Tuesday, 31 July 2012

7 Signs That Your Blog or Website Is On the Right Track

Here is a list of 10 things that tell you that your online efforts are on the right track, your optimization, content and marketing strategies are working and bearing fruit. As you’ll soon find out, producing quality, valuable and fresh (read: up-to-date) content is at the center of everything good when it comes to your online presence!

1. Increasing Traffic and Visitors

Traffic is the heart and soul of a website. More traffic equals success – it’s as simple as that. Try comparing your website’s traffic and page views to last month’s, last quarter’s or even with same time last year. If they’re up (and showing an upward trend), give yourself a pat on the back because you’re on the right track. Traffic level is one of the most basic metrics of gauging your success online – a clear indicator that people are looking you up on search engines, and coming to your website from Google, social mediums, directories and other sources. It means that your SEO strategies and marketing campaigns are working well. Keep an eye on traffic levels using analytics suites such as Google Analytics.

2. Growing Number of Subscribers

As anyone running a website would know, getting subscribers is not easy. However an increasing number of subscriber-base would definitely mean that you are doing something right. It is important to realize that subscribers are people who have voluntarily opted-in so that they can be informed whenever you put something up – which means that the content you’re putting up on your blog is valuable and high-quality. It also means that you have successfully managed to make it easy for visitors to subscribe to your blog. Check your RSS count and the number of people subscribed to you via email.  

3. Increasing Number of Comments

If traffic is the heart and soul of a blog, comments are its lifeblood! For me, the number of actual, though-provoking comments that you get on your blog is a solid, concrete way of measuring its success. When you start off, getting comments can be pretty hard, even if you are getting decent amounts of traffic on your website – indeed, according to Nielsen’s statistics, only 1 in every 100 visitors actually makes an effort to leave you a comment. Increasing reader engagement can be tough. However if you are getting a decent number of genuine comments (ones that actually contribute to the conversation or the subject at hand), it means that you have successfully be able to engage readers by (a) providing them with valuable and/or thought-provoking content, and (b) making it easy to leave a comment.

4.  Low Bounce Rate

Bounce rate is the percentage of people that landed on any given page of your website, and left without browsing or going on any other page apart from the one that they landed on. A low bounce rate is therefore essential, as it is a clear indicator that your blog is (a) being found for the right, most relevant search terms or phrases (keywords/phrases), (b) you’ve successfully been able to engage anyone who comes on your website by providing valuable, quality, informative and interesting content and information, (c) anyone who lands on your page is tempted to browse through your website and read the various articles, and (d) you’ve made navigation simple, and it is easy for people to go from your landing page.

5. Strong Social Presence

Today, having a strong presence in social media is just as important (if not more) as having large visitor-base, more subscribers or more engaged readers. The ability to be seen as an authority figure on social media – such as on Facebook or Twitter for instance – is essential, as it could potentially allow you to drive in massive amounts of traffic to your blog from these mediums, and have your opinion counted and valued. Facebook pages come with a comprehensive analytics suite built-in, which allow you to check subscriber count trends, engagement trends and the like. If your blog’s pages are getting more subscribers, and if you’ve been able to engage people on your Facebook page through comments, shares and likes, that brilliant because you have been able to establish a strong foothold in the social media – which you can leverage in order to drive inbound traffic to your blog.

6. Rising Number of Inbound Links

It is said that 95% of all SEO strategies and campaigns concentrate on link-building. The fact that your blog is getting inbound links is truly a massive achievement. It means that other blogs, website and people on social mediums are linking to your content – all of which translates into (a) more traffic, (b) more sales/revenue, and (c) better search engine rankings/higher SERPs. Above all, it means that you are now providing high-quality and relevant information on a regular basis – all of which urges people to link back to you. And perhaps the best part is that it allows you to be seen as an authority blogger in your niche, something to be proud of!

7. Successful Achievement of your Aims, Objectives and Goals

As a  blogger, it is essential to have blogging goals. They allow you to remain on track, on target and give you the ability to measure and gauge your success or failures. Above all, goals give you a clear vision of something that you want to accomplish, and allow you to develop a path through which you can accomplish your blogging goals. Such goals are usually short-term and long-term, and are updated with the passage of time. The more goals that you can simply tick off your list, the better, as it lets you know that you are on the right track. For instance a new blogger might aim to get at least 30 views-a-day on his blog initially, however some months down the road, not only would he have achieved that goal, he would also have a completely new, different set of goals like getting to a 1000 opt-ins, or maybe making an x amount of money from his or her blogging efforts. Devise paths on how you intend on achieving your goals.

