Posts Tagged ‘search engine optimization’
Today we are happy to announce Manhattan based Imerex is now a division of E-Nor, further expanding E-Nor’s services into the East Coast and Eastern Canada. Our combined teams offer comprehensive digital expertise in Web Analytics, Digital Marketing Optimization and Search Engine Marketing. We have partnered together for many years and welcome this growth and expansion.
Feras commented, “We have seen real growth in the digital analytics field and a surging demand for web analytics that integrate marketing channels into one place. As analytics experts, we’ve shown our clients how insightful and powerful actionable data can be. Once they have that visibility, the next logical step for them is to ask how they can improve their marketing efforts. Having Imerex as part of our company allows us to provide key strategic and executional expertise on the marketing side which, when combined with our advanced analytics consulting and implementation, can make the most of our client’s marketing dollars.”
We are very excited about this expansion and enhancing our capabilities to better support the growing analytics needs .
Some of the world’s most recognized brands in the San Francisco Bay Area and throughout North American have relied on E-Nor’s team and analytics framework to deliver results and actionable insights to positively impact the business. With offices in the heart of Silicon Valley, Southern California, Alberta, Canada, and now New York, we are well-positioned to service organizations aspiring to be more data-driven, as well as Google Analytics Premium clients looking for our elite support, deeper analysis and more analytics horsepower.
Stay tuned for more exciting news!!!
With the creation of smart phones and since your mobile device is conveniently available anywhere, mobile internet browsing has increased astronomically. As such, users have come to expect better experiences on their phone. Unfortunately, not all sites have a mobile version, which is a problem since there’s a good chance your site will look significantly smaller and possibly illegible on a mobile device.
This should raise a couple questions:
- Is your site compatible on all cellular phone platforms?
- Is the site being used on a cellular phone the same way it would be used on a desktop?
If you aren’t sure, don’t guess; check your analytics. Here’s a post on how to track mobile traffic.
Issues with Mobile Usability
The answer depends ultimately on the function of your site but of course regardless, browsing a website on your mobile is a much different experience than browsing on your desktop. That said here are some usability issues you may run into while browsing on your mobile:
- Excessive Scrolling – Phones have been getting smaller and sleeker over the past couple years, which means screens are even smaller. While the width of a standard desktop screen is around 1052px, the standard width for a mobile site is 250px. Unfortunately because of the small screen restriction, viewing a site is very frustrating because of scrolling and/or zooming in. I’ve run into this problem so many times, when I search on my blackberry, I always have to zoom into the site to be able to read, which of course means I have to scroll from right to left to read the content properly.
- Load Time – Non-mobile-friendly sites could take a long time to load.
- Page Height – Along with having to zoom, the page could be longer than necessary, causing the user to have to scroll down.
- Flash – If your site has flash, more than likely it will not be supported by all cell phone browsers.
- Mobile Location – Another factor affecting mobile browsing is location of the user. While computers are generally stationary, cell phones are used everywhere (hence the world “mobile”). The contrast of the colors and font size on a site may not be legible while using a cell outdoors.
Mobile Design Tips
Here’s a list of guidelines for designing a more-user friendly mobile site:
- Screen Size – Design your mobile site to be 250px
- Limited content – Since the width is limited, height may be used to fill in space that is lost with width. However, it’s best to avoid having a long page of content. After all, this is a phone and is still quite small. Whether its touch screen or keys based, it’s much harder to scroll up or down than it is on a desktop.
- Clear action buttons – Again, since the screen is small, it’s best to make sure if you do have images to make them clear, and if that means using the whole width that’s okay. Same goes for buttons, if there is a clear action, it will be seen, so the bigger the better. I highly recommend buttons over links; specifically for touch screen users. When trying to click on a link, it’s always so hard to actually click on the correct link. The link will usually be buried within text and other links.
- Create a separate mobile environment – administering a site that is optimized for a desktop that is at the same time 100% mobile friendly is very difficult since both natures are completely different. That would mean you’re essentially limited to the parameters of mobile (for example, when choosing the width of images for your desktop site, you’ll be nagged by the limits of your mobile resolution). It’s best to have a separate environment specifically catered to mobile screens allowing you to have freedom in both designs.
- Real Estate – Mobile “real estate” is very limited; to maximize the use of space in your design, simplify your site to the very basic functions of your company. For example, if your desktop has three panes; a side menu, content, and news. The side menu may not be completely necessary, especially since the navigation on mobile and desktop is completely different.
