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Understanding Google Analytics: Traffic Channels in GA

Decoding Your Google Analytics Acquisition Reports

Using Google Analytics to monitor your marketing campaigns gives you detailed insights into which channels drive the most traffic, and the success of individual campaigns. Each click is categorized into a channel according to the website it came from, known as the source, and the type of advertising, called the medium.

Eight different channels make up the default channel grouping under “All Traffic” in the “Acquisition” section of Google Analytics. Google separates traffic into these channels based on whether it matches the rules for the source and medium associated with the channel. For traffic to be separated into the correct channels, links must be tagged with custom source, medium and campaign information, which you can set in the Analytics dashboard.

1.      Direct

When someone goes straight to your website by typing in the URL, Google counts it as direct traffic. Clicks on links in documents, such as PDF files, are direct, and an estimated 60 percent of organic search traffic may be incorrectly categorized as belonging in this channel. All URLs without custom campaign tags also show up as direct.

2. Referral

Click-throughs from third-party sites count as referrals unless they come from other search engines. This is an important channel to monitor if you guest blog, post articles on sites like Medium or use platforms like Quora to extend your reach. High levels of referral traffic could indicate your backlinking strategy is paying off.

3. Organic Search

Unpaid search results should end up in the organic channel. Performance in this category shows whether or not your SEO efforts are generating click-throughs. However, because so much of organic search traffic tends to be labeled as direct, this report may not be as reliable as those for other channels.

4. Paid Search

You’ll find analytics for all types of paid ads from search engines in this channel. PPC, CPC and other paid ad types all count no matter the search platform on which they’re run. These campaigns are usually tagged automatically, so you don’t have to worry about creating your own source or medium data.

5. Display

AdWords offers the option of auto-tagging your links so that clicks are categorized as display traffic. Other display ads, including remarketing, banners and content distributed across the Google Display Network may drive a significant amount of additional traffic, so check on this channel if you focus your marketing efforts on display ads.

6. Social

If social media marketing is a big part of your advertising strategy, you’ll want to keep an eye on this channel. All social campaigns with the proper tags show up here. Tags help you differentiate between campaigns so that you know whether your Facebook holiday ads are driving the most traffic, or the paid Instagram product promotion is responsible for a spike in sales of a particular product.

7. Email

Most email providers offer auto-tagging to separate campaign information in Google Analytics. This feature is invaluable if you send out a large number of emails, especially during the holiday shopping season, and want to know which calls-to-action are the most effective for generating leads. Clicks from email links lacking tags are categorized as direct.

8. Other Advertising

Any traffic from advertising not falling into an obvious category shows up under “Other.” These clicks could originate from ads on platforms other than search or simply not match any channel description.

Understanding Google Analytics default channels takes the guesswork out of optimizing your advertising campaigns. Use the information from your dashboard to tweak exiting campaigns and adjust your marketing budget to focus more on the channels bringing in the most traffic and driving conversions.

Need more answers deciphering your Google Analytics reports? Call the Internet Marketeers at SunAnt Interactive at 262-641-2613 to get those questions answered.

9 Years On

It was a little over 9 years ago when James Shore and I decided we would take a crack at running our own web shop. That is, to partner up and go into business on our own. I had met James in 7th Grade and we had been close friends ever since.

I am not sure how (or don’t remember) but James started talking about this shop in Mayville, WI (a small town “up north”) that was for sale (by the name of SunAnt Web). We bought that book of business and took a lease out in a truly depressing office in the basement of a similarly depressed office building in a not-so-great neighborhood.

We were of course excited and nervous. Our timing was terrible of course. The economy was not nearly as vibrant as it is today, for instance. Nevertheless, we were viable. Primarily because of our “White Label” business model.

Within a month, we had lured Damon to work with us. Anthony was hired on with our newly-formed company, SunAnt Interactive. And we were beginning to wrap our arms around our new set of clients, as well as ramping up sales.

When James left mid-week for a retreat in Arizona, we had no idea as we walked up to the parking lot what the immediate future had in store. When we got to the parking lot, James realized he had forgotten something in the office. Damon and I thought it would be funny if he returned only to discover we had ditched him. So, we high-tailed it out of there. I think I actually chuckled as I drove off. I can say with 100% certainty he must’ve come back up, realized we had left, shook his head, and under his breath muttered, “assholes”. All with that shit eating grin of his.

We never saw James alive again. Several days later, moments after I had awakened, my cell phone was ringing. I saw on caller id the call was being made from James’ mother’s phone. I knew. I just knew. I picked up the phone and heard James’ step dad, Tom, on the other end. He said, “Matt. James is dead”. Now, when people talk about having to sit down at such news… when they talk of the ringing in their ears and the overwhelming dizziness at such shocking news, I am here to tell you this is no lie.

I remember looking over at my wife, Jen, and shaking my head as Tom started to tell of the tragic accident in Sedona. None of it registered. I just kept saying, “this is not possible”. Over and over again.

But it was possible. And it was so.

James. My nearly-lifelong best friend… my brother… was dead.

The days and weeks that followed were really, really awful. James had left behind a wife and 3 kids, a mother and 2 siblings, a step father, and nephews and nieces. And he left behind the rest of us who cared and loved him as well.

Friends from far and wide and all points throughout the country came to his memorial service. Hundreds were in attendance as we remembered James in a lovely send-off.

But what to do about the business? Losing James was devastating. Personally, first and foremost. But crippling for the business. No one would fault me for just closing the business and walking away.

I prayed on it.

Damon and Anthony agreed to become partners in the business. And they have become as close to me in friendship as a man could be blessed with. They are also spectacular business partners.

