Friday, January 21, 2011

What URL shortener do you use?

URL shorteners are very handy little utilities that shorten URL's. There's a good choice and I usually opt for but experienced a few issues. Google launched theirs in 2009 but they recently opened it up (it used to only work on Feedburner and the Google Toolbar) and because it produces stats (when logged in) - it's become my favourite.

Instead of using, for example: , you can shorten it to this This URL is much easier and shorter to share in places like twitter, linkedin and facebook where space is limited - or on e-mail where it can get concatenated and stop working (if the URL isn't whole, it mightn't take the user to the desired spot).

Essentially all that happens is that Google have purchased GOO.GL - a play on "Google". GL is the ccTLD (Country Code Top Level Domain - ccTLD) for Greenland. This software then translates the short address into the long address, and also provides a fast lookup so that sites can show the target URL when you mouseover

It also gives amazing real time stats about how many people follow your link, when they clicked and from what country and platform.The shortener can be used without logging in - handy but then it doesn't store any details. As per usual with web visitor stats, the information tracked is not personal and doesn't identify any individuals at all.

The main dashboard gives you an overview of the URL's you've shortened

The Shortener detail screen shows the user platform, application, age and the number of clicks

This makes it very handy when sharing on twitter - so you can see who finds which links interesting (by country) and how many people following you are actually engaging with you. This should hopefully improve your blogging and tweeting content!SimplyZesty blogged about tracking twitter RT Click-through-Rates here, which I thought was interesting and relevant.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

SEO and Internet Marketing - Training and Tools

Just a note that we've updated our page on the the training that we provide in SEO and Internet Marketing.

The tools we train people to use include

  • Google Analytics
  • Google WebMasters
  • Google Places, Alerts and Profiles
  • Some AdWords
  • Keyword Selection
  • Site Architecture, our e-Commerce support partner is currently hiring e-commerce support engineers.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

SEO - the devils in the detail

Of all the tools I've used over the years, the Google SK tool is the most useless. It looks really good and really easy to use - and perhaps that's the problem. It just doesn't give nearly enough information. Too little detail. And with SEO - that's where it all happens.

SEO is a strategy. PageRank, SERP's (Search Engine Rank Positions), Alexa scores, Website valuations, keywords and titles - these are all symptoms of the implementation of a strategy. SEO isn't a checklist of things you need or have to do. Some of them are accidental or even intentional red herrings.

When you read all the many blog posts and news articles on SEO (and Internet Marketing), many of them are just written by people who want to be good or think that if 10 websites say the same thing, it must be true. Many are just looking for a website that can grow extra income on the side. "Work from home" ads in the classifieds were huge in the 1980's and 1990's and they're still going strong online.

Stop looking for a checklist - develop a strategy.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Google AdWords - Is a higher spend good for you?

The User Interfaces in Google Analytics and Google AdWords have become much more similar in recent years, although some stark differences are visible. I noticed this a while back and I just couldn't resist blogging about it - it's a rather curious way Google reports on the metrics in AdWords.

In both, when viewing a comparison report (for example last month to this month or last 7 days or this month compared to the same time last year), increases and decreases are shown by a percentage change and then colour-coded - red if the change was negative and green if positive. For example, if your traffic grew 100% in the December over November, then the 100% is green. If, unfortunately, the bounce rate increased from 50% to 55%, then the 5% increase is noted in Red - because this is a negative metric change. You don't want your bounce rate to go up, just like you dont' want your page views to go down.

A client asked me to look at their AdWords campaign, as we often do. What's curious to me is that Google denotes an increase in spend in Green - so this is positive!?! Sure, if you have the right formula, and then you were returning €10 profit for every €1 spent, why wouldn't you drop €50k or even more - but just to have the up in spend regardless of the conversion rate as a green made me smile.