Monday, 30 July 2012

The Importance of Internal Linking (and Best Practices!)

Internal Links – A Backgrounder

Contrary to popular belief, internal linking is just as important as getting external inbound links, if not more! Most bloggers place a lot more emphasis on building backlinks, however it is equally important to strengthen your internal linking profile.

Simply put, internal linking refers to links pointing to a page or a post (or any other part) of your own website. Or in other words, a link on your website which takes you to another page on your website.

For example while writing a blog post, you might want to refer to a previous post from an earlier date. For this purpose, you would want to link to it, for instance through the use of anchor text (anchor text is a clickable hyperlink, that can be clicked to open a web page).

Unlike external links, one of the best aspects about internal links is that you have control over them – in terms of their anchor text, their placement and the number to be included on a single page. Furthermore, internal links are highly targeted and hence extremely valid/authentic, and come free-of-cost.

Importance of Internal Links

Internal links are important because of numerous reasons:

1. SEO Benefits
Internal links are immensely beneficial in terms of SEO. When search engine crawlers crawl your blog/website, it is during this process that they determine important keywords, and what keywords you should be ranked for. Internal links aid these search-engine bots and crawlers in the process of crawling and indexing your blog/website, and also aid them in determining your website’s internal architecture.

The most important pages in your website will be most heavily linked internally, which will allow crawlers to not only easily find them, but also determine their importance and rank them accordingly.

2. Usability Benefits
A couple of posts earlier, we spoke of ‘On-Page SEO Best-Practices’. One of the key on-page SEO factors was usability and navigation. This is where a good internal linking structure comes in.

Internal linking immensely aids your visitors by making it easy and convenient to navigate and get around on the website. The best part about these internal links is that they are present within the text or your write-up, which means that people will find it easier to click on these links and move around your website easily.

Types of Internal Links

1. Navigation Links: Pretty obvious, links in your navigation bar, such as one on top or in the sidebars of your website.

2. Inline Text Links: The most important type of external links. This includes hyperlinked text which is relevant to your write-up and the anchor text. These are present within your posts. Inline text links can be pretty beneficial as far as conversions are concerned.

3. Sitemap: A sitemap is a page on your website, which contains a list of all the links to the various pages on your website. Submitting a sitemap to the search engines provides them with the contents of your website, making it easier for them to index your pages. A sitemap also provides a one-glance overview of all the contents of your website to your visitors.

Best Practices

I personally recommend adding at least a few internal links after a couple of hundred posts in all your write-ups. As with external links, always avoid spamming your write-ups by putting in too many internal links. Add where necessary and where you think one will be appropriate and applicable; where you think linking to another part of your website would be beneficial from the reader/visitor’s perspective.

That is extremely essential, to look at the exercise of internal linking for a reader’s perspective, from the viewpoint of a regular visitor who might visit your blog.

For instance if you’re making a reference to a post from last week, or last month, it would be a good idea to link to that post right where you’re mentioning it. Or say if you’re doing a write-up on SEO techniques and you are referring to a great plugin that you used and reviewed recently and that you think would be great for SEO, link to your review of that plugin. Similarly, a sports blog could link to a player review post when speaking of team expectations for next year, or a celebrity gossip blog could refer to incidents that might have taken place earlier in the year when speaking of a split-up. These are just a few examples of internal linking.

Secondly, internal links have to be relevant. Irrelevant internal (or external, for that matter) will guarantee that search engine crawlers classify your posts as spam. Only link internally where applicable, and link to similar pages only. For instance Google would surely penalize you if your anchor text says something, and the link behind the text points to entirely something else, or something totally irrelevant.

Lastly, as mentioned earlier, avoid littering your posts or pages with internal links. That would just make these posts/pages look like walls of spam, and would put off any visitors that come to your website.

Internal linking can be extremely beneficial in terms of improving search engine rankings, and website usability/functionality.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

3 Really Good Logo Design Sites

One of the most popular ways to get professional, nice looking logo designs is to use one of the many Logo Design contest sites.  These sites are perfect for individuals or small businesses who want to get logo design concepts from a wide variety of different designers, not just one.  This is perfect for someone like me, who has limited capabilities of describing the kind of design I want.  I know what looks nice when I see it, but I usually can't describe it beforehand.

