Web Search & Marketing Newsletter - May 2014
Welcome to the latest issue of our monthly newsletter which covers news, tips and advice on effective website marketing, with a particular focus on search marketing techniques and trends.
Just over a month ago, Google released their Universal Analytics product from beta, so this edition of the newsletter looks at this much anticipated upgrade to Google Analytics, plus its benefits and the implications for all websites using this tracking. Related to this, we also examine how the implementation of Google's Tag Manager code to a website has significant benefits in terms of functionality and the potential to reduce the management time and tracking resources on a website.
Finally in this issue, we review another significant event from the past month, which has been the recognition of the 'Heartbleed Bug'. This is a major security breach that exploits a vulnerability in supposedly secure SSL and TLS encryptions and presents a significant concern to every Internet user.
You can read more below, or you can also browse through previous editions of the newsletter, either by month or by subject. You can also follow us on Twitter for the latest developments during the month, or follow our Facebook page or Google+ page for updates.
On to this month's edition...
Google's Universal Analytics is Released
In an eagerly-anticipated development, Google recently announced that their latest version of Analytics - known as 'Universal' - has come out of its beta stage and is now the primary version of the Analytics product. This should be of significant interest to any business website owner, or website marketing manager, who actively controls and analyses this data, as it's much more suitable for today's multi-screen, multi-device world.
The new Universal Analytics product has a range of new features and benefits which are summarised below. The immediate issue for most websites that are currently using Analytics is to upgrade the tracking code snippet on their site pages, which can be done now, or eventually Google will force all websites to use the new code, as the existing code will eventually be discontinued. If you currently use Analytics, you'll need to login to your account and start the upgrade process within the Admin area - which is clearly explained within the account.
One of the main features being promoted by Google with the new Universal Analytics is that it will enable more modern functionality, including the gradual roll-out of the User ID feature to help you better understand the customers' full journey through a website towards a goal or sale completion. These reports will show anonymous engagement activity across different screens and visits to your site to provide a more user-centric view of the traffic, to help you build a more tailored experience for your customers as well.
It will also enable new cross-device reporting that shows how the website's users are interacting with your business across multiple devices, at different times. With the User ID, you can get a more accurate user count, analyse the signed-in user experience, and get access to the new Cross Device reports. You can read more about User ID here, or how to set up the User ID here.
Other improvements include tracking code that is also more flexible and easier to implement on a number of levels. In addition to this, there is time-zone based processing of reports, which provides the data more quickly without any time-zone lag, leading to much fresher data. There is also more advanced benefits for developers and the improved cross-domain, or sub-domain tracking for websites, as well as the ability to create custom dimensions and custom metrics to collect data that's unique to your business and stay up-to-date with new features.
In addition, Universal Analytics also gives you access to new configuration options. These are organic search sources, session and campaign timeout handling, referral exclusions and search term exclusion that add a new level of functionality to control the data. You can read more about the benefits of Universal Analytics here.
This is a major advance for Google Analytics and the ability to track how (anonymous) users behave across multiple devices and sessions is a huge leap forward from the previous version and will provide an invaluable level of data and reporting detail in the future. If you would like to know more about Universal Analytics and how it can benefit your business, contact us now for more details.
Google Tag Manager - Why Use It?
Following on from the first article this month about Universal Analytics, this is a perfect time to consider implementing Google's Tag Manager code on your website, as it offers numerous benefits to both business owners and marketing managers. A key benefit of the Tag Manager (GTM) is its ability to deliver any code that you want to your site, without lengthy manual and sometimes costly, code changes. This will make future upgrades and enhancements much simpler, since modifications can be made through GTM by marketers and not through technical developers.
If you decide to implement the new code for the Universal Analytics tracking on your website, then it's also a good time to consider setting up a Google Tag Manager account and using this code instead - which can incorporate the Analytics tracking functions. Some of the other benefits in setting up the Google Tag Manager are:
As changes and new tags can be made rapidly and do not require code changes to the website it's great for marketers, with its excellent ability for quickly adding marketing tags for Adwords or conversion tracking, without involving a developer.
As marketers don't need to involve a developer with every tweak to simple tags, this frees up time for developers to focus on larger projects. GTM's robust features and extreme customisation options also give it great flexibility.
- Debug Options
A critical element is the ability to use GTM's de-bugger to ensure tags work before they are live on the site.
- Version Control
Every time you publish a change, it creates a new version, which is archived. If at any time you need to rollback to an existing version, you can do so easily. This is also a great way to keep tags organised and trouble-shoot tagging problems.
- User Permissions
GTM allows you to set permissions for individual users that include view, edit, and publish. So varying levels of access can be provided for internal employees, or for out-sourced marketing agencies.
- Built-In Tags
GTM has included tags for classic and Universal Analytics, AdWords conversions, remarketing, as well as other popular ad networks. These allow marketers to customise the tags with just a few pieces of information and without the time-consuming complication of implementing code.
- Event Listeners
GTM can be used to target links or buttons by attributes that are already on the link, or by using a standardised naming structure like data attributes, instead of manually tagging each link that you want to track as an event within Google Analytics. This a very important and time-saving benefit.
The reason for adopting the use of GTM is very compelling, especially due to the way in which it can reduce resources and is so adaptable and customisable. There are numerous types of code that can be quickly added to your site, a few examples of which can be seen here.
In you'd like more information about the benefits of GTM and how it can save your business money, please contact us now.
The Heartbleed Bug - Does It Affect You?
On 1st April Google's security team reported their findings on the vulnerability in OpenSSL, used by website's with secure data handling such as ecommerce sites. At the same time, a Finnish company had also discovered the bug and it has been revealed to be far from an April Fool's joke! However, action has been taken quickly during the month to patch the bug and to prevent any serious security breaches.
The Heartbleed bug was revealed to be a serious security flaw located in the OpenSSL library - for a more technical background you can read more here. In simple terms, this bug is a flaw that makes it possible for important user information to be stolen through different SSL and TLS encryptions. The Heartbleed bug can lead to personal information being hacked and accessed by others, in the form of emails, instant messaging conversations and VPN's.
As a result of flawed OpenSSL protection, hackers have been able to eavesdrop on individuals and gather data such as usernames, passwords and other valuable personal information. This bug has become a major concern for businesses across the globe with valuable and confidential business information now potentially being accessed and compromised by outsiders.
The only way that this bug can be corrected is through installing the 'Fixed OpenSSL' patch. Users may have to wait until this patch is implemented for different operating systems, networks and software, although the top Internet security firms have been working on solutions around the Heartbleed bug to ensure valuable personal information is protected.
If you are concerned that your information has been hacked from a vulnerable website - or that your website might be vulnerable - then you can use the Symantec SSL Toolbox web security service. This will inform you whether a specific website is safe from the Heartbleed bug. If you are considering using a website and providing the site with valuable information, then it is a good idea to use this tool to ensure the site is safe from potential SSL security breaches. Changing all your passwords regularly is another effective way of ensuring your personal information remains safe.
The Heartbleed bug is a major security breach and worry for all Internet users across the globe and vast amounts of resources and funding will be needed to ensure the security breaches caused by this bug are repaired in the near future.
If you'd like to know how the Heartbleed Bug could affect your business, contact us now for more information.
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We hope you've found this month's newsletter useful. Please contact us if you need any more information on the items covered, or our advice on any aspect of your website's performance. Also, if there are any issues you would like to see in future editions of this newsletter, please submit your suggestions to us.