Beantin

James Royal-Lawson

Analytics

Webbstrateg Skatteverket

I’ve been self-employed now for 6 years. I’ve been a web and intranet consultant for the past 8. It’s not been often I’ve seen a job advert during that time where I’ve really thought – the person they are describing is actually me.

It’s even less often that an advert has been such a good match and so appealing that I think straight away – yeah, let’s apply, let’s get this job!

The job in question is as web strategist (and web responsible) at the Swedish tax authority (webbstrateg hos Skatteverket).

Skatteverket logo

So how do you apply for jobs these days? I’ve spent recent years bringing in work to my company rather than applying for jobs. But if I stop and think for a moment; the job is for a web strategist.

I’m one of those, obviously, as well as a web manager. So how about I approach this like a digital project? And how about I write about it here? That way, this post can be not only part of the application but also something to share.

One of my mantras (or tools in my toolbox if you will) is “Why, what, how, measure!” (Repeat as needed). So let’s try following that template for this application.

10 WHY
20 WHAT
30 HOW
40 MEASURE!
50 GOTO 20

Why?

In this case, the why is quite straight forward. We’re doing this for one quite obvious goal – to get the job as web strategist. This also helps a bit later on, as measuring the success of this mini-project is also quite simple (or brutal!) I either get the job or I don’t. There is also a secondary goal – sharing – which is one of the principles in my manifesto.

The goal of getting the job can then be broken down into a number of sub-goals. One of them is making sure that I make the shortlist for an interview. The creation of a short-list is often handled by HR (or a recruitment firm), especially in larger organisations.

Another sub-goal is to get the attention of those choosing their new employee – those working within communications, and in particular Anders from the web group, who is listed as a contact person in the job advert.

Those are my goals – but what goal does Skatteverket have? A good indication is the opening line in the advert: utveckla skatteverket.se så att webbplatsen möter användarnas behov. That translates as “develop skatteverket.se so that the website meets the users’ needs”.

What?

The basics: I need to submit an application for this position, including a CV and a covering letter. Such traditional steps can’t be avoided and are essential in order to stand a chance of reaching the shortlist. It would be nice to submit a link to my LinkedIn profile and this blog post, but that isn’t enough on it’s own. I have to meet the requirements of the application process.

But I don’t need to stop there – this blog post can be used as the centre piece of a short (and intensive) content marketing campaign that would also include the Beantin Index rating for Skatteverket and perhaps an annotated reply to the job advert.

I’d normally analyse the competiton too. In this case, that’s awkward as most applicants will apply without letting the world know. Given the closed nature of everyone else’s applications, being open with mine gives me a differentiating factor.

How?

My CV needs to be dusted down and updated, LinkedIn needs to be checked over and the chance taken to improve some parts (checking over your LinkedIn profile is something I recommend doing regularly anyway). A covering letter needs to be written – that, in part, can be an introduction and link here.

I could include this entire post as the covering letter but there are some risks with that; This blog post lacks further details of my motivation and specific responses to the requirements in the job announcement. Both of these items (to be submitted via the website) will need to be produced in Swedish.

Target audience

Time to do a bit of research about the target audience. Who are they? Do I know them, or have contacts that know them? What do they do? What do they want to hear?

Well, of the 5 names listed at the bottom of the advert, only one of them – Anders Åhlund – has a linked in profile. I can see that I’ve got 3 connections who have Anders in their network. Next step is to contact those 3 and talk about the application.

Eva Corp (Director of Communications) doesn’t appear to be on LinkedIn, but she is on Facebook and we have one mutual friend. I’ll get in touch with that friend too.

Of the other names, none of them appear to have a Facebook or LinkedIn profile that has any connections in my “circles”.

Anders is present on Twitter and we’ve already had a brief conversation. In fact, since I started work on this blog post he’s also followed me. We’ve also a number of shared contacts.

Although only one of a number of people involved in the recruitment process, Anders is clearly the best target audience for our small, fun, content marketing campaign.

Analytics fun

Part of Anders’s role at Skatteverket is working with web analytics. This is something else I could perhaps make use of. A quick look at Skatteverket’s website reveals, like so many other website, that they make use of Google Analytics.

One feature of Google Analytics is its campaign tracking variables. This is where you can “tag” links to content on your site with details of which campaign, source and media they are part of. This makes tracking and measuring of their performance possible.

As these campaign tracking variables are simply passed as attributes in the URL, and don’t need to be “created” within Google Analytics, you can have a bit of fun with them and create your own. In this case, I can use the variables to send a message to Anders. Although it requires a bit of help by getting people to click on this specific link.

I have, of course, no way of knowing if Anders will check his campaign reports soon enough for it to get noticed during the recruitment process – but it’s a simple (and fun) tactic, with little time needed to action it.

