How to Block Semalt.com from Accessing Your Website Using .htaccess

Yesterday, I wrote a post about how to stop Semalt.com from showing up in your Google Analytics account. Today, in this post, I’ll tell you how to block semalt.com from accessing your website using the site’s .htaccess file. Just as a warning, you need to be a pretty advanced user to do this, as if you do something wrong in the .htaccess file of your website there’s a possibility that you’ll take your website down. Each and every request (every hit on every file) first accesses the .htaccess file before your website loads. This is one way that you can stop visitors and bots from even having access to your website.

There have been a few theories as to how semalt.com is accessing your site. There are rumors out there that they’re using some sort of hacked botnet in order to do all the crawling. Or they’re constantly changing the IP addresses of their crawlers.

If you’d like to block semalt.com by using the .htaccess file, then here’s a few lines of code to add to the file: [Read more...]

How to Remove Semalt.com in Google Analytics

There’s a rogue website that is showing up as a referral in your Google Analytics. Semalt.com bills itself as “Semalt is a professional webmaster analytics tool that opens the door to new opportunities for the market monitoring, yours and your competitors’ positions tracking and comprehensible analytics business information.” Okay, fine. But to be honest with you, most likely you do NOT want any traffic from Semalt.com. In fact, it’s not real visitors, it’s just a “bot” that is wasting your website bandwidth and costing you money. Real visitors are generally not coming from a website called Semalt.com. So, to accurately see your referral and website visitor traffic in Google Analytics, I recommend removing this or “excluding” semalt.com in your Google Analytics tracking. Here’s how to do that.

First, you need to log into Google Analytics. Then, click on the “Admin” tab at the top, as shown below.

google analytics admin tab [Read more...]

5 Benefits Of Upgrading Your Google Analytics To Universal Analytics

Universal Analytics was introduced as a public beta in March 2013, and since then many have debated on whether to upgrade or not. This new tracking tool now uses a single, unique cookie to track visitors to websites, instead of the old tracking method used in previous generations of Google Analytics. If you find yourself a little unsure as to whether you’d like to upgrade or not, and need a little convincing, you may wish to speak to the experts at Search Factory. But, before you do, read on. Here are 5 benefits of taking the plunge and upgrading to Universal Analytics. [Read more...]

How to Fix Google Analytics to Properly Calculate Bounce Rate

Google Analytics is broken. Well, at least the way that Google Analytics calculates bounce rate and the average time on site is broken–or at least has a major flaw.

Let’s first take a look at bounce rate, and how Google explains it:

There is a difference between exit rate and bounce rate. But what we really want to know is bounce rate–how many people really did engage with us on our website. How many people read our content. As a blogger, if someone reads your post and then goes to another site, then fine. If they click on another link on your site and go to another page, then they’ll be “engaged” and won’t bounce according to Google. But what about those people who actually read–they have engaged on your site, right?

Let’s talk about a specific example so I can explain why Google Analytics’ bounce rate is flawed.

When someone visits your website and reads your blog post, for example, they may spend 3 minutes reading it. But then they leave, and go on to another website. If you are using Google Analytics, Google Analytics measures the time someone spends on your site reading a blog post as the difference between when they first entered and his last page view on your site. So, if the person actually leaves your website after 3 minutes, Google Analytics consider this person as not engaged with your site–it is considered a bounce.

DNMedia.com has just written about this flaw in Google Analytics, and how to add some code to your Google Analytics code that will fix this flaw. Essentially, the code will ‘ping’ Google every 10 seconds (or at an interval you can set in the code) so that Google knows that they’re still on the site.

Here’s the code that Brian Craw wrote a while back. All you have to do is add this code to your current Google Analytics code (at the end), just before the < / script > line:

(function (tos) {
  window.setInterval(function () {
    tos = (function (t) {
      return t[0] == 50 ? (parseInt(t[1]) + 1) + ':00' : (t[1] || '0') + ':' + (parseInt(t[0]) + 10);
    })(tos.split(':').reverse());
    window.pageTracker ? pageTracker._trackEvent('Time', 'Log', tos) : _gaq.push(['_trackEvent', 'Time', 'Log', tos]);
  }, 10000);
})('00');

Note: I realize that the code above might look like it’s cut off, but if you copy/paste it you should be able to grab the full code. You might also want to go here to Brian’s original post to grab the code.

You can change the interval of calculation here so that it’s not 10 seconds, but more often or less often. In other words, it will track an event (log that the person is still on your site) every 10 seconds.

