Strategies That Increased My Blog Traffic in September

At the beginning of September, I had some ambitious expectations for my blog. I was reflecting on Augusts 18 visitors and thought “Brad, you could probably reach 50 this month”. At the time I thought it was a realistic goal, but would require posting more often and even *gasp* sharing my posts in my social networks.

I reached my goal in 3 days. I was as shocked as anybody. I even had a few days where I had over 50 sessions!

How to Track Blog Comments in WordPress Using GTM

As a beginner blogger, I don’t have a whole lot of goals or objectives that I ‘need’ to be tracking on my site. Well at least compared to a small business who needs to be tracking sales or the amount of leads that are being generated.

For the most part I am just happy when people visit my site and view a few pages. It’s even better when people are really engaged and comment in the blog posts. But wouldn’t it be great if I could tell when those engaged users are coming from so I could spend more efforts sharing my work in those circles?

How to Track PDF Downloads as Pageviews with Google Tag Manager

Tracking PDFs with Tag Manager

Track your PDFs easily in in Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a fantastic tool for tracking visitor behavior on your website. But sometimes it doesn’t do all of the things you want it to do in its out-of-the-box format.

One of the things that I have always found it lacking is the ability to track pdfs on a website. Since the file itself www.example.com/file.pdf wouldn’t have the analytics code on it, it wouldn’t be tracked automatically.

How to Switch from Google Analytics to Google Tag Manager

Switching from Analytics to Tag ManagerGoogle Tag Manager (GTM) is a free tool that allows you to manage your analytics, PPC and other code snipetts using a web UI. This is meant to be an intuitive process, but I didn’t find that to be the case when I first logged in.

This post will help you transfer your site from using the basic Google Analytics account by showing you:

  • How to install Google Tag Manager for website tracking
  • How to create a container with the Analytics code
  • How to install the container on your website

What Happens When You Don’t Have a Meta Description

As I was working on one of my clients sites, entering hundreds of well-crafted, unique meta descriptions, I began to wonder “Is this actually worth it?”. Partially because I was sick of writing them, and partially because I know that many of the sites I see each day don’t have perfect 155 character descriptions, but they still are giving me the information that I need to see.

After doing some research on the topic, I was delighted to find that what I have been doing when I am crunched for time is actually getting the best results: Write descriptions for the most important landing pages on your site, but your deeper, or secondary pages, may be fine or even better off without descriptions.

Passing the Google AdWords Exams

How to Pass AdWords Certifications ExamsAfter managing AdWords accounts for the past 4 years, I finally bit the bullet and got Google Partner Certified. It wasn’t as if I was unqualified before, I always kept up with best practices and did my best out to make sure my clients were getting the most conversions for their money. Since our company was in the midst of becoming a Google Partner, it then made sense for me to pass these exams.

With the amount of knowledge I already had with the platforms, I still needed some study material to help me through the tests. Not all of the answers are as straight forward as you might think. There were also some questions where I found my experience with AdWords did not match their answers for best practice.

How to Remove Yourself From an AdWords Account

Remove yourself from adwords campaign

I recently passed my AdWords certifications exam, and was excited to take the next step and connect my gmail account with my company’s My Client Center (MCC).

When I got the invitation to connect the accounts, I couldn’t do it because my email address was already associated with an AdWords account number. Even though I never actually set up a campaign, an account number was set up when I was using the Keyword Planner to do some keyword research.

Referral Spam: What are Semalt & Kambasoft & How Can I Get Rid of Them?

Referral SpamIn this post I will go over a recent problem I have been dealing with: referral spam. I’ll go over what it is, why I think it is happening, and how to identify and eliminate it from your Analytics.

Lately I have been noticing more and more spam traffic showing up in my client’s analytics. Normally bot traffic doesn’t show up in Analytics, but this traffic is showing up as referral traffic. When you click on the referral path it redirects you to a page that doesn’t actually link to your site at all.

