Duncan Morris's Posts

Using PhantomJS to monitor Google Analytics

A simple change to the way Google Analytics is installed is (unfortunately) a common way to render your analytics data worthless. To make matters worse, if you aren’t aware of the setup change, you might falsely attribute any differences in reported traffic to something else, rather than the Google Analytics change.

In an ideal world we would have a ‘set it and forget it’ warning system that will alert you any time the analytics code is changed on a page. I’m going to walk you through some code that can be used to extract what Google Analytics resources are being used.

Watching for the Google Analytics beacon to fire.

Getting data about visitors to your website into Google Analytics is a two part process. When a browser requests a page on your site, it will also download a JavaScript script from Google (e.g. www.google-analytics.com/analytics.js).

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Introducing crawlbin - A Service for Testing SEO Directives and HTTP Responses

Towards the end of last year, I joined Tom Anthony in the R&D division at Distilled (you can read more about that here). We have been quietly working on a number of internal tools to support our consultants and help our clients. Today I’m announcing our first external tool which is the output of a hackday.

To help test some of the tools we are building, we needed a way of easily generating pages with various search engine directives enabled or disabled. One hackday later (and the inevitable few hours of overrun to finish the documentation) and we are ready to launch crawlbin.com.

The people who will benefit most from crawlbin are those writing or testing crawlers or tools that need to be able to handle potentially misleading signals. If you have a crawler as part of your inhouse tools then please do consider using crawlbin as a target for your tests.

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SearchLove San Francisco - We are sorry but we have failed

“What is your biggest failure?”

I ask that question at every interview I’m involved in. The answer tells me so much about the person sat in front of me. How do they cope under pressure? How comfortable are they taking responsibility? What constitutes a failure in their eyes? Do they shrink into themselves or do their eyes light up as they recount how they turned things around?

If you never put yourself in a position where you can fail then I’d argue you aren’t pushing hard enough. I say exactly that when interviewees tell me they can’t think of a time they have failed.

It’s easy to be flippant about failure. It’s incredibly easy to say you are pushing hard and risking failure. It’s much harder to actually do it, and the hardest thing is stopping and admitting when you have failed.

Unfortunately I have to announce that we have failed and that we are cancelling our SearchLove conference in San Francisco due to lower than expected ticket sales.

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Announcing 3 paid Marketing internships

There is a lot happening at Distilled.

We run conferences, which we record and release (some for free). We write extensive guides such as Excel for SEOs and our guide to creating viral content and infographics. We regularly blog, both here and on SEOmoz. We provide consulting and training to some of the world’s largest brands. Finally we have DistilledU (currently in private Beta) which is a platform where we will provide SEO training.

Recently we moved into a flash new office in London, but, as you can see it’s a little empty!

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Englishman in New York - Announcing an office in New York

6 years ago, almost to the day, Will and I sat in my front room and started the company that became Distilled.

It is with great pride that today I am able to announce Tom Critchlow will be relocating to New York and will open our 3rd office.

A year ago this week, Rob and I flew out to Seattle to open our 2nd office. Just a year later the team in Seattle consists of 8 people and this month has already proved to be the best in our short history. Rob has built a fantastic team who are getting some amazing results for some great clients. The Seattle office contributed 1/3 of our revenue this year and helped Distilled as a whole double revenue and triple profits 09/10 vs 10/11.

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