Google Analytics Spam Filtering

Spam has always been a major problem for many users of Google Analytics. In my experience serving many clients, I have noticed many of them have many misconceptions regarding the effects spam has had on their Google Analytics accounts. What this article strives to do is differentiate truths from falsehoods and detail what solutions you need to overcome some of the problems associated with spam.

Google is doing something to handle the problem

Google is doing something in an attempt to solve the problem. If they did not do much to combat the spam problem, then it would be much worse. The question that needs to be asked though is whether they are doing enough to combat the problem given spammers still manage to slip through the cracks. What is worse is that this issue is not going anywhere anytime soon. The millions of websites that actively use Google Analytics for online marketing effectively make it very attractive for spammers who are attracted by high numbers.

The different type of spam

  1. Referrer spam

This refers to fake information that is posted on Google Analytics (GA) with the prime intention of luring individuals to check out their sites.

  1. Crawler spam

Crawler spam makes use of bots which leave fake referrals.

  1. Ghost spam

The unique thing about this type of spam is the fact that it is unique to Google Analytics. It is by far the most aggressive and most recognizable on the site. You can expect to find it in your reports.

  1. Crawler referrer spam

Crawler referrer spam is essentially a spider programmed to move easily between sites while posting referrals. Users will eventually find themselves on their sites while searching for information.

How ghost spam hits your analytics

Ghost spam hits your analytics through the Analytics Measurement Protocol which is ideally used by developers to transmit data to Google Analytics in order to find out how users engage with their companies. Most account holders mistakenly believe that they are IDs are tracked before they encounter ghost spam which is not the case. Despite only relying on the Analytics Measurement Protocol to gain access to your account, ghost spam still manages to worm its way into your reports.

Hostnames in Google Analytics

A hostname refers to every location where one of your visits arrives. Granted it is more often than not your domain; it could also refer to a service where your tracking code was included.

Valid hostname filters

Valid hostname filters are by far the best solution for persistent spam problems. Using a hostname filter carries some advantages that include:

  • Unlike other filters in the market, it prevents spam from gaining access to your reports which makes it an effective long-term solution.
  • You do not have to worry about maintenance costs as it is all you need for the long haul.
  • This filter can block out all types of spam irrespective of the types or their means of access.
  • The filter will also provide the additional benefit of blocking out any unnecessary traffic.

Will spam give you any security issues to worry about?

Spam has some specific characteristics that differentiate it from other problems that might pose a serious security risk such as hacking. Spam can only pose a threat is in scenarios whereby you insert some script from the site the spam originates from. Except for that possibility, then expect to find the occasional odd pages in your Google Analytics reports.

The reason why server solutions do not work against ghost spam

What differentiates ghost spam from other types of spam is the means of entry it adopts. Given it uses the Analytics Measurement Protocol to gain access, the solutions offered by servers such as plugins will be useless against it. These solutions are better suited for other types of spam.

Identifying the spamming problem

My years of experience working with Google Analytics accounts with prevalent spam problems has proven to me that the best way to handle this problem involves figuring out the extent of infiltration by spam and the extent to which it prevents you from adequately browsing through your reports. This is where my services come in. I will audit your website to figure out the extent of proliferation by spam. This evaluation will also involve me assessing other problems that your site may have. I will then send you a proposal that indicates what I can do to eradicate your spam problem as well as the time I will take plus the cumulative cost. If you accept it and pay me, then I will begin working.

While it is important to seek solutions to combat spam, it is also important to always remain informed about the different types of spam which will enable you to know what to do every scenario.

 

Job To Be Done Theory

People buy products and services to get jobs done; and while products come and go, the underlying job-to-be-done does not go away. This notion is at the heart of jobs-to-be-done theory.

Job To Be Done Theory (JTBD) provides a framework for defining, organizing, capturing and categorizing all the customer’s needs. Entrepreneurs who are more focused on the product than on the customer are unable to gain insight into the customer’s needs. According to McKinsey poll, 84% of executives globally said that innovation was important for the growth of business although 94 percent were dissatisfied with their innovation performance.

