Tracking web analytics goals on all of your websites

Do you have Google Analytics installed? I really don’t want to talk to you until you have it installed!

Install Web Analytics Now

That’s what I tell my friends and family before I’ll even entertain answering a question.  And now I’m telling you that.  If you were a potential customer or a professional acquaintance maybe I’d say it a little more nicely, but I really don’t want to talk to you until you do.

You’re going to ask me why your website isn’t bringing in new business, how to better use Facebook or Twitter, how much to spend on Google AdWords or how do you get to the #1 position on Google for the term “refinance”.

Are you watching them?

Look, if you don’t have any idea how people currently using your website, what could you possibly want me to do to help you?  Anything I did would be credited to some other marketing activity and you’d feel like I wasted your time and possibly your money.

So unless you and I both know where we are starting from, then we’ll never know if anything we’re doing is working.

By the way, if you don’t know what web analytics is, then we’re even worse off.  Go read some good sources and get back to me.  It’s not that hard, but you need to understand it at a high level.

OK, now you have your analytics installed.  I now want to know if people are doing (or not doing) what you want them to do on your website.

Web Analytics GoalsI’m talking about tracking goals

Goals that you have defined as valuable to you and your website.  I’m talking about:

  • Some magical time on your website. For example: 4 minutes looking around your website.
  • Viewing at least 8 pages of your website.
  • Filling out a contact form.
  • Buying a product.
  • Signing up for your newsletter.
  • Subscribing to your website’s RSS feed.
  • Viewed your “About Me” page.

Sure, web analytics track some great metrics out of the box like:

  • unique visitors
  • pageviews
  • bounce rates
  • keywords people used to find you
  • and a whole lot more

This brings me to goal of this post: set up goals on your website now. They’re free and can always be deleted later, but you will never be able to recreate them looking back.

In Google Analytics, you can set up 20 goals in each profile and create unlimited profiles.

So create your goals now

  • If you want to measure how many visitors spent at least 4 minutes on your website, then choose a goal type of “Time on Site”google analytics goal time on site
  • If you want to measure how many people viewed at least 8 pages of your website, then choose a goal type of “Pages/Visit”google analytics goal pages per visit
  • If your visitors fill out a form, then you should have (if not, change your form tool or add the redirect) a “Thank You” page.  That page is your URL destination in the goal page of Google Analyticsgoogle analytics goal form completion
  • If you sell a product, again you have a “Confirmation” page.  Use that as your URL destination.
  • If they sign up for a newsletter, then have use the confirmation page as your URL destination.
  • If you just consider it a success to view your “About” page (who wouldn’t, right?), then use that as your URL destination.
  • If you want to track those who subscribe, it gets a little hairier.  Ideally your feed supplier will have tracking capabilities linked into that support your web analytics tool.  If not, you could create a goal around those that click on the subscribe button (knowing they may never complete the subscription) using onclick=”pageTracker._trackPageview(‘/trackrss’); Check this out for more detail.

We can talk now

Now you’re tracking not just visits to your website, but interactions with your website.  But more importantly you are creating a baseline that will allow you to measure the impact of future changes.

If you don’t know where you are today, you’ll never know if you have moved tomorrow.

OK, so now we can talk.  Now I’ll take a look around and help you with your goals.

Reputation Monitoring – 3 Levels Of Complexity

Don’t you care what people are saying about you?

Whether it’s your company name or your personal name you need to care online.  In the old world people could speak highly or poorly of you without you ever knowing.  You would  just see sales drop or friends would stop calling.  Now, though, customers and friends are making those remarks online.
You need to start listening!

Level 1: Google Alerts

This everyone’s introduction to reputation monitoring – Google Alerts.  With no cost and no maintenance, you can easily track all types of keywords and phrases real-time (soft of) as they join to noise of the Internet.  One disadvantage is its lack of filtering.  For example I have an alert set for “coast dental” where I work.  But I continually get alerts for “east coast dental”, “west coast dental” and “gold coast dental”.  That’s noise to me.

Level 2: RSS/Subscribes/Feeds

While Google tries to be all encompassing with Alerts, it just doesn’t hit them all currently.  When you’re ready to track Twitter and blogs more thoroughly, then monitoring pre-defined RSS feeds is your next step. By searching various properties you can then subscribe to the search results.  Using Microsoft Outlook or Google Reader you can then receive an update each time there is a new result for that search query.  For example, I have RSS feed searches on search.twitter.com and blogsearch.google.com.