Below are the top 3 logo design contest websites that you can try.

1. 99designs

99Designs is my favorite because it has the deepest community of talented designers.  Posting your own design contest is very easy, and they have a money back guarantee as well.  So you are sure to get results if you use them.  Here's a review of 99designs by fellow blogger Josh Kotsay.

2. crowdSpring

crowdSpring is quite similar to 99designs.  They have over 120k designers registered on the site and all design contests are backed by a money back guarantee.  ArtOfBlog has a review of Crowdspring here.

One of the designers I use all the time, I first found on crowdSpring.  And he's been doing a great job over the years designing some really nice free vectors that I've been using.

3. Hatchwise

Another design contest site that is mainly focused on logo design.  What's unique about this site is that they have listing fees as cheap as $29.


If you have any design needs, why not try one of these design contest sites.  You'll get a wide variety of different designs to look at, and most of these sites offer your money back if you're not happy as well.  This makes them a no-brainer to try them for yourself.

The Ultimate 7-Step Keyword Research Process

As far as quality content and good SEO practices are concerned, the process of keyword research is of the utmost importance. I personally believe that good keyword research lays the foundation for all good SEO practices – content creation in particular.

Regardless of the niche you’re working on, or the kind of content you intend on producing, the process of keyword research is essential, because it is one of the first steps that need to be taken before content creation, and provides you with the necessary preparation required for creating high-quality and valuable content. Going in without keyword research would be like going into a battlefield without guns or ammo.

Here is a 5-step keyword research process that will allow you to determine what to rank for, how to choose words that you’d want to rank for, and most importantly, how to tailor your content according to words phrases that you want to rank for:

1. Identify Precisely What You Want To Rank For

By ‘precisely’ I don’t really mean the exact keywords or phrases that you might want to rank for. First off, brainstorm on a broad list of terms that are relevant to your industry, niche or your website/blog.

For this purpose, it is important to know what exactly it is that you’re marketing.

Sit down and make a list of any all terms and phrases that someone, looking for your product or service, might put into Google or any other search engine. For instance what phrase would any random person use in order to purchase something on your website (or reach your website, simply put)?

In addition, at this point, it is also equally essential to determine a list of keywords which you would want your blog to rank for. This includes making a list of keywords relevant to the overall content and subject matter of your blog, as well as keywords relevant to specific pages of your blog.

Brainstorm with your team, use the Google Keyword Tool, use Google suggest data, ask people through a survey, ask friends, colleagues and family, and use your intuition.

The keywords that you come up with will most probably be your product, service or brand name(s), as well as generic names of the product and services that might be providing.

2. Keyword Research Tool

As mentioned in the previous step, a keyword research tool such as the Google AdWords Keyword Tool (free) or a product like Market Samurai (a paid-for solution) will be of immense help, in the process of determining your keywords.

Google Keyword Tool is a powerful tool here. It allows you to enter one keyword that is the most relevant to your blog, and returns an exhaustive list of similar keywords, along with their search frequency and competitiveness (all can be arranged in ascending/descending order). Both of these however are probably not very accurate, and should be taken with a grain of salt.

Nonetheless, this is important information because it provides you with accurate insight into what people are searching and looking for, and general search behavior and patterns of the people.

3. Remove Irrelevant Keywords

At this point, I suggest removing any irrelevant keywords from your list.  Google Keywords Tool usually returns a whole slew of keywords, and your brainstorming session might also have yielded a large number of keywords – many of which might be irrelevant to your blog.

Determine which of these would not really be any good to rank for, and simply cross them off your list. This will allow you to narrow your list down to relevant, profitable keywords only.

4. Determine Competitiveness

Google Keywords Tool, Market Samurai and other keyword research tools allow you to view the competitiveness of your keywords as well. Ideally, it is advisable to rank for less competitive keywords, as it is relatively easier to rank for them.

However this does not mean that you should not try rank for highly-competitive keywords, especially if they’re relevant ones.

I also suggest trying to rank for long-tailed keywords or keyphrases, consisting of 2 or 3 (or more) words. The competition for these is usually pretty low, but some might still be getting a lot of search volume.