People do not want a quarter-inch drill, they want a quarter inch hole – Theodore Levitt

Understanding Job to Be Done Theory leads to success

Understanding the job-to-be-done theory is a path to success in innovation since the job starts being the center around which business projects are carried out. In fact, it’s evident that products and services that help customers in a better way to get the job done, win in the market. This leads us to job-to-be-done growth strategy which explains how and when to use a disruptive strategy. Companies can use this framework to understand the success that they achieved in the past and after that embrace the strategy that is right for a better future.

Guidelines to understanding job to done theory

Companies need a clearly outlined process to turn the theory into a source of success. This includes:

  • Defining your customer’s job
  • Identifying all the needs in your customer’s job
  • Finding all the unmet needs in your customer’s job
  • Segmenting your customers
  • Identifying your competitors’ weaknesses

For example, Uber guides the customers on how to get trips, how to calculate fares and how to view current promotions.

Herein, we provide the tips that will help your company succeed by embracing this theory.

Defining Your Customer’s Job

Successful innovations enable customers to make progress they desire while solving any problem that could be holding them back. Jobs require precise and accurate definition because most of them are complex. Defining customer’s job requires a focus on the task executor rather than analyzing the product they use to get the job done.

For example, most parents go through hard times when trying to pass real life lessons to their kids. Here the parent is the job executor while ‘the passing of life experiences’ is the task to be done. Defining the customer’s job this way simplifies the market analysis hence giving a precise definition of the customer’s job.

Identifying and Meeting All the Needs of Your Clients’ Job

Every job has a definite beginning, middle, and end, whether it is heart transplanting or household cleaning. Each task has a process. Identifying these steps from the customer’s perspective opens the door to identifying innovation opportunities. This way the business can create or add value to how the job is done. Value creation and addition can be done by addressing an overlooked step, having steps completed in new locations or at different times, eliminating a whole step from the obligation of the customer, reducing the need to use specific inputs or re-sequencing the steps.

For example, the stage of confirming that stains have been removed comes as the last step in a job of cleaning clothes. It is usually done after clothes have been withdrawn from the washing machine, dried and folded which is too late to correct the problem. The solution could result only if the washing machine could detect the presence of all stains before the cycle ends and notice the remaining stains during verification.

Job to be done helps customers get more jobs done

Evolution of products enables clients to get more jobs done. According to the Job-to-be-done theory, the value of a product in a particular platform is determined by how many more jobs the product can help a client get done. For example, a smartphone helps millions of customers get loads of job done.

Strategize a business around a job-to-be-done

Business firms should strategize their business around the job-to-be-done rather than around a prone which is prone to obsolescence hence the firm will be able to bring forth solutions that will get the job done in the best way. This way, the business will disrupt its self hence longevity of the firm. Therefore, the company will stand out and efficiently outdo the competitors.

Market segmentation

Target customers who are willing to pay the most to get the job done should be identified. This is essential for the profitability of the business, and outcome-based market segmentation can be applied where there are underserved customers. This strategy is the opposite of the low-end disruption strategy where firms focus on clients who are willing to pay less to get the job done worse. For example, the Nest company had underserved customers who wanted to have a better experience on how the job of achieving personal comfort was done at all costs be it five times more.

Job-to-be-done Framework

The Job-to-be-done framework will help your business analyze a situation that a client is trying to get done by decomposing the entire job into specific steps of the process hence identify the underlying opportunities.

Steps to follow in the identification of the opportunities include:

1. Definition of the objectives and goals of the customer

This will enable the company to help customers simplify their planning.

2. Locating the information and items needed to do the job

This involves assembling items and information required to perform the work by the customer; the firm should be innovative and make the necessary tools available at all times where needed. For example, Haul company avails its clients with prepackaged moving kits containing the required number, size, and type needed for a move.

3. Prepare for the commencement of the job

The company should help the customer have the job done best by simplifying the setting up of the environment for the job. Bosch, for instance, ensured that common angles used by roofers to cut wood were enabled by adding adjustable levers to its circular saw.

4. Confirming readiness to do the job

Most of the time the customer will want to prove their willingness to do the job. Your company should provide the data needed by the client during this readiness verification. For example, to establish optimal timing and level of warehouse reduction for every product, Oracle Company uses a Profit Logic optimization software.

5. Execution of the job

Here the company should help the client carry out the job without successfully by preventing delays.

6. Assessment of the job

Monitor and evaluate that the job has been carried out well. The company should ensure that it develops a relationship between assessing and improved performance.

