Tom Capper's Posts



A Comprehensive Guide to Tracking Offline Interactions in Google Analytics

The trouble with web analytics is the possibility of it telling you lots about your website but nothing about your business. A browser is not the same thing as a customer, and yet we forget this in the data that we use to optimize our marketing efforts. Using Google Analytics, part of the solution to this problem is User ID, which allows us to track users as they move between multiple browsers, as long as they log in along the way. However, a lot of the most important interactions in a customer’s journey might not take place in a browser at all - instead they’ll take place in a shop, or over the phone, at an event, or in the customer’s inbox. In these cases, it might be that you can draw together these interactions with your existing Google Analytics data using Measurement Protocol.

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Statistical Forecasting for SEO & Analytics (and a Free Tool!)

Statistical forecasting is a powerful tool that’s been used at Distilled for a while, both by consultants when analysing client data and by our in-house monitoring tool that alerts us to problems with client sites. In this post, I’m publicly launching a free forecasting tool that I spoke about last week at BrightonSEO, and explaining how to make best use of it.

Using the tool

You can access the tool at distilled.net/forecaster. It utilises the CausalImpact R package which you can read about in this paper published by Google if you’re so inclined, but don’t worry if you’re not - the precise purpose of the tool is to make these methods accessible.

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Quick Fix for Referral Spam in Google Analytics

There’s been a lot of talk recently about referral spam and how it’s ruining everyone’s analytics data. While this isn’t cause for panic, it is very annoying, and depending on the size of your site it could be having a very meaningful effect on your data.

Most solutions I’ve seen talked about so far involve maintaining a list of spammy domains, which seems impractical at best. In this post I’ll outline two filters which in most cases should exclude the vast majority of referral spam  and require zero maintenance. Lastly, if you want to go the extra mile and filter out those last few spammy sessions, I’ll outline a low-maintanance option for that, too.

Background

Firstly, if all this is news to you, check the referring domains report in your Google Analytics account and see if it contains any of these:

GA referral spam domains

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Omniture for Beginners: 2015 Update

Back in December 2013, I wrote a tutorial post showing how to find basic analytics data in Omniture, and explaining differences in terminology between Omniture and Google Analytics. Both platforms have seen some changes since then, so this refresh restores the guide to its original usefulness.

Before we get stuck in, keep in mind that one of the main important differences between Google Analytics and Omniture is that Omniture setups are always custom. As such, installations can vary in what they show by default and how reports are grouped.

Navigation Basics

Firstly, make sure you’re looking at the correct report suite - report suites are Omniture’s equivalent of Google Analytics’ views:

Omniture report suite selection

Secondly, it’s possible that your client already has what you’re looking for set up as a dashboard.

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Wise Up on Penalties and Updates with the Latest DistilledU Module

More than a year after the previous Penguin update (2.1), last month Google launched Penguin 3.0. So far, the update has affected less than 1% of US/English queries. However, Pierre Far (Web Trends Analyst at Google) has called this a “slow, worldwide rollout” so perhaps, the effects are yet to be felt.

With all of this update news floating around, it’s hard not to feel bogged down by the specifics. Thankfully, I’ve been busy behind the scenes pulling together the latest DistilledU module which could help you identify, prevent or recover from the effects of penalties and algorithm updates.

Think you already know your stuff? Take a look at the below three questions taken from our Penalties module quiz to test your knowledge**.

  1. If you notice a significant drop in the number of indexed pages at the same time as a drop in organic traffic, which of the following causes is least likely to be responsible for the drop?

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