5. Prioritize Your Keyword List

By now, you’ll probably have a comprehensive, rather large list of broad terms, all of which are relevant to your blog. First off, prioritize your keywords in order of importance. The most important ones will probably be the ones that are the most relevant to you – and hence most accurately describe your blog’s content or your products/service – and the ones with the ability to get you the maximum amount of traffic and revenue. The number could be anywhere from just a couple to thousands, depending on the content of your blog (I personally recommend having a diverse keyword portfolio).

Make a list of all ‘priority keywords.’ Ideally, you would want to rank for these priority keywords by incorporating them in your content-creation strategy (and other on-page SEO factors), and your link-building strategy. You will also want to track the rankings for these particular keywords.

6. Incorporating Keywords

Once you’re done with the process of identification, listing down and prioritizing your keywords, it is now time to assign keywords to specific pages according to relevance. For this purpose, incorporate these keywords in your on-page SEO strategy, by using them in the meta information (page titles and descriptions), header tags and of course, the content.

You may find that only a handful of your priority keywords are relevant to each page (maybe 1 or 2). At this point, dig into your non-priority list (the list of keywords that were not included in the priority list) and incorporate these to each page as well. This will allow you to optimize your pages for a wider range of keywords.

7. Refine Your List

Lastly, I recommend refining your list with the passage of time, and using analytics (such as Google Analytics) to determine which keywords are the most popular and you should rank for. An analytics suite will come in pretty hand here, as it will also allow you to check which keywords are most profitable, and hence the ones which should be an integral part of your keyword strategy and link-building strategy.

Keywords also tend to change with time, for instance with seasons, changing socio-political or economic factors, and other demographics.

Review your keyword strategy at least once every month, by following steps 1-6, which will help you determine new keywords in your niche that you should (or might) want to rank for. It will also aid you in filtering out unprofitable keywords.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

SEO Strategies to Generate Targeted Traffic

Most bloggers and website owners end up concentrating their efforts on getting traffic. That is totally the wrong approach to take. Yes, at this point you’re probably thinking if I meant to say that or not. But bear with me on this – simply getting traffic on your blog or website is not an accomplishment by any means. But the ability to generate ‘targeted’ traffic – visitors who have an interest in your products, service or the content of your blog – is what matters!

The fact of the matter is that while most blogs find it easy to generate traffic, they struggle when it comes to generating targeted traffic.

A blog covering the smartphone industry would not benefit from visitors who don’t have any interest in smartphones. Similarly, a blog selling SEO services and Wordpress plugins would need to be able to get people such as those involved in SEO, bloggers and webmasters; a bunch of people looking for electronics online would be totally useless to that blog.

The inability to generate targeted traffic is damaging, to say the least, and ends up costing blogs significant amounts of money and revenue in the long run. It also has a negative effect on many of your blog’s metrics as well.

Here are 5 SEO strategies that will allow you to generate targeted online visitors for your blog, that will have an interest in the information or content you’re put up, or the products or services that you provide – essentially traffic that converts, and puts more money in your pocket!

1. Start targeting long-tailed keywords. Most blogger try ranking for single-term keywords. As a result, competition is usually very high for such keywords, and it becomes difficult to rank well for these keywords. Long-tailed keywords, or rather keyphrases (such as the one used in this post’s title) are relatively easier to rank for (because they have less competition) but still get a large amount of traffic.

Some long-tailed keywords are searched thousands of times on a daily basis, and have a relatively small number of bloggers trying to rank for them (less competition), which means that in some cases, using long-tailed keywords alone could provide you with a massive SERP boost, putting you on top of the search engine results page without the need of any linkbuilding!

2. Expand your keyword strategy. Instead of trying to rank for a single or a couple of keywords, create posts and pages which aim to rank for more than 2 keywords. This will allow you to be able to get relevant traffic for many different keywords and a constant stream of traffic for each keyword.

For instance if you put up 10 posts in 30 days, and each post targets 5 different keywords, you’ll have 50 relevant keywords, allowing you to be able to get traffic for all these keywords on a continuous basis.

A diverse keyword portfolio, consisting of a mix of terms that best describe your products/services will allow you to be able to get more visibility and exposure on search engines, and maybe even see your blog rank well for all these keywords that people may actually be searching for.

3. Blog-commenting, or posting comments on blogs can be an invaluable source of highly targeted traffic. For instance I spend a significant amount of my ‘blogging time’ posting comments on various blogs that (a) are relevant to the subject matter/theme of my own blogs, and (b) have the ‘dofollow’ attribute enabled on the comments.