- Meet the user’s needs quickly – If the South Africa World Cup is the hot topic, and you’re cnn.com, make sure that story is visible above the fold right away.
- Clear functions – Make things clear and easy for the user to find. If you want someone to click on a button, make it large and bright to emphasize the action. For example, on a mobile site it would be smart to have a back button rather than a link because it’ll be easier for the user to find the button than a link since a link could easily get hidden through the text.
- Ease of use – The user shouldn’t have to waste time scrolling up and down looking for something that should be easy to find. For example, in tip #5, I talked about “real estate.” With a limited width, you lose a lot of space for content, but what you lose in width you can make up in the height. This makes it much easier for the user to read rather than having to scroll from left to right.
- Browsing Links – Use only basic browsing links such as home and back, you don’t need to include the whole menu that is on your desktop site. Make sure to add the browsing links at the top and bottom of the page.
- Search – For some sites, it is very important to have search because the site is search based for example, Google or Target. Google is search based links, while Target is search based products. If your site is search based, including two search boxes may be really helpful. Some companies have sites that are entirely search based such as Google, their desktop and mobile site is just a search bar. As for Target and Amazon their home pages have a search bar at the top of the page with browsing links below, which is another way to go because you can browse products as well as search for them.
- Testing – Lastly, make sure to test the usability of the mobile site on different phone browsers. This, of course, would be a separate checklist from launching your desktop site. Keep in mind, phones can be used in any location, for example, the contrast of a screen in the sunlight, has to be legible.
Having a mobile friendly site, will make it much easier for your customer to navigate, making for a better user experience, in turn, increasing your conversion. If mobile phones make shopping more convenient, you want to make sure your site takes advantage of that trend and make it easy for users to shop for your product as well.
And now that you have a mobile site, few things to keep in mind:
- Search engine optimization (SEO), here is a link from the Google Webmaster tool on how to Help Google Index Your Mobile Site. Mobile websites are often returned in Google mobile search results (and other search engines too) in preference to non-mobile websites.
- And once your mobile site is ready for prime time, you might want to drive qualified traffic through paid search (aka Pay-Per-Click) on Mobile, here are some ideas from the Google AdWords blog.
- Last but not least, you gotta measure! A separate mobile website is easier to track on all devices than an integrated website where the tracking code might not run on all devices. Try Google Analytics for Mobile.
We’re in the process of practicing what we preach, so keep an eye out for the E-Nor Mobile Site!
For more info on mobile usability check out the following references:
It’s March 1st already, my goodness, I am already so behind on things I want to do in the first quarter! And this week it’s going to be busier since I’ll be attending & presenting at SMX West. But it’s worth every bit of it. The folks at SMX have assembled a great line up of speakers on all-things search (and yes, some analytics too).
For those of you attending SMX West, I’d love to meet and catch up. In addition to attending and taking notes at the various sessions, here is where I’ll definitely be networking or speaking:
- Monday 3/1, 6pm-7:30pm: Meet & Greet reception
- Tuesday 3/2, 5:45pm-7:00pm: Expo Hall Reception
- Thursday 3/4, 11:30am-12:30pm: Measuring How Search Ads Drive Offline Conversions – Q&A Moderator
- Thursday 3/4, 12:30pm-1:30pm: Birds-of-a-Feather Analytics Table (lunch)
- Thursday 3/4, 1:30pm-2:30pm: Analytics Action Plans For PPC & SEO – Q&A Moderator
- Thursday 3/4, 2:45pm-3:45pm: Conversion Ninja Toolbox – A Review of Tools & Technologies – Speaker
- Friday 3/5, 9am-5pm: Google Analytics Workshop – Presenter
To our clients: many of us at E-Nor will also participate in parts of the conference and we plan to absorb as much as we can, pick some golden nuggets here and there and take it all back and continue to enhance our processes and add more value for our clients.
You are working on your site’s SEO by publishing press releases and you wish to track traffic to your site from those press releases. You are not adding source campaign parameters (and therefore no campaign parameters at all) to your links because you are not sure which sites will pick up your press release.
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
In Google Analytics, you noticed that links from press releases are tracked as:
- Source = cnn.com, bbc.co.uk, or domain.com
- Medium = referral
- Campaign = (not set)
I am sure you are not satisfied with this basic level of tracking because it does not tell you much, especially if you wish to track across different campaigns and mediums.
