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GA4 Workarounds

Change is a constant in the world of digital marketing and analytics. With the release of Google Analytics 4 (GA4), marketers and analysts are confronted with a host of new features and updates. While change can be refreshing and offer improved functionality, it can also be incredibly frustrating, especially when some beloved features are altered or even removed.

Here are what we think are some of the most annoying changes in GA4, including filtering challenges, variable name changes, the lack of drill-down capabilities in reports, and more.

Filtering Frustrations
One of the most frustrating changes in GA4 is the overhauled filtering system. In Universal Analytics, filtering was a straightforward process, with a user-friendly interface that allowed you to quickly drill down into your data to gain insights. GA4’s filtering system, however, has become a source of frustration for many users.

In GA4, you must create custom reports to filter data effectively, a process that can be more cumbersome and less intuitive than before. Not to mention, many times when you’re selecting dimensions to filter by, they’re in no particular order. Trying to create a report filtered by multiple states for example requires you to scroll back and forth in the selection box to find the state you’re looking for.

Renamed Metrics and Dimensions
For seasoned Google Analytics users, the sudden alteration of variable names can be incredibly frustrating, especially when trying to find data in Looker Studio. While GA4 brings with it a host of new event tracking features, the transition from Universal Analytics to GA4 can be a confusing ordeal for those accustomed to the previous naming conventions.

Here are some of the key changes:

Lack of Drill-Down in Reports
One of the features we used in Universal Analytics all the time was the ability to drill down into data to get more granular insights. This allowed us to understand the nuances of their audience’s behavior and preferences. Unfortunately, this vital feature is lacking in GA4.

In GA4, the reports provide less detail and don’t allow you to dig deeper into specific data points without creating custom reports. This makes it challenging to identify trends and patterns, limiting your ability to make informed decisions.

Learning Curve
Overall, the transition from Universal Analytics to GA4 can be a daunting learning curve for many users. The new interface, terminology, and features take time to grasp fully, and the documentation that exists can be frustrating. However, over time it will improve and allow us to pay more attention to the things that matter the most on our websites.

Conclusion
Google Analytics 4 brings many exciting new features and capabilities that promise to enhance our ability to understand user behavior and make informed decisions. However, it’s crucial to acknowledge the frustrating changes and limitations that accompany this transition. As with any major change, it’s essential for digital marketers and analysts to adapt and explore workarounds to mitigate the annoyance caused by these changes.

While we can’t change Google’s decisions, we can adapt, learn, and find ways to make the most of the new GA4 platform. Over time, we’ll likely see improvements and updates that address some of the frustrations outlined here, but in the meantime, a willingness to explore and adapt to the new system will be crucial for success in the evolving world of digital analytics.

If you need help figuring out GA4, let us know and we can figure out how to make it work for your business. 

How to Measure SEO Effectiveness

As the digital landscape continues to evolve, optimizing your website’s search engine visibility remains a critical component of any successful online strategy.

Understanding how to measure the effectiveness of your SEO efforts is essential for tracking progress and making data-driven decisions.

Below are some of the key metrics we look at when measuring SEO effectiveness.

1. Organic Traffic: One of the most fundamental metrics to assess SEO effectiveness is organic traffic. By tracking the number of visitors who arrive at your website through search engines like Google, you can gauge the impact of your SEO efforts. Tools like Google Analytics and Search Console provide valuable insights into your website’s organic traffic performance. SEO is slower than Paid campaigns so it may take several months to start noticing any significant results.

2. Keyword Rankings: Monitoring your keyword rankings is crucial for evaluating SEO success. Identify target keywords for your business and track their positions in search engine results pages (SERPs). Tools like SEMrush, Moz, or Ahrefs can help you track and analyze keyword rankings over time. Tracking the same keywords over time will help give you some insight on your overall visibility which can be used as a reference point for SEO performance.

3. Click-Through Rate (CTR): The CTR measures the effectiveness of your meta titles and descriptions in persuading users to click on your link in search results. A higher CTR indicates that your SEO strategy is attracting more clicks and potential customers. Use Google Search Console to monitor your CTR and optimize your meta tags accordingly.

