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When Google Analytics launched in 2005 it democratised web analytics with its feature rich offering, since then Google has worked hard to add new features to a product that is now considered a viable alternative to most enterprise level web analytics tools. But until recently GA lacked a key feature that many of it’s competitors have had since the first half of the last decade, that is the ability to group content at the session level.
Grouping content has lot’s of applications, for retail sites grouping categories and products is important, for media sites, different types of stories and today all businesses need to know which types and formats of content are supporting their content marketing.
Other tools around the time of Google Analytics’ launch, such as HBX, dealt with this very well but Google, with its URL based content reports and lack of segmentation couldn’t deal with it without some rather involved configuration at the account level.Other options for grouping content in Google Analytics
Although, it has always been possible to group content at the page view level by using the content drilldown feature or report filter in what is now the ‘All Pages’ report, this isn’t terribly helpful because the base metric used is page views (or worse still, unique page views) and trying to establish content popularity based on page views instead of sessions or visitors is like declaring that a minor celebrity has a high-profile based on the total number of column inches written about him or her as opposed to the total number of people doing the actual writing; it’s not wholly inaccurate but you can do a great deal better.
Advanced segments afford a greater degree of analytical control and flexibility but for non premium GA users they are subject to the vagaries of GA’s sampling so making the data flimsy in some situations.
Goals are more accurate in context of data output but they are limited to a single metric – that being sessions.
So with the introduction of content grouping in December 2013 it seemed as though the problem was resolved but indeed, though very good, Content Grouping is not without its own limitations.
To begin with you will find the option to configure Content Grouping at the ‘View’ level of the Admin section in GA. Here you will immediately notice the main flaw, namely that only a maximum of five content groups that can be configured (ten would be a better number), that means you will need to be judicious in deciding which content to group. That said, you can create sub-categories in each group so all is not lost.Which content should you group?
This depends on the kind of site you have, broadly speaking there are two options, either by page type or based on the nature of the content itself.
If you’re running an e-commerce site then you might prefer to group content by page type e.g. list page, product details page etc. In most cases this will better reflect the customer journey and do more to help you understand the level of engagement at each of the key steps in the on-site customer journey.
If you run a publishing site or similar you may prefer to group content by subject matter since page type may be less relevant e.g. news, weather, etc. The main issue here is that there will doubtless not be enough content groups to cover off all the areas you would want to group so you would have to be clear about which are the most important areas of content – maybe there will be a way in which several areas can be rolled into one content group.How to set up content grouping
The content groups themselves can be configured in different ways. There are three configuration options:
1. Using the tracking code
3. A set of rules definitions
It is possible to configure the content groupings using one or more of these options and you will need to consider each according to your site.
You may prefer to use the tracking code option if you have a set of content that has a URL structure which doesn’t change or is the same as the URL structure in other parts of the site.
You may prefer to use the extraction method if you simply want to group content according to a folder within a URL. Here, you may need to have a basic understanding of how Google Analytics uses regular expressions in order to maximise this.
You may prefer to use a set of rules definitions if you need to apply a slightly more complex filtering process e.g. instances where you may wish to include content that includes one element of a URL but not another.
The benefit of the second and third options is that they don’t require any changes to be made to the GA tracking code and so there is no dependence on developer time. On the other hand if your GA code is managed by a tag management system (see the Smart Insights guide to tag management) this will be less of an issue.
and from here you will then be presented with the three configuration options shown above.…don’t forget…
When setting up Content Groups you should remember that like goals, data is only collected from that point onwards, in other words it isn’t collected retrospectively.
You should also remember that while you can switch Content Groups on and off you cannot delete them. You can however edit them but if you do this in such a way that they start tracking different content or the same content with a different URL element (perhaps after a site rebuild or redesign) then you should make a note in Google Annotations on the day that you made the configuration change to help remind yourself why the data output might have changed. This last point is particularly important because if there is no recollection of the change being made it could cause a great deal of pain and wasted time when running an analysis that crosses over the date when the change was made.What happens next?
Once you’ve set up your content groups and data begins to be aggregated within them there are a couple of ways which you can view the data.
2. An alternative and more powerful option would be to create a custom report using the content groups.Content Groups + custom reports = better insight.
The main problem with the standard Content Grouping reports in that the primary reporting metric is page views or unique page views, this is at odds with the primary reporting metric for most sites which is usually sessions. Because of that it’s not really possible to calculate conversion to a specific content group using these two different metrics. The solution is to create a custom report.Creating custom reports
If you’ve used up all five content groups then you will be best off creating one tab for each content group in your custom report. The example below shows this.