At first when I saw this I was annoyed but thought that it wasn’t a big deal, since the links didn’t do any harm to the sites themselves. Then I realized that this caused a new problem for me. It was clouding up the real data that I was trying to report for my clients. Instead of reporting on the 50 visitors who actually were visiting the site, I had 100, but half of them had a 100% bounce rate and spent 0:00 time on the site.

Why is This Happening?

Several years ago some SEO guys believed that it would help their Google ranking. The theory was that if the site had publicly accessible stats Google would crawl those pages and see the ref spam links. Whether or not there was any benefit is debatable. Today there is no way it’s going to help. But it is definitely as annoying as all hell.

Another possibility is low level spammers looking for traffic. The idea being they hit you with the ref spam, you see it in your logs and check the site out. If they are lucky you will fall in love with their sketchy product and buy it on the spot. Any traffic is good traffic right?…

Referrer Spam Culprits: Semalt & Kambasoft

One of these annoying tools is also semalt, which seems to be some keyword monitoring service. It always instantly bounces of a page. I did not invite them to monitor anything on my website, they use my resources and destroy my statistics. That’s enough for me to lock them out.

They used to have an option where you could request your site to be removed from the being crawled, but they have since removed it.

The other annoyance is from kambasoft. Instead of being sent to kambasoft.com, you are redirected to some other crap site that is trying to sell you a widget.

Sadly I think there will be more referral spam traffic in the future. Until Google simply stops all of this traffic from being reported, it is up to us to spot them and remove them from the reports.

How to Identify Spam Traffic

kambasoft and semalt trafficIt shouldn’t be too hard to identify these spammers. First off you will have never heard of them and when you visit their site, they will have no actual links back to you. There are some other hints that will help you spot them.

Those will appear in Google Analytics with a 100% bounce rate and falsify my statistics. They also normally spend 0 time on the site. If a site has 40 visitors daily and 20 are coming from these tools, I’ll have problems finding information about the 20 human visitors.

They will also have multiple sub domains. For example semalt.com will have a series of numbers in front. Or sometimes semalt.semalt.com.

How to Block Spam Traffic

If you are comfortable editing your .hacccess code, Dale Rodgers has a great post on how to do so here. But if you are like me and are worried about screwing something else up while in there, you can block it through the Admin tab in Analytics.

From there select Filters from the View menu and then click Add New Filter.

  • Filter Name: Kambasoft
  • Predefined filter
  • Exclude traffic from the ISP domain that contain “kambasoft.com”

setting up filters in analytics

This will block all traffic from kambasoft.com or any of its subdomain. You should also set up one of these bad boys for semalt.com as well.

You now are aware that not all traffic that is being reported is worth being reported. There are always going to be scammers out there trying new and old black hat tactics to get traffic pointed at their site. At least now you are equipped with the knowhow to identify these websites and can remove them from being recording in the future.

 

Amateur Blackberry Picking Tips from Someone Who Has Done It Once

Everything you need to know about blackberry picking from a guy who went blackberry picking once recently.

Blackberries are taking over Vancouver. Almost anywhere you walk in the city you can see them along the seawall, bike paths, as well as along the railroad tracks. Even though these delicious berries are growing blocks away from Price Mart & Wholefoods, they still sell small baskets of them for $5.99.

berry picking in Vancouver

This sounded crazy to me so I decided to go the frugal, economical way and pick them myself. While doing this I thought of some tips to share with anybody who might be interested in doing so in the future.

 

Don’t pick berries that are two feet from the ground.

If you are picking berries in the city, it’s likely also a dog walking route.If you are like me and chose to pick your berries along the railroad track and I am pretty sure there are some homeless dwellings behind the bushes, treat the area around it like a urinal. It might be best to pick berries that are at least three feet off the ground.

Scout the area for a good spot.

