Google Universal Analytics: Changing the Way Google Reports Data

analytics-logoGoogle has been rather busy lately making changes to many of its properties. These changes are meant to enhance user experience and make Google properties more valuable to companies. For instance, nearly all Google users have noticed search results are now bigger and no longer underlined. While many searchers do not like this change, it appears it’s here to stay (Google says that these changes optimize user experience for tablets and mobile).

Another change that Google is currently working on is updating Analytics. While most searchers are unaware of the true power of Analytics, for those who know Analytics these changes are huge. In fact, they are so fundamental that Google is creating a new version of Analytics – Universal Analytics (UA). Eventually, Analytics users will be forced to switch to UA, but for now users have the option of staying with the current version. The exact date of the UA switch is currently unknown.

Overall, UA will be like the current Analytics on steroids. It will take the best of what Analytics has to offer, and add some great, new features. Some of these features are:

  • Having a tracking code specifically for mobile apps
  • Having different tracking codes for different devices
  • Being able to adjust various Analytics settings

One trend that seems to be gaining momentum month after month is the rise of mobile. Mobile is slowly but surely becoming more and more prominent in the search and buying processes, and not just for consumer products. For the past year, many of Blue Horseradish’s B2B clients have experienced new records for mobile month after month. Google has acknowledged this increasing mobile trend, and Universal Analytics will include a tracking code specifically for mobile apps – UA will be implementing the Google Analytics SDKs (v2.x or higher) for mobile apps.

With UA, data from any digital device that can connect to the internet can be tracked. This will be possible through UA’s Measurement Protocol. Devices that can be tracked through Measurement Protocol include smart phones, tablets, game consoles, and information kiosks. For instance, workers on a floor can now track data to UA from individual, handheld barcode scanners.

With UA, users will have the option to customize multiple parts of the reporting process. For example, users can choose to exclude certain search terms as appearing as organic traffic and be counted as direct traffic. This can be very useful for terms that focus on the branding of a company. Additionally, UA will let users define what is considered a search engine, which will allow users to control how traffic sources are attributed. Lastly, one other major customizable UA setting is being able to exclude specific referral sources. By utilizing this, users will be able to exclude spam sites from appearing as referrals – i.e. third party vendor sites that can interrupt one continuous visitor session.

Currently, Google is in the third stage of its four stage roll out plan. Again, although Google has not publicly announced when UA will go into effect, since it is already in stage 3, it might occur sooner rather than later. Overall, the changes that UA will bring to Analytics appear to do more help than harm, and will help to improve user experience and increase Google Analytics’ value to users.

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Snow and SEO – How a Snow Storm Can Help Your SEO Efforts

Jan 2014 snow storm
This week the Philadelphia area and many parts of the US East Coast were hit with a significant snow storm, blanketing the area with some about a foot of nice fluffy snow. Because of this, some businesses interrupted their activities, and people headed home to avoid the snow.

So what does this have to do with SEO? Well we all know that a critical factor in getting good rankings and high quality traffic is good rich content. So this can be a great opportunity to get some new content together - when a snow storm interrupts regular business! To use an overworked phrase from the news media, when you are “hunkered down” to avoid the weather, get out your pen or laptop and write an article for a trade journal, do some work on the whitepaper that you’ve been putting off, or pick a web page or two that haven’t been updated in a while and freshen them up.

Having some extra time when there is bad weather is a great time to create some new content. New content  and updating old content are great ways to improve your online presence. Twisting the adage “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade” with an SEO spin: “when the weather is bad, make good content!”


