Benjamin Estes's Posts



The Technical Audit Checklist Made for Human Beings

get the Technical Audit Checklist

Technical audits are one of the activities that define SEO—we’ve all done them. But audits are only as valuable as their impact. Whether you’re a practitioner or an agency partner, your job really begins when the audit is finished. You must take your recommendations and make them a reality. Distilled thrives on this “effecting change” mindset.

Yet the (long, laborious) audit has still got to be done. We sift through crawls, consider best practices, analyze sitemaps—the list goes on.

But we’re committed to the technical audit. So if we’re going to audit a site, why not do the audit in a way that makes the fun part—making change happen—much easier?

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Capture Content Metadata with GTM, Without Touching the Back End

Tracking content performance frequently involves spreadsheets with countless Vlookups matching content URLs to metadata. Or tricky URL parsing functions that extrapolate information, like category or date. If you use Google Tag Manager (GTM) on your site, it doesn’t have to be this way. With a few tweaks you can have your very own front-end solution for tracking content metadata.

If you’re not running GTM yet we’ve got a great introductory post from Tim Allen. I’d recommend you start there. In this post I’ll assume you’re up and running with GTM and have at least a passing familiarity with JavaScript.

Now, let’s explore how to use this tool to capture metadata about your posts for use in Analytics reports. Our goal will be to take a blog post “category” value from a page and put it into a custom dimension in Google Analytics.

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(not provided)—Distilled’s thoughts in review

There was a lot of hubbub yesterday about a dramatic increase in (not provided) traffic showing up in Analytics data. I’d say the most eye-opening part of this is the realization that the end of this upward trend is in sight: soon there will be effectively no keyword data readily available for organic search traffic from Google.

While Distilled hasn’t seen as dramatic an increase across our own accounts it has always been a matter of time. This was not unforeseen. Since Google announced the encryption of searches in October 2011 we’ve been considering this possibly. Lately it’s been seen as inevitable. So naturally Distilled has been thinking about and talking about this subject quite a bit.

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Segmenting Keywords Using SeoTools

This is something of a spiritual successor to my previous post, Use One Huge Table In Excel. In that post I talked about the fact that to take advantage of the relationships between all of the elements you have in your spreadsheet, you really need to get them all in the same place. In this post I’d like to help you keep moving in the right direction. We’ll focus on segmenting and assessing data in ways that you may not have considered before.

To “keep moving in the right direction”, you need to install SeoTools for Excel. I’m not even going to qualify that admonition because once you do, you’ll see what I mean. Instead of trying to convince you here to install it, I will illustrate a way to use it which has been very powerful for me and hopefully helpful for you as well.

So lets talk about how SeoTools allows you more flexibility in filtering and pivoting your data.

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Use One Huge Table in Excel

Sometimes we at Distilled go a little far out with our posts about statistics and data and all that, but not all of that is applicable to everyday work. Not all tasks are so complicated—some are fairly cut and dry, like figuring out which landing pages have received the most traffic over the last year. That’s straightforward, right? At some level this is clerical work—but that’s all the more reason to get it over with as quickly as possible.

Often we can slow ourselves down by organizing data in inefficient ways. These methods might seem smart or fast at the time, and yet they can often make it more difficult to get what we really need out of our data set. Maybe you are trying to figure out which page received the most traffic over the last year—and this is what your Excel file looks like:

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