The end result is that by adding this additional code to your Google Analytics tracking code (it works with the old and the new code) you’ll be able to fix how Google Analytics calculates the bounce rate on your site.

Hat tip goes out to DNMedia.com and Brian Cray for pointing this out.

UPDATE:
OK, so it’s been a while since I first posted this blog post and I added the code (as detailed above) on the site here. I’m sure you’re wanting to know if adding code actually helped the bounce rate? Well, it didn’t necessarily HELP the bounce rate, the bounce rate is what it is. But, I could say that it is calculating the bounce rate MORE ACCURATELY than it did previously. Here are my preliminary stats, according to Google Analytics. I compared traffic WITH the code versus not having the code.

Avg. Visit Duration
1,048.61%
00:09:15 vs 00:00:48
People are actually spending 9:15 minutes on my blog, not 48 seconds as previously reported by Google Analytics.

Bounce Rate
-52.28%
40.13% vs 84.08%
The bounce rate went from 84 percent (wow that’s high) to 40 percent (that’s more like it!)

Website Optimization 101: A/B Testing Method


Source: http://www.reedge.com/ab-test.html

You might wonder why a certain website emerges as the leading one in its niche when there are hundreds or even thousands of other sites on the web that are basically serving the same content. Aside from thinking of the reasons why, the more important question to consider here is how they managed to do it.

The answer is simple: certain sites are more popular because they’re offering something that the other sites don’t. It could be a certain feature, how the information is presented, or the general ease of usability of the site. From this, you can already conclude that it takes more than just stellar content to become the top site in your niche. A good website is the sum total of the components that comprise it—and in order to find the best combination to use, you’ve got to do some testing.

What Is A/B Testing?
A/B testing is a marketing testing method where users are presented with two versions of a website which will only have one element that varies between them. The variations are served simultaneously to site visitors in order to gauge which one is better. Webmasters usually come up with a criterion early on to help them determine which version can provide the desired results.

A/B testing is very similar to another testing method called multivariate testing. In fact, they only vary in the number of elements that can be tested out for each test run, as more than a single element can be modified for multivariate tests.

Why You Need A/B Testing
A/B testing has been helping hundreds of thousands of webmasters and web designers all over the world with website optimization and design. There’s only so much that you’ll be able to get from design guidebooks and manuals. To come up with a really good design, you’ll also need customer input because the site is intended to serve them, after all.
Surveys are very tedious to conduct, not to mention a huge hassle to process. Getting a large enough sample size of users to fill out your survey could also prove to be a challenge. A/B tests let you forego these hassles by presenting a hands-on survey of sorts to your site visitors, where their actual and unbiased reactions to your content will prevail.


Source: http://www.webseoanalytics.com/blog/when-and-how-to-run-ab-and-multivariate-testing-for-your-website/

A/B Testing: An Example
A certain online clothing retailer is having a sale. To prepare for the event, the webmaster tests out two versions of the sale announcement. The first is a huge banner with images of sample items, along with the word “Sale!” The other banner only highlights one object from the sale and contains the promo duration as well as other information about the sale.

Both versions of the banner will be served to site visitors randomly. When the test is over, the results are brought up, and the one that brought in the largest number of sales is deemed as the better version.

Quick Guide to A/B Testing
Here’s a quick run-through of the entire testing process:
Content Assessment. The first thing you should do is look over all the pages on your website. List down which elements can be improved or modified, and rank them according to priority on your list.

Creation of Test Elements. Choose one component from the list to test out, and create the different versions to be used in the A/B test. Remember to make each version distinguishable from the other to get better results.

A/B Testing. When you’re ready, you can now run the test. Running these tests is made easier with the availability of tools and software, like Google’s Website Optimizer, which is available for free. If you prefer, you can also hire a third-party service or firm who can run the tests for you.

Interpretation of Results. After the test has run its course, it’s time to look at the results and determine which version gave better results. Implement the change on your actual website, and move on to the next item on your list.

Ruben Corbo is a freelance writer that writes about technology, gaming, music, and online marketing especially topics about A/B split testing and how to run multivariate tests. You can read more information on Maxymiser’s AB Testing guide for a better understanding on how it works. Ruben is also an avid gamer and music composer for short films and other visual arts.

