Site Speed Reporting in Analytics

My company has recently embarked on a quest to figure out what CDN will perform the best for our website. I did the normal speed tests from google and WebPageTest as well as looking over data from the network element loading timeline from the chrome developer tools window (or the ‘Net’ tab in firebug). I did however, want to track the averages of my page speed stats over time, which is why I turned to the Google Analytics Site Speed Report, and got this:
If you wanted to know, that spike to the right was 77 seconds. Cool.
This isn’t our primary website, but comparing the line graphs yields fairly similar results. You’ll notice that in the past 5 months, only 14 visitors had their site speed data recorded, which is not as useful for me as it could have been.

Kinda Stingy, eh Google?

Google Analytics out of the box only reports 1% of users’ site speed data, meaning that if you don’t have thousands of people coming to your website every day, you’re not going to get accurate insights from this report unless you change the way that GA reports the data. Fortunately, fixing this is a piece of cake.

If you’re using universal analytics, you’ll have a line in your tracking code that reads:

ga('create', 'UA-XXXX-Y', 'auto');

Just change this to

ga('create', 'UA-XXXX-Y', {'siteSpeedSampleRate': 100});

(Note: This will sample 100% of up to 10,000 daily visitors in your report. If you want to sample a lower percentage, just change the ‘100’ to a lower number.)

Now in the past 5 days, compared to the past 5 months, we have 25 pageviews with sampled data.
If anyone wanted to know what browser was the slowest, it was the Android Browser, followed by our trusty friend, IE10. Tsk Tsk Tsk.
Oooh. We should clean up this website load time. Too bad I don’t actually care about this one.

The reference page for Universal Analytics can be found here, and the reference for Classic Analytics can be found here.

Happy Sampling!

Hot Links!

grilled_sausagesEveryone loves themselves some good, juicy edu links. You know why? Because they’re delicious.
A few weeks ago I ventured into some unknown territory with some link building with scholarship offers, first inspired by Brendon Turner’s article on Search Engine News. If you don’t have a subscription, don’t worry. It’s super easy stuff. The steps to success are essentially:

  1. Start a Scholarship
  2. Give People Money
  3. Get Links
  4. Profit

Easy huh? Now it’s your turn!

Start a Scholarship
No but really, all we really did was create a quick scholarship page on our law firm’s website. Write how much you’re going to give, write the due date, write the rules and requirements, etc etc. See a pretty vanilla example here. If you’ll notice, the Dolman Law group’s 1.1k scholarship is immediately more enticing than those goons who thought 1k was enough… That hundred bucks can really make a difference. I’m only being like 80% sarcastic. (sorry guys. hey I gave you a link! be happy.)

Give People Money
Next, compile yourself a list of schools with outside scholarship pages. Google “outside OR External scholarship inurl:edu”. You may also want to include a “-inurl:pdf” in your search, since some schools list their outside scholarships on PDFs and those are usually more difficult to edit than normal pages, so your conversion rate with links may decrease.
You may want to add some other keywords in there to do with your specific educational disciplines but just remember the more the better.

Get Links
Most Universities will have an email that looks like finaid@****.edu – Just find that email on the financial aid section of their website and request that they add your link to their outside scholarships page. Many of them will do it without hesitation, and as an added bonus, the schools that are more prominent and famous are even more likely to have their ish together in the financial aid department, leading to almost immediate returns for popular schools.

Profit
You may have to follow up on a few schools before they’ll add your link, but for the most part your job will be fairly easy.

But Wait… There’s More!

She likes me for my body.

Try your Alma Mater first.

University websites can be hard to navigate when you’re looking for link opportunities, but remember that they care about anything that will make them look good and that will get them more exposure. Figure out what you can offer the university and pursue that as a method for getting links. Note – this will usually only work exclusively with a university you or your business have some connection to (eg. Your Alma Mater or a local college).

Different universities have different policies on linking out or even mentioning outside businesses, but if you poke around you may be able to find something that will get you in. If you have news or a story worth telling, most universities have an email address for their Media & Communications departments – usually PR@***.edu. Many schools have student experience pages or notable alumni pages where you can be featured, and Google will often pull carousel results for queries like this. You can even browse student blogs and build connections that may lead to links or guest posts (shut up Google, you can’t tell me what to do).

If you need a help figuring out the best way to get a link from a university website, I’d recommend running a screaming frog crawl and checking the external tab to see where the website is linking out to the most, and what pages those links are coming from. If you see a bunch of links that don’t go to government pages that are all acronyms (FAFSA, OSHA, PETA, DUMB, STUPD), check the linking page and see if you have a shot at working your way in there.

Any way you do it, getting yourself featured on a major university website won’t be easy. If you devote the time, however, it can be pretty rewarding. And if you finally get those hot links, please invite me over for dinner.

Keep your friends close, and your ad targets closer.

Here’s a quick and easy one for you. Most of us have seen that video review of Facebook’s ads – claiming that they filled a page with fake likes and thereby diluted the amount of real fans of a page that saw the page content. If you haven’t seen it – here you go.

While this video isn’t the end all be all source of insight on Facebook ads, and some people have written very useful clarifications on the problems that the video brings up – the basic message is something we know to be true: If you don’t make sure your ads are targeted to people who will see and respond to them, you’re going to be missing out.

Our Experience

My company has recently started putting a little bit of effort into Facebook Ads and though we’re only targeting cities in our surrounding area, I’ve noticed that about 1/6th of our likes are still from international sources – people that will not employ our (usually) localized services and sources that dilute the effectiveness of our targeting.

Facebook Likes by country

After having reading up on why this happens, I speculate that because we’ve used Facebook’s “Promoted This Post” feature, Facebook can show this page to any friends of any of our fans – many of whom I’m sure can be located outside the US. I have also been told that we’ve had people in other countries specifically like our page because their names were the same as the founding partner. Geez guys… come on.

The fix

The solution is hopefully one you’ve already employed. If not. this is one of the easiest ways to improve your targeting if you’re a local business. Your Facebook settings can allow you to only show your Facebook page to specific countries. Hence, fewer fake likes, more engaging audiences, etc.

Just go to your page general settings at the top of your Facebook page, click Country Restrictions, and add your country. Then select “Only show this Page to viewers in these countries.”
facebook country settings
Easy peasy, Mr. Freezy.

This isn’t going to eliminate all of your fake likes problems, or instantly improve your engagement with content – but it’s an easy start. Happy Facebooking!