7. Modification of the job

The customer might make adjustments aimed towards the improvement of performance. Your company should be innovative to ensure least change needed.

8. Concluding the job

This is the last stage in the job-to-be-done framework. Your business should design products that make the conclusion process of the job less difficult.

Maximize Research and Development

Every business firm should continuously research for it be competitive. Research helps the company know the changing customers taste and preference and hence design a product that will effectively and efficiently meet the need of the client and thus enable them to get their job done best. Business firms heavily invest in research and development, but most of the time they end up frustrated. The job-to-be-done theory states that the primary cause of such failure is because many companies invest in R&D with the aim of not helping clients have a job done.

Marketing Myopia addressed

Myopic culture belief results to complacency. According to Levitt, a business would fail due to the illusion that the firm is in a ‘growth industry’ as a consequence of this belief. The company fails to realize the changing wants of clients.

The role of the management in every business firm is to ensure consistent growth of the company in all its facets. However, growth may be threatened or hindered other factors apart from market saturation. Companies should drift their focus from the uncertain longevity of their products to identifying and solving the needs of their customers for continuous growth.

The company executives should re-examine their corporate objectives mission and vision to ensure that every move the company takes is geared towards the satisfaction of the customer by providing products that will help the get job done better. Once this is done, your firm will be able to have a wider view to see lost opportunities.

The growth industry is just an illusion and not real. What exists is organized business firms which are run to create and exploit on growth opportunities. Most companies end up in a self -deceiving cycle which includes the following conditions:

  • The belief that growth is guaranteed by a growing and wealthier population.
  • The belief that there is no substitute to compete with the industry’s primary product.
  • Much trust in mass production and the benefits of rapidly diminishing unit costs as output increases.
  • Obsession with a product that imparts itself to carefully controlled scientific research

Jobs are different from solutions

To do the work, customers use various products and services to get similar jobs done. For example, a tax preparation software or services of a CPA can be used by different people to prepare income tax, while others might decide to apply both methods.

The efforts of most companies are usually directed towards the products or services they produce or that they are developing or to the products offered by the competitor instead of focusing on the help they should give the client to fulfill the steps of the job. Business firms should discover blue ocean market space to ensure value creation for the way a job is done and more than just improving the existing products they are offering in the market. For example, Apple reexamined the whole post of the music of administration, helping the customers to acquire, listen to and share music, unlike other MP3 producers who concentrated on enabling clients to listen to music only.

Help the customer to finish the job

Each task has a conclusion.  Some jobs are simple with obvious conclusions while others are complex where the job end is a procedure, for example, an office clerk has to retrieve a document from the printer, arrange, bind and file it. As long as the job has already been done, most clients usually reluctant to undertake the concluding stages. Therefore, business firms should enable the customers to finish the conclusion by simplifying the process. You should ensure that the end procedures are related to the preliminary steps.

Designing benefits sought at the conclusion of the initial steps in the process could also help the customer finish the job to the end. For example, 3M’s Coban Self-Adherent Wrap is designed in such a way that putting it on anticipates the action of taking it off since it doesn’t stick to the patient’s skin hence easy to remove.

Finally, by embracing this theory, your company will experience a long-term success.

5 Types of Online Shoppers: Ecommerce Experience Optimization

Aimless browsers

This is the most laid-back type of online buyer. For them, online shopping is little more than a passtime that serves as a hobby or a time killer. This fact means that although an impulse buy is possible with an aimless browser, they are the least likely to immediately buy from your website. Despite this, they are actually some of the most valuable online shoppers who will visit your website. This is because the process of browsing is a huge relationship-building opportunity. When an aimless browser is ready to buy, the websites that they have been browsing will come to mind first. This will happen for not only their next purchase, but also for their future online shopping endeavors.

How to serve aimless browsers

In order to maximize the potential value of an aimless browser, you need to create a website experience that will keep them on your site for as long as possible. This type of engagement will require eye-catching elements on every page. Specifically, the following elements should be included:

  • Engaging product descriptions

    When an aimless browser sees a product that interests them, they will want to learn more. However, they aren’t interested in technical details yet, so you need to include a product description that engages them enough to keep looking at the item on the page or similar products. Such a product description should include information about what makes that particular type of product great, as well as the benefits of that specific item/brand.