6 Ways to Increase Conversions on Your Website

Many times it happens that people with online business face the most common problem. Their businesses are not giving them as much output as they expect them to make or they are not getting enough number on people on their website as they wanted to. They have trouble monetizing their website. Well, the solution to that is easy. It’s time to stop worrying about number of people on your website since you can make twice as much as you currently are, with the number of people that are already there.

It’s time to increase your conversion rate.


Screen Capture courtesy Vizion Interactive on Flickr.

Naturally, the first question we must ask ourselves is what conversion rate is. Simply put, conversion rate is a measure of the number of potential customers that go on to buy. In online terms, it is usually the percentage of visitors that make a purchase from your website. The higher your conversion rate, the faster your sales will go up.

Here are a few important techniques you can imply to increase the conversion rate on your website:

1. Aim for simplicity. Make your website easy to navigate and simple to understand. Do not go into complications! A site that is easily accessible to people, attracts a far wider crowd of potential buyers than a non-accessible site.

2. Remember that your objective is the ease of your customer. Make his life as simpler as humanly possible. When a customer decides to buy a thing, give him clear cut instructions as to what to do next. E.g. when a customer has selected something, he would definitely add it to his/her shopping cart. Have clear and easily accessible buttons that state exactly what a customer wants to do and place them somewhere where it can easily be seen by the user.

3. You won’t imagine how many people change their minds about buying a product from a certain website only because that particular website does not provide sufficient information about that product or it’s in some format that is not easily accessible to the user. Anything between 1-99% of your potential sales are lost every day only because of poor usability.

4. Again, I would like to emphasize on the importance of the customer. It is very important to know your customer completely. Where does your customer find you? Howdo they approach you? What keywords they use to access your links? These are few of the very basic things that you must know about your customer. Focus on enhancing those points that attract your customers more.

5. Another helpful tip can be to create a mental (or digital) image of your average customer. Focus on his likes and dislikes. What he looks for on the internet. Which searches does he mostly make? In short, all those things that will help you in understanding the needs and demands of your customer more thoroughly and will help you in getting your conversion rate up.

6. One more thing to keep in mind is that don’t waste the time of your customers. Keep your interaction brief and as thorough as possible in that time. Do not try to bore your customers by asking them things that you don’t really want to know. That annoys your user more than anything and might lose you some potential buyers as well.

How to Effectively Use Funnels in Google Analytics

This is a very popular topic, website owners should have the basic knowledge of what Google Analytics funnels are, and how they can help your website. Attracting traffic to your website by way of membership, providing eBooks, or subscribing to specific offers will all aid in your build.

When you look at building your site, and drawing traffic to it a funnel will show you what is going on at all levels. When you utilize funnels through Google analytics a basic sign up form on your site for example can be assessed at each level. What this means is if you have a 5 step process, you will be able to see what users reached each step. If you are experiencing a drop off at a specific step you can revamp things.

If we use the above example: Once users have progressed through your website, and you are seeking feedback on how things are working you then access your Google Analytics account. You can analyze what areas you want to focus on. Funnel visualization is one area that many domain owners are focusing on. Once you complete these steps you can opt what level you want Google to analyze for you. Step 1,2,3,4 or 5 of the above example can be determined by checking each level.

Each step should be mandatory, this will allow the funnel to determine what users accessed the entry, where they enter the data and the numbers that completed and accepted or perhaps decided to leave. The drop off rates will indicate an area that you may want to improve or revise. If you are utilizing Google AdWords on your website this process has an excellent platform for monitoring your traffic.

When you are looking at managing your traffic, marketing and advertising it is important that you are aware of what users are surfers, and which are prospects. You want to maximize both and ultimately make them customers. Your funnel can focus on a number of goals. When you first get started you want to track the introduction level, or the sign up level all the way to the thank you page. If you site is selling a product or service then it is important to focus and manage on this numbers. If you have people dropping off before they hit the shopping cart you can focus on why this is happening.

As you can see analyzing your funnels through Google Analytics is an important piece to your website and ultimately your success rate. Utilize them from your landing page, to your sign up page, and lastly your thank you notification.

5 Tips on Using Google Analytics More Effectively

There is a free tool that Google provides called Google Analytics. Google will give you code to copy and paste in your website. When you enter the code, Google will then give you details on your website and it will break down all of the important parts of it. The program will track your site data and provide you with summaries for important visitor details you will want to be study. You can track geographic data, gender, age, IP addresses etc.