4. Conversion Rate: Ultimately, the success of your SEO efforts should translate into conversions. Whether it’s making a purchase, filling out a contact form, or signing up for a newsletter, tracking conversion rates is essential. Tools like Google Analytics can help you analyze how well your SEO traffic converts into valuable actions. Custom events can be setup using GA4 and Google Tag Manager (GTM) to ensure you’re tracking the correct actions.

5. Bounce Rate: A high bounce rate (or a low engagement rate) indicates that visitors are leaving your site shortly after arriving, which can negatively impact your SEO. Analyzing this metric can help identify issues with your website’s user experience. Addressing these issues can lead to longer visitor engagement and better SEO performance.

6. Page Load Speed: Page load speed is a crucial factor for SEO effectiveness. Slow-loading pages can lead to higher bounce rates and lower rankings in search results. Google’s PageSpeed Insights can help you assess and improve your website’s loading speed. It’s important to check the speed and performance on both desktop and mobile (see below) to ensure that all visitor are getting an optimal experience.

7. Backlinks and Domain Authority: Backlinks are a significant indicator of your website’s authority and relevance in the eyes of search engines. Tools like Moz and Ahrefs can help you track the number and quality of backlinks pointing to your site. Additionally, monitoring your domain authority can give you insights into your website’s overall SEO strength. Creating content on relevant sites with backlinks will help to improve your overall ranking and is one of the key elements of our SEO programs.

8. Mobile Responsiveness: With the increasing use of mobile devices, Google considers mobile-friendliness a ranking factor. Ensure your website is responsive and performs well on various mobile devices. Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test can check individual pages or Experte can help you check your entire site’s mobile readiness.

9. User Engagement Metrics: Metrics like time on page, pages per session, and scroll depth can provide insights into user engagement with your content. Higher engagement metrics can indicate that your SEO efforts are attracting and retaining visitors effectively.

10. ROI and Revenue Growth: Ultimately, the effectiveness of your SEO strategy should be reflected in your business’s bottom line. If possible, it’s great to track the ROI of your SEO campaigns by measuring the revenue generated from organic traffic. This can help you determine the real impact of your SEO efforts on your business’s success.

To measure SEO effectiveness comprehensively, it’s essential to regularly monitor these metrics, set clear goals, and make data-driven adjustments to your strategy.

SEO is an ongoing process, and continuous analysis and optimization are key to staying competitive in the digital landscape.

If you have any further questions or need assistance with your SEO strategy, please feel free to reach out for a free consultation.

Web Design for Mid-Sized Companies

As a mid-sized company, it’s important to have a strong online presence in order to reach new customers and stay competitive in today’s market. A well-designed and user-friendly website can help you achieve this goal, and there are a few key considerations to keep in mind when developing a website for your mid-sized company.

Understanding Your Target Audience

First and foremost, it’s important to understand your target audience and what they are looking for from your website. This will help guide the design and content of your site, ensuring that it resonates with your intended audience and provides the information and resources they need. Take the time to research your audience and identify their pain points, needs, and preferences. This will help you create a website that truly meets their expectations and helps you connect with them in a meaningful way.

Improving the User Experience

Once you have a clear understanding of your target audience, you can focus on improving the user experience of your website. This means making sure your website is easy to navigate and provides a seamless experience for users. A clean and simple design, with clear and concise language, will make it easier for users to find what they’re looking for and take the desired action. Additionally, including search and filtering tools can help users quickly locate the information they need and reduce frustration.

Optimizing for Mobile Devices

In today’s digital landscape, it’s essential to optimize your website for mobile devices. With more and more users accessing the web on their smartphones and tablets, it’s important to make sure your website is responsive and adjusts to fit different screen sizes. This will ensure that all of your content and features are easily accessible on mobile devices, providing a consistent and high-quality experience for users regardless of how they access your site.

Ensuring Security and Privacy

Finally, it’s important to ensure that your website is secure and protects the privacy of your users. This means using HTTPS encryption for all pages and forms, as well as implementing other security measures to prevent cyber attacks and protect user data. Additionally, it’s essential to be transparent about how you collect and use personal information, and to provide clear opt-out options for users who don’t want their data collected. By taking these steps, you can build trust with your users and ensure that they feel safe and secure when using your website.