This is beneficial because not only does it provide me with updates from within the industry, increase my knowledge, allows me to read on the happenings in my field, and allows me to network and connect with like-minded bloggers, I am also able to acquire a quick dofollow backlinks to my blog from a high-PR and authority source.

Blogs that use the CommentLuv plugin (or similar comment plugins) also place a link to one of your posts along with your comment. This means that your link (or the title of one of your posts) eventually comes across and is seen by a large group of people, who are all interested in what you’re offering – aka. targeted traffic.

4. Guest Blogging is one of the best, Google-friendly ways of building links and driving in traffic to your blog. Personally, I am a big fan of guest blogging, as it is lets you build quality, high-PR backlinks, improve SERP, build reputation and generating extremely targeted traffic to your blog.

A lot of blogs offer guest-posting opportunities, because blogs need a regular dose of fresh content to rank well and bring visitors in. When choosing a blog to guest post on, make sure that it has a high Page Rank and Alexa Rank, receives a good amount of traffic, and is generally active in terms of comments.
As far as the content is concerned, choose interesting topics, develop catchy titles and write well-researched and well-written posts. Ask the blog-owner about where how many times you can include the link to your own blog/posts in the write-up. It is also recommended to choose certain relevant keywords and construct your write-up around them.
Once again, as with blog-commenting, it is important to choose blogs that are the most relevant to the content of your own blog – relevance equals targeted traffic.

5. Press Release. If done correctly, press releases can be an extremely effective way of spreading word about your blog online, and of course, get targeted inbound traffic.

Google seems to be particularly fond of press release websites, mostly because press releases are a good way spreading highly-valuable content. If you can successfully write a news-worthy and buzz-worthy story related to your niche, it is bound to be picked up by a lot of people, providing you with invaluable exposure.

Submit your press release to one of the many PR-submission portals out there. For me, PRWeb.com and DirectionsMag.com (a PR7 website!) are two of the best in the business for this purpose. Both these do a good job of announcing your press release to every blog/website out these within your niche, and mass-distribute your release.

Special mentions:
(a) Buying targeted traffic through Google AdWords.
(b) Generating targeted traffic through Facebook and Twitter (among other social mediums).

Friday, 27 July 2012

On-Page SEO Best Practices

Search Engine Optimization, or SEO for short, has two distinct elements – on-page SEO elements and off-page.

On-page elements, as the name implies, are internal elements or those set of SEO elements that are present on the page itself, are in the control of the blog-owner/webmaster, and can be easily altered or changed. Off-page elements include social engagement and sharing, link-building practices and visitor behavior – all of which are partly controllable.

Quite understandably, both on-page and off-page elements combine to form what are commonly known as ‘SEO Best Practices’. Being familiar with both sets of optimization is essential, as adherence to these will allow you to rank your website/blog better and higher up on the SERPs, in particular for your keywords, allow you to be able to get much more exposure through mediums other than search engines, and as a result, you will be able to drive in large amounts of traffic to your website or blog.

Here are 4 essential elements of on-page SEO:

1. Content

After the introduction of Google Panda (the update to Google’s search algorithm that was introduced in 2011), content is now one of the most significant things to one’s on-page SEO strategy. The importance of putting up quality content on your blog cannot be overstated!

I cannot stress enough on this, but it is extremely vital to put up quality content – specifically content that provides value and benefit to the reader, content that is fresh and un-copied, content that is well-written and well-researched, content that is free from grammatical or factual errors, and most importantly, content that is written for human beings and not for search engines.

Posting frequency depends on the person responsible for producing the content, or the nature of the blog. However it is essential to be able to put up updated content on a regular basis. You won’t get a lot of returning visitors if your blog remains outdated for long lengths of time. Ideally, you should make an effort to post high-quality content on your blog on a daily basis, as this ensures that you get a steady stream of visitors to your blog. Alternatively, putting up a couple of well-written, well-researched post at least once a week is better than putting up low-quality content on a daily basis.

Other content best-practices include using header tags (H1, H2, H3, etc), adding images and videos to your write-ups, and refraining from writing posts that are too short (and hence insufficient), or too long (and hence hard to read).

I recommend developing a content-creation strategy: what to write, how frequently you want to write, do you prefer developing your content yourself or would you consider having someone else do it for you, and of course, how you can integrate images, infographics and videos to your content.

2. Website Architecture

Website architecture includes factors such as website navigation, ease-of-use and functionality.