The following example makes more sense and will help you evaluate and analyze your campaigns.
- Source = cnn.com
- Medium = press_release
- Campaign = hurricane_katrina
To overcome this challenge of tagging links from unknown sources, I came up with the following trick.
- Add a parameter on all links to your site that are in the press release. (example: http://www.mysite.com/myfile.html#id=1)
- On the target page (http://www.mysite.com/myfile.html), check the value of the “id” parameter.
- If the “id” parameter equals “1″, replace the parameter in the URL with the following utm parameters (utm_source, utm_medium and utm_campaign) before the call to pageTracker.
- If the “id” parameter does not equal 1, call the pageTracker function normally.
View the entire code segment.
Let us explore the code, section by section:
var parameter = get_parameter('id');
name = name.replace(/[\/,"\\\[").replace(/[\]]/,"\\\]");
var regexS = "[\\?&#]"+name+"=([^&#]*)";
var regex = new RegExp(regexS);
var results = regex.exec(window.location.href);
if( results == null )
This portion of the code will return the value of the “id” parameter from the URL and assign it to the “parameter” variable.
if (parameter == '1')
window.location.hash = "utm_source="+srcPage+"
If the page url contains the “id” parameter and its value is 1, then the url will be updated with the utm parameters.
* Notice that we did not use window.location.href function because this function will re load the page with the new URL, which is not what we want to happen. We just want to update the URL, without affecting the visitor experience, in order for the Google Analytics tracking code to attribute the visit in a certain way.
How to get the value of the utm_source (referral site)?
var srcPage = getDomain (document.referrer);
function getDomain (thestring)
var urlpattern = new RegExp("(http|ftp|https)://(.*?)/.*$");
var parsedurl = thestring.match(urlpattern);
This portion of the code is responsible of assigning the URL of the referral site to the variable scrPage. The “getDomain” function parses only the domain name (www.domain.com) out of the long url string (http://www.doman.com/file.html?parameter=abc)
The last piece of code that needs to be added is the setAllowAnchor command, which allows the # sign to be used as a query string delimiter instead of the question mark (?).
We used # in the press release link instead of ? for SEO reasons, but you could use ? in the original link and still use the above method.
Alright, now it is time to use our friend Advanced Segments to track our press release visitors, measure their engagement, and analyze their behavior.
Now we can really analyze!
Questions I always hear with regards to SEO and marketing optimization:
- How does Google Analytics improve my search engine optimization (SEO)?
- How can I get more out of my SEO?
- What is the real effect of ranking on search engines for my business?
I am hoping the case study below will shed some light on these questions. If you apply a similar analysis you can help your customer, manager, or whoever is delaying your SEO effort. But instead of answering “the importance of ranking” question, maybe something more quantifiable and measurable might get your decision makers’ attention! How about “how does ranking on a specific keyword, or lack thereof, impact the bottom line?” Answering such questions will help us make the most of our marketing spend during these tough economic times and help us do a more effective job in marketing and campaign optimization.
I’ll use real time data and analysis but won’t mention the name of the website for privacy reasons. Here are the details:
- Website type: eCommerce
- The website used to rank near the top of Google on two competitive keywords until August 2008.
- Historically, these two keywords have driven traffic to the site. For a specific time period, these two keywords drove 5,684 visits and led to 46 conversions for a 0.81% conversion rate.
If you have your Google Analytics eCommerce features properly configured and working, the above data is easily accessible under the Traffic Sources -> Search Engines -> Non-paid report. The inline filter was used to get data for just these two keywords.
- We then start examining the time period when the ranking for these two keywords took a big hit.
- Next, using the date comparison function in Google Analytics, we compared the traffic generated by these two keywords for this year with poor ranking versus last year with better ranking. Here is the result:
The table on the left is for one of their keywords and the table on the right is for the other. As you can see, a significant drop in visits in 2008, 4471 to be exact. So the negative impact of the drop in SEO ranking was less opportunities to make sales on their primary keywords!
- The 4471 visits might be a small percentage of the overall website traffic but when you put a dollar sign next to it, we typically react to it more quickly. Take the 4471 visits and multiply it by your average conversion rate for these keywords, which is 0.81%, and then multiply by the average order value, which is $846.
- 4471 x 0.0081 = 36 lost sales
- 36 x $846 = $30,456 of lost revenue!