By keeping these considerations in mind, you can develop a website for your mid-sized company that effectively reaches your target audience and provides a great user experience. A well-designed website can help you connect with your customers, generate leads, and drive business growth, so it’s worth investing the time and effort to create a high-quality site that meets the needs of your target audience.

Google Responsive Display Ad Guidelines

TLDR;

 

Headlines

You can upload up to 5 different headlines, of 30 characters each for your responsive display ads. To ensure maximum performance, make sure your different headlines each say something unique. Be informative, and spell out your value proposition clearly.

Consider the following:

Descriptions

You can create up to 5 descriptions for your brand or product, of up to 90 characters each. The description usually accompanies a headline (described below) and should be written to complement your headlines. Use the description to provide additional detail to articulate your value proposition.

Logos

You should always include logos, which should be the following size for Display Ads:

Landscape:

Square:

Like your standard images, both options also have a max file size of 5120 KB, and should be in GIF, JPG, or PNG file types. You should upload at least one square logo and one landscape logo, and you can upload a total of five.

Keep the following in mind when you provide a logo:

Images

The ideal sizes for Google Responsive Display Ad Images include:

Landscape:

Square:

Both options have a max file size of 5120 KB, and should be in GIF, JPG, or PNG file types.

You need a minimum of two high quality images, and at least one landscape and one square image are required. You can choose up to 15.

Avoid using the following:

 

Web 3 and Crypto

A brief overview of cryptocurrencies and web 3. I’ve tried to keep it at a high level but with enough depth so you can understand it’s potential in your life and business.

 

The progression – Web 1, 2 and 3

 

I’ve been on the internet for a long time! My first time connecting with others online was in the days of BBSs, where you would dial in and everything was just text, when IRC chat was how you talked to others around the world.

Then came web 1, with netscape and single page slow loading pages (remember modems?). As things sped up and we added CGI programming with perl (and php) it became a bit more dynamic. Forms and collecting data, collocating servers and all that fun!

Web 2 is identified by much more interactive sites, e-commerce, cloud computing, client/server and micro services. This is where most of us are now. It’s a very active space and will continue to be far into the future. It is also more or less centralization, where the large internet companies own the big services, think google, youtube, facebook (meta) and twitter (maybe).

There is a big future for Web 3 and it’s already been in progress for quite some time. Web 3 is associated with client apps that talk to decentralized global virtual machines (more on that in a bit). The decentralized aspect of web 3 is one of the big advantages.

 

Cryptography

 

Cryptography is at the core of decentralized global currencies. It is what allows the system to know who owns what on the network. In it’s basic form, Public Key Cryptography provides a user with a Private Key. This key must be kept secret and secure from everyone except the owner. From this Private Key a Public Key can be generated. When someone encrypts a message with a Public Key, only the Private Key owner can decrypt that message. Your Public Key should be shared with anyone that might send you messages. Remember, always keep your Private Key secure.

Your Private Key also gives you the ability to sign digital content. This signature can be verified using your Public Key, verifying it was you who signed the content.

You would usually use a wallet to store your private key. You can use a browser based wallet such as metamask, a browser like brave with a wallet built in or an app. You can also use a service such as coinbase, which would act like your wallet.

 

Blockchain

 

The blockchain is a distributed, immutable chain of blocks, where each block has a group of recent transactions. The blocks are created by miners who verify the transactions and add the blocks to the global chain. The miner is rewarded with crypto for each block they successfully verify.

There are many different blockchains. There are public primary block chains like the Bitcoin blockchain or Ethereum Mainnet blockchain. There are consortium blockchains, where a group of companies or people run a blockchain for their specific purpose. Testing blockchains for developers and private blockchains.

The public blockchains are an immutable, distributed record that provides proof of ownership. These chains are run on a vast array of nodes on the network, which provides distributed durability. This is part of the value of the system.

 

Ethereum

 

Ethereum is a crypto network that uses the ether currency. Ethereum provides a global virtual machine (read computer) that can be programmed with smart contracts (Dapps, distributed applications). The global virtual machine is a distributed computer that runs on the ethereum network. A smart contract is a program that anyone can write and deploy to the EVM (Ethereum Virtual Machine). When your smart contract runs, it uses gas, priced in Wei (1 ether = 10^18 Wei), to pay for the resources used in executing your smart contract (program).

