How to Get the Most Out of Google Analytics

IStock_000018624958XSmallGoogle Analytics, (or GA for those in the know), is the true alpha male of its division – The name has become synonymous with free web analytics tools. If, like most small business owners, GA is your tracking dashboard of choice, you may have been overwhelmed the first time you logged in due to the sheer amount of data and reports available to you. However, fear no more, here are 5 custom Google Analytics reports that will make your life easier (and revenue greater).

1. Goals

As with any good marketing effort, it’s very important to set objectives for what you want to accomplish, and your website is no exception. In GA, setting up goals is the best way to measure your site’s success rate. There are 3 types you can choose from for any given page:

  • URL Destination: the most common option, this will tell you if your visitors are visiting the page you want them to (for example, a completed checkout page).
  • Time on Site: as its name indicates, this will track users who spend either more or less than a specified amount of time on the site.
  • Pages/Visit: this will let you know the number of pages visited more than, less than or equal to a predefined number.

Of course, you can fine-tune these goals once you are more comfortable with GA, and adapt them to lead/sales conversion types, define conversion funnels, etc.

Goal-settings_thumb

2. Site Content Popularity

Are your visitors looking at what you want them to look at? Hopefully the answer is yes, and GA can tell you that right off the bat when you log in. Take some time to get familiarized with the main dashboard, as it will give you some of the basic metrics you need at a glance:

  • Visits: a visit is counted every time someone checks out your website.
  • Pageviews: the number of pages on your website viewed within the selected date range.
  • Pages/Visit: the depth of visit, in other words, the number of pages viewed for any given visit.
  • Bounce Rate: a visitor entering the site and leaving without performing any additional actions (such as viewing another page or submitting a form).
  • Avg. Time on Site: pretty straightforward, the total time spent on your website divided by the number of visitors.
  • % New Visits: the percentage of visitors that haven’t visited your website in the past 6 months.

Visitors Overview - Google Analytics

3. High-Value Landing Pages

After spending time optimizing your landing page, you probably want to see how well it’s performing, right? This report shows you your top landing pages and how they are performing based upon goal completions (as set above) and the values of these goals.

Google_Analytics_Landing_Pages_Report

4. Traffic Sources

Want to know where your visitors are coming from? There’s a report for that too! This one will offer you an in-depth look at how people are finding your website, divided in 3 categories:

  • Direct Traffic: visitors that typed your domain into their browsers and went directly to your website.
  • Referring Sites: sites that include a link pointing to a page on your website. These sites are often clients, vendors, or business partners.
  • Search Engines: traffic that reaches your website after performing an online search.

You can also take a look at the “All Traffic Sources” report, which shows the top sources for your website. You can sort by Visits, Pages/Visit, and Bounce Rate. This will allow you to drill down even deeper into which sources perform better, or worse.

Gatraffic

5. Top Keywords

Somewhat linked to the previous report, your top keywords report will tell you which phrases users have been using in their search engine queries before landing on your website. Based on these results, make sure to optimize your site and bid accordingly!

Google-analytics-keywords-screen

Are there any other reports in GA that you’re using on a daily basis? Share away!

 

Posted by My Truong

My Truong is the Marketing Programs Manager at VerticalResponse. Connect with him on Twitter @PtitMy.

Looking for ways to promote your website on a budget? How about for free? Some of the best website advertising methods will cost you nothing more than a little time.

There is no word in the English language that seizes interest as much as the word FREE. Oh there are some that tantalize, but free things just causes us do the funniest things. We keep free gimmicky stuff all the time that we know we’ll never utilize, but do it anyhow, and then try to pawn it off for $0.05 at a yard sale in the summer.

