James Royal-Lawson


For your reading pleasure… (week 10, 2010)

Social Media Cheat Sheet

A useful refererence to have in your collection. It’s comprehensive enough, up to date, and contains relevant advice.

Reporting from the Internet and using social media

Reuters have published their social media guidelines. Built on Reuters own “Trust Principles”, they are a good, sensible, example of how to guide employee’s SM activity.

Thoughts on SEO Future and how to rank on a realtime web

Jesper’s almost weekly appearance in my recommended reading post. Speculation rather than fact; but optimising for the real-time web is obviously of rapidly increasing importance. Your reputation, relevance, geo-location & social peers are all going to be factors.

10 Steps for Optimizing the Brand for Social Search

Looking at the human side of things rather than the SEO side of things, Brian says that the key to Social web & social search “is to incite participation and sharing”

The Future is the Mobile Web (not the Mobile App)

I’ve mentioned previously how use of platform specific applications to deliver content that would normally be viewed on a website is not optimal long term. This post from PercentMobile highlights the problems of the walled garden and applications that are more suited to being mobile websites.

25 useful Google Analytics tips and tricks

A genuinely useful list of tips, tricks and hacks to get that little bit more out of Google Analytics.

For your reading pleasure… (week 9, 2010)

5 intranet trends for business managers in 2010

Janus lists 5 trends: metrics, mobility, social, task-based, usability. The same 5 equally apply to any web-based activity, not just intranets…

Is collaboration enough to connect-the-dots?

Some good solid advice on what components are needed to make collaboration capable of “joining the dots”. I’d add a 5th component to the list in the post – Low barrier to use. The easier it is to jump in, the more likely both people and content will be there. If it’s too awkward, complicated, or forced, then the other 4 components are going to under-deliver.

Every CMS fails and what you can do about it

Your content management system facilitates your publishing processes. That process changes over time, but not your CMS resulting in it’s ultimate failure as a tool. Three good bits of advice towards the end should you realise and accept the fact that your CMS is going to fail you.

Google’s SEO Report Card

Google did an internal assessment of 100 of their product pages against a whole load of SEO related criteria. Initially this was just an internal document, but Google have had the wisdom to realise this gem of a document to the big wide world. More interesting than Google’s own poor score for some criteria, the criteria themselves.

A Wiki of Social Media Monitoring Solutions

At the time of writing this wiki page listed 130 different social media monitoring tools, both free and paid. One to bookmark.

Explained: Sources in Google analytics

Looking at various related blog posts, I’ve realised many people don’t fully understand or fully explain how traffic sources are attributed in Google Analytics.

A Cooked named ___utmz

Let’s get straight to the details about sources…

  • Uses a cookie called ___utmz
  • Only gets updated each time the source is different to the source stored in the cookie (excluding direct visits)
  • The utmz cookie lives for 60 days since it was last updated

If you want a full run down then Analytics Market give an excellent and detailed explanation of all the Google Analytics cookies on their blog.

Detail of a screenshot from Google Analytics

All this means that if a visitor reaches your site (irrespective of landing page) via Google, then that visitor (note visitor not visit or page view) will have Google attributed as the source for every page they look at across every visit they make to your site. This will be the case until 60 days have past or the very same visitor comes in from another source (such as a link in a newsletter, or by clicking on a banner, or on an adwords ad)

Understanding Google Analytics reports

Make sense so far? The next part is to understand how this affects the way you read various reports in Google Analytics. Take the Top content report for example. Say your top page has had 5000 page views during the past month. Segment those by Source and perhaps 3000 of them are attributed to Google.

The easy conclusion to make is that those 3000 page views are directly attributable to Google; that an organic search in Google for a particular phrase led to the visitor clicking on a particular search result and visited that page on your site. In old-school log-file-based analytics, then yes, that would be the case (substituting Source for referrer).

Detail of a screenshot from Google Analytics

In Google Analytics the real explanation is that 3000 of the page views were displayed to visitors who had, at some point during the previous 60 days, arrived at your site after searching for something in Google and, if they made any repeat visits, then all of those repeat visits were direct.

