Google Benchmarking Updates

Google is replacing the standard benchmarking reports available via Google Analytics with a newsletter containing a number of key metrics.

The latest bulletin reveals that across all sites that have opted into the service the average pages viewed per visit is 4.5, the average bounce rate is 47% and the average time spent on a website is 5 minutes 23 seconds.

To receive future updates from Google your website administrator needs to enable "anonymous data sharing" in your Google Analytics account.

Google Labs Has Closed to Focus on Google+

Google has announced that it is to close Google Labs to focus on Google+.

Google Labs has acted as a nursery testing out a wide range of ideas from the wacky to a number of clever innovations with several going on to become major successes.

Over the years users have been addicted to Google Labs where they have been able to try out and play with new applications and features offered with Google able to gather detailed feedback on their use.

The move signals a move by Google to focus on its more profitable and mainstream products.

Launch of Google Engage in South Africa

Google is launching a new partner programme to support South African web professionals working with SMEs.

The programme provides companies who supply services to businesses in South Africa access to educational resources, online training materials and promotional vouchers.

The scheme will officially launch in Johannesburg on July 19th 2011.

Google Adwords Broad Match Modifier

Adwords has recently expanded the range of keyword matching options available to include a new "broad match modifier" category.

This enables you to target a broader range of terms than the phrase option but be more specific than standard broad matching.

To use the modifier you place a plus "+" symbol in front of one or more words that you want to appear in the search phrase.

Adwords will continue to match close variants such as plurals or misspellings but the word must appear in the user's search.

For further information please refer to:

http://adwords.google.com/support/aw/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=175280

404 Error Pages & What You Can Do About Them

404 error pages are default error pages that occur when a page requested doesn't exist (or has moved).

404 Errors are frequently disruptive.  Very often, their lack of specificity disrupts a visitors use of a site. Research by the World Wide Web Consortium (“W3C”) suggests that 404 Errors reduce site usage by as much as 10%, impacting significantly upon your performance.  

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Setting Website Goals - An Introduction

It is common for many organisations to measure their online "success" largely via the number of visitors their website receives with the focus of many organisations being to get as many people as possible to view their website.

If your website traffic is growing it can indeed often be good news. However if you are paying to advertise on other sites, using Google Adwords or participating in any other paid for promotion then more traffic is not necessarily good. It depends on what those visitors go on to do.

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Bounce Rates - What Are They?

When someone visits your website the first page they look at - be it your home page or another page they were directed to for example by a search or Google Adwords - is called a "landing page".  If the visitor then leaves your site after looking at only that page this is referred to as a "bounce". The overall bounce rate for your site is the percentage of people that arrive at your website and then leave without going any deeper into your site content.

Is bounce rate the same as exit rate?

Bounce rate only refers to landing pages on your site.  If a visitor arrives at your site, look at a few pages and then after looking at e.g. a "services overview" page leaves your site then they would have exited your site at the services page (and not bounced).  Only if the "services overview" page was the first page they saw on your site which they then left would it be a bounce.

Exit rates from pages are important but bounce rates deserve significant attention.  Bounce rates provide an indication of how engaging your content is and how well tuned your marketing campaigns are.  Landing page optimisation and focusing on reducing your bounce rate can often pay dividends and forms an important element of any conversion rate optimisation campaign.

Trends in Keyword Search Frequency

If you have noticed that your performance for a particular keyword has been improving in terms of the search traffic it generates - how can you tell whether this is down to your marketing efforts or due to an increased interest in a particular topic over time?

There are obviously a number of ways to track rankings and keyword performance in Analytics but sometimes it is useful to look to see whether there has been a change in the level of interest for a particular topic over time.  This can also be helpful to identify seasonal changes in search patterns.

Google Trends aggregates search data and enables you to analyse levels of interest in a topic over time.  (See http://www.google.com/trends ).

For example - go to Google Trends and type in swine flu and you will see a dramatic peak in interest in April 2009.

You can then use the drop down fields at the top right hand side of the screen to look at trends in specific countries and alter the time period looked at.  For example - changing the region from worldwide to the UK and looking at the last 12 months it can be seen that there was a separate peak in interest in July 2009.

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