They say the best things in life are free: love, friendship, intellect, but hardly in life does free stuff give any true worth, as in products and services. Well, in the web based arena, that is not consistently the truth, specifically in web page marketing. It’s because what is free of charge to you is providing value to the person giving it away. So pay attention business owners on a tight budget, because here are Five FREE Ways to Advertise Your Site:

1) Directory Listings

Search for free company rosters and see what comes up. Tons and I mean loads, of websites that allow you to list your business or site for absolutely no cost. Why? Because their financial models are typically based upon the up-sell, see that, the premium listing. Oh you get the basics free of charge, but what you really prefer is the one that allows you to load pictures, videos, and the longer, expanded version recap. The good part is, nearly all of the free versions will list your site link, and this helps individuals discover you and your internet backlink method. Here are a few of the most popular directories:

  • Manta.com
  • Biz Highway
  • Dexknows
  • Superpages

And let’s not lose sight of the search engine wars that lead to millions of gratuitous, unclaimed listings for companies like:

  • Google Places
  • Yahoo Local
  • Bing Local

Does it take time to complete their listing forms? You know it! It’s free, but not effortless.

2) Complimentary PR

Have a new good or service you would like to get recognized? Write a news release and get it submitted through a PR service that, like the directories, provides free fundamental press release submittal services. These generally won’t arrive at the main media outlets, most of whom use sites like PR Newswire or Business Wire, but the middle tier media outlet market can be accessed by PR services with cost-free options, like…

  • PR.com
  • PR Log
  • 24-7 Press Release
  • I-Newswire

3) Social Media

If you are trying to get reach on the internet and you don’t have a Facebook page, LinkedIn account, Google+ page and Twitter username, shame on you! All of these provide absolutely free listings on websites with extremely high Google page rankings. They’re the most significant social media websites on the web. If you have a business you can also get a business page on these sites that links to your individual profile. Even when you don’t have time to “work” these websites to their fullest, there is link juice available from even the most horrible fan profiles.

A better method is to get in the social media arena and pick one or two of these to construct pages and initiate a communication with others who are already comfortable using this vehicle.

And there are lots of supplementary social sites for headlines, bookmarking et cetera that enable you to acknowledge your site if not get a posting. A solid listing of more of them than you can possibly manage can be located on Shareaholic.

4) Offer Commentary

You and I both know there is way too much free information on the net, however we still have a couple of favored blogs or news websites we go to get our fill of self-help or what’s taking place in the realms that we follow.

So do others who might just want to visit your blog. On nearly all blogs, you are able to write comments. The blog writers like this because it tells the search engine world and new readers that people are engaged in their content, and nothing detrimental can stem from that. When you leave a comment, you’ll usually have the option to connect your website link to your reply. Often you can link to other items to as a possibility, like your Facebook or Twitter page.

Do it. If you reserve 30 minutes a week, you can browse recent columns from your favored sites and write purposeful (key word) remarks on them. Gradually, the value of your insights combined with the link back to your website will create traffic and SEO power.

5) Your Email Signature

This is the easiest free of cost technique I know of to get people to a blog, and the one that is surprisingly most often overlooked. Every email you send ought to have a standard footer that describes you. It usually has a name, title or something captivating about you, and some way to connect with you. It should also have your website linked or whatever other page you may want to lead people to, like a LinkedIn page. You can use a text anchor link, like Visit us for your San Diego SEO, or spell out the link beginning with http so it looks like http://www.yourlink.com and will be visible in text-based web mail browsers also and a live hyperlink in most email programs. Emails get forwarded, copied, and otherwise shared. You don’t know who is reading and clicking.

Free stuff is normally worth what you pay for it: zero, but using these 5 techniques, Free Website Promotion is alive and well. Use the mechanisms at hand, add a smidgen of energy and initiative, and get your blog out there.

by Karl Walinskas

A typical short sale takes 4-6 months to close. The banks are stating they are processing them quicker but it’s too early to see the results. The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act expires 12.31.12. You can do the math and see that in order to get a new short sale to closing by then time is running out. Your home must be listed very soon. In a short sale the home is listed for fair market value. The bank doesn’t start their process until an offer is presented by a buyer and accepted by the seller. Then the bank starts to evaluate if you qualify to do a short sale and if the offer is a good one. This typically takes quite a bit of time.

This is a very big deal! After 1.1.13 the seller will be responsible for taxes on any debt that is forgiven or canceled.

