Analytics in Plain English

Google Analytics in Plain English

Your website needs analytics. Every website has to have analytics if it is going to be successful. Oh, and if you are going to use them (did I mention you really should?) then wouldn’t it be best if they were analytics in plain English?
OK. That’s pretty blunt. So, would you mind telling me what these analytics things are?

What do we mean by ‘analytics’?

Let’s think about our “bricks and mortar” business, rather than our website for a moment. You have a shop – do you care if people come into it?  Well of course you do, it’s not so easy to sell anything in your shop if they don’t come in. But do you care who they are?

I mean, if you had to start categorising the people who come into your shop, how would you do it? By age perhaps? Are the people who come into your shop young or old? By gender? Are they men or women? Maybe we can start to combine categories and say that the people who come into your shop are old women. If we throw in a time element, we might reflect that old women come into our shop until about 3pm but after that it tends to be more children, both boys and girls.  Maybe this varies by season, by month, or even whether it is the start or end of the month.

We are slowly being drawn deeper and deeper into the world of analytics, or market segmentation. Fancy words for knowing who your customers are.

Google Analytics in plain English - a shopkeeper for a local store

Should we care? One of the strengths of small businesses is that often they really know their customers – in a way larger businesses could never hope to. You might not categorise the customer who comes into your shop as an ‘old lady who comes in before 3pm but only on Mondays’ – because you know her as Mrs. Jones; and you know exactly when and why she comes into your shop – because you know her by sight and you take time to chat to her – which is one of the reasons that Mrs. Jones comes into your shop in the first place. It could just be that you can do this for hundreds of customers – you are a veritable mine of information!  That information is valuable, because it helps you to give a better service to each customer.

Google Analytics in plain English - Large company data analyst

Big business spends hundreds of thousands of pounds on trying to replicate you. They want the same insight into their own customers. This is the reason for loyalty cards and itemised tills – not to mention software and analysts that pour over the data trying to figure out if the best place to display beer is right next to the nappies (an insight that led to a huge increase in beer sales!). It also allows them to send one customer a money off coupon for electronics and another an incentive to buy car insurance.

 

Who visits your website?

Anyway, let’s come back to you and your small business and your website. Do you care if people visit it? Well of course you do, why invest in building it otherwise? But do you care who visits it?

In your shop environment you can see it’s Mrs. Jones who comes in, and you chat to her whilst she is there. You can’t you do that if she is visiting your website, can you? (Editor’s noteActually you can! To do that whilst she is actually on your website requires you to be connected to your site at the same time, so it’s not that realistic on an ongoing basis for most small businesses, but it is possible.  Contact us if you’d like to know more about this.)

What do visitors look at on your website – and how did they find you?

However, if you can’t be there at the same time as your customers, it would still be useful to know that they popped by, how long they stayed, what they looked at and so on. We could take this a step further and find out how they found out about your website, even which website they were on before immediately before they came to yours. And we can do all of this without taking up any of your customers’ time, because all of this information can be supplied automatically by the likes of Google and other software companies.

Big Brother is watching you. Now you might not like the idea of that, but it is happening anyway, whether you as a small business decide to take advantage of the data collected or not. It’s still being collected – and as an individual choosing to use the internet you have already agreed to your own data being collected anyway.

Two Big Questions

How do I get to see the data about my website?
What should I do about it?

In order to see the data you need some special code added to your website, and then you need a dashboard made available to you.

What should I do about it is a longer term process that has various elements to it. The first is interpreting the data – the thing that big businesses pay business analysts plenty of money for (one of the jobs I used to do before moving into project management).

We offer an ongoing service where we will present conclusions from the data collected. This helps you to complete the next step which is deciding what actions to take based on the information presented to you.

What should you do with this data?

For example you might decide to redesign a page on your website if you find people get part way through a buying process and then don’t complete their purchase.

You might decide to offer a certain subset of customers a particular promotion.

You could focus your advertising spend on platforms or at times that are proving the most effective, and so on.

Throughout all of this we can participate in your decision making process as much or as little as you wish.

Google Analytics in Plain English – The Next Steps

Once you have taken a decision based on the information available, the next step is to monitor the outcome of that decision and to compare it with the situation before the action was taken. As you can see by now, analytics is not the start or end of a linear process but part of a circle of continuous improvement.

If you want to make sales, you need to let people know that you exist and then build relationships with your potential buyers. In order to do that you need to collect high quality targeted data. You then need to use that data in a very informed way.

Your website needs analytics. Every website has to have analytics if it is going to be successful.

The Roman Britons Analytics package takes care of you by installing all the code required, helping you to set measurable goals for your business website and presenting you with clear results in an easy to read weekly or monthly visual guide. An investment in the right analytics can repay itself time and time again by helping you to focus your marketing and sales efforts where they can achieve the greatest return.