Measure

Did I get it? Well, the deadline is on March 8, so we’ll have to wait a little while yet before the result can be measured. But of course, I’ll update this post with more details later on. In the meantime, entertain yourself by giving this link another click

Also by James

Here’s some further reading…

And here’s some further listening…

Update: 20120329

Skatteverket have called me for an interview (via email with instructions explaining how to log in to their website and choose an available timeslot). What came as a bit of a surprise was the instruction to bring proof of Swedish citizenship to the interview. This requirement wasn’t mentioned in the job advert. Skatteverket got back to me and said that there was a miscommunication and the job isn’t security classed after all…

Update: 20120426

Yesterday I received a phone call from Eva Corp, Head of Communications at Skatteverket. They had finally come to a decision about the position. It had taken them a fair while – almost a week longer than I’d been told it would be.

The decision was that they’d gone with one of the other candidates – A candidate that had experience of working in the public sector, which I haven’t. I received some glowing feedback from Eva with regard to all other aspects of my presentation and interview, and that i’m thankful for and proud of.

So, as far as measuring the success of this “project”, the result is in. I failed. But it’s not all doom and gloom. It’s been a fun and giving process, and as I’m staying self-employed Skatteverket could always make use of me as a consultant…<grin>


James Royal-Lawson+ is a digital strategist and web manager based in Stockholm Sweden.

Google Analytics: Updated visit definition is missing visits

Google updated their definition of a visit in the middle of august. I’ve written an explanation in a separate blog post. In general the change is good as it should make the data in Google Analytics easier for the layman to interpret.

What isn’t so good is that Google Analytics isn’t behaving in the way Google describes. It’s not only missing visitors in some situations, but it is also missing some traffic sources – the attribution is totally incorrect for some visits.

Test details

My test was as follows:

Using my Android tablet, I visited my blog a series of 4 times. I used my tablet so that it would be easy to extract my test visits (with little chance of anyone else visiting the same pages from the same sources on that day).

Visit 1

Via a link on one of my old sites, www.ccl4.org 
The browser newly opened 
Not visited beantin.se in the past 30 minutes.

Visit 2

Via Google's search results searching for beantin fishbang
A few minutes after visit 1.

Visit 3

via Google again, this time searching for beantin seo
The browser newly opened
Over 60 minutes since visit 2.

Visit 4

Via a link on another one of my old sites, 503.org.uk
Just a few minutes after visit 3.

According to Google’s new visit definition, this should have been 4 visits, with 4 different traffic sources.

What the data contained

Detail of a screenshot

According to my Google Analytics data, I had made 3 visits. Visit 4 is missing. Instead, you can see that the beantin seo search has had 2 page views attributed to it – which you can see from my test actions simply isn’t true.

Showing all 4 visits happened

As a way of confirming that visit 4 really did happen and data was received by Google Analytics, showing the referral from 503.org.uk, I made use of my per visit referrer script.

On beantin.se this script saves the referrer for each visit as a custom variable. The script is run on each page view, and the referrer is saved to the custom variable at the visit level.

This means visit 4 will have over-written the referrer for visit 3 – as Google hasn’t trigger a new visit for visit 4, but there is a page view, so my script grabs the referrer…

Details of a screenshot from Google Analytics showing that a 503.org.uk was a referrer

As you can see from the screenshot, 503.org.uk is there – meaning a visit did come from that site, and there are two page views attributed to it (the page views from visits 3 and 4).

Bug or feature?

I’ve repeated this test on my laptop and examined the cookies after each visit, and Google Analytics is failing to update the traffic source (in __utmz) and subsequently failing to trigger a “new visit” according to their new definition.

A bug or a feature? I say bug… what do you think?

Update 20110915

When researching this blog post, I focused my attention on the __utmz cookie. I’ve just taken a closer look at how both __utma and __utmz are behaving in the above scenario.

Google Analytics is failing to update not only the traffic source, but also the visit count and the various timestamps stored in __utma detailing when you last and current visits took place.

This means that even more reports in Google Analytics could be affected (depending on your visitor patterns)


is a freelance web manager and strategist based in Stockholm Sweden.

Google Analytics: what are visits?

It’s all change with Visits and Google Analytics. In August 2011 Google altered when they consider a session to have ended. A small change according to their blog.

Get ready, I’m going to mention some odd sounding cookie names a fair bit!


close up photo of a Google Analytics visitor graph

In the old days

Prior to August 2011, If a user was inactive for 30 minutes or more, any future activity would have been attributed to a new visit. Any users that left your site but returned within 30 minutes were counted as part of the original visit.

Google made use of two cookies in keeping track of a session. One called __utmb and another called __utmc.

__utmc was a pure browser session cookie which expired as soon as the browser was closed. If __utmc didn’t exist, then it was a new visit.

