, is it Worth It?

If you have worked on anything related to Internet marketing, you surely must have come across requests of the kind: “Get my website high on the first page of the search results, I don’t care how you do it”, followed by a wink-wink and possibly a reference to Black Hat SEO.

Now, if you were an unethical person who only cares about how to squeeze as much money as possible from your customers, with no regard for long-term consequences, you could just go ahead and use some of the available and unethical Black Hat SEO methods in order to obtain a (temporary) high ranking on search engine’s results for your customer’s website, get the money and run. As fast as you can.

Black Hat

But if you had some ethical (and common) sense, you would have to explain to your client that using Black Hat SEO techniques is definitely a bad idea. The line of argumentation is simple. Only a fool would ever dream of fooling Google and its team of top-notch engineers. There’s no such thing as effective Black Hat SEO, no matter how much money you pour onto it. But sure there is something called blacklisting from Search Engines, and it has ruined many a promising website.

Below I’m listing some of the “tricks” that will get a website blacklisted in the short, medium or not-so-long term:

  1. Stuffing your website with keywords that don’t relate to the content of the website and makes no sense to human users.
  2. Making the text invisible by applying the same color as the page’s background. This was a very old trick that allowed to place huge amounts of keyword-enriched text without spoiling user’s experience, but nowadays search engines can easily detect it and blacklist the whole site in no time. And yes, in case you’re wondering, they can detect it on CSS style-sheets as well, so don’t even try.
  3. Doorway pages that are designed for spamming the index of a search engine by inserting results for particular phrases, and fast-forwarding visitors to the real content once they land. No, no, no.
  4. Getting a huge amount of links from “link farms”, thereby artificially inflating the page rank of the linked page. It’s also an old technique that today’s search engines are quick to spot. It used to be that a website could get penalized for receiving such paid links, but then Google realized that there were people who would buy those links and point them to competitor’s websites in what was called “Google Bowling”, so they decided not to penalize them either. Matt Cutts, who works for the Search Quality group in Google, and specializes in search engine optimization issues explained how Google deals with Google Bowling:

    The short answer is we try really hard to make sure that one person can’t Google bowl another person. You try to include it in your algorithm so much that you don’t want those links to count, but you don’t necessarily want anyone to be in a position where somebody else could try to hurt you …

    We try to make it so that it doesn’t cause a drop in your rankings (if a competitor tries to hurt you). We try to do stuff algorithmically, we use manual means … we’ve been pretty clear that we do not like paid links and we take action on it, but at the same time, we try very hard to make it so that just because somebody else doesn’t like you, they can’t submarine your rankings and things like that.

    In any case, what all this ultimately means is that if you decide to buy links from these farms you’ll be basically wasting your money, as they will have zero influence in your rankings in the long term.

There are many more Black Hat SEO techniques, but the bottom line is that using them  to increase your rankings on search engines will ultimately achieve the opposite effect, maybe not immediately, but as soon as you get caught (and you will get caught eventually, harbour no doubts about it), your website will be immediately pushed down on the search results, or what’s even worse, blacklisted from search engines’ indexes.

You’d be better off by investing your money on building an honest and down-to-earth SEO campaign using ethical SEO techniques, such as creating compelling content. Just be patient and remember that SEO does take time, high rankings do not happen overnight. Honesty and perseverance are two of the main ingredients to achieve the rankings you’re aiming for.


RackNine can help you develop the right SEO campaign for your website.
Please contact us for more information and to learn more about all the available options.

Online Communities Maps by xkcd

XKCD has created a couple of maps plotting online communities in 2007 and 2010 (click for a much larger image):

Online Communities Map Circa 2007

Online Communities Map – 2010

About xkcd:
A CNU graduate with a degree in physics. Before starting xkcd, he worked on robots at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Virginia.