Google Analytics fast access mode – or no access mode?

Fast access mode in Google Analytics is causing data to disappear, at least for small sites Read the rest of this entry »

How to exclude internal traffic

To exclude internal traffic from your Google Analytics data

You need administrator access to configure your account to exclude internal traffic. If you can’t find the screens referred to, it probably means you have only ‘user’ access. You will have to contact the person who set up the GA account and either ask them to exclude the internal traffic or to give you Administrator access.

Click on ‘Analytics settings’ (top left) to open up the following screen.  Click on ‘Add new profile’ (top right)

Google Analytics settings

Tick the box ‘Add new profile for an existing domain’. You need to give the profile a name, I suggest ‘exclude internal’

Your new profile will now appear in the Analytics Settings window. Click ‘Edit profile.

GA edit profile

and scroll down to ‘Filters applied to profile’ and click ‘Add filter’

GA filter

In the ‘Filter type’ drop down, select ‘Exclude’ ‘traffic from the IP addresses’ ‘that are equal to’

ga filter type

You need to know your IP address. There are lots of website out there that will tell you, one such is The site will automatically detect your IP, and will present it as ‘IP information’. It will take the form of a number with four groups of digits each separated by a full stop.

Simply copy these four sets of digits in the four boxes, give the filter a name (Me or web agency etc) and your are done.

Profiles and Best Practice

You could of course simply add the filter to your existing, default profile but it is far better – and safer – to leave one profile completely untouched. This means that if you either make a mistake or for some reason want the data excluded by the filter, all data is still available.

Profiles are ways of analysing a sub set of data, so once a filter is configured, it will mean that for that within that profile, some data is excluded. This may be because you have used an exclude filter as here, or it may be that you have a used an include filter, which will have the effect of excluding everything not included by the include filter.


Tracking cookies

april seo tipsCookies are very useful in tracking web stats, in fact they are essential for tools such as Google Analytics.  One specific use is in segmenting internal traffic, especially for traffic that is mobile, for example in the situation where a company’s sales force uses the company website as part of their sales presentations.

Being able to exclude this usage from the stats makes an assessment of the site’s success in engaging with its target market – both in terms of attracting new visitors and in engaging with them.  It is also valuable to look at how the sales force uses the site so that the webmaster can better understand how to provide the most useful website for them.

An easy to see which cookies have been dropped onto your browser is to type


into the address bar.  This will show all the cookies that have come from the site you are currently on.


SEO – always traffic never just rankings!

april seo tipsThe challenge is that 60% people use the key word ‘watches’ to search on and this is the main focus for optimisation. Currently listed on page three using this term, the objective for this brief is to move the listing to page 2 – Please quote based on meeting this objective.

This was the request I received last week from a new prospective client, the site offers watches, but specifically aimed at the sports market. It threw up some interesting issues because, quite simply, it is not a brief I am prepared to take on! On the other hand, I find it extremely difficult to say no, especially when this is a prestigious site and one with plenty of SEO potential.

My problem is that SEO should be all about attracting qualified traffic to a site, not about chasing rankings. The two are not entirely unrelated of course, but neither are they synonymous. So this was the approach I took…………

Many thanks for inviting me to provide a quote to meet the above objective. However I would like to suggest a slightly different approach as in my experience better results are obtained by focussing on developing organic search engine visibility across as wide a range of keywords as possible, rather than concentrating all resources on one, or a very few, generic keywords. In other words, focus on generating high quality relevant traffic, rather than focusing on rankings.

The rationale behind this approach is as follows:

  • The keywords (phrases) that people use in search engines are incredibly varied, and the best converting keyword are generally the most specific – the so called long tail search. So a search for ‘watches for deep sea diving’ is much more likely to result in a sale than one for ‘watches’ where the searcher may just be looking to see what is available compared with the first searcher who is likely to be ready to buy once he finds exactly what he is looking for.
  • Google (and all the other engines) use the number of visitors to a site as one of the 200 or so parameters used to determine which sites rank where. So in order to rank on page 1 for sunglasses, it will be necessary to have a very active site – this excludes PPC activity – and the only way of doing this is to have good rankings but good rankings only develop with traffic. The solution to this conundrum is to develop a wide range of rankings for long tail keywords. This will bring in high quality traffic likely to convert and in doing so help to develop rankings for the more competitive, generic terms such as ‘watches’
  • Google can and does change its algorithm without notice and certainly without any explanation. The wider the range of good rankings a site has, the less vulnerable it is to changes in these algorithms. This also means that it is not possible to guarantee results in the organic listings. Payment on results is an option, though it tends not to be as straightforward as it at first may seem.
  • Targeting long tail keywords is the best use of of SEO resources.

