Add Notes to Google Analytics

It wasn’t until today that I thought it would be really nice to add notes to Google Analytics. For example, on a specific date I could make a note, “Changed background color.” From now on I’ll have an easily accessible record of site changes and be able to see how traffic was affected.

Well, I did a search and came up with a nearly perfect solution. Google Analytics Notes is a Firefox Extension that allows you to add notes via the GA interface.

The developers admit it isn’t perfect yet. For instance, the notes are only viewable in a spreadsheet format with no signification on the graphs themselves.

I made a significant change to a client’s website today that could really improve their search rankings and instead of having to remember when I made this change, it’s so nice to be able to have it in front of me each time I check their stats.

Hope you find it useful!

Switch to HostGator Proves They’re Awesome

Ten days ago I announced my switch from MediaTemple to HostGator hosting because things were very slow.

So check this out. Google Webmaster Tools fills you in on some metrics related to Google’s crawling of your site. Here’s what I found:

Time spent downloading a page (in milliseconds)

crawl-statsNotice that huge drop off towards the end. That means that HostGator was able to serve the pages at least twice as fast as MediaTemple was.

Now here’s where it really matters. So what if it took Google longer to download my pages – as long as they’re all there, then they accomplished what I wanted. Right?

Number of kilobytes downloaded per day

crawl-stats-kilobytesCrazy! So here I found out that Google may have been downloading all of my pages, but may not have been indexing everything on those pages – or maybe they were just taking a long time to do it. Now, it seems they must be getting everything, and probably getting it faster and making my pages appear in search engines quicker.

Moral of the Story: Find a Good Host

I’ve been with several hosts now and all have their ups and downs. For instance, MT was great when I first started with them and they have good support and a really well designed control panel. They obviosuly lost it when it came to speed though (at least on their grid servers).

So, I’m now impartial to HostGator and suggest that everyone else host through them. The difference is clear.

mindIT SEO Campaign

In November mindIT contacted me to help them improve online traction. They’re a small IT company in Dallas – great guys with a great business.

Google needed to hold up their end of the deal — finding the best IT companies in Dallas! Sadly, mindIT was lost amongst “the rest”. Unfortunately, Google doesn’t really show “the best” companies in the top 10 results for any given keyword so mindIT wasn’t being found for a number of keywords they should have been. That’s when they came to me and here’s where our tale begins…

Objective

Rank high and consequently drive more (and better qualified) traffic to minditonline.com in order to generate more leads/business.

mindIT is in the IT industry and needs to rank high for IT related keywords. In addition, they are a reseller of a popular health care software and offer support around it — they need to rank higher for related keywords.

Solution

mindIT had recently launched a brand new website that achieved a number a great things, including adding much more content to their site, building upon a content management system, and used many of the basic principles of improving conversion.

On the other hand, the website needed cleanup. Develop Daly cleaned up the site to improve upon the copy, extraneous pages, link juice draining, canonical issues/duplicate content, title & descriptions tags, and various other things.

All in all, the site maintains the branding and aesthetic appearance it had before the SEO process, but the guts are very much changed and improved.

Results

As with any SEO project, results are ongoing and hopefully improving all the time. In a very short amount of time (less than a month) we’ve seen incredible results. mindIT and the various keywords we targeted were not showing up in the top 10, 20, or 30 results. Here is what we achieved less than a month later:

Conclusion

It’s still too early to tell how the traffic has changed. For now, at least, we can see dramatic improvements in keyword visibility. Once again, I’m glad I could help a business increase their findability. If you need IT support, now you know who to call! (not me…mindIT!)

Better WordPress Search Needed

For a current client we are trying to improve the reliability of WordPress’ search engine. By default, WP sorts results by date. You could argue that this makes sense for a blog because the most relevant results may be the most recent, and WP obviously made that argument. Realistically, people want relevant results, no matter the date (most of the time).

Plugins to Improve Search?

I set out to see how we could bring WordPress up to par with most search engines – a vain attempt at competing with Google search. The first and most popular solution for “fixing” WordPress search I came upon was Search Reloaded by Semiologic. Certainly Search Reloaded improves the accuracy of the search which is a step in the right direction. But even Semiologic admits it’s not perfect. When using Search Reloaded the results were thinner and more accurate, but sometimes you want more comprehensive and have them sorted accordingly.

