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Microsoft Teaches Black Hat SEO

Microsoft Supports Link ExchangeToday I was pretty amazed to read an article by the Sr. Product Manager of Microsoft, Skip Chilcott who openly endorsed that webmasters should participate in Link Exchange as it helps to boost the rankings in search engines.

That totally contradicts with what I wrote in my complete Linkbuilding tutorial and most importantly it contradicts with Google’s Webmaster Guideline as well as Microsoft’s very own guideline.

This is what Google has to say about participating in Link schemes:

…some webmasters engage in link exchange schemes and build partner pages exclusively for the sake of cross-linking, disregarding the quality of the links, the sources, and the long-term impact it will have on their sites. This is in violation of Google’s webmaster guidelines and can negatively impact your site’s ranking in search results.

This is what Microsoft’s guideline says (Important part in Bold):

..Techniques that might prevent your website from appearing in Live Search results
The following techniques aren’t appropriate uses of the Live Search index. Use of these techniques might affect how your website is ranked within Live Search, and might cause your website to be removed from the index….. – Using techniques, such as link farms, to artificially increase the number of links to your webpage.

Yahoo also takes a similar stance about Link exchange

What Yahoo! Considers Unwanted: … Sites cross-linked excessively with other sites to inflate a site’s apparent popularity (link schemes)….

Now I wonder why would Skip Chilcott of Microsoft would publicly recommend participating in Link exchange scheme (a semi black-hat technique) and also endorse certain software/firms for that purpose.

Why Do I strongly discourage Link Exchange Schemes

Search Engine has become competitive and more useful for people (like us). We heavily depend on search engine to find useful & relevant information everyday. The reason we find ‘search engines’ useful is because – It allows us to find what we are looking for in a quick time. But as more and more people starts to ‘game’ the search engine, there will be more ‘spam’ and ‘low quality results’ in the respected engines. One way of stopping that spam is to, making sure that the Search algorithm doesn’t take ‘certain’ attributes into consideration that can be artificially manipulation (E.g. low quality links). Google (The primary engine that I personally uses) has taken several measures in past and has discounted those ‘bad links’ from counting. They have discouraged and taken necessary action to prevent webmasters from gaming the search ranking using those ‘shady SEO techniques’.

Even though I may not 100% agree to what Google does (they do have some strict ruling about a lot of things), I do agree that Reciprocal Linking or participating in automated link exchange program does not benefit the user at all and it just benefits the webmaster to game the whole system! And if search engines are gamed, then it will lose it’s usefulness.

And when such ‘shady advice’ comes directly from the Sr. Product manager of Microsoft, it just makes everything clear to me that why Live Search has been so far away in producing anything but good results!

Update: Skip Chilcott has created another post, identifying the mistake he made in his first post. This time He has asked a colleague over at Live Search to share some expert advice on linking best practices. [ I’m really looking forward to that post ]

What Kind of Link Exchange Are Possible White Hat?

  • Links that helps the user to find more useful information on that particular subject.
  • Links that are not promoting or giving Link juice to a site that is spammy in nature
  • Links exchange that are primarily meant for Traffic and not for “search engine ranking”
  • Links that you would want to recommend to the search engine because of their quality and value to you and your users

Natural Link building techniques that many Search Experts recommend:

8 Ways to Buy Links Without “Buying Links”, Rand Fishkin – SEOmoz.org

Should I Avoid Link Exchange / Link Trading Hubs?, Aaron Wall – SEObook.com

The definitive link building strategy, Web Credible

101 Link Building Tips to Market Your Website, Aaron Wall – SEOBook.com

Link Building Tutorial – A Complete Walkthrough, Saad Kamal

Five Link Building Strategies That Work, Brian Clark – Copyblogger


Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang Decides to Step Down

Jerry Yang Yahoo CEO Decides to Step down from CEORight after Jerry Yang’s Interview at the Web 2.0 Summit, the whole blogosphere was demanding Jerry to step down from his CEO position… and now it looks like he has finally taken the initiative to search for a new CEO to replace him as he plans to step down and go back to his former role as Chief Yahoo!

The official press releases from Yahoo says:

Yahoo! Inc. (Nasdaq:YHOO) today announced that its Board of Directors has initiated a search for a new Chief Executive Officer. Jerry Yang, co-Founder of Yahoo!, has decided to return to his former role as Chief Yahoo! upon the appointment of his successor as CEO, and he will also continue to serve on the Board. Yang, 40, assumed the CEO role at the Board’s request in June 2007, and he has led Yahoo! through a strategic repositioning and transformation of its platform. Chairman Roy Bostock, working with the independent directors and in consultation with Jerry Yang, is leading the process of assessing potential candidates and determining finalists for consideration. The search will encompass both internal and external candidates, and the Board has retained Heidrick & Struggles, a leading international executive search firm, to assist in the process.

Jerry also wrote a personal memo to all yahoo employees (which was obtained by BoomTown).

Continue Reading


Google Analytics for Flash

google-analytics-reviewIf you have a lot of flash content on your website you might want to know how your visitors are interacting with those fancy flash content —are they actually seeing it or just skipping it? Now you can find out using Google Analytics as they ads Adobe Flash tracking via their open source API.

How Does Google Analytics Track Flash

If you use the given API, Google Analytics should be able to track various uses of Adobe Flash in a website, including the number of viewers, whether the creative attracts new users and the effectiveness of the flash at getting visitors to take action.

The Official Google Analytics blog has included a short video which shows this cool flash tracking feature in action:

Currently Google provides tracking libraries for both Flash and Flex which can be downloaded as a ZIP file here. The libraries include:

  • Flash visual component
  • Flash AS3 library
  • Flex MXML component
  • Flex AS3 library

You can learn more about how to use them through this developer documentation.