These factors are essential because (i) they make it easy for your visitors to browse through your blog, enhancing the user-experience, and (ii) they allow search engine crawlers to access and crawl your blog in order to index the blog pages. You might be producing the best content in the world for your blog, but if users and crawlers have difficulty navigating through your blog, it will be of little or no use.

The first step is to ensure that your blog is easy to navigate and browse-through. If you’re using one of more famous blogging platforms/CMS out there (such as Blogger or Wordpress, for instance – more on those in just a bit), these CMS will automatically provide you with options to change, edit, and fully control your blog’s navigation. Using a good premium theme will enhance certain navigation elements.

Links (or a practice most commonly referred to as linking) also makes up an essential part of your website architecture. Internal linking involves linking to an article, page or post that is within your own blog (such as an old post), and external linking means to link a source outside your blog (such as a Facebook page, or an article from another website). Links allow you to add variety to your content, can be used to provide useful information to your readers, and internal links aid crawlers to index your blog. However some considerations: (i) hotlinks should ALWAYS be relevant to the write-up, and (ii) links should not be used excessive (particularly external links).

In addition, broken links will adversely affect your website’s architecture. There are numerous plugins out there which allow you to keep a check on broken links on your blog by notifying you of any such links.

Other factors include page speed and blog load times. Google has now made blog load times an essential part of its ranking algorithm – the faster your blog, the higher it will be ranked.

3. Keywords

An important part of your content creation strategy is the usage of important and relevant keywords. These keywords (or in some cases, key-phrases) are certain words which you want your blog to rank for.

It is important to use these keywords a certain number of times within any content that you create – including the body, title, description and header tags. If you’re doing it right, it’d mean that you’re using keywords that are most relevant to the industry/niche or the subject-matter of your blog. There are countless free plugins out there that streamline this process for you.

You can use Google’s free Keyword Research Tool in order to determine relevant keywords and the search frequency and competition for each keyword.

A couple of considerations when it comes to keywords: (i) I cannot stress any more on that fact that keywords should always be relevant, as irrelevant keywords will see search engines penalize you. And (ii) a practice commonly referred to as ‘keyword stuffing’ (excessive usage of keywords) should always be avoided, as this will only make your write-ups look spammy and unfit for human reading.

Using your important keyword(s) twice or thrice every 100 words (aka. a keyword density of 2%-3%) lets the search engine crawlers know which keywords to rank you for.

4. The CMS

CMS, or Content Management System, refers to the platform used to create a blog. Wordpress remains one of the most popular CMS out there and quite understandably so. It is my CMS of choice in most cases, quite simply because it is extremely simple and easy to use, while at the same time being very powerful and highly functional.

It takes care of many of the SEO elements for you on its own, and coupled with plugins such as SEO by Yoast or All-in-One SEO, you can have total control over any and all your on-page SEO elements.

Moreover, Wordpress has one of the largest plugins and themes library, and provides the blog owner, as well as a visitor with a visually-attractive and easy-to-navigate interface. Coupled with the fact that you can change just about any single element of your website through Wordpress, it comes as no surprise that it is even recommended by Matt Cutts himself!

Other than Wordpress, popular CMS include Tumblr, Drupal, Blogger (or Google Blogspot), Habari and Joomla.

Your CMS-of-choice could end up having a considerable effect on your on-page SEO. In fact, the choice between a good CMS and one that is just not as good could be what ultimately makes or breaks all elements of your on-page SEO. Personally, I recommend going for Wordpress – coupled with a good theme framework, such as the Genesis or Thesis – and using one of the abovementioned plugins, in order to lay a solid foundation for strong on-page search engine optimization.  

Thursday, 26 July 2012

5 Google Analytics Data to Keep an Eye On

Google Analytics is an immense tool! While there’s a plethora of analytics suites available out there, Google’s product remains the most widely-used website statistics service – a clear favorite among almost 12.5 million websites and blogs out there, and is installed in 57% of the 10,000 most popular websites in the world!

And for good reason. It is extremely quick to set up and access (a common feature of all Google products), extremely simple, straightforward and easy to use, and a comprehensive, enterprise-class analytics tool that puts a plethora of data at your disposal – from basic stuff such as the number of new and returning visitors, to an in-depth look at your conversion and on-page analytics, to name a few!

And one of the best things about it is the fact that it is totally free to use!