Now one can argue that this number is not accurate because of many factors BUT the findings are very actionable! If I were to present this analysis to my boss or client, I would add 2-3 other scenarios:
- Scenario 1, with a higher conversion rate of 1.62% after improving the design and usability of the site, the lost revenue would be $60,852. (ouch!)
- Scenario 2, with a lower average order value and the existing conversion rate of 0.81%, our lost revenue would have been $15,228.
- You could create a table to show the range. The main point is that there was between $15K and $60K of lost revenue. In tough economic times, wouldn’t you rather have that revenue?
Depending on your company size, marketing budget, and other factors, the $30K might be a significant number or it might be a rounding error. But at the end of the day, $30K of lost revenue is $30K of lost revenue, especially in times like these where cutting cost and marketing optimization is more important than ever. By doing similar analysis, you can find other lost sales opportunities, monetize them, and get some corrective actions underway.
I think you can take this analysis to a business owner or marketing manager, and I am pretty sure they would get the SEO effort prioritized.
Here at E-Nor, we recently completed a project for the The Learning Community (TLC), which happens to be a collection of links to informational websites, articles, and videos based on different subjects that affect child development. Their mission – to provide that “children’s manual” parents never seem to receive with the baby!
The project initially started in December of 2007 as a conversion of their original pure HTML site to Dotnetnuke (open-source Content Management System), but ended up turning into a significant redesign and restructuring project.
The services we provided were:
- Basic online marketing consultation
- Creating a new, brighter aesthetic look.
- Implementing a different site-structure based on our understanding of their users flow. (We also took some tips from their more successful and professional competitors, such as the commercial magazine www.parenting.com)
- Improving their SEO (Search Engine Optimization) by cleaning up their meta tags and recommending some content enhancements. Their site is now on the first page of Google for some keywords when previously it was nowhere to be found.
- Helping promote their videos on Youtube.
- Cleaning up their Google Analytics setup to properly track where visitors are coming from, which external sites they are going to, and which PDFs they are downloading.
Oh yah, I forgot to mention the project was done PRO BONO. We had a great working relationship with the client, in that any work we recommended, if they could find volunteers to implement, they did, which saved us time. Any technical implementation we could throw in, we did, and they practically understood that since the work was pro bono, it would take priority accordingly with respect to our other projects.
E-Nor encourages our clients, partners, and blog readers to support non-profits. Though altruism may already be inline with your corporate and personal values, a year’s worth of pro-bono work may scare even the most giving of companies and people. However, here are some benefits you may not have considered (in no particular order):
- Necessity is the mother of innovation. The nature of non-profits is that their revenue is limited yet they provide great services to the community. Thus, they may require strong functions for their site. You’ll be forced to learn valuable work-arounds when their budget may not cover high end modules or spending, giving you great ideas for options when you need to close a sale with those paying clients who are a little tighter with their money.
- Practice makes perfect. Just like anything you do in life, the more you do it the better you will get. You can chalk this pro bono run as practice. For us, TLC being a year project, it strengthened and even expanded our research on techniques, functions, modules, etc, that we can now apply to all our sites!
- A non-profit “word-of-mouth” could still lead to profit. We know that as technology evolves, so does marketing. If Google has taught us anything, free services and products actually go a long way in branding and exposure, and could result in lucrative opportunities in the future. Non-profits do have friends that could end up being your paying clients with the right referral. And because your existing relationship had no financial motives, the trust and rapport has already been built.
- Had a bad day? They’ll pick you up. For all those clients who didn’t see the extra work you did for them and who complained instead of showing gratitude, you could expect the opposite for your non-profit pro bono clients. They can’t help but see the void you filled for them and be grateful for it.
- Testimonials. Along the same lines as the above, a testimonial will virtually be an everyday occurrence if you’re doing your job right.
- Pat yourself on the back. You did a good deed! Because of the site you provided for a parenting non-profit or a domestic violence shelter, a lost parent now has a little bit of direction or a helpless victim is a little bit safer.
- Experimentation (with the permission of the client). Since your client doesn’t have dollars riding on this project, they are more likely to allow you to do light experimentation on it, within reason of course. Not only are they more comfortable since no hard earned grant money is at risk, but that also means there’s a more flexible timeline for you to play with the site. For example, if you see a new module you wanted to try or your organization is new to analytics and you need a site to try it on, especially if the end result could possibly benefit your client, non-profit free sites may in fact welcome experimentation. Don’t forget to back up, though!
|If your site has dynamic URLs then you might have a hard time making sense out of your data in Google Analytics.