It’s a week away from 9 years on as I write this.

I like to think James would be proud. I miss him.

– Matt

9 Signs that You Need a New Website

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lingscars, see #6

In general, the lifespan of a website is really only about two or three years. An older website might still work but it could be brought up to date with better functionality, a better design and a better user experience. A new website that looks current shows customers that a company is young, fresh, innovative, strong, and up to date with the latest technology.

Here are nine signs that your website needs updating:

1. The website is older than 3 years. This is a pretty obvious one, since in the span of 3 years a lot happens in technology. New operating systems and browser versions are released, and cool website techniques are developed all the time. After three years, your website may not work correctly on newer browsers and phones, use your company’s old color scheme before you re-branded, and just look out of date in general. Continue reading

Can Customer Reviews Increase Marketing Results in Online Search?

four and a half stars 300x56You’ve heard online reviews are important for your business, but just how much power do they really have? For a marketing strategy to be worth your time, it needs to generate traffic, conversions and strong customer relationships. Customer reviews can have a positive impact on all three if you understand how to incorporate them into your search engine marketing.

Customer Reviews as a Marketing Strategy

Imagine walking into a store or visiting a website at without any prior knowledge of the business versus seeking out a brand your friends love. The way you view the company will be more favorable if you approach it with the expectation of having a good experience. Perhaps because of this, 88 percent of customer trust online reviews as much as personal endorsements, and 90 percent seek out reviews before going to a business. Companies without reviews are likely to get overlooked in favor of those collecting consistent consumer feedback. Continue reading

Starting Inbound Marketing

inbound marketing word cloud on blackboard 300x200Is there something missing in your marketing strategies? Do you feel like the old ways of print advertising and even advertising online through Facebook and other venues is useless?

Well, I’m here to tell you marketing doesn’t work as well as you think anymore. Times have changed. People aren’t looking to be sold anymore. They aren’t looking to have people call them on the phone and sell them a product. Those things are all becoming less useful and marketers and salespeople are being shut down more than ever. Here is where the concept of Inbound Marketing comes in. Continue reading

Post-Launch Checklist for Website Success – Part 3

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You need to switch to HTTPS

Continuing onward with this series, How accessible and secure is your new website? Both areas are important for user experience and site performance. If you didn’t address these necessities during your initial launch, it’s time to take stock and make fixes before problems arise:

1. Strengthen Security

Your web host should have some security measures in place, but you need to establish your own if you want maximum protection from hackers. Start by making sure all passwords are strong and include numbers, letters and at least one symbol. Install and run antivirus, anti-malware and anti-spyware programs, and set up a firewall to keep data safe. Switching from HTTP to HTTPS, which we highly recommend you do, adds another layer of security and may have the additional benefit of boosting your Google search ranking. Continue reading

Post-Launch Checklist for Website Success – Part 2

website being built 300x214As seen in Part 1, establishing and streamlining your website gives you a solid foundation from which to grow. Successful sites employ dynamic tactics for drawing visitors, encouraging interactions and staying visible to search engines. Optimize your site and start boosting traffic with these five tactics.

1. Be Creative with Content

Consistently posting fresh content brings search engine robots to your site on a regular basis. If your site is a news portal or blog, you’ve probably already established a posting schedule. However, business sites also need new content, so consider starting a blog or vlog. You can make posts yourself, include contributions from employees or invite others in the industry to post. Continually update old content to reflect the latest information and trends so that your site is always active. Continue reading

A Post-Launch Checklist for Website Success

mynewwebsite 300x44You’ve poured hours of time into designing your website and got through the official launch without a hitch, so now you’re ready to sit back and relax while it works for you. However, there’s no such thing as “set it and forget it” if you want to maximize website performance and increase traffic. Diligent webmasters constantly monitor, update and make changes to improve user experience.

Use this checklist to streamline your website, make it more attractive to search engines and ensure users stick around long enough to engage and convert.

1. Proofread

You should have checked your website for mistakes at least once before going live, but it never hurts to do it again. Look for misspellings, incorrect prices and errors in contact information while ensuring ensure keywords flow naturally in text and double-checking for links leading to the wrong pages. Continue reading

Get on Top in 2017: 4 SEO Tips for Maximum Website Visibility

seo triangle 300x290Have you ever felt as though you’re being swept away by a river of ever-changing search engine optimization (SEO) algorithms? Although Google does seem fond of shaking things up for webmasters, there are some basic “rules” you can follow to push your website closer to the top of search engine results pages and bring in more visitors.

If you’re ready to attain better visibility for your site in 2017, try these four SEO tips to dominate search results on both desktop and mobile devices:

1. Streamline Your Offerings

More mobile searches performed by increasingly tech-savvy audiences make speedy websites a must. It’s time to update the way you serve visitors by stripping away unnecessary content and optimizing every page to load as quickly as possible. Today’s users consume videos and images much more readily than blocks of text. Save lengthy “pillar” content for your blog, focusing instead on “bite-sized” content delivered in formats suitable for viewing on the go.

Don’t forget to change your website to https, if you haven’t already. Google is giving a boost to sites which improve their website security. Continue reading

Securing Your Place in Google Rankings with HTTPS/SSL

website not secure 300x145Improving Google search rank is an ongoing quest for webmasters and business owners. Higher ranking in SERPS means more impressions, more click-throughs and more potential for conversions.

Google’s algorithms are in a constant state of fluctuation, making it difficult to stay on top of the latest trends. The introduction of the “HTTPS Everywhere” concept in 2014 changed ranking signals yet again, making many people wonder if implementing security protocols is necessary to continue enjoying high visibility. Continue reading