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SMX East Boot Camp Observations

As a recent grad (Hail to Pitt!), any first job can be quite intimidating, overwhelming, and nerve-wracking. My first job is all this and more, and I wouldn’t want it to be any other way. My first step in conquering the SEO world was quite basic – learn fundamental concepts and see how they’re applied. Much to my surprise, the fundamentals are not so basic; learning the building blocks of SEO goes way beyond reading a book with the goal being to memorize as many definitions and procedures as possible. One of the reasons that I was attracted to SEO was the ever-changing landscape, but I did not realize how quickly these changes actually occur and I am glad to say that I am not disappointed by the fast pace (Google literally made changes to Analytics while I was in the middle of writing up reports).  My bosses decided that one way for me to grasp the concepts was to attend the SMX East Boot Camp and boy did it definitely help! It really gave me a firm understanding about essentially what SEO is and how it is done (in addition to causing my pen collection to greatly expand =D )

Out of the 4 sessions I attended, my favorite was Keyword Research & SEO Copywriting. One aspect of SEO that definitely intrigues me is figuring out what people search for and the rankings process – this could very well be based on the fact that I am a wacky searcher (looking at my Google history will sometimes provide me with a good laugh), and that I enjoy analyzing the thought process I go through to decide which result to click on. I know some people that would find this work quite boring and monotonous, but to me it really is interesting and exciting! One of the major topics that was discussed in the lecture revolved around the dreaded “Not Provided” issue. As a newcomer to the field I did not realize what a problem this really is, so it was very interesting hearing about how big of a problem it really is (I did get an indication that “Not Provided” is a problem from my bosses, but the conference really reinforced the magnitude of the problem). Learning about the other, relatively unexplored, options was very fascinating! As somebody who has been doing SEO for less than 1 month I think it will be very cool to learn about these new techniques at the same time my bosses do. I am also interested in seeing which techniques will become used more and more and see if SEO companies will start doing away with Google.

Another aspect of this session that I found fascinating was the part about content optimization. I have absolutely no background in website development or anything, so building a website is beyond foreign to me. The topics discussed were a nice mix between technical aspects (such as title tags, alt text, meta tags, and meta descriptions) and how to put the best possible content on a web page. I really enjoyed how the information was presented, because it brought in technical jargon without becoming too complicated or farfetched. Furthermore, this section explored topics that I thought were just common sense and really explained why they should be done and how they should be done; for instance, I thought it was obvious that pictures should be used on pages to make them easier to read and more attractive, but I didn’t realize that pictures help add to the optimization of the page and play a much bigger role than just making the page look pretty.

All in all, the  SMX East Boot Camp Conference really helped me to understand what SEO is and how to do it (given the fact that I attended the conference only after working in SEO for 7 days, it’s safe to say that I came in with a narrow idea of what SEO is and how to do it). I was really afraid and worried that the conference would be way too complex and boring, but I am very glad that it was anything but! Look out SEO world, I’m coming full steam ahead!

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Blue Horseradish looking for SEO Consultant

Blue Horseradish hiring SEO consultant

Blue Horseradish is currently looking for an entry-level to mid-level SEO consultant and web/internet/social media marketing specialist. See our job posting at:

If you know of a qualified candidate who may be interested, please have that person contact us.

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Social Capital: Online Video and Photo Usage

Chalk another one up for the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project, supported by the Pew Charitable Trusts, and focused on reports exploring the impact of the internet on families, communities, work and home, daily life, education, health care, and civic and political life.

One of their latest studies covers how photos and videos have become important indicators of social capital online. The sample group fell into two general categories: people who share photos and videos they created are called Creators and ones who repost photos and videos they discovered online are called Curators. Pew found:

  • 46% of adults online post photos and videos they have created themselves
  • 41% reposted photos and videos from other online sources they discovered
  • 56% of internet users do at least one of these creating or curating activities
  • 32% do both creating and curating

These findings highlight how people are becoming much more comfortable about sharing photos and videos, but more importantly for SEO consultants like us and businesses like our clients it shows evidence of people valuing photos and videos online and being willing to both create and share them. These trends could provide valuable and effective marketing opportunities for companies who smartly leverage photos and videos within their social media programs.

What social media platforms did the study cover? Good question: Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter were naturally included, but also Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr for the first time (Strangely, Google+ continues to be either overlooked by most web studies or there is a perception out there that it is still not “mainstream” enough to be included).

See the full study on how photos and videos have become social capital and included is a full explanation on how the study was done. Please contact our Philadelphia SEO firm for any help with your company’s social media programs or how to better utilize photos and videos.

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