Certifed by Google so that we can deliver Google Analytics in Plain English

Although I already know a lot about analytics, first I and then the rest of the team at Roman Britons Websites will be making a personal investment in ensuring that our customers get the best possible service – by studying to obtain certified status directly from Google. We will have to pass a big exam on Google Analytics. Whilst we are at it, we are aiming to become certified in Google AdWords too.

That way, if you decide, after we have given you clear information on your Google Analytics in plain English, that your best course of action would be to try some paid advertising, we’ll be able to give you clear advice on that too!

Keep following the news on this website to see how we get on!

Keyword Research in Plain English

Keyword Research in Plain English

An important part of getting visitors to your website is to be featured high on the list of sites that Google shows when somebody types in a search request.  Keyword research is critical if you are going to achieve this. This guide explains Keyword Research in plain English – why it is important to you, things to think about and ways to do it.

Keyword research should really, in my opinion, be termed keywords research, or even better keyphrase research. Here’s why, and more importantly why it is so important if you want to appear on page one in search results.

SEO

Hopefully you recall that the ‘O’ in SEO stands for optimisation, and that is about having the right words in your page title, address and description.  If you haven’t read our SEO in plain English article, or you need a quick recap, it’s really worth taking a look now in order to set this keyword research article into context. Keyword research in plain English still doesn’t make much sense unless you understand why we need to do it, and SEO in plain English makes this clear.

People looking for a product, service or information

When you want to find something in Google or Bing, you type a query into the search bar.  In our SEO example we were interested in green wellington boots, and so that is what we typed in, and Google gave us a list of websites it thought we would be interested in, with Amazon at the top of that list. In this example “green Wellington boots” are the keywords.  The reason I started by saying that keyword research should be renamed is because people rarely type a single word into a search bar. Typing just “green” or just “boots” is very unlikely to get you what you are looking for.

Which sites do you think Google will show if you just type “green”?  Take a guess and now have a try. Type into Google right now. Was it what you expected?  It’s a bit like going into a library and telling the librarian you want a book – they really need a bit more information in order to give you a helpful reply!

Why this matters to you

This becomes important to you as a website owner when you think about naming your pages, their addresses and their descriptions. Using a single word is just not helpful enough to Google and so it is extremely unlikely that your site will turn up on page one of its results for that one word, whatever it might be.  What we need to do is to use the exact phrase that a potential customer might type into Google’s search bar in our page names, addresses and descriptions.

Know your customers

So how do we know what our customers are going to type into Google? Well, the most important thing is to know your customers!  Whether online or in the “real world” that is of course essential for any business, big or small.  This article on the Sales Academy for Girls (which applies equally to men and women) makes a number of great points about knowing your customer.  In our analytics plain English guide we also talk about how to understand who is coming to your site – but before we can understand who is coming to your site we have to actually get them there in the first place – and along with actually knowing your customers, that’s where keyword research is so important.

My Mistake

When I first built our own website, I did a great job of the onsite SEO. I had everything optimised beautifully. SEO audits showed I could not have done it better. Yet I had got it all wrong! And the reason why? I had chosen the wrong keywords to optimise.  They accurately described what our site was about (website design, digital marketing and helping small businesses to flourish online) yet we were nowhere near the top of the search engine rankings.  Those of you who went back and read our SEO in plain English article will immediately know why.  I hadn’t done my keyword research and if I had have done keyword research I would have known two very important things. One – was anybody actually typing the words “website design” into Google (yes, thousands were, great news!) and two, were there any high authority sites that were optimised for the exact same keywords (yes, hundreds of them, terrible news!).

keyword research in plain English - screenshot showing importance of choosing the right keywords

Keyword Research in Plain English

Keyword Research is about finding out two things:

  1. What people are typing into Google or Bing when they want to search for something – we want search phrases which are used a lot (indicates demand)
  2. How many business competitors are trying to rank highly in the search listings by using those search phrases – we want a few (indicates supply)

The golden nugget is a phrase that is in high demand but with low supply.  If we can meet that need, and can optimise our web pages to reflect that, then we have maximised our chance of appearing near the top of the search engine rankings.  That maximises our chances of potential customers visiting our site and that maximises the chances of our business making more sales.

So how do we find such nuggets?

First we need to understand how keywords are classified. Keywords (really phrases) are broken down into the “head” word, the “body” and the “long tail”.

In a search phrase such as “website design and digital marketing company” we consider “website” to be the head; “website design” to be the body and everything else to be the tail.

There aren’t that many possible different words that can be heads and as such they are extremely difficult to rank for. If you type “website” into Google you will get many results and many, many high authority competitors. Your chances of ranking for these words are very small.

