When To Use Google Analytics Annotations

Chauncey: Welcome back to the Being Found Show, this is the first show of the new year, this is your guide to being found by more buying customers online and across the universe. You know why? Because they’re all online.

Jake: That’s right.

Google Analytics Annotations

Chauncey: All right, so we’re going to talk about creating a milestone for your rankings. One great way is to say, okay, I’m going to start my marketing, I’m going to do my thing, and in analytics, there’s something called an annotation. Any time you see the bar graph going across and you can pick the dates at the bottom there’s a little button that says add an annotation and you can add an annotation there and say, “Hey I’m getting started today.”That may not seem like anything but three months from now you don’t have to say, “When was it that I got started?”

Jake: Right. “What is this spike? What worked?

You should consider using the annotate option for any occurrence that may impact activity on your website, such as:

  • marketing campaigns
  • web design updates
  • content changes
  • website outages
  • industry developments
  • competitor activity
  • weather
  • important news

Chauncey: Right. Exactly. So, that’s all I suggest getting started in Google Analytics, that’s all I suggest you do to get started your basic footstep for hitting your client review checklist, your first month. Just make a note, this is when we got started.

“Annotations allow any user with access to a Google Analytics profile to leave shared or private notes right on the over-time graph. Building upon the concept of bringing Intelligence to data captures the tribal intelligence of your company – which tends to be the most expensive and easily lost resource of all. A simple note from a colleague can save hours of real work (and frustration) for an analyst who is tasked to explain a usually dry set of numbers.” Google Analytics Youtube

Local Ranking & Know Your Competitor

As far as tracking your keywords, a little later on we’ll talk about putting together your list of client services and sort of coming up with a basic keyword checklist in our next thing, your terms that you’re really looking for, and these terms are not just for SEO, these terms are for AdWords, they’re for marketing, they’re for social media.

It’s really giving you a blanket to look for, but the tool that we tend to us is BrightLocal, and the reason , why we use BrightLocal,is because a lot of your businesses out there are targeting local markets and you might not know that, let’s say you’re saying doodads in Redding, you might not know that when you check your rankings and you say, “Hey man, I’m coming up number one,” you might not know that you’re logged into Google and Google knows what you want and they’re trying to deliver that to you.

Google’s job is to deliver you the search results that you want. They’re not trying to trick you. They’re trying to give you what you want and need, and they know you, you’re signed in, and they know that you’re interested in doodads, they might know that you own the business, and they’re going to serve up your business first because that’s what they think you’re looking for.

So, a tool like BrightLocal, what that does is it, the company’s out of England, and they have an algorithm, a system, whatever that will basically search locally for keywords. So, you can put in a list of keywords and we’re coming out Redding, California and BrightLocal will search as though it’s coming out of Redding, California, as somebody who’s not you. It will tell you where you’re ranking. The reason why we use BrightLocal is frankly, it’s pretty inexpensive.

Jake: And it works well.

Chauncey: It does work well. It works very well, there’s been very little downtime. All the systems you have to wait for, it to run a report, that’s normal, and its only equally priced competitors are doing something that’s a little too advanced for a lot of locally based businesses, and what its competitors are normally doing is telling you what you’re ranking for instead of showing you your ranks for what you’re interested in.

So, like SEO Rank Monitor, when you go to SEO Rank Monitor it tells you what you’re
ranking for and you can flag them and then track those things and so on and so forth
and it gives you a big massive list of all this stuff, a bunch of stuff that doesn’t apply.

It’s really helpful if you’re getting advanced, but if you’re getting started out, you need a milestone to get started out, I think it’s $29 a month and you can run multiple reports, 25 keywords a report, and it’s even good for small SEO companies getting started, so if you’re an SEO company in town and let’s say you have six clients or something like that, five or six clients, the lowest package on BrightLocal is really your best bet.

Jake: And it also allows you, if you know of a competitor who’s just spanking you, you can enter that competitor and BrightLocal will see what they’re ranking for, or rather it will see where they’re ranking for the keywords you’re going after. That can be telling information as well.

Chauncey: It can be. It definitely can be, because at that point you can take that competitor and say okay, well these guys are killing us, let’s see what they have on their page that we don’t have. But a good, cheap place to get started is BrightLocal. In our next segment we’re going to tell you how to come up with those keywords to pop in there, so make a note of BrightLocal and we’ll come on back to that.