Example: Searching for “arthritis” without Search Reloaded returns lots of results, including an article on Osteoarthritis. The same search with Search Reloaded returns only one article title Arthritis.

Ideally, both the Arthritis article AND the Osteoarthritis articles would be returned and sorted accordingly.

Sprucing Up the Search Page

After realizing that I may not be able to do much with the behind the scenes searching I tried tweaking the search page itself to at least give the appearance of a smater search engine. I started with Yoast’s WordPress search tips. Per Joost’s advice I added the Search Excerpt plugin to extract the snippet of text around keywords and bold the keywords in the snippet. I also added his Search Suggest plugin that catches possible typos and suggests the correct spelling (just like Google), and in adition it displays a list of keywords related to the search keyword as suggestions for related searches.

Still Lacking

Despite all of the changes, the search results still lack exactly what we need to achieve: comprehensive, yet accurate results.
Any suggestions for improving WordPress results or are you willing to write a plugin to do so?

SEO & WordPress Tips – 3

Google’s SEO Starter Guide – Just released; a good read for all beginners

Advanced WordPress Optimization – Ten PHP and MySQL changes to speed up & secure your site

WordPress 2.7 “Trailer” – Short video about the new 2.7 interface

Writing Good Content – Guide to creating well written content

Best WordPress Plugins – Several post related plugins that are incredibly flexible

My Favorite Websites

Nearly everyday (or at least multiple times a week) I visit this list of websites. The list is tailored to web design, SEO, & WordPress related sites.

I’ve gained much knowledge from the authors and contributors of these sites and I owe much debt. If you’re interested in any of the things I do for a living, then this list is MUST read.

In alphabetical order…

SEO & WordPress Tips – 1

Social Media Release Builder – Easy SMR creation and hosting

Reputation Management Theory – My YOUmoz post discussing singular vs. pluralistic link networks

How to Use Google Analytics Segementation – Easy startup guide to using Analytics’ New Features

Unpersonalize Your Google Search – Google removed the option for you to do it yourself, but this still works

ww and wwww Subdomains – Redirect to capture all link juice from link typos

Bots Really Like Me Now

I have no clue what happened, but two days ago Yahoo! and MSN started crawling my site like crazy. I didn’t do anything out of the ordinary but it seems like something clicked on my site. So its been like this for about two days; I’ll see how long it lasts…and hopefully Google will join in the Develop Daly craze!

Hyperlocal SEO Tips

Struggling to beat out your competitors on a national scale is tough to do – taking them on locally ain’t so tough!

You just have to know what to do.

Optimizing your content, but especially the markup of your page, is crucial to succeeding in dominating your local search results.

GeoRSS

Adding semantics to your page puts you leaps and bounds ahead of your competition (in most cases). geoRSS is great because it’s SO sepecific.

Example: Your company services 10 surrounding cities. Create a page specific to each of those cities and explain why your service is helpful to that city in particular. Add some GeoRSS meta tags to the header and now search engines know exactly what is meant to be going on.

Benefit: Search engines pick up on the standard keyword phrases that signal it to be about a certain geographic area but at the same time they are certain which area it is about because of the GeoRSS tags. AND there are lots of sites out there that crawl the web looking for GeoRSS tags so they can aggregate local news, entertainment, and companies and display them on hyperlocal dashboard-like sites. Make it easy for them!

GeoRSS also has a WordPress plugin called GeoPress that makes blogging and local optimization a breeze. Check it out.

Duh, Use Your Address

Put your company’s address somewhere on every page of your site. Google can be certain they’re plugging you into the right locality if you provide them it.

Business Search Engine Submission

Make sure you manually submit as much information about your site as possible to Google, Yahoo!, Live, and Yelp so they can return your company as a result in local searches.

Other Options

outside.in outlines a few more methods of making known local connections your page has. They suggest linking to a Google map even, or just categorizing or tagging your content with a zip code. SEO Igloo Blog has some copyrighting tips to help and so does James Harrison. HyperLocal Blogger outlines some strategy.

Microsoft’s Failure at Owning Their Keywords

TechCrunch posted earlier today on the irony of Apple owning the first two results for the Google search “i’m a pc”.

This is a lesson to be learned. Own your own brand, your products, and even those of your competitors in the search engines.

Microsoft could have easily created a site dedicated to the idea of “I’m a PC” and used it to counter the advertising of Apple. Unfortunately, they’re just now getting started in their fight back and are struggling to capture the awe of the viewers.