There are more possible variations in the number of body searches – think of all the possible words that could follow “website” – for example “design”, “designer” ,“designers”, “cost”, “company” and so on. Each of these searches will provide different results. So each result will have less direct competitors than just typing in “website”. However, it’s likely we are still talking very big numbers.

But, in the remainder of our search term – the so called “long tail” there are an almost infinite set of possibilities “website design and digital marketing company” is just one of them. If you can think of a search that is really, really specific to what your business does then there will be far, far fewer competitors and so your chance of ranking really highly – even at number one on page one are much more realistic.

Make sure you are selling something that people actually want!

However, there is not much point in spending a lot of time and effort in finding such a long tail, and then doing all the things you need to do to make sure your website is the one that will match this search phrase, if the reason there are no competitors is that it’s a search that is only ever performed by a very low volume of people.  Being number one in a market that nobody is interested in won’t bring you any more sales than being number 101 in a market that people love.

So what we need to do, in order to find a golden nugget that can allow us to rank highly in the search engines for a product or service that people actually want to buy, is to focus on the long tails. We need to find high demand and low supply long tails and then we need to optimise the pages on  our sites to make it easy for Google to realise that our site is the solution that the customer most wants to see.  Now that’s a paragraph, if you came across it cold, I would not consider to be plain English!  Hopefully, in the context of what we have already talked about, it now makes sense?  Do let me know in the comments below!

There are three main ways you find information on long tails.

 

Trial and error

You can do it for free by trial and error.  Type what you think is a likely sounding search phrase (relevant to your business) into Google and see which websites Google recommends. If they are high authority sites, then you are not going to be able to out rank them until you have a similar authority level.  As you may imagine, this approach can eat a lot of time. Click below if you would like a step by step guide to checking the authority a site has.

Google AdWords

You can get some information from Google by signing up to its AdWords product.  You need to have this product if you ever want to advertise on Google.  Note that whilst you will have to supply card details to set up an advertising account, you don’t actually have to place any adverts to get basic information about keywords – and there is a basic research tool provided as part of the Google AdWords software.

Purchase specialist keyword research software

You can buy a software tool that will make suggestions for you. So for example if you enter “website design” into the tool it will automatically do thousands of searches and tell you the best long tails (additional words) to put after “website design” to find searches that people have previously entered into Google. It will also tell you how many competitors use the same phrase.  There are many of these tools and they generally have a subscription payment model rather than a one off purchase fee.  These tools come in various degrees of sophistication but what they all do is present you with a ton of figures that you then need to decide what to do with.

Keyword Value

You see, what we haven’t touched on yet in this guide is that there are several more layers of finesse to deal with once you have got closer to the long tail keywords that could work for your business; these layers are to do with keyword value – some long tail keywords are more likely to lead to sales than others.  This is because they are more likely to have been searches entered by people who were ready to buy products as opposed to those just browsing.  We are touching on the area of consumer psychology and huge databases exist to allow analysis of buying behaviour.

Summary of Keyword Research in Plain English

So, to recap. In this Keyword Research plain English guide, we have learned:

  • It doesn’t matter how well designed your website is if nobody knows it exists
  • A key (excuse the pun) part of making sure people get to know about your site is to have it rank on the first (and maybe second) page of Google
  • To do that you have to make it easy for Google to match what your website is about and what people are typing into Google searches
  • To do that you have to optimise your website for search phrases that people use that are relevant to your business
  • The phrases you choose to optimise for are ideally ones that indicate a product or service in the market with high demand and low supply
  • To find those you need to analyse long tail keywords

This is not easy stuff and it all takes a lot of time and effort whichever approach you choose.  So, one option is to let all that time and effort be our time and effort and not yours – then you can get on with running your business whilst we get on with the online side of growing your business.

Find out more about the Roman Britons SEO package. Not only is it a quality service, but it’s delivered in plain English too!

 

SEO in Plain English

SEO in Plain English

SEO in Plain English

SEO – what is it? It’s Search Engine Optimisation.  SEO in plain English!!

Um, OK, so what is it?   Many people will tell you that it is some stunningly complicated voodoo that you best leave to them to sort out for you, at some black magic prices. Well, here is our plain English guide where we hope to show you that it comes down to just two things. We’ll show you how to do them well – and how to avoid some all too common traps.

If people want to find something, they type into Google’s (or Bing or Yandex – we’ll just say ‘Google’ from now on, but this applies to all search engines) search box. If, for example they are looking for green Wellington Boots, then at the time of writing, this is what Google shows:

 

SEO in plain english shows how Amazon has best SEO for Green wellington Boots

Amazon has best SEO for Green Wellington Boots

 

There are many retailers selling green Wellington boots, but we can see that Amazon.co.uk is top of the list. So why is Amazon higher in the list than the other companies? Is it because they have paid Google to place them there? No, in this case Amazon hasn’t paid Google a penny for the privilege of being top of the list. Amazon is there because Google considers them to be the result that you most want to see.