Another beginning step or something that we always do at the beginning is we make
sure that the site isn’t full of holes. I guess a comparison is you’re given a new boat,
you’re going to take that boat out, you got to check it for holes because you don’t want to be out there and realize that you had a bunch of holes to fix. There’s probably a better comparison because really what we’re trying to do here is we want to measure our efforts without our efforts being hindered by obvious issues. And a lot of the obvious issues that are going to damage your site are 500 errors and broken link and 404 errors. 301s will come later. So let’s run down what those are.

A 500 error means that there’s this problem with your server. A 404 means that there’s a problem with your website. So if you go to a page on your website and it says there’s a 500 error, you need to call your hosting company and say why.

If you go to your website and there’s a 400 error, like a 404, is the most common, you need to go to your web developer or look at your website and say why. Then a 301 is not necessarily an error, but a lot of these tools will mark it as an error, and what a 301 or a 302, a 300 is a redirect, it means that this page doesn’t really exist because it’s been told to automatically redirect to another page.

Cleaning those things up are really important for a multitude of reasons. For one, as
somebody’s clicking through your site and trying to find something and they get a dead page, they’re done with you.

Jake: Yeah, they bounce.

Chauncey: Yeah. They’re done with you. Another is Google’s done with you. Well, you’re not blacklisted, Google’s not done with you but they don’t like it, they frown upon these holes. Then the other that a lot of people don’t think about is let’s say I have Chauncey’s Awesome Doodads is my page, on my website. And I decide Awesome is kind of a silly term to try to sell my doodads with, and I change that to Chauncey’s Doodads.

Chauncey’s Awesome Doodads is now, has been indexed by Google. The world has seen that website, I’ve had it up for a year, let’s say, and people have linked to it, and I’ve now changed it to Chauncey’s Doodads. That means I potentially have all these backlinks to my other URL that are now going nowhere, and Google says, that’s where the big no-no happens, is that basically, Google says this is untrustworthy, here’s all these people trying to drive traffic to this and this person just isn’t there. So if you set up that redirect, it redirects to the new page, the link goes through, customers come through, people come through.

Going through Google and finding out where these things are is great. There’s also
another little trick if you can’t find it, and let’s say I have 10 links back to my site from Jake’s Doodads, and I know that those are great and I need that weight for Chauncey’s Doodads, I can come up with a little PHP script that says, if the referring URL is from Jake’s Doodads, send them to this page, so all links from Jake’s are caught and sent to a specific page. So, there’s a way to catch all of these things, just in case.

So, another one is checking your site for updates, this is great for security and great for usability. It’s also great for browsers. If browsers update and your site doesn’t keep up with technology, you might have a lot of broken parts of your site if you’re not keeping up to date. You do have to make sure that you back up, which is the next one, verify your backups before you do those updates.

Jake: I would add one more thing about the updates. That’s typically something you’re going to be doing with PHP-based or, if you have a WordPress website, you’re going to have to do it if you have a Joomla website you’re going to have to do it. Any CMS is going to have those, any locally hosted CMS, yeah.

Jake: But if you have maybe Wix or Shopify, those are kind of closed-loop systems and they tend to push those updates with their plugins pretty regularly, is that right?

Chauncey: Yeah.

Jake: You don’t necessarily have to monitor them.

Chauncey: Right, and another good thing about those situations … So, when you’re using a third party like that, one disadvantage is maybe you don’t have the control of the code that you would like for marketing, but the good flip side of that is when you update things it’s not going to break your site. When you have your own site, locally hosted and you update its, it’s very possible that you might break something that’s set up there to work together and now all of a sudden one of them’s updated and they don’t work together.

So, up next verify your backups, then verify that your site is running in SSL. SSL has to be on every site, that’s when you see https, with the nice little green lock, as opposed to http with the little red not nice lock, that’s unlocked. Basically, that’s a secured socket layer and what that does is it encrypts the data on the way up and the way down.

Jake: Yeah, so just go to your … If you don’t have one, go to your host. This is such a standard item these days that your host ought to make one available, and if you don’t have one, log into your host and see if you have an option to add that. They’re usually free, I mean they probably didn’t use to be but now it’s just, it’s a must have so it’s got to be there.

Chauncey: Right, yeah. And if you’re having a hard time, if they’re trying to charge you, you can maybe get a free one via CloudFlare, which is a CDN. Then the last one on here before we go to break is if you’re in an industry where you have a license number, you’re a contractor, you’re a real estate agent, make sure that license number is across the footer on every page. Google likes to know that, it verifies who you are.

Thank you for listening to this segment of the Being Found Show, to hear the full show listen here: Being Found Show Episode #70 or subscribe to our Podcast.