Don’t just start picking berries at the first place that doesn’t smell like you are picking berries beside somebody’s home. It might be the first place with berries that doesn’t smell like urine, but there might be other nice smelling areas that also are good for picking. Also if you are able to get a bit deeper into the patch you might be able to get some larger, untapped sources of berries.

Blackberry handsDon’t wear nice clothes.

Don’t even wear clothes that you remotely care about. Blackberries are like tiny water balloons filled with blood. After picking the first few berries my hands were rendered useless for touching anything that I didn’t want to dye purple. So my white shirt was a bad call.Wear some ratty shoes as well. There are a ton of berries that are just around stomping level that will muck up your shoes. This can be an issue if you are trying to get the juicy ones in the back.

Talk to some random berry pickers.

talk to the first granola eating hippy you see picking berries and then move it down the line. Then regurgitate that information to anybody else you see. “Slim pickin this year. That dry spell sure killed a lot of these canes off and the berries are pretty small this year.” Everybody will think you are a pro.

 

After about 1/2 hour of mindless picking I ended up with my $5.99 worth of berries. All in all I thought it was a pretty good deal.

Influencer Audit: Find Out a Blogger’s Potential Reach

Having an influential blogger write a review of your product, service, or even just comment on your own blog can have a massive effect on your site’s traffic and your business’s sales.

But who is going to have the impact you’re looking for?

When determining this you must consider the blog’s:

  1. Relevance
  2. Reach
  3. Reputation

 

Finding a blogger who is relevant to your business

This is going to be key. If a blogger isn’t relevant to your own website, it is unlikely that will be able to send qualified targeted traffic to your own.

Instead of spamming hundreds of bloggers who have mentioned your target keywords in their lifetime, hand pick a select few and reach out to them with a personalized message. Follow them for a while and comment on what they are already writing about before you ask them to do you a favour.

You should be able to find relevant bloggers by using the google blog search. You can simply type in the keywords you are interested in and then find out who is writing on the topic.

Social media searches can also be a great way to find influencers on the topics you are interested in.

Does your blogger have reach?

Once you find an author who is writing relevant content, the next question is: “Who is listening to them?” You need to make sure their blog has a considerable reach.

Social

An easy measuring stick would be to check their social media following. Every blogger should be socially active on a few platforms, so their online following would be an appropriate representation of their blog traffic.

Each niche would have a different scale of what would be a passing grade for a following. For example a fashion blogger targeting North America would should have a larger following than a food truck blogger based in Vancouver. However, both of these types of sites could be very beneficial to you if they have the right following.

RSS subscribers

Some followers might be more old school and not follow their blog through more modern traditional social media channels, and might use an RSS feed to follow their blog.

RSS feeds will auto populate their blogs content into their followers reader.

You can get an estimate of how many people are following a blogger’s RSS feed is by typing this into your browser http://feeds.feedburner.com/~fc/NAMEOFFEED

Replace NAMEOFFEED with the username. For example the URL for Mox.com would be http://feeds.feedburner.com/~fc/youmoz

Influencer backlinks

Another way to gauge how much influence would be to see how many links their blog has directing to them. If they are posting quality material on a regular basis to a decent sized audience, they should be gathering some backlinks. Right?

The easiest way to do this is by going to opensiteexplorer.com.

Type in the blog you are interested in. Select links from “external” pages to “this domain”. This will give you all of the other sites that are linking back to anywhere on their blog.

It will also give you what anchor text they are using, and the domain and page rank of the linking page.

If a blog doesn’t have any links, or if they only have a lot of very poor links (anything with a ranking of less than 20), then it is a signal that they do not have a lot of influence.

Influencer’s reputation

Now you know that people are listening to what this blogger is saying about your keywords, do people actually trust them?

View the comments of their blog post and see if their own audience is agreeing with their opinions, and if there are any comments on any other sites about the author’s reputation. If people don’t find the writer trustworthy, they might now be worth reaching out to for a review or a guest post.

 

Thanks for reading this post. Let me know if there are any other method’s you are using when determining what bloggers to reach out to in the comments.