An example might be helpful, this is one I came across in my research. Imagine you wanted to ensure that you were the first one to create a specific document. You could create a notary service. When you upload your document, it would take a hash of the document (a unique signature) and call your smart contract. The smart contract would store that signature with your name and date on the blockchain. If anyone ever wanted to check that document in the future, they would upload it and your smart contract would respond with the information from when you originally uploaded it. The job of the smart contract would be the two functions, to initially store the information on the public blockchain and to retrieve the information in the future.

I’m sure you can imagine many other uses for a global virtual computer that stores its data in a distributed immutable blockchain. While Bitcoin is independent of Ethereum, bitcoin is essentially a specialized Dapp that provides decentralized value transfer as it’s primary function.

 

NFTs

 

NFTs are one example of a smart contract that is similar to the notary service. Anyone can sign digital content using the NFT smart contract and receive ownership of the NFT, that NFT can then be transferred to someone else with its transfer history stored on the public blockchain. That NFT is verifiable on the public blockchain, along with it’s ownership history. The signature by the original owner or creator also provides provenance. While some of the early uses seem a little silly, this is a quickly emerging area that may eventually be tied to physical assets. Imagine real estate transactions where the deed transfer is only a matter of transferring an NFT!

 

DAO – decentralized autonomous organization

 

DAOs are a new form of organization that allows like minded people to work together. They are like businesses that are collectively owned and managed by its members. The members of the group propose ideas and they are voted on by all the members. Everything is open and the rules of spending for the organization are built into its code. Sometimes membership is based on owning the organizations NFT, only approved members are allowed to own NFTs which come with organizational rights.

 

Web3

 

Web 3 ties all these technologies together. Your Private/Public keys, web or mobile front-ends, smart contracts and the backing blockchain. As you can imagine, there are a lot of possibilities. There are many companies in the space doing new and innovative things. Some rethinking old services and some building entirely new products. What would you build now that you know a little about this field?

 

Why?

 

Crypto started as a backlash against centralized finance. Technologists saw that there was a way that didn’t centralize all the power to a small group of elite bankers. It has it’s roots in open source software, which was a backlash to the closed software development of the past. Ethereum and the EVM is the next step, a backlash against the big internet companies with their closed systems where a majority of the control is in their hands. In a global decentralized computer, one company can’t decide what is allowed and what isn’t. No doubt this has it’s issues also and will need to be figured out over time. In the long run though, I vote for freedom and decentralization.

A lot of people ask, why does it have value? The value comes from it being a decentralized network of computers that store an immutable record of data. This does several things.

To build a network of this scale requires the buy in of many nodes, this only happens if the node operators see value in running a node.

 

Conclusion

 

This was a whirlwind tour with a lot of details being glossed over. I hope you find it valuable in your exploration of crypto. I didn’t touch on any of the many other crypto currencies, which offer features that might be useful to your application (more privacy of transactions for instance). The web 3 movement is happening with our without you. I think you should be part of it. It will give power back to individuals in a way we’re only just beginning to imagine.

 

Acronyms and Crypto Slang

 

airdrop – a way for projects to distribute coins to holders of certain coins
altcoin – any coin other than bitcoin
aml – anti money laundering
ape – invest in something without doing you’re own research
ath – all-time high
bags – what you’re holding (your investments)
btd/btfd – buy the f***ing dip, buy when the market is red
bpd – bitcoin pizza day, big pay day
capitulate – sell
cbdc – central bank digital currency
cex – centralized exchange (e.g. coinbase)
dao – decentralized autonomous organization
defi – decentralized finance
degen – degenerate as in a degenerate gambler
diamond hands – not going to sell
dex – decentralized exchange (e.g. 1inch)
dyor – do your own research
erc-20 – any coin built on ethereum is an erc-20 token
fomo – fear of missing out
fud – fear, uncertainty, and doubt
hodl – a misspelling of “hold” or “hold on for dear life”
hold – don’t sell
kyc – know your customer
lp – liquidity provider
moon – when coins drastically rise in price
nft – non-fungible token
ngmi – not gonna make it
nyknyc – not your keys, not your coins
paper hands – someone who sells easily
poh – proof of history, to measure time before consensus used by solana
pos – proof of stake, a consensus mechanism used by ethereum 2.0
pow – proof of work, a consensus mechanism used by bitcoin
pump and dump – artificially inflate the price of an asset and sell high
rekt – when you lose a bunch of money
rug pull – get scammed
satoshi – the pseudonymous founder of bitcoin and 0.00000001 BTC
shill – to peddle a coin
shitcoin – a useless coin or a coin with poor fundamentals
tor – the onion router, a browser used to access the “dark web”
tps – transactions per second
wagmi – we’re all gonna make it
whale – an investor with a large amount of crypto
when lambo – when will you have enough money to buy a lambo
xbt – an alternative abbreviation for bitcoin (btc)

