Tom Capper's Posts



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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6 Easy Ways to Improve User Experience Using Analytics Data

User experience is important – little hitches in your site’s user experience could cost you conversions and repeat visitors, big ones could have your customers leaving to competitors in their droves. At the same time, finding problems and identifying opportunities can be hard and expensive, requiring extensive user testing and time-consuming A/B tests. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t any low-hanging fruit in the data you already have. Read on for easy fixes to improve your site.

1 - 404 Errors

You can easily check for internally linked 404 pages with a crawling tool like Screaming Frog, but this might not give you the full picture – visitors could be landing on 404 pages from external links, or there may be intermittent issues missed by your one-off crawl.

To see all of your visited 404 URLs, search for your 404 page’s Page Title:

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Universal Analytics User ID: Setup Guide

User ID is one of the biggest new features of the Universal Analytics platform and analytics.js tracking code. In this post I’ll explain what it is, how it works, and how to set it up and get started.

Google Analytics identifies users using cookies. If someone deletes the cookie, switches device or switches browser, then they’re suddenly a new user. Depending on what you want to analyse, this can be a fairly major issue - for example, if you want to identify the channels that drive users to discover your site for the first time, or analyse the importance of your mobile site.

User ID overcomes this limitation of Google Analytics by collecting a unique, non-identifiable ID from logged in users. As long as the user keeps logging in with the same account, they can be identified as the same user.

Selecting a User ID

The variable you use as your User ID needs to be something unique, non-identifiable (for privacy reasons), and available to be passed to either your tracking code  or Google Tag Manager.

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