You can then apply the metrics for each group, beware that there are some limitations in terms of which metrics you can use and you will not necessarily know which metrics this applies to until you’ve viewed the report and seen whether or not data has populated, but as an initial indicator some revenue metrics will not work. Page value should be fine if you have an e-commerce site.
You can then use the various charting functions to interpret the data and draw your own insights from it.
4. Create a custom report to help in analysing your new data.
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Wouldn’t it be great if you could customize these options site-by-site? Turns out, in Google Chrome, you can. Here’s how.What Is Content Settings and Why Is It Important?
Accessing content settings is easy. In the earlier version of Chrome, you had to navigate to chrome://settings/content, which was hard to remember. Now you can find it in your regular Google Chrome Settings.
Now on the Settings page, select the Privacy and security tab.
There are a handful of options, including Site Settings. Select it to bring up all the content settings in Chrome.
Some settings have more options. Selecting Cookies, for example, allows you to customize the behavior of third-party cookies both in normal browsing and incognito mode.
8 Additional Permissions
If you are just looking to shut down annoying notifications from particular websites, the best way is to add them to the respective Not allowed list. This disables the permission for that specific web page, even if the setting itself is set to automatically allow it.
And that’s all there is to it. You can customize site permissions for any of the settings outlined in the list, from all sites to customized settings for individual sites. The changes will be saved to your Google account, letting you access the same profile on any PC you log into.Change Content Settings From the Omnibar
You don’t have to head to Google Chrome’s settings every time you want to change the content settings. The omnibar – basically the bar containing the address field – allows you to modify these settings much more conveniently.
This brings up the same Content Settings interface as earlier, but specific to the current website. You can now adjust the permissions for any of the fields easily.
Keep in mind that this method works on a site-by-site basis, so if you are looking to make wide, sweeping changes across the board, using Google Chrome’s settings is your best bet.
But if you want to restrict permissions for an annoying site (or make an exception for them) this is the way to go.Which Content Settings Are Worth Modifying?
The problem with content settings is that there are too many of them. For a casual user, it can be tricky figuring out which options to fiddle with and which to leave at their default. Here is a short overview of some settings worth modifying.Pop-ups
By default, Google Chrome will ask you for permission before displaying pop-ups. Since there aren’t many use cases where you would want to see one, you might as well disable them entirely. You can temporarily enable pop-ups for special situations on some trusted sites.Sound
Usually, you want sites to be able to play audio. But when you are browsing the web for information, it can be irritating to have some sound suddenly blasting out of your speakers, especially if you are at your workplace. This is why it is often a good idea to disable sound permissions from Content Settings. Though if you forget what you did, you might end up thinking sound is not working on Google Chrome. To get around this, you can add exceptions for useful websites like YouTube.Ads Background Sync
Not many users know this, but just like apps can run in the background of your computer, some sites keep running in the background of your browser. This is designed to give you a more responsive internet experience.
For example, social media sites can notify you as soon as you receive a new message, by syncing with the web server at all times. While not harmful on its own, it can lead to excessive resource utilization, even draining battery life on laptops.Should You Modify Google Chrome Content Settings?
Google is now displaying featured snippets that pull content from multiple publishers and combine it into one result.
The featured snippet answers questions for searchers by creating a listicle of sorts.
Here’s an example shared by Cyrus Shepard for the query “seeds with highest omega 3:”
This is an incredible search result from Google:
— Cyrus (@CyrusShepard) February 23, 2023
As Shepard points out, the trouble with these featured snippets is they do not do the best job of directing traffic to publishers.
However, if the searcher decides to expand the snippet with one of the drop down menus they’ll see not one but multiple links to other sites.
You can get a better look at how the snippet functions in this example shared by Jon Henshaw:
— Jon Henshaw (@henshaw) February 24, 2023
Many still share the same concern of publishers not getting enough credit in these snippets.
The concerns prompted Google’s Danny Sullivan to respond and explain the company’s line of thinking behind these snippets.
In a series of tweet, Sullivan states:
“Since I got asked about this, a couple of things.
Most important, the future of Google Search is to continue supporting the ecosystem. We don’t thrive & users don’t thrive unless the ecosystem thrives.