I then continued the quote in the normal way with an outline of expected outcomes, and details of initial and ongoing work that I felt the site needed.

I got the job!The moral of this story? A large part of SEO is about educating the client and that can begin well before you even start working for them.

And yes, the client came back very quickly, could see the sense behind my approach and we are currently discussing how we can go forward.


Alt text and image title text, their impact on SEO

Alt text and title images, they are often available in CMSs but what are they and how do they help with image and page optimisation Read the rest of this entry »

cookies and Google Analytics

ga blog post cookies spring 2011Privacy issues have long been the subject of debate where the web is concerned and a lot of hinges on the way they are used – and abused.

I have a lot of sympathy with the privacy campaigners but I also realise that the way that websites have developed means that increasingly sites need to use cookies to function properly, and most importantly in a way that visitors both want and expect.

The BBC website has published a very interesting article on forthcoming European legislation that will require a website to gain ‘explicit consent’ from visitors before collecting information using cookies.  Cookies used in shopping baskets will be exempt – a message asking if your customer on an ecommerce site if you can collect information about what he wants to buy would be just plain silly.

The aim of the legislation is I believe to curtail the use of ad tracking software and any kind of nefarious use of cookies.  Very few of us would have any issue with the the latter and there is a possible to good argument for the former.  But like a lot of modern legislation, it sounds as though it is not well crafted.

Presumably every time you do a search on Google and then click through to a site,  the site will seek your permission to use a GA tracking cookie.  Now that might be OK once or twice – but every time you do a search on Google………..!

And of course if you visit a site and say no you do not want it to collect cookie information, then the site cannot use a cookie to remember your preference which means the next time you access it, you will be asked again.  I can just imagine the laptop being thrown out of the window as your favourite holiday site asks for the 1000th time whether it can set a cookie, I’ve told you that a 1000 times already.

Oh dear, back to my bandwagon.  All legislators should be required to take extensive courses in both history (so they stop making the same mistakes) and technology (so they understand what they are doing).

There is also the question of enforcement.  Who will enforce it?  Will the resources be available to enforce anything other information collection for fraud, scams and other blatantly criminal purposes.  This type of regulation also comes into conflict with the international nature of the web.  Will a US site being accessed in the Europe take any notice of this latest bit of Brussels beaurocracy.

In short, a good idea poorly thought out and poorly crafted.


The importance of SEO in site redesign

seo blog post Mar 11It is so easy to throw the baby out with the bath water.  The US news site Gawker did this in a big way when they redesigned their site recently.  Econsultancy, UK authority site on emarketing analysed their problems very effectively in a news item.

Econsultancy’s no 1 issue with the new site is the total apparent lack of thought given to the SEO.  I am still amazed at the lack of understanding of SEO among so many, but not of course all, web designers and developers.

SEO is not a skill I expect designers and developers to possess, in my experience it takes a different sort of brain, but it is one that it is vital they take fully into account if they are to deliver a website fit for purpose.



As part of the online SEO course, students are set an keyword research assignment.  This is designed to provide hands on experience of carrying out a keyword research project and, in line with the concept of the online course, also enable students to work on the optimisation of their own site as they work through the course.

It is recommended that the assignment is carried out using Wordtracker but if students prefer, the free Google Adwords tool can be used.

Wordtracker offer a seven day free trial which is ample time in which to complete the assignment.  To sign up for the trail, please use the following link

Wordtracker will require your credit/debit card details but you may cancel the subscription at the end of the seven days with no questions asked.


Copywriting hints

I am not usually a great fan of '10 tips for getting richer' or '20 ways to rule the world' but reach for a cup of coffee and sit down with 10 Secrets to More Magnetic Copy. It's short, well written, very readable and makes some points worth taking onboard! Read the rest of this entry »

Social media activity helps SEO – it’s official

Google and Bing have both confirmed that they include social media usage on Twitter and Facebook in their ranking algorithms. Read the rest of this entry »