Slang Source

 

Links

 

Here are some links to projects that I’ve found interesting, either on the crypto currencies themselves or web 3 projects:

https://ethereum.org
https://ethereum.github.io/yellowpaper/paper.pdf (technical)
https://metamask.io (browser based wallet)
https://www.coinbase.com/
https://brave.com/
https://ens.domains/
https://ipfs.io/
https://www.storj.io/
https://d.tube/
https://somee.social/
https://steemit.com/
https://ethlance.com/
https://uniswap.org/
https://lido.fi/

 

 

Small Business Website Options

There are a couple of things that small businesses need to consider when building their first website.

Before they even get to the building phase, they should understand who their audience is and the purpose of the website. Is it a retail customer (a specific demographic?), other businesses, a certain type of professional, or some other target? What do they want the visitor to do once they come to the site? Get an address or phone number? See a menu? Make an appointment? Buy something directly? Once they know who they’re talking to, they can develop their message, design, and functionality around that customer.

When it comes to platforms, there are several ways to do it, from free builders, to WordPress templates, to a completely custom website. Here are some pros and cons on the general methods:

“Free” Platforms (Wix, Squarespace)
The good thing about these platforms is that they are inexpensive and relatively easy to use (although slightly frustrating at times). They have themes that you can select from and you can swap out some photos and text and be done. If you don’t need something too custom, this may be a good option for you. The largest downside is that you’re locked into their platform and hosting. You won’t be able to move your website.

Pre-existing WordPress Themes
These can be a good option to get a nice design for cheap. You’ll need a WordPress site set up and will either have to work with a freelancer to set up your theme or do it yourself. It’s not rocket science but there can often be some technical challenges. Once you’re familiar with the theme on the back end, you’ll often be able to customize the site and add additional content. This is a good option if you’re planning a blog or a site with a lot of content. The biggest danger with a pre-existing theme is performance. Since they are often built to accommodate multiple variations and different scenarios, they can be bloated and extremely slow, which will hurt your user experience and your SEO.

Custom WordPress Themes
A website development company can develop custom WordPress themes for your website based on any design. This gives you the flexibility of having WordPress as your content management system, but allows you to have a design and website that is customized to your business. This can make a tremendous difference in site performance as well as provide you a way to stand apart from your competition. The downside to a custom WordPress theme is the time and cost to develop it. It often begins with a design phase, then production/development, testing, and implementation.

E-Commerce
The two most popular platforms for e-commerce are WooCommerce (on WordPress) and Shopify. If you’re looking to begin selling products on your own website, definitely check them out. Shopify is an all-inclusive platform that has a lot of features built in. WooCommerce allows you to add various plugins and make modifications to do just about whatever you need. The factor that usually helps us decide is the other content on the site. If you plan on having a robust website, along with an e-commerce store, we recommend WooCommerce. If you just need a store and don’t have much other content, Shopify might be the way to go.

Finally, there are lots of other technologies and platforms out there, but for a small business, these are probably the best places to start.

 

This post contains affiliate links to some products or services. The links do not change your cost.

Bernie Sanders PNG and PSD

If anyone needs a PNG for their Bernie Meme, we thought we’d save you some trouble 🙂

Download PNG (539×575)

Download PSD (539×575)

Bernie for Memes

Some of our favorites:

Quick PPP Loan Analysis

Data about the recent PPP loans was released today. We downloaded it and took a quick look at it. While the company names were only provided for companies who received greater than $150k, that was still 661,218 small businesses.