Once you organize the data that Goggle Analytics provides you can utilize this essential information to market and promote your website. For example, if your product or service is geared towards females and you are attracting a high number of male users you may want to look at changing some of your layout or strategies to attract more women to your site.

You can define the data specifically, and get an idea of what pages are getting the most hits, other site links that users are clicking on to arrive at your site etc. The program can be set up in a basic or advanced format depending on your needs.

Some tips as to what the program will provide and what you will want to be aware of include tracking unique visitors, knowing what your site bounce rate is, outsourced links and how well they are doing, and key wording.

Key wording or phrasing is a big part of web ranking and traffic draw. You need to be aware of the various search requests and have a good number of each on your site. For example if you are running or promoting a sports gambling site you need to ensure you have specific sporting key wording. For example, people may search NFL betting, or NFL odds. If your site is gambling oriented and the majority of data or key wording is about baseball, you could be losing a high number of customers.

Your site bounce rate is a very important aspect. What this means is visitors arrive at your site and exit quickly. This can be caused by a number of things such as bots, and other website crawlers, it can also be caused by people that are being redirected incorrectly or that they are not seeing what the want. The good thing about Google’s program is it has a benchmark for what is normal vs abnormal with regard to say bots vs. human traffic. Bounce rate will let you know of your site is optimized correctly, and also if you have the right content and data for your product or service.

Link or banner sharing is a great way to promote your website and attract visitors to your site. A number of sources will charge you a small fee to host your site link, or banner on their site. These typically are sites that are well established and or are related to your product or service. The last important tip for Google Analytics that we are looking at is with regard to these referring websites. What the data provides you is essential information about who and how often people are using these links. For example lets say you are running an apple pie recipe website and you are paying Granny Smith $250 per month to have your banner or site link provided to people seeking recipes. You run the Google Analytics program and realize that you are only getting 1-2 visitors from that link. You may want to reevaluate if these costs are worthwhile.

As you can see by these few Google Analytics tips this is a very important program for your website. The data it provides is essential if you are looking to run a successful on-line business. One last tip for you and maybe the best one, Google Analytics is a free program.

comScore Releases June 2008 Search Engine Rankings

comScore

comScore, Inc. (NASDAQ:SCOR) has released its monthly comScore qSearch analysis of the U.S. search marketplace. In June 2008, Americans conducted 11.5 billion core searches, representing a 7-percent gain versus May.

In June 2008, Google retained its lead in the U.S. search market capturing 61.5 percent of the searches conducted, down slightly from 61.8 percent in May. Google was followed by Yahoo! Sites (20.9 percent, up from 20.6 percent in May), Microsoft Sites (9.2 percent, up from 8.5 percent in May), Ask Network (4.3 percent), and AOL LLC (4.1 percent).

Here’s the actual report:

  comScore Core Search Report*
  June 2008 vs. May 2008
  Total U.S. - Home/Work/University Locations
  Source: comScore qSearch 2.0

                                            Share of Searches (%)
                                                                   Point
                                                                   Change
                                                                 Jun-08 vs.
  Core Search Entity               May-08          Jun-08          May-08

  Total Core Search                100.0%          100.0%           0.0
  Google Sites                      61.8%           61.5%          -0.3
  Yahoo! Sites                      20.6%           20.9%           0.3
  Microsoft Sites                    8.5%            9.2%           0.7
  Ask Network                        4.5%            4.3%          -0.2
  AOL LLC                            4.5%            4.1%          -0.4

  * Based on the five major search engines including partner searches and
    cross-channel searches. Searches for mapping, local directory, and
    user-generated video sites that are not on the core domain of the five
    search engines are not included in the core search numbers.

According to comScore, Americans conducted 11.5 billion searches at the core search engines, representing a 7-percent increase versus May. Google Sites handled more than 7 billion core searches (up 6 percent from May), followed by Yahoo! Sites with 2.4 billion (up 9 percent), and Microsoft Sites with more than 1 billion (up 15 percent).

  comScore Core Search Report*
  June 2008 vs. May 2008
  Total U.S. - Home/Work/University Locations
  Source: comScore qSearch 2.0

                                          Search Queries (MM)
                                                                  Percent
                                                                   Change
                                                                 Jun-08 vs.
  Core Search Entity               May-08          Jun-08          May-08

  Total Core Search                10,777          11,541            7%
  Google Sites                      6,664           7,096            6%
  Yahoo! Sites                      2,221           2,416            9%
  Microsoft Sites                     920           1,056           15%
  Ask Network                         486             501            3%
  AOL LLC                             486             471           -3%

  * Based on the five major search engines including partner searches and
    cross-channel searches. Searches for mapping, local directory, and
    user-generated video sites that are not on the core domain of the five
    search engines are not included in the core search numbers.