  • Product suggestions

    You never want your aimless browsers to run into a dead end while they are browsing your website. This causes them to leave, minimizing your opportunity to build a relationship with them.

  • Product rankings

    When an aimless browser lands on your website, they may have no clue what they are looking for. With an attention span shorter than that of a goldfishthey will leave if they don’t find a reason to stick around in a few seconds. To guide them, the top-selling products on your site should be front and center. This trend should continue, with lists of top-ranked products in every category.

Researchers

A researcher knows what they need, but not the best product to fulfill that need. To find the best product for them, they will do rigorous research about the best relevant offerings. This research could start at any level in the buying cycle. In most cases, their inquiries will take them to multiple websites.

The time at which a researcher buys depends upon when they feel as though they are well-informed enough to make a smart buying decision. This learning period can last anywhere from a few hours to several months.

How to serve researchers

You must help the researcher build up their knowledge about what will be the best buying decision for their need. To that end, you should include the following on your website:

  • Thorough product details

    For a researcher, a general product description will not be enough. They want to absorb as much information as they can before coming to a buying decision. For this, your product page will need to go into as much depth as possible. For most products, this will mean including multiple sections describing your product. For example, you could include a “product description,” “technical specifications,” and “product details” section. This type of breakdown makes it easier for a researcher to find the exact information they are looking for, and doesn’t put off other types of online buyers.

  • Standalone educational resources

    To sate their learning need, a researcher will seek out educational resources that don’t necessarily include a specific product. This presents the best opportunity for you to guide the researcher’s buying decision. A blog, for example, allows you to educate a buyer about the benefits of your specific product offerings, as opposed to the alternative.

Bargain hunters

The internet has built up a strong reputation as the best place to find great deals. Digging up better deals also feels easier online, since all you have to do is filter searches. As such, bargain hunters flock to the web seeking a great deal. This type of buyer often values the discount more than the product itself. The deal is so important to a bargain hunter that they may purchase a product that they don’t really want or need, just because a deal is “too good to pass up.”

How to serve bargain hunters

You don’t have to turn all of your products into loss leaders in order to attract bargain hunters. Instead, take the following steps:

  • Clearly list prices for all products

    A bargain hunter wants to sift through all of the regular prices to find that great deal. If they have a hard time finding your prices, then they will assume that they are too high. This is especially true for products they expect to cost more. No matter what the price tag, post it big and bold right next to the product’s name.

  • Highlight sales and promotions

    Bargain hunters want discounts. Even a small percentage off can be enough to convert these online shoppers. As such, hiding your sales from these buyers is a bad idea. Always make your sales even more visible than the original prices, with percentage off icons and juxtapositions of the original and sale prices.

  • Make discounts easy to use

    For a bargain hunter, the factor that will set you apart most is your ability to help them easily save. To this end, make sure that they don’t have to jump through any hoops in order to take advantage of any special offers you have. In fact, you should provide instructions on how to use a discount.

Educated buyers

In some cases, an online shopper will already know what they want. All of their research has been done about what they need, they know about pricing and they may have even tested a product in a brick-and-mortar store. At this point, they just want to get their product ASAP.

To this end, they will seek out the most direct route to an online shopping cart with their desired product in it. As such, their searches will only feature the product name or the brand that makes it.

How to serve educated buyers

In order to effectively accommodate the educated buyer, you must take the following three steps:

  • Ensure that they find you

    Since an educated buyer will be searching for a specific item, you need to make sure that your product pages are SEO-ready. Even though an educated buyer isn’t likely to read a product description since they already know what they need to about the item, strong product descriptions will boost your product page’s SEO, putting your product page front and center during an educated buyer’s search.

  • Make closing the sale quick and easy

    Although you want to upsell customers, you don’t want to lose the sale by forcing an educated customer to jump through too many hoops to finalize their purchase. Minimize this hindrance by making your offers a part of standard purchase pages. For example, at the shopping cart review page, you can mention accessories right above the next button.

  • Offer premium shipping options

    The educated buyer usually wants to get their product fast; while closing an online transaction offers them a modicum of satisfaction, they still have to wait for the item they purchased. If a buyer wants their product in a few days, but you only offer standard shipping options, then they may abandon their cart and search elsewhere for a faster alternative. Avoid these losses by offering premium shipping options that will get a customer their purchased product faster.