Level 3: Dedicated Services

While you could deploy the first two levels with no cash outlay, Level 3 may require money.  Using free services like Trackur.com or pay services like Radian 6 you gain tools that are dedicated and designed for not only reputation monitoring, but also reputation management.  For example, Radian 6 provides a workflow solution for tracking issues as you hand them off within your company.

Get Started – It’s Free!

No matter where you want to jump into the monitoring ring, just don’t waste any time.  Level 1’s Google Alerts should be done by everyone.  Heck, you should at least have an alert on your name.

While we’re on the topic of monitoring our name, maybe you could help me out in my mission to capture the #1 position for Mark Regan

Once you’ve mastered reputation monitoring you’ll be ready for the next step: reputation management.

Google Maps In 3D

Last Monday (4/5/2010) while looking for a local Starbucks to meet a candidate, Google Maps pointed out a Starbucks closer to me than I knew.  So I went down to street level to see exactly where this new mysterious Starbucks was.  Within Street View I noticed Google’s 3D option.

Google 3D

Of course I don’t have the classic paper 3D glasses handy, but when I do…

As it turns out, the Starbucks is within the Target, not a free-standing one.  That’s why I didn’t know about it.  So I just met the candidate at the closest free-standing Starbucks.

I started drafting this post a few days after I saw the 3D option. Now that I’ve gone back to the same location from the same computer I no longer see the 3D option. So something has changed or the conditions for me to see the option are now different. Anyway, I really did see it and when I see it again I’ll share it with you

Redirecting non-www domain: Do You Have Website Schizophrenia?

Are you schizophrenic?  Or my favorite name-calling from childhood, two-faced?

I’m talking about your website, not you personally.  Those personally schizophrenic can just jump to the bottom and begin commenting.  Your website can have dual personalities.  And if left unchecked it will hurt you.  It will cause you acute pain (things won’t work for your visitors) and chronic pain (the search engines will fail to rank you highly over time).

I’m referring to your root domain address.  You may have bought your domain name, e.g. YourDomainName.com.  But look in the address bar, does it show www. yourdomainname.com or yourdomainname.com?

redirect non-www domains to www domains

What you see up there is important.  Answer these two questions, see how you scored and fix your issues, if needed, with my suggestions below.

Website Schizophrenic Test

Question 1: If you type in ‘yourdomainname.com’ into the address bar does it eventually:

Question 2: If you type in ‘www.yourdomainname.com’ into the address bar does it eventually:

Website Domain Health Chart

Healthy Website BehaviorHealthy – This is what you want.  Personally I prefer my websites exhibit characteristics A and A, rather than Band B.  That is, redirecting the non-www to www domains versus the opposite.

Schizophrenic Website BehaviorSchizo – If that’s you, then you need help and you’re in the right place.  We’ll fix you below.

Sick Website BehaviorSick – If one of those addresses doesn’t show anything other than maybe an error, you have a hosting issue that you need to address with your hosting provider (I use Liquid Web) or your webmaster.  Take care of that first before you work on your schizophrenic issues.

Sick Website BehaviorDead – Why are you reading this?  Your website is dead.  You would be happy to be schizo right now, because your website doesn’t exist on the Internet.  Go see a doctor and hope for reincarnation.

So You’re A  Schizophrenic!

You need to fix this because the search engines are very likely seeing your one website as two because one is preceded by ‘www’ and the other is not.  Tell your webmaster immediately!

If you’re the webmaster, keeping reading.

Apache Web Servers

In the root folder of your website (where your index.html resides) place a new file named ‘.htaccess’. Yes there the first letter of the file is a dot.  If you already have one then you can add to it.  In your .htaccess file you are going to place the following code.  Being sure to replace your domain name with mine.

# -FrontPage-
#rewrite markcregan.com to www. markcregan.com
RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^markcregan.com$ [NC]
RewriteRule (.*)$ http://www. markcregan.com/$1 [R=301,L]
IndexIgnore .htaccess */.??* *~ *# */HEADER* */README* */_vti*

That’s it, now test it out and make sure you’re healthy again.

Microsoft IIS Web Servers

If that’s you then here is my suggested websites. I’ve never worked on an IIS machine as a webmaster

If this helps or you have questions, please let me know.  And keep your head on straight.