__utmb is a persistent cookie that is set to expire after 30 minutes (by default). This cookie was used to register a new visit if you’ve left the site open in your browser (ie __utmc exists), but you disappeared for more than 30 minutes to do something else – perhaps to eat lunch.

Back to the future

From August 2011, the session cookie __umtc is no longer used to calculating visits and instead Google is using the __utmb cookie in combination with another cookie, __utmz, to determine when a new session begins.

__utmz is the traffic source cookie. I’ve explained the often misunderstood Google Analytics traffic sources in a previous post. This cookie only gets updated when the traffic source for the current visit is different to the traffic source stored in the cookie (excluding direct visits).

What Google Analytics does now is reset the __utmb cookie and increment the session counter in __utma (the 2-year persistent cookie storing your unique ID amongst other things) every time the __utmz cookie is updated – ie, each time the traffic source changes.

It does this whether the __utmc cookie exists or not. So, closing your browser, reopening it and revisiting a site (within 30 minutes of __utmb last being updated) will count as part of the same visit.

So What does this mean?

This means that you can’t compare visit data that crosses the date divide of August 16th 2011. Year-on-year comparisons are out of the window.

You will also see an increase in visits. How much of an increase depends on your traffic patterns – if visitors frequently hopped back and forth to your website from other sites or search engines in a short space of time, you’ll see a much bigger jump than say, a blog with a relatively low publishing frequency.

You will see a slight increase in traffic sources as the splitting of visits up into per-source chunks should reveal sources that were previously buried. Average page views per visit will fall slightly, and bounce rates will rise.

But…

My research has shown that visitors re-entering a site (within 30 minutes) via a referring site (not a search engine, or a visit with campaign tracking) are not causing the __utmz cookie to be updated, and no new visit is recorded. These visits are being considered a continuation of the original visit.

If we ignore the oddity of referring sites not being recorded properly, this change is probably going to make session-based reports easier for the layman to interpret. and a step closer to seeing per-visit traffic sources out of the box.


is a freelance web manager and strategist based in Stockholm Sweden.

Google Analytics: 7 things to do when you first start

If you are starting out with Google Analytics for a site (or sites), then there are a few first steps you should follow. Here are 7 tips to get you up and running…

1. Create an account

Make sure you sign up using a company email address, Preferably a non-personal one such as google@yourcompanydomain.com. This will make things much easier in the future, such as when you change roll, change your digital agency, or leave the company.

2. Think about your account/profile structure

Put some time into thinking how you are going to structure your Google Analytics account. There are accounts and profiles. This will be confusing at first. Without a bit of thought when getting started you run the risk of having a structure that further down the road you realise just isn’t right for you.

Google uses the analogy of a House with a number of rooms. An account should be a collection of related things – could be a brand, or a company. Profiles are the things; a particular blog, website, filter of another thing.

3. Insert the tracking snippet into your site

Make sure it’s the right version and in the right place – and working! It might be the case that an agency or a consultant has helped get you this far – double check and make sure they’ve used the latest version of the tracking snippet. The latest version at the time of writing is the asynchronous snippet.

Look at the source code of your site and compare the tracking snippet to the one shown on this page. If it looks more like this snippet, say thank you and goodbye. If they are putting the old snippet on new installations, they don’t know what they are doing.

4. Give your personal google account access

Yes Google are making it easier to switch between accounts, but you can’t do that yet with GA – so make life a little easier and add the Google account you normally log in with as a user for each account.

The best place to add yourself is via the user manager. You can find a link to the user manager towards the bottom of the account start page. From there you can give yourself access to all profiles within an account. Make sure you add yourself as an administrator.

5. Turn on site search

If your site is more than just a handful of pages, then there’s a good chance you’ve got a search box – or site search as Google calls it.

Turning on the tracking of site searches means that Google Analytics will record the search queries your visitors enter into your on-site search box. This can give you vital information as to what is important to visitors (and what they struggle to locate it via your information architecture and design).

6. Filter internal traffic

Every website has a significant number of visits from employees (or the site owners). This is a very distinct set of visitors, with different visitor goals and behaviour to your other target groups.

For many companies excluding internal traffic is quite straight forward as all Internet browsing usually goes through a gateway or a proxy. This means that internal visits will come from a known and limited number of IP addresses.

You should exclude this traffic, but I recommend that you also create a new profile for internal visits – as this means you can analyse the traffic if you need to.

Add an additional profile to the existing profile for your site. Perhaps with the same name as the original profile but with (internal traffic) as a suffix. Then create a filter that excludes everything apart from internal traffic. This means selecting “include only” instead of “exclude” when setting up the filter.

7. Get to grips with the basics

Learn what various figures and data actually mean – not all the statistics are necessarily what you think they are. If you’re going to be making business decisions based on GA stats, at least take the time to get to know them a little better first.

Traffic sources, bounce rate, and time on site, are three examples of data that is commonly misunderstood within Google Analytics.

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