Singe purchasers

A single purchaser is looking to make a quick and easy purchase for a very specific purpose. More than anything else, they just want that one item that they need; everything else is secondary. Also, as their name suggests, single purchasers are looking to make a single purchase and aren’t likely to return to your online storefront anytime soon after they complete their purchase. Despite this fact, single purchasers are great for your business, because there are many of them.

  • How to serve single purchasers

    Simply having what they need is enough. You still need to guide a single purchaser in order to optimize the opportunity. Single purchasers can be served better in the following ways.

  • Make it very clear that you offer what they need

    A single purchaser is all about efficiency. If your site doesn’t ostensibly offer what they need in seconds, they will abandon your website. To avoid this, take the following steps:

>  Make the types of products you sell obvious on each page

> Include a product search option on your website

> Accommodate general searches, because a single purchaser may not know the exact product name

  • Maximize the add-on opportunities

    A single purchaser doesn’t want to have to come back to make any additional purchases, so it is up to you to make sure that they get everything they need. To this end, you should make product recommendations at every stage of the purchase. This includes “people who bought this also buy…” or “this product works well with…” sections on product pages, shopping carts and purchase confirmation pages.

Are you prepared to serve your online shoppers?

Selling to online shoppers is not as simple as simply having the products and services they need. Just like a brick and mortar shopper, an online shopper is an individual who has a unique set of needs. You can serve each online shopper better by identifying these needs and catering to them accordingly.

 

10 SEO Mistakes to Avoid During Your Next Website Redesign

seo-mistakes-404

In the United States alone, we conduct 144 billion online searches per year. If you aren’t taking advantage of this traffic, you are putting yourself at a huge marketing disadvantage. That being said, you should be doing SEO for your website at all times; this is doubly important for your website redesign. This is an opportunity to significantly boost your website’s SEO potential. That being said, you want to avoid the ten following anti-SEO bumps along the way:

1. Not keeping SEO in mind throughout the redesign

Success with SEO requires you to do more than simply add a few pieces of content, keywords, etc to your website. Your website’s entire design must be pro-SEO, so keep this in mind when making any redesign decisions.

2. Not using responsive web design

Over the past few years, Google has taken some subtle — and not so subtle — steps to let everyone know that they prefer websites to use responsive website design. This is because it is the only web design format that currently makes a website mobile friendly, without compromising the experience on any device. If you don’t use this mobile friendly design, Google will effectively penalize you. As such, incorporating a responsive website design into your website redesign is a must.

3. Not designing your website with mobile devices in mind

Making sure that your website is mobile friendly requires more than a wise design approach. You also must make sure that you aren’t overwhelming mobile devices with too much content, because this will cause your website to be slow on mobile devices, even on the fastest connections. Google has already announced plans to start guiding searchers away from slow websites starting this year. Keep the size and volume of your pictures, videos, hidden data, etc to a minimum.

4. Allowing “404 error” and “page not found” errors to happen

You have been working very hard to achieve your current SEO results. If you aren’t careful, your website redesign can accidentally force your to start from scratch for many pages’ SEO. This is because changing a single letter on a web address for any page will effectively break the link it has with the search engine. While it will still appear in the results, people will get an error message saying that the page no longer exists. Fix this problem easily with a 301 redirect.

5. Making it difficult for search engines to audit your website

Never block search engine bots from crawling your website. The harder it is for them to look around, the longer it will take to get ranked and the lower your results will be.

6. Not figuring out what is wrong with your site right now

How is your current website design hurting your SEO? Audit your site for these mistakes, so that you can avoid them in your new design.

7. Not putting an analytics system in place

How is each element of your website affecting its traffic volume? You can guess, but you can never be sure if you aren’t monitoring your website’s performance. To this end, invest in analytics tools that allow you to track everything.

8. Not disavowing dirty backlinks

Your website’s internet presence, which is mostly developed by backlinks, is critical for SEO. That being said, the wrong backlinks can harm your SEO. This is because search engines don’;t like to see irrelevant or questionable websites linked to your website. Sometimes there is nothing that you can do to avoid this, since you can’t control what other websites do. Fortunately, you can prevent it from hurting your SEO by blocking it.