 The following information is straight from the IRS website: http://www.irs.gov/individuals/article/0,,id=179414,00.html

If you owe a debt to someone else and they cancel or forgive that debt, the canceled amount may be taxable.
The Mortgage Debt Relief Act of 2007 generally allows taxpayers to exclude income from the discharge of debt on their principal residence. Debt reduced through mortgage restructuring, as well as mortgage debt forgiven in connection with a foreclosure, qualifies for the relief.
This provision applies to debt forgiven in calendar years 2007 through 2012. Up to $2 million of forgiven debt is eligible for this exclusion ($1 million if married filing separately). The exclusion does not apply if the discharge is due to services performed for the lender or any other reason not directly related to a decline in the home’s value or the taxpayer’s financial condition.

If you borrow money from a commercial lender and the lender later cancels or forgives the debt, you may have to include the cancelled amount in income for tax purposes, depending on the circumstances. When you borrowed the money you were not required to include the loan proceeds in income because you had an obligation to repay the lender. When that obligation is subsequently forgiven, the amount you received as loan proceeds is normally reportable as income because you no longer have an obligation to repay the lender. The lender is usually required to report the amount of the canceled debt to you and the IRS on a Form 1099-C, Cancellation of Debt.

Amy Kohlin
EXIT Las Vegas Realty Center

“It’s the action behind the attraction that makes the wish come true”

Powerful motivation comes in understanding that you can achieve anything you truly desire in your heart. It is the knowledge that you are destined to fulfill your every goal, which drives you to change.

The decision is the first step towards change. Regardless of the decision, every change requires some form of action. Do you find it challenging at times to motivate yourself in taking action? Sometimes, I catch my mind making excuses, and occasionally I ‘succeed’ in avoiding the action all together. Here are some pointers I have personally found helpful in motivating myself:

  • What & Why?“Start with the end in mind.” To achieve a goal, it’s important to define clearly what that goal is. How do you know when you’ve achieved it? Define a measurable end. Once you have your goal, it’s important to understanding the Why – why you are doing it? Ask yourself what are the motivating factors behind it? For your family? For your kids? Why? Why must you succeed?
  • Break it down to small achievable tasks – It is very easy, and human, to be overwhelmed by the sheer effort and energy involved in achieving a big goal. Especially if the goal consists of many unknowns or a long-drawn process. We tell ourselves it’s impossible or it’s too much work, and then we give up even before we take any action towards a goal. I’ve found it very helpful to always split the main goal into several milestones. Then breaking each milestone into a series of steps to achieve that milestone. For each step, break them down further into smaller, measurable and achievable tasks that can be achieved in a few hours or less. This will make the goal appear manageable. Achieving one task after another builds confidence and momentum, and before you know it, the end result will be in sight. Personally, I feel rewarded and more motivated just by crossing tasks off with a black marker as I complete them.

 

  • Take a Small Step – Even the smallest first step will help create momentum towards change. “Start doing the thing to have energy to do the thing” -Bob Proctor.When I heard this, a light bulb went off in my head. So now, whenever I don’t want to do something that I know will help me. I would trick myself into thinking ‘I’m just gonna start it, it’ll only take a few minutes.’ And once I start it, I typically will finish the task. I have this quote written on a cue card, taped on the wall across from my bed, serving as a daily reminder.
  • Rewards & Celebration – Give yourself small rewards for each completed step or task. Then celebrate when you reach each Milestone! I use ice-cream, Chai, reading and internet browsing time as rewards for myself. Look back at what you’ve done, enjoy it, embrace it, and give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done! I like to exaggerate this step by doing a “happy dance“: very silly moves I do, that tend to make other people (and myself) laugh. This way, my body moves, I’m smiling and my mind will create positive associations with achieving milestones to being happy.
  • Pain vs. Pleasure– Have you noticed that you are more inclined to avoid pain, than to gain pleasure? For example, we all know the benefits of eating healthy and exercising, but this benefit alone often is not enough to motivate us to action. But, if your doctor tells you that must live a healthier lifestyle or in 6 months you will contract a life-threatening illness, you are more likely to make the change. Here’s a visualization technique I picked up from a Tony Robbins ‘Unleash the power within’ seminar:Inspiration – Being around motivating people really helps to inspire us into action. People who are consistently aligning their decisive actions towards their goals. Being around these people can be infectious, and their energy will impact you. If you don’t have such people in your life? Get a cd or dvd of a motivational speaker. Just listening to an outstanding speaker’s voices, can create enough energy to pump you up. I recommend, Anthony Robbins“, “Les Brown” and “Bob Proctor“.
    • Visualize yourself in 5 years without taking the actions to reach your goal. See yourself in pain. Do this for a minute, and then intensify the feeling. Feel the heaviness on your back. Do this for a few minutes, and then relax.
    • Now visualize yourself having achieved your goal. What do you look like? How are you celebrating? See and feel the benefits it’s provided. Now, let that feeling intensify. Do this for a few minutes as the feeling intensify some more.