Here’s more from comScore: “In the comScore June 2008 analysis of the top properties where search activity is observed, Google Sites led with 9.6 billion searches, a 9-percent increase versus May. Yahoo! Sites ranked second with 2.6 billion searches (up 8 percent from May), followed by Microsoft Sites with 1.1 billion (up 14 percent) and AOL LLC with 792 million.”

  comScore Expanded Search Query Report
  June2008 vs. May 2008
  Total U.S. - Home/Work/University Locations
  Source: comScore qSearch 2.0

                                           Search Queries (MM)
                                                                  Percent
                                                                   Change
                                                                 Jun-08 vs.
  Expanded Search Entity           May-08          Jun-08          May-08

  Total Expanded Search            15,463          16,668            8%
  Google Sites                      8,838           9,601            9%
    Google                          6,814           7,277            7%
    YouTube/All Other               2,024           2,324           15%
  Yahoo! Sites                      2,387           2,570            8%
    Yahoo!                          2,352           2,530            8%
    All Other                          35              40           14%
  Microsoft Sites                     963           1,102           14%
    MSN-Windows Live                  932           1,069           15%
    Microsoft/All Other                31              33            6%
  AOL LLC                             831             792           -5%
    AOL Search Network                456             430           -6%
    MapQuest/All Other                375             362           -3%
  Ask Network                         489             506            3%
    Ask.com                           321             341            6%
    MyWebSearch.com/ All Other        168             165           -2%
  Fox Interactive Media               402             457           14%
    MySpace                           395             448           13%
    All Other                           7               9           29%
  eBay                                449             444           -1%
  Craigslist.org                      314             342            9%
  Facebook.com                        121             157           30%
  Amazon Sites                        141             152            8%

comScore Reports Heaviest Online Spending Due to Procrastinators

Apparently there’s a flurry of online spending–all by procrastinators and deal-seekers. This is leading to a strong final week of pre-Christmas online shopping. comScore is reporting that online sales are up 25 percent versus a year ago.

holiday spending   10e20 blog

In comparison, it’s interesting to note what 10e20 reported a year ago about the 2006 holiday spending:

What does this mean? There is increased consumer trust in online marketplaces, and as more and more consumers continue to value the convenience of online shopping, more and more consumers will buy. 2007 will likely see a greater increase too.

Apparently Tamar was right last year; 2007 was a good year for online sales. December 10th, 2007 was seen as “Green Monday” and will continue to reign as the heaviest online spending day of the 2007 Holiday season.

comScore

comScore, Inc. (NASDAQ:SCOR) has released their update of theholiday season e-commerce/online spending for the first 51 days of the 2007 season, which was November 1 to December 21st, 2007. Apparently more than $26 billion has been spent online during the season, which marks a nineteen percent gain versus the same days last year.

  2007 Holiday Season To Date vs. Corresponding Days* in 2006
  Non-Travel (Retail) Spending
  Excludes Auctions and Large Corporate Purchases
  Total U.S. - Home/Work/University Locations
  Source: comScore, Inc.

                                               Billions ($)
                                                                      Pct
  Holiday Season to Date                    2006         2007        Change

  November 1 - December 21                $22.04       $26.29          19%
  Thanksgiving Day (November 22)           $0.21        $0.27          29%
  "Black Friday" (November 23)             $0.43        $0.53          22%
  "Cyber Monday" (November 26)             $0.61        $0.73          21%
  "Green Monday" (December 10)             $0.66        $0.88          33%

  * Corresponding Shopping Days, Not Calendar Days

comScore is continuing to seen online spending strength as the holiday season comes to a close. The most recent five-day span ending 12/21/2007 had a 25 percent growth rate versus the same period last year. They said, in a report just out, that the heaviest online shopping days are behind us now, but some online retailers allowed deliveries before Christmas for orders to be placed by December 22nd, with an in-store pickup available for orders placed by Christmas Eve.

Green Monday, reported as being Monday, December 10, 2007, will be the heaviest individual spending day of the season with $881 million in sales. Cyber Monday, Monday, November 26, which represents the first major spike in online spending activity during the season, ranked as the 9th heaviest day with $733 million in sales. [Read more...]