If for any reason you cannot convert your dynamic URLs to friendly URLs…search and replace filters are the answer!
The screenshot below demonstrates the nightmare some people might experience when they view content reports.
In order to make the URL readable, we have to identfy the parameters that we want to change. In our above example the URL contains three parameters: departmentID, CategoryID, and ProductID. We first create a “search and replace” filter for each department, category, and product. Then we replace each dynamic parameter with easy-to-read text.
- Create the “Search & Replace” Filters
- Now apply all created filters to a test profile and verify data accuracy before applying to your regular profiles.
Your content reports will now look like this:
- We do not advice using “Search & Replace” approach on e-commerce sites because you will have a very large number of filters.
- The easiest way to never have to deal with dynamic URL addresses is by using friendly URLs at the development stage.
- You can use tools such as Apache’s mod_rewrite to present clean URLs to both your visitors and your web analytics application.
- Clean URLs will have additional benefits such as helping with your SEO campaign and improving conversion rates..
A colleague of mine recently mentioned that he wasn’t able to get his Business Edge (DNN) based site to be indexed by search engines. The concern was that since pages are written virtually within the database and no real pages exist in the file structure, search engines would be prevented from indexing your site.
Actually this is a very common misconception. Business Edge builds URL’s that are virtual in nature and not representative of the underlying file structure. This is common amongst many Content Management Systems and doesn’t present any problems from a search engine perspective.
Whether you use the default friendly URL convention (static, but long and confusing) or the the much more elegant “human friendly” URL convention, the search engines should have no problem with virtual URL schemes.
Search engines see your Business Edge site (or any other site for that matter) in the same way that normal users see it – as a set of links and structured content – the rest is just presentation which the search engine doesn’t care about. The search engine has zero visibility into the underlying file structure and literally has no way of knowing whether the URL being shown to the search engine is real or virtual. It only cares that it works or doesn’t (in other words, is a page visible or not). Technically speaking, if a search engine gets back a status code of “200 OK” when it requests a page then the page is as real as a static html page.
In most cases though, you might have difficulty getting internal pages (pages that aren’t on the top level navigation menu) to be indexed by Google (or other search engines) for a couple of reasons:
- the top level pages are indexed because they are direct links from your home page. As search engines come to your site, they see these links on your home page and “crawls” to them, resulting in those pages being indexed.
To get around this problem, there are a couple of possibilities:
- One very easy method is to create a SiteMap link on the home page. This allows the search engine to “see” the link to the sitemap on the home page, which in turn brings all the inside pages into the search engine’s view. We’ve done this on www.noblelimo.com (see the top right corner).
Hope that helps! My thanks to Rehan Asif, one of my colleagues here at E-Nor, for the SEO knowledge that went into this post.
At Feras Alhlou‘s Ambassador Training Workshop in Auckland, New Zealand, the attending Internet Consultants (ICs) asked for a tips on Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Below is a list of factors that ICs can use evaluate and implement their SEO programs. This quick post is by no means comprehensive and doesn’t provide implementation details. This post is intended to provide a quick checklist for the IC to review and use when assessing SEO implementations.
SEO implementation checklist:
- Understand products & services being offered
- Research the competition
- What are other websites doing to achieve high ranking?
- What useful products & services do they offer?
- What useful content or ideas could be borrowed?
- Useful questions to ask clients before implementing any SEO:
- Has any other SEO been done on this website? If yes, what was done?
- Who designed the website? What software did they use?
- Has anyone done any amount of link building for this site?
- Has the content on the website been run through a spelling and grammar check?
- Have you ever run into problems with the search engines before?
- Will someone be able to provide new content about specific keyword phrases or themes?
- Onsite factors
- Meta tags
- Title tags
- Keywords appropriateness or competitiveness
- Keyword density
- Unique/relevant content
- Unethical techniques (e.g. hidden text)
- HTML/CSS correctness
- Robots.txt file considerations
- Sitemap available from any and every page
- Geographical information
- Site structure
- Dynamic pages?
- Navigation/link system
- Navigation system so you can get to any page from any page
- Keywords in your navigation system
- Keywords in natural content links pointing to other onsite pages
- Offsite factors
For more information on Search Engine Optimization services, feel free to contact us at E-Nor.