What do you do to motivate yourself? Please share your ‘secret’ in the comments!

Courtesy of http://thinksimplenow.com/motivation/how-to-motivate-to-massive-action/

If you enjoyed this article, please share it on StumbleUpon, vote for it on Digg or bookmark it on del.icio.us. I appreciate your support. :)

Stubborn sellers need dose of reality

By Bernice Ross
Inman News®

Persuading sellers to price their properties realistically is always a challenge. This can be especially difficult when your market is still experiencing price declines. The question is how to unhook your sellers’ price anchors and then persuade them to list their property at a price where it will sell.

In psychology professor Daniel Ariely’s book, “Predictably Irrational,” he discusses how people become firmly attached, or anchored, to ideas. According to Ariely’s research, these anchors are extremely strong when it comes to the price of someone’s home.

For example, when a homeowner sells his home for $500,000 in Los Angeles and moves to Dallas where the same home would cost $250,000, in almost every case, the homeowner will purchase a new home that is at least $500,000.

Breaking a seller’s price anchors can be challenging. Here are three proven strategies that really work.

1. Rate of absorption
A tried and true approach for addressing this situation is to use the rate of absorption (i.e., how much inventory is on the market and how quickly it is selling).

To illustrate this point, assume that there are eight months of inventory on the market. In other words, only 12.5 percent of homes on the market will sell in any given month. The other 87.5 percent will not. Sellers who want to place their properties under contract must position their property in the marketplace where they will be in the best 12.5 percent in terms of value, which is a combination of condition and price. If not, their listing will sit on the market until it expires or until they lower their price sufficiently to motivate a buyer to purchase it.

The way to close the buyers on using this approach is to say:

“Mr. and Mrs. Seller, you have an important decision to make. Will you position your property where it will be in the top 12.5 percent that will sell next month or will you position your property where it will be in the 87.5 percent that will still be listed next month? It’s your choice, what would you like to do?”

2. Use the price-per-square-foot data
A different alternative is to use the price-per-square-foot data. As a general rule of thumb, properties fall into three price-per-square-foot categories based upon their condition and location.

a. Top price per square foot
The first category is the property is either new and/or in excellent condition and in a top-notch location.

b. Midrange of the price-per-square-foot numbers
The second category is for properties that have “amenities similar to many of the homes found in this area.” This is a nice way of saying that the home is in an average location and in average condition.

c. Bottom price per square foot
The third category is there is either something wrong with the location, the condition, or both.

Now you may be curious as to how you get the sellers to accept their house is average or even less than average. There are several ways to approach this issue.

First, you can take the sellers out to look at the competition. Next, ask them which house is most like yours? If you don’t want to take them out to see the competition, another way is to gather as many interior photos of closed sales as possible. Let them choose which houses most resemble their house. You can then use the price-per-square-foot sales numbers to generate an accurate list price.

The beauty of using the closed-sale statistics (i.e., showing the sellers pictures of properties that have closed) is that it shifts the discussion from list prices to sold prices. This makes it easier for the sellers to choose a more realistic price.

3. The pricing line
The late Lee Coats, who wrote much of the training for Coldwell Banker back in the 1990s, invented what he called a “pricing line.” If you haven’t worked with this approach, it’s extremely effective. The system is fairly simple. Imagine a page with three different charts that resemble rulers marked in 1/4-inch segments. The top chart has the “recently sold” properties. The agent records each property that has sold on this pricing line using the price-per-square-foot data. The agent then repeats the process by recording the properties currently for sale on the second line and the properties that did not sell on the third line.

