Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Benefits of Google Analytics


So you want to start learning what gets your website hits and what doesn’t. A great way to study your website and marketing success (based on the visitors you receive, how you receive them and when) is to integrate Google Analytics with your website. All you have to do is ask your web developer to sign you up and copy and paste the appropriate code into your web page and Google begins collecting stats on your visitors, how they found you, what they looked at, and so so so much more. To top it, Google Analytics is a free tool.

What you learn from Analytics

Google Analytics isn’t just a reason to go look at charts and say “OOO! 345 people visited our website in the last month!” It’s important to understand WHY, WHEN and WHERE those 345 people were on your website and HOW they got there.

The reason to keep track of website statistics is to learn what helped your website receive more traffic, what was beneficial to your business and what tactics have little to no benefit. You can also learn if your website is not leading your visitors to the right information; maybe visitors are looking at your Home and About Us pages, but not making it to the Services page. This means they are leaving before they really learn what you do! Maybe your site needs to be reworded, laid out differently or reduced in size (number of pages). Is your search engine optimization (SEO) doing its job? If your target audience is geographically local and you are in Baltimore Maryland and 50% of your visitors are from Alaska, maybe you need to refine your keywords and content.

If you do not understand how to read your analytics, pay close attention to your advertising. When you send a press release to your newspaper contacts, update your website, send out your monthly newsletter, place an ad in the paper or community pamphlet, or anything that could get your business information into the hands of potential clients, check out your Google Analytics reports. Hopefully you will see an increased number of visitors on those related dates. If your advertising is intended to increase your website traffic and your number of visitors has not increased, you may be putting effort into the wrong methods.

If you are not receiving an increased number of visitors, try to resolve the problem. Ask your web developer to take a look at your website and provide feedback on areas in which SEO can be improved. If you aren’t sure about your web developer, ask a different company for an hour or so of their time and make sure your website is up-to-date and all it can be. One billable hour is not going to drain your wallet - a website that doesn’t get you any business will. The other thing to check is that you are marketing your website in your print material and your emails. Give your clients and potential clients a reason to go to your website and make it convenient. If you developed your printed material yourself, consider having a professional take a look.

What does Google Analytics Collect?

• # of Pages Viewed
• % of Bounce Rate (people who clicked to view your website and immediately left)
• Average Time on website total and by page
• # of Visitors Geographically by Country, State and City
• Traffic Sources (how people have found you and where they found you)
• ... there’s a lot more and each of the features listed above are broken down in to dozens and dozens of categories and sections.

Following is a screen shot of Google Analytics reports. This is what the dashboard (or home page) of your account would look like. To the left you can delve into further detail (Visitors, Traffic Sources, Content, etc.).


Download this article and more, provided by InfoPathways.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

SPOKEO, the new social network search engine

 HELPFUL WEB APP OR CYBER-STALKING TOOL?
If you think current social medias are intrusive and possibly hazardous to your personal and professional safety, put that to rest. SPOKEO or what I call SPOOKY-O, brings a great deal of online AND offline information to one place. It pulls this information from phone directories, over 40 social networks, photo albums, marketing surveys, mailing lists, government census, real estate listings and business websites. To me it sounds extremely scary and a bit over-detailed for my taste.

You can look yourself up now at http://www.spokeo.com/ and possibly find a summary of you; this site is active and is posting your no-longer private information, including:
  • Name
  • Phone, Phone Type & Carrier
  • Email Address, it’s IP Address and the Exchange Server
  • Home Address with a Google Map image to visually pinpoint your location and sharing property info (like how big your home is, the lot size, if there’s a garage and whether or not it is attached, the number of bathrooms / floors / bedrooms, the value, how long you have lived there, the purchase date and price, if it has heating / cooling, a swimming pool, fireplace, what materials the residence is made of, etc.)
  • Social Networks
  • Photos (even photos that have been REMOVED from social media and online accounts like the photo center for Wal-Mart/Kodak, etc.)
  • Income
  • Family members in your household and their relation to you (with links to see all of their info), if you have children, etc.
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Marital/Relationship Status
  • Hobbies
  • Ethnicity
  • Occupation
  • Zodiac
  • Education
  • Neighborhood Statistics & Info
  • Favorites/Wish-Lists (I found mine for Amazon.com)
  • Videos
  • and more…
SPOKEO began as a tool to summarize social networking information but has expanded to cover phone books, marketing databases, business databases, web stores and other public sources of personal information, summarizing data from as many third party sites as possible.

No, it is not a perfect system. Because it is generated by machine and not verified for accuracy, the data SPOKEO collects can only be as accurate as the data people post. You may find that upon looking up your name/email/phone that they do not have the correct address or gender or age or other such data. Try searching by each of these methods; the results vary a bit in the amount of data and the accuracy of that data. SPOKEO may not have you indexed yet, but still, the abilities of SPOKEO are a bit frightening. In response to inaccurate data, SPOKEO claims that:

"Data is not guaranteed for accuracy and should not be used for employment, insurance, credit eligibility, or for any other purpose covered under the FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act).”
I personally doubt this comment will prevent someone from judging me for future employment, insurance, credit eligibility or other purposes. How about you?

But don’t fret; they do not give it ALL away. But for only $2.95 a month, you can have full and unlimited access to the personal records of over 300 million people. Not a bad price for your average cyber-stalker.

You CAN opt out of SPOKEO. On the bottom of their homepage screen, click on the tiny Privacy Tab to begin removing your listing. This only removes you from SPOKEO, however. They recommend that if you wish to remove your data from third-party data sources, you must contact them one-by-one or utilize ReputationDefender to protect your online identity from sites that sell your personal information.

Post information online carefully, no matter
where you are. Data lasts FOREVER.
Be safe and share safe online practices with
your co-workers and especially your family.