Support of the ecosystem is constantly raised in meetings I’m in. It always comes up. It is a front-line concern with everyone involved with search. Any feature you see, impact on ecosystem has been considered. The hope is that overall, as Google grows, so does the ecosystem….
Sullivan continues by adding that these snippets are not brand new and have been out for months.
Personally I have not encountered them and, judging by the amount of attention this is getting on Twitter, many others haven’t either.
Ultimately, these snippets are designed to let users explore and find information.
Although it’s a different way of finding information, it’s still what search has always strived to do for users.
Sullivan concludes his train of thought with a rhetorical question:
“Does search not become search if you can scan and scroll through results horizontally rather than vertically? Does search only remain search if it looks and acts like it’s 1998.”
Search has evolved since inception and this is a sign of its continued evolution.More Resources
Google’s John Mueller revealed that the search engine’s algorithms do not punish keyword stuffing too harshly.
In fact, keyword stuffing may be ignored altogether if the content is found to otherwise have value to searchers.
This information was provided on Twitter in response to users inquiring about keyword stuffing. More specifically, a user was concerned about a page ranking well in search results despite obvious signs of keyword repetition.
Prefacing his statement with the suggestion to focus on one’s own content rather than someone else’s, Mueller goes on to say that there are over 200 factors used to rank pages and “the nice part is that you don’t have to get them all perfect.”
When the excessive keyword repetition was further criticized by another user, Mueller said this practice shouldn’t result in a page being removed from search results, and “boring keyword stuffing” may be ignored altogether.
“Yeah, but if we can ignore boring keyword stuffing (this was popular in the 90’s; search engines have a lot of practice here), there’s sometimes still enough value to be found elsewhere. I don’t know the page, but IMO keyword stuffing shouldn’t result in removal from the index.”
There are several takeaways from this exchange:
An SEO’s time is better spent improving their own content, rather than trying to figure out why other content is ranking higher.
Excessive keyword stuffing will not result in a page being removed from indexing.
Google may overlook keyword stuffing if the content has value otherwise.
Use of keywords is only one of over 200 ranking factors.
Overall, it’s probably not a good idea to overuse keywords because it arguably makes the content less enjoyable to read. However, keyword repetition will not hurt a piece of content when it comes to ranking in search results.
It’s usually more actionable to focus on your own sites, rather than to focus on “why is someone else’s site ranking above mine when I don’t think it’s as good as mine” … We use over 200 factors for ranking, the nice part is that you don’t have to get them all perfect.
— John ☆.o(≧▽≦)o.☆ (@JohnMu) June 20, 2023
Yeah, but if we can ignore boring keyword stuffing (this was popular in the 90’s; search engines have a lot of practice here), there’s sometimes still enough value to be found elsewhere. I don’t know the page, but IMO keyword stuffing shouldn’t result in removal from the index.
— John ☆.o(≧▽≦)o.☆ (@JohnMu) June 20, 2023
This week’s Ask an SEO question comes from Marcus in East Yorkshire. He asks:
If I write a piece of unique content and post it onto my business website, I then also give the same content to a third-party website who links back to me via a follow hyperlink, does this devalue the potential performance of the content on my own website or does it not affect it as it is the original source? Or would you recommend providing a new version of the same content to the third-party website?
Content syndication can be tricky.
On the one hand, you want your content to be read by as many people as possible.
But on the other hand, you want as many people as possible to come to your website.
When you put your content on someone else’s site, you run the risk that they’ll read your content, but never visit your site.
But if the content isn’t on the other site, people may never see the content at all.
And that’s not even taking into account the SEO ramifications of syndicated content.
To answer the question, we have to go to the tried and true answer to many SEO questions:
It depends.Duplicate Content Penalty?
Despite what you may have heard, there is no such thing as a duplicate content penalty.
You will never receive a manual penalty from Google for having duplicate content on your website, or for someone else having the same content as you on their site.
But there are definitely ramifications for duplicate content.
When Google detects the same copy on two different pages, the algorithm must decide on which version of the content will rank for a specific query.
There are many factors that go into which page will rank and those factors are all weighted differently – and the weighting of those factors appears to change frequently.
There is a good chance that your page may be outranked by a site with content identical to what is on your site.
And because Google wants the SERPs to have diversity, if the other site outranks you for a specific query, there is a good chance your site won’t appear on the front page for that same query at all.Does Google Know the Original Source?
It can be difficult for Google to know the original source of a piece of content – unless you have the ability to tell Google the original source.
Scraping content is a real problem.