The sellers can quickly see the range of the most recent sales, what the current competition is, as well as how much higher priced the expired listings were on a price-per-square-foot basis as compared to those listings that sold.

When you show the seller the listings that are currently available, the closing question is, “Which line would you choose?” When properties have comparable amenities, it’s easy to demonstrate that the lower-priced listings usually sell more quickly.

The next time you’re facing a seller who wants to overprice his listing, try one of these three approaches. There’s a good chance you’ll walk away with a property that is priced to sell.

According to a recent Active Rain Survey, successful agents are:

  • Spending 10  times more money each year than poor agents to market and advertise their business

  • 6 times more invested in technology to support and run their business, which includes a top-notch IDX Web site, email marketing campaigns, and lead management systems

  • 54% more likely to use proactive email marketing campaigns with their prospective, current and past customers

  • utilizing a blog, YouTube, and Twitter to build leads

  • using online video on YouTube as a medium to market themselves, their listings and business

  • 3 three times as likely to outsource their search engine optimization (SEO) and lead generation efforts

  • Twice as likely to buy internet leads

The bottom line is they invest in their business, DELEGATE and focus on generating leads!

#1: Not Realizing That The Default Search Is “Broad” Match Type

A common error goes like this: You search for a keyword, say themes for blogger, and see that it gets over 90,000 global monthly searches. Excited, you build a site targeting that phrase, and then are baffled when you only get a trickle of hits from that keyword, even when you start to rank highly. What happened?

By default, the Keyword tool searches by “Broad match.” This means that it includes all related searches that happen to contain those words.

In our example, hundreds of other keyword phrases, such as premium themes for blogger or best themes for blogger 2011 are all counted in the total number. And since they contain completely different words, your site likely won’t be ranking for them.

On the left sidebar of the screen, you will see “Match Types” part-way down. There you will see that “Broad” is checked. If you change it to “Exact,” for our example, you will see that the exact phrase gets only a couple hundred searches per month, which explains the small traffic. In other cases, there might actually be zero exact matches!

#2: Thinking that “Competition” Refers to Other Websites Targeting Your Keyword

Everyone wants to find keywords that only a few other websites are targeting, but using the “Competition” tab in the Google Keyword Tool for this purpose is a big mistake!

This little bar is referring to the number of advertisers who are bidding for that term; it has absolutely nothing to do with the number of competing websites in Google organic search. In fact, picking keywords with low advertiser competition will mean there aren’t many relevant companies purchasing ads, so if you use Google AdSense, you will likely get ads that aren’t very related to your website and a lower CTR.

It’s important to remember that the Google Keyword Tool was designed for advertisers, and we webmasters are repurposing it as a tool to help generate website ideas. To effectively assess website competitors for a keyword, you can use a free plugin SEO for Firefox or a paid tool such as Market Samurai.

#3: Neglecting to Consider the Implications of Different Keywords

This third and final mistake has less to do with the Google tool specifically but rather keyword research in general. Many webmasters get too wrapped up in the search volume and forget to consider the intent of the searcher as well as the general profitability of a niche.

If your goal is to promote affiliate products, for example, you might be able to find some related keywords that get thousands of searches per month, but if they are “informational” keywords and searchers won’t be interested in buying anything, a very low percentage of that traffic will convert.

Instead, it’s good to target keywords that users will search when they are actually interested in buying. Names of products and brands are typically “buying” keywords, and mixing in words such as reviews, buy, cheapest, online, and price comparisons” can provide great results.

Also, in certain niches, such as technology or blogging, most users are savvy and have become “ad-blind,” which will mean very few clicks. Other niches might not have many quality products or advertisers competing for the popular search terms, making monetization extremely difficult.

Keeping these ideas in mind will get you off to a good start in picking appropriate keywords and generating more traffic to your websites!

Article by Andrew Walsh

http://www.technshare.com/google-keyword-tool-mistakes/

39 Cost-Cutting Tips for Your Small Business

by Cathy Zimmerman

Summary: Think you’ve exhausted all the ways to save money in your business? Don’t be sure until you’ve taken a look at these 39 small business cost-cutting tips.