9. Treating your prose content like it doesn’t matter

Everything that you do during your website redesign is a part of the process; this includes your prose content. No pages on your website should include scant or poorly written prose content, because no matter how nice it looks, search engines need content to relate a single page to a search. The higher quality and more clearly defined your content is, the better your results here.

10. Forgetting to find out which keywords matter most

While you are updating the prose content on your website during its redesign, it is important that you don’t forget to use the keywords that will do the most to connect you with searches that are relevant to your business. So that you aren’t scrambling to make pro-SEO changes later, figure these keywords out before you start typing.

Will your website redesign be an SEO improvement?

As the centerpiece of your inbound marketing campaign, your website’s value cannot be overstated. When redesigning your website, you must make sure that you are providing it with every possible opportunity to attract traffic with sales lead potential. AVOIDING the ten things listed above will help you in this regard.

Landing Page Optimization Tips For Your PPC Campaign

Mark-blog-06-image

You aren’t executing a PPC campaign so that you can attract — and pay for — arbitrary clicks. The purpose of your PPC campaign is to guide sales leads to a place where you can generate a need and excitement for your company’s offerings. To that end, your PPC content should always drop people onto a landing page. Optimizing a landing page for optimal effectiveness requires you to do more than reiterate what your PPC ad said. To make sure that your landing pages get it right, be sure to follow the following landing page optimization tips:

Create landing pages that are tailor made for your PPC campaign content

A person will click on one of your PPC ads for a reason. If the content in your landing page isn’t relevant to that reason, then people are likely to leave. To prevent this, the content in your landing pages should match up perfectly with whatever you say in your PPC ads. To this end, you will need to create more than just a couple of landing pages. If necessary, you should create a unique landing page for each of your PPC ads. This will also help with your PPC ad rank and SEO landing page optimization, because Google loves to see connections between content that is relevant.

Get straight to the point

If your landing page content meanders too much, then people will either get bored or believe that the landing page is irrelevant to your PPC ad. To avoid this, make your landing page content as concise as possible.

Minimize the numbers of distractions

Because you paid to get someone to visit your landing page, you want to make sure that they get the most out of its content. To this end, you should minimize the number of potential distractions that can detract from this goal. This means that you should remove navigation buttons and any unnecessary backdrops or images.

Use subheadings and bullet points generously

You cannot be certain what specific element of your landing page’s content a consumer is most interested in. To make sure that people can quickly access and consume the information they need, streamline your content’s structure. This means adding subheadings to anything that looks like it could be broken down into sections, and converting lists into bullet points. This is an especially important thing to do for landing pages that will be covering multiple sub-topics.

Include relevant media when it makes sense to

A single image can reinforce what your prose content says, or even add to it. It can also keep the visitor engaged as they browse your landing page’s content. The same rule for landing page optimization applies to videos and other types of media. If you plan on using any relevant visual content, be sure to include it where it will be most impactful on your landing page.

Don’t be afraid to get a little salesy

Unlike most of your digital marketing channels, a landing page is all about demonstrating what your company can do for a consumer. You need to find ways to bridge the gap between educating the consumer and convincing them that they need to pursue your offer. To that end, a portion of your landing page optimization efforts should be designed to sell somebody on something. Don’t be afraid to use moderate sales language, such as “this offer expires soon,” “don’t miss out,” or “while supplies last.” All of these are great tools to guide visitors to your offer.

Make sure that all of your content helps you formulate a strong offer

Whether you are trying to get someone to buy a product today or subscribe to your email list, your landing page should be all about your offer. For example, a landing page designed to attract email subscribers should hint at the type of content that your inbound emails provide.

Always finish with a strong close

You have put in a lot of effort to engage people, and excite them about your offer. However, you should not assume that they will figure out how to access your offer at any point. Instead, you must tell them. To this end, you absolutely must finish all of your landing pages off with a strong call-to-action (CTA). With an outstanding CTA, you will not only give the visitor a clearly defined pathway for what to do next, but you will also further excite them about your offer.

You paid to get people to visit your landing page, so make sure that you get your money’s worth

Your PPC ads exist to alert people to an offer, whereas your landing pages exist to sell people on the value of an offer. In order to make sure that your landing pages do their jobs well, follow the tips discusses in this article.