A couple notable points. California by far received the most loans at 87,689. Texas, New York, Florida coming up next, in that order. Most of the loans were granted in April, but it looks like they’re still being approved. There are many more business types than I realized! I didn’t realize all of them had employees, do trusts employ people?

4820 businesses received between 5 and 10 million! That’s a big number for a “small” business. The top three lenders were JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America and Truist Bank d/b/a Branch Banking & Trust Co (which I’ve never heard of, but was BB&T which I have heard of). I’m sure there is lots more analysis that can be done with this data set, but I just wanted to provide a little taste.

To get to analyzing quickly. We imported the csv into MongoDB and then connected that to MetaBase. What a nice workflow! Thanks to those two products for making it so painless to explore new data sets.

Download the original data here.

The Business Owner’s Guide to Hosting

Web hosts provide the ‘space’ where your website lives on the Internet. Making wise hosting choices will ensure your visitors have a pleasant and productive experience on your website.

Let’s explore the factors that comprise web hosting, what your particular website requires to run optimally and what services are available to help you make the most prudent choice for your customers and for your bottom line.

The first question is, “What does your site need?” There’s a continuum of what websites ‘do’ — from being a static, informational page to providing a full-blown e-commerce experience. Here are some terms with which you should be familiar when assessing your specific hosting needs:3

With those factors in mind, you can make an informed decision concerning the server (hugely powerful computer). You’ll choose among:

Shared server: Your website is one of perhaps thousands running on a single server. Because you share resources with those other sites, the possibility exists that resources your site requires could be periodically distributed to meet the needs of other sites, temporarily affecting your site’s performance. If your site’s requirements are minimal, however, this won’t be a cause for concern and makes this the ideal — and least costly — choice for most businesses.

  1. Dedicated server: This is your site’s server — and yours alone. Choose this option when your site must have the highest possible degree of uptime (uninterrupted operation) and performance. It’s extremely expensive, and therefore not appropriate for all businesses.
  2. Virtual server: A server is compartmentalized into mini dedicated servers. This option provides a small dedicated server whose size can be scaled according to your needs. If your site periodically requires more resources — but not constantly — this is a more cost-effective choice than a dedicated server.
  3. Co-location: Your server is located at a data center (a specialized environment exclusively built and maintained to operate servers). They guarantee an outstanding degree of security, uptime and performance. If you need total control over the configuration and location of your server, this is the option for you.

Other website hosting considerations include:

Reliability: While all hosting services promise a high degree of uptime, it’s more important to some businesses than others. If your company will suffer with even minor and infrequent variations in reliability, host with a provider who offers a Service Level Agreement (SLA), which is a contract that defines and guarantees the level of reliability you can expect. SLAs come with hefty price tags which are only worth it if your business will suffer should your site go down.

Security: It’s important to learn the procedure a host has in place to safeguard the information you’ve stored on their equipment. “Redundancy” is a term that refers to the backup measures a host will implement to prevent data loss.

Google Translate Sample Page

This is a page to show how the Google translate widget works on a website. Google no longer provides new access to Google Translate for websites. They prefer you utilize the chrome translation function.

If you’re thinking about using the Google Translate widget, you can implement it by going to the Google Translate page, clicking on Translate Website at the bottom of the page, set up a site, and add some code to your website. It will then take all the text on your website and update it to the language the user selects.


Use the code below to add the widget to your website:

<div id="google_translate_element"></div>
<script type="text/javascript">
function googleTranslateElementInit() {
  new google.translate.TranslateElement({pageLanguage: 'en'}, 'google_translate_element');
}
</script>
<script type="text/javascript" src="//translate.google.com/translate_a/element.js?cb=googleTranslateElementInit"></script>

Machine translation is only about 70% accurate, so if you need to make sure your content is translated exactly as you want, then you are better off doing it manually and implementing a system that allows you to maintain it as easily as possible. Also, keep in mind that Google Translate doesn’t do images, so any images with text will still have the original text in them (notice the language on the books doesn’t change when you select a different language).

Google Translate is a good tool if you need some quick translations, but we don’t recommend it as a solution for everyone.