Some studies estimate that up to 30% of all content on the web is duplicate content of some sort.
And there are many sites that will simply scrape the content that is ranking and post it on a site of their own in the hopes that they can outrank the original source.
The good news is that Google wants to rank the original content first – even if it doesn’t always happen.
If you are syndicating your content properly, there are several ways you can tell Google where the original content resides.
The best way is to make sure that any site that syndicates your content links back to the original version surrounded by a statement to the effect of “the original article appeared here”.
Make sure that your syndication partners link back to exact original URL and avoid any parameters.
Having a link back to the original content is also good for your link profile – so if you can do this, do it.
For further protection, you can also ask anyone syndicating your content to place a no-index tag on the page where the content resides.
This will tell Google not index the syndicated content and rank it above the original.
The syndicated content will not appear in the SERPs, and you may not get as much benefit from any links pointing back to your site.
If you are having trouble with duplicate content on your own site, educate yourself on canonicalization.
But realize that canonicalization doesn’t work for duplicate content issues caused by syndication.
If you have a business that has a physical presence, then it is essential to use Google My Business (GMB) to improve your local SEO and enhance your online presence. Google My Business (GMB) is a complementary tool provided by Google, enabling businesses to control their digital footprint on Google search and Maps. This article will guide you through optimizing your GMB listing to boost your content and SEO.Claim Your Business
When you claim your business, you verify that you are the owner or an authorized representative of the business. Once you have claimed your business, you can manage your listing and additional information to make it more informative and attractive to potential customers.Optimize Your Business Information
Ensure all your business information is complete and accurate, including your business name, address, phone number, website, hours of operation, and services. Add photos and videos to your listing to make it more appealing to potential customers.
The more information you provide about your business, the more likely potential customers will find your listing and visit your business. Keep your business information up-to-date, especially if you change your business hours or location.Use Relevant Keywords
Incorporate relevant keywords into your GMB listing to improve your local SEO. Research keywords your potential customers are searching for and include them in your business description, services, and attributes.
Use Google’s Keyword Planner tool or other keyword research tools to find relevant keywords for your business. Incorporate these keywords naturally into your GMB listing, making sure not to overuse them.Encourage Reviews
Positive reviews can improve your local SEO and attract more customers to your business. Respond to all positive or negative reviews to show that you value your customers’ feedback.
To encourage reviews, ask your customers to leave a review after they visit your business. You can also add a link to your GMB listing on your website or social media pages. Remember to respond to all reviews promptly and professionally, thanking customers for positive reviews and addressing any concerns raised in negative reviews.Post Regularly
Use the ‘Posts’ feature in your GMB listing to keep your customers up-to-date with your latest news, promotions, and events. Posting regularly can also improve your local SEO and increase your visibility on Google search and maps.Monitor Your Insights
Use the insights feature in your GMB dashboard to monitor your listing’s performance. Track how many people view your listing, how they find your business, and what actions they take on your listing.Use Q&A
Use the Q&A feature in your GMB listing to answer potential customers’ questions about your business. Respond promptly and provide accurate information to improve your online reputation.Add Products and Services Use Attributes
Use the attributes feature in your GMB listing to highlight specific features of your business, such as wheelchair accessibility, free Wi-Fi, or outdoor seating. Adding attributes can make your business more appealing to potential customers and improve your local SEO.Connect Your GMB Listing with Your Website
Connect your GMB listing with your website to improve your online presence and enhance your local SEO. Make sure to use consistent business information, such as your business name, address, and phone number, on both your GMB listing and your website.
To connect your GMB listing with your website, add a link to your website in your GMB dashboard. Ensure your website is mobile-friendly and has a clear call-to-action to encourage customers to take action.Use GMB Messaging
Use the messaging feature in your GMB listing to communicate with potential customers and answer their questions. Respond promptly and provide accurate information to improve your online reputation.Use GMB Reviews in Your Content
Use your GMB reviews in your content, such as on your website or social media pages, to improve your online reputation and attract more customers. Highlight positive reviews and use them as testimonials.Conclusion
In conclusion, optimizing your GMB listing can improve your local SEO and enhance your online presence. Claim your business, optimize your information, use relevant keywords, encourage reviews, post regularly, monitor your insights, use Q&A, add products and services, use attributes, connect your GMB listing with your website, use GMB messaging, manage multiple locations, use GMB reviews in your content, and use GMB for local SEO. By following these steps, you can boost your content and SEO and attract more customers to your business.
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