Over-estimating the importance of Google

What this means is that unless your traffic consists of one-time-visitors and nothing else there’s a good chance you’re been over-estimating the importance of Google searches in generating page views. Unless you alter the default setting of the campaign cookie from 60 days to 0, then (apart from new visitors visiting once in the view time period) you can’t correlate page views/visits with their actual sources.

Understanding per-visit behaviour

Whilst I understand the usefulness of attributing sources for all subsequent direct visits for conversation analysis and goal tracking (it’s useful to know which initial source ultimately led to the conversation) it’s of much less use in understanding the per visit (and thereby more complete) behaviour of your visitors.

For your reading pleasure… (week 8, 2010)

Q&A with Jakob Nielsen and Kara Pernice

Basically plugging their new book, but nevertheless gives you some insight into eye tracking usability testing (and some points to agree or disagree with if you’ve performed some eye tracking testing!)

The Olympics Impact on Google Search Results

The start of the Winter Olympics gave us the opportunity to sit back and observe Google deal with a news event as it happened. James takes us through Olympic searches from before, opening day, and during the games.

Global Social Media Checkup

47 slides of insight into Fortune Global 100 companies and social media. It includes some good “checklist” like advice towards the end too.

The Incidental Publisher

People with no experience creating & publishing your web content. Can your brand and your organisation really afford to have such an amateurish web presence? Using a CMS for decentralised publishing is not necessarily the Good Thing you thought it was.

Google Analytics for Facebook Fan Pages

Something that has been a bug-bear for many people for a fair while is how to get some more analytics from Facebook pages than is offered by Insights. This clever idea opens the door to Google Analytics data from your fans.

Once a tweet, always a tweet?

Until October 2009, if you deleted a tweet from your Twitter profile it would still remain available in Twitter search. Then, on the 24th of October, Twitter started deleting tweets from search too. Suddenly it seemed like you’d regained a little bit of control over your content! But what about the all-indexing Google? Since long before they launched real-time search, Google has been indexing twitter statuses and a lot more than 10 days worth of tweets are available.

Zombie Tweets

I have multple Twitter accounts. One of which is my professsional account, another one is my sport and music account. On the 6th February 2010 I accidentally updated my Twitter status from @beantin instead of @dr_chasm.

Screenshot of the deleted Beantin tweet still cached by Google

The tweet only existed for a few minutes before I deleted it and that status now gives a page not found on Twitter.

No rush to re-index

I suspect that Google doesn’t rush to re-index Twitter status updates – why would it? They can’t be edited. All that can change is your profile picture, profile name and real name. Well, one reason of course is to remove deleted tweets. Given the tiny number of tweets that are deleted it would be a waste of resources to keep re-checking millions of tweets regularly over and over again just in case they ever vanish.

(Admittedly, re-indexing everything is exactly what Google does do for all the other billions of web pages it has indexed on the Internet, but you could argue that historical Twitter statuses are about as static as a web page can get.)

Some tweets do vanish from Google’s index and cache. Take the offensive VodafoneUK tweet that was made on the 5th of February 2010. It’s gone from both Twitter and Google.

How often does Google re-index Twitter statuses?

So either Vodafone UK specifically requested the indexed page for that tweet to be removed using Google’s Web page removal request tool (I presume, as the page returns a 404, Google will without question recheck the page eventually and remove it from their index), Or Google does re-index Twitter statuses.

Presuming that Google does eventually re-index all statuses – which Twitter themselves imply – then it raises the question of: what is the interval? Clearly as VodafoneUK’s deleted tweet from the 5th has been removed, but my deleted tweet from the 6th hasn’t, Beantin doesn’t get re-indexed as often as VodafoneUK.

Delete from Google!

Nevertheless, everyone, including those managing corporate Twitter accounts, need to be aware that you should take action to delete tweets from Google as well as Twitter when anything unwanted ever hastily flies out from your Twitter-mouth.

Update 2010-03-11: After just over a month, my original tweet has now gone from Google. It’s quite possible that this article itself caused the twitter page to be re-indexed, the 404 found, and the content dropped from Google. The advice above though still stands…

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