The beginning of a new year is a good time to re-examine your spending and look for ways to trim the fat and increase your bottom line. Here are some cost-cutting tips to get you started.

  1. Save on postage by delivering invoices and statements via email.
  2. Download free online forms instead of buying them at office supply stores.
  3. Offer catalogs and brochures as pdf downloads to save printing and shipping costs.
  4. Turn down the heat or turn up the A/C.
  5. Turn off unnecessary lights.
  6. Set your printer to draft mode to save ink.
  7. Re-fill your own printer cartridges.
  8. Switch your telephone land-line to VOIP or cable.
  9. Use free open source or cloud-based applications.
  10. Check every invoice and verify charges before paying.
  11. Pay bills on time to avoid fees.
  12. Consider telecommuting, virtual assistants, or shared office space.
  13. Review your cellular plan usage and compare rates elsewhere before renewing.
  14. DON’T cut marketing, but target your niche to get the most for your ad bucks.
  15. Cross-train your employees to help each other during crunch time instead of hiring temps.
  16. Use interns and freelancers for short-term projects.
  17. Take advantage of discounts: 2% for paying early, discount for cash, free shipping over $50, etc.
  18. “Fire” customers that waste more time and money than they’re worth.
  19. Follow purchase order requirements to be sure your invoices get paid on time.
  20. Stop selling to slow-paying accounts.
  21. Concentrate on customer service to keep return rates down.
  22. Double-check addresses before shipping to avoid costly mistakes.
  23. Include promotional material in outgoing packages: coupons, newsletters, fliers.
  24. Use email and social media instead of direct mail to test new offers and coupons for your customers.
  25. Shop around for better rates on printing, shipping, and office supplies.
  26. Use free shipping materials from USPS, UPS and FedEx.
  27. Sign up for free business directory listings online.
  28. Barter/partner for advertising – i.e. pizza delivery ads on hotel key cards.
  29. Buy used furniture and office equipment.
  30. Reuse, reduce, recycle.
  31. Share your expertise in newsgroups, public appearances, blogs and social media and get free exposure.
  32. Look for online firms that offer a free basic service (i.e. Skype) with paid upgrades when you need them.
  33. Join a networking group and find a mentor with more experience to advise you.
  34. Look for rebates/incentives to replace old equipment with newer more energy-efficient systems.
  35. When travelling, use free airport shuttles and eat lunch where there’s free wifi, but be sure to follow these wifi safety precautions.
  36. Don’t book at a convention hotel without comparing rates with your AAA, AARP or credit card discount.
  37. Meet clients between meals in a quiet upscale hotel lobby.
  38. Use free teleconference services.
  39. Participate in virtual trade shows to network without travel expenses.

How To Generate New Business On Facebook Today

PLAN YOUR TAXES
Small business owners are due to meet with their advisors to plan out business and personal taxes before the end of the calendar year. Some important points to talk about this year include:

  • Tax and jobs bills passed in 2010 increased the ability for small business owners to deduct new and used equipment purchases under U.S. Tax Code section 179. Small companies are allowed to deduct the full amount of the purchases upfront, rather than depreciate the cost over many years. The deductions apply to tangible equipment and personal property purchased and used in 2011, including computers, furniture, telephone systems, certain vehicles and software, machinery used for manufacturing, and leased equipment.
  • A supplement to section 179 allows for “bonus” depreciation for companies that buy more than $500,000 in qualified equipment in 2011. It allows for 100 percent depreciation, up from 50 percent last year, and applies only to new equipment, unlike section 179. Typically, bonus depreciation would be taken after companies reach their $500,000 limit under section 179.
  • If your company’s financial situation warrants, you can talk to your CPA about accelerating deductions and deferring income into next year, but don’t use this audit-risky strategy if it doesn’t make sense.
  • On the personal side, end-of-year charitable donations and Roth IRA conversions would be items to think about before the end of the year. And as always make sure you are not going to be in a position to attract unwanted IRS scrutiny on your personal or business returns.