So how does Google come to that conclusion?  It uses a set of algorithms, or formulae, that it keeps top secret – because if they were known then everybody could do what was necessary to get to number one in the list…..and if everyone is number one, then nobody is (if you see what I mean) and we end up with a random list.  Google doesn’t want that, and neither do we actually. We use Google because it is really, really clever at what it does.

Note that last paragraph.  There are lots of companies that offer to improve your search engine rating, and some of them charge thousands of pounds – but if Google is keeping its secrets tight to its chest, how can these companies possibly know how to get you to number one?

The truth is, they don’t. They simply can’t guarantee that. However, there are a wide range of practices that it is widely accepted will improve your chances of ranking higher in the search lists.

All of these practices fall under two large umbrellas. Optimisation and Authority.

Search Engine Optimisation in Plain English

This is about making it as easy as possible for Google (or any other search engine) to find what a potential customer is looking for on your website.  Let’s take a look at the entry for Amazon above:

Amazon has a page on its website which has the title “Ladies and Men’s Green Dunlop Wellington Boots”.

This page has a URL (or address) which includes www.amazon.co.uk/wellington-wellies

and underneath is a description of the page, starting “Ladies and Men’s Green Dunlop Wellington Boots”

These three things make Google very happy. Amazon have optimised their page for Google (i.e. made it easy for Google to understand what the page is about). Now, you might be thinking ‘well that all looks pretty straightforward,  there must be a bit more to it than this’ and you’d be right. There are many more things that can be done to help Google (and again, paying them isn’t one of those things) but getting those three things right will make more difference to the O of your SEO than anything else.

OK, but if by chance you don’t happen to be a company selling green Wellington boots, then which words should you use in your own pages?  This is actually a much harder question than it might, at first, appear to be.  Our article on keyword research in plain English explains why, and is a recommended companion read to this SEO guide.

But wait! You actually are a green Wellington boot sales company (what were the chances?) , and you do those three things above, will you rank alongside Amazon? No! The reason why not is the second element of SEO, which is of course ‘A’ (!!).

Search Engine Authority in Plain English

When Google was in its younger years, people cottoned on to the above and crammed their descriptions full of the words that they wanted to rank for. If we look at the descriptions from the sites above, they read like “normal English” but a few years ago you might have seen descriptions such as “boots, green, boots, Wellington, boots, boots”  and so on, you get the idea.  Google wasn’t happy about this and so it changed its algorithm to do two things. First to move such sites down their list instead of up it, and two to factor in Authority.  Which sites were ones it could trust? The ones it trusted the most, it placed at the top of the search lists.

Gaining Authority

So how does a site earn Authority in Google’s eyes? For an organisation like Amazon it was easy. It’s a well-known company, it has extremely high volume activity and it has a good reputation in the world (tax issues aside). On top of which, thousands of other companies put links on their own sites that lead to Amazon’s sites, so each of those companies value a relationship with Amazon too. Google can see all those links and it likes that.  So, getting other sites to link to your site will help your Authority.  A word of warning though – those same companies that were stuffing their descriptions with “boots, boots, boots” also offer to sell links. They offer to link to your site from hundreds of their own – for a price. This is one of many tactics that fall under the label of Black Hat SEO.  Google wised up to this in 2015 and it doesn’t like it one little bit, and so it not only looks at the volume of links to your site, but it assesses the quality of the sites that are linked to yours.  If you are linked to by a high authority site such as Amazon, that confers authority onto your site and is a very good thing (note – we are talking about a link on Amazon leading to your site, not the other way round); however, if you are linked to from a site that Google doesn’t like then it won’t like you either. In SEO terms this is very bad news.  Choose your friends wisely!

Of course, getting high authority sites to link to your site is not easy – what’s in it for them? Well, there are ways to increase your chances. If you would like to know more please enter your details to get instant access to our guide on building authority.

Summary

  • SEO in Plain English, is Search Engine Optimisation. and is about improving the chances of your website ranking higher in Google or other search lists than if you did nothing.
  • Choosing your page title, page address and page description wisely will help your SEO.
  • Using spammy unnatural English in any of them will harm your SEO.
  • Having links to your site from high Authority sites will help your SEO.
  • Having links from low quality sites will harm your SEO.

If you would like help with your SEO, or your SEA, or indeed both, then take a look at the Roman Britons SEO package.  As ever, it’s in plain English.