Here is a list of 5 Google Analytics elements that you should keep an eye on:

1. Number of visitors

One of the most simple pieces of data provided by Google Analytics is an insight into the number of visitors that your website or blog gets.

However you get the same bit of information from Wordpress/blogger dashboard as well, so what exactly does Google Analytics offer over these pre-installed services, you might wonder?

The answer is, a lot!

Google Analytics goes way beyond providing you with simple visitor numbers; you can check your total number of visits, unique visitors, new and returning visitors (plus percentage of new visits), pageviews and pageviews/visit, and of course average visit duration. And this is just to name a few! All the available information can be presented in graphical format and compared with any other piece of data available in Google Analytics.

2. Conversions

Conversions or conversion rate refers to the number of visitors on your blog that go on and actually undertake an action that you intended for them to undertake, such as buy a product (aka. convert). For instance if you have an ecommerce business or if you’re selling something online, the percentage of visitors that make a purchase would determine your conversion rate. For a membership-only website, the process of signing up would determine the conversion rate. For instance if 5 out of every 100 people sign up for a newsletter, it means that your conversion rate is at 5%. If 20 out of every 40 people like your Facebook page, your conversion rate is at 50%.

Measuring your conversions is an important aspect of Google Analytics. However it requires that you set up a ‘goal page’ on your website, and that specific goals are enabled on the website. Whenever a visitor lands on your goal page, and successfully finishes that goal (fulfills an objective, such as the ones mentioned above), that equals one conversion for you.  

A high conversion rate means that more people are successfully doing what you wanted them to do on your website. A conversion rate of 3-5% is usually considered to be very good, however it varies with industry/niche.

Through the ‘funnels’ feature, you can even check where exactly in the process are you losing your visitors before they convert successfully, which allows you to rectify the issue and maximize conversions.

3. Bounce Rate

Another important metric when it comes to the well-being of your website/blog, bounce rate refers to people who arrive on any given page of your website, but leave without browsing any other page. Like conversions, bounce rate too is displayed as a percentage of total visitors.

Having a high bounce rate means that people leave your website right from the page that they landed on. Quite obviously, this is not a good sign, and could be due to any of the following factors: uninteresting content,  outdated content, bad website interface, broken links, poor website design, difficult navigation, or bad pages.

What Google Analytics does is that it allows you to identify pages that have a high bounce rate, and gives an insight into the problems that might have gone unnoticed before.

While you can never expect to have a 0% bounce rate, depending on the industry you work in, anything below 50% would be an acceptable figure, with figures such as 20 or 30% considered to be exceptional.

You can use Google Analytics’ In-page Analytics tool to determine which page might have a high bounce rate, and rectify any issues.

4. Sources of Traffic

Google Analytics also lets you track your sources of traffic, and where you’re getting your visitors from. It shows this information in graph as well as pie-chart forms. And the tool divides this information into 4 major sources – search traffic, referral traffic, direct traffic and traffic through campaigns. 

And it doesn’t quite end there; for instance you can look at the keywords that visitors used in order to get to your website through search engines. This allows you to see whether your keyword strategy is working or not, and how effective it really is. You can also view the sources of traffic for the search traffic category (eg. Google search, image search, Bing search, etc.). 

The same applies to all other 3 sources; you can view the sources of your referral traffic, including the visits you received from different sources – including the number of visits as well as percentage. Detailed stats for each source are also displayed – including data like average visitor duration for a single source, pages/visit and the like.

5. Google AdWords Integration

Last but certainly not the least, Google Analytics integrates with Google AdWords and your AdWords campaign as well. If you’re using Google AdWords on your blog or website (which you should be), to monetize your online efforts through ads, this feature will come in real handy. 

Integrating your Analytics with your AdWords allows you to monitor each and every individual aspect of the campaign. This includes visitors from different sources (non-mobile, mobile, tablet) that visited your website, as well as provides ecommerce statistics like revenue, total transactions, average vale of transactions and the like. Clicks-related data can also be measured here – including CTR, CPC, RPC and ROI, to name just a few. 

There’s tons of other data at your disposal as well. What all this means is that you essentially have tons of information to work with, all of which gives you the power to optimize your ads and ad campaigns by identifying traffic sources, geographies, browsers and of course, pages that are the best and worst in terms of monetizing your blog. 

Knowledge is power. Use this information to alter your AdWords strategy to maximize the revenues from your advertisement campaign.