The entire AS3 code base has been made open source under the Apache 2 License. So If you are a developer and wish to improve the current code and add new features, you can contribute to the code base. Or, if you are working for a company that is running a content platform, such as Sprout, you can very easily merge the Flash tracking codebase into your existing platform.


Official Google SEO Guide

Google SEO GuideGoogle has just released an Official Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide for the webmasters. In a recent blog post at Webmaster Central blog, Brandon Falls of the Google Search Quality Team writes that many webmasters often have some basic SEO questions that goes unanswered or they just get confused due to the fact that SEO is an emerging thing and there are lots of different resources on web. So Google has decided to make their own Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide public, which covers around a dozen common areas that webmasters might consider optimizing. So from now on If anybody has any SEO related doubts they can easily refer to this easy to read 22 page(PDF) – Google SEO Starter Guide.

This guide was already being used internally within Google to optimize their own sites such as Youtube, Orkut and so on. I have personally gone through the guide and I must say that it’s a very basic 101 type of guide that any SEO newbie should read. Its very well written had contains a lot of illustrated examples & screen shots.

I have created a small one page summary that basically covers everything that is written in the Google Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide.

  • Always create unique & accurate Page Titles – Page title should accurately describe the page’s content. Webmasters should make sure that their titles are unique for each page. The Title should be descriptive but not extremely lengthy. Don’t stuff your title with only Keywords – write a title that will benefit both the user and the search engines.
  • Make use of the “description” meta tag – Google clearly states that Meta tags such as (Meta Description) is not dead! Meta description should accurately summarize the page’s content. Webmasters should write a description that would both inform and interest users if they saw the description meta tag as a snippet in a search result. Don’t fill up your meta description tag with only keywords and avoid writing a description meta tag that has no relation to the content on the page. Try writing unique descriptions for each page, if your site is really big try to generate description meta tags based on each page’s content automatically.
  • Improve the structure of your URLs – Try to use words in your URL. – URLs with words that are relevant to your site’s content and structure are friendlier for visitors navigating your site. Visitors remember them better and might be more willing to link to them. Don’t use lengthy URLs with unnecessary parameters and session IDs. Avoid choosing generic page names and using excessive keywords. Provide only one version of your document, if you accidently happen to have multiple version of the same page, do a 301 redirect from non-preferred URLs to the dominant URL
  • Make your site easier to navigate – Create a naturally flowing hierarchy – Make it as easy as possible for users to go from general content to the more specific content they want on your site. Try to use text for navigation and its a good practice to put an HTML sitemap page on your site, and use an XML Sitemap file. Have a 404 page that is user friendly.
  • Offer quality content and services – Practice writing easy-to-read text as users enjoy content that is well written and easy to follow. Break your content into logical parts so that the users find the content they want faster. Use relevant keywords in your content and take help of the Google Keyword Tool where necessary. Write fresh, unique content and avoid re-writing or copying existing content from the web. Always create content primarily for your users, not search engines
  • Write better anchor text – Always write descriptive anchor text, The anchor text you use for a link should provide at least a basic idea of what the page linked to is about. Use keywords in your anchor text and use anchor text for your internal links too.
  • Use heading tags appropriately – Take advantage of the HTML Header tags H1, H2, H3 to break down your content for easy scanning by your readers. Give some thought into what the main points and sub-points of the content on the page will be and decide where to use those heading tags appropriately.
  • Optimize your use of images – Use brief, but descriptive filenames and alt text for all images. Avoid using generic filenames and stuffing in excessive keywords in the alt tag.
  • Make effective use of robots.txt – Robots.txt is not enough to block your sensitive or confidential material. So take appropriate security measures for your confidential information.
  • Be aware of rel=”nofollow” for links – Setting the value of the “rel” attribute of a link to “nofollow” will tell Google that certain links on your site shouldn’t be followed or pass your page’s reputation to the pages linked to. Avoid using no follow for links in blog comments or other sites that you don’t trust. You can nofollow all of the links on a page by using “nofollow” in your
    robots meta tag, which is placed inside the tag of that page’s HTML.
  • Promote your website in the right ways – Blog about your new content or services to get your users excited. Use appropriate offline promotion, social media to promote your content. Add your business to Google’s Local Business Center.
  • Make use of free webmaster tools – Google provides a lot of free tools for webmasters inside Google Webmaster Tools to help webmasters better control how Google interacts with their websites and get useful information from Google about their site.
  • Take advantage of web analytics services – Use Web analytics programs like Google Analytics that can be a valuable source for identifying your users, the content that they are reading, the source of traffic etc.

My Two Cents

Its really good to see that Google is genuinely trying to help the webmasters to succeed. If you are new to SEO, I strongly recommend you to Download the Full 22 Page PDF of Google’s SEO Starter Guide.


Google Introduces Video Chat in Gmail

Gmail Video ChatToday it was reported by cnet that Google is rolling out Video Chat feature in Google’s web mail service – Gmail. Rafe Needleman of cnet called it a “bare-bones voice and video-conferencing service” which is extremely simple to install and use but has very limited functionality.

google-video-chat-screenGmail Video and Voice, as it’s called, can’t connect to the plain phone network, as Skype’s paid service can. And there are plenty of other optional features missing, like a voice call recorder.

Rafe had the privilege to test it out first and he have found the voice and video quality on the service excellent. Gmail’s Video quality is supposed to be more consistent than Skype because it doesn’t run on a point-to-point architecture like Skype, instead all the Gmail Video traffic all runs through Google’s private servers.

Unlike many current video chat products, Gmail Video and Voice uses their own proprietary plug-in and not Adobe’s Flash Player. The small (2MB) download supports Firefox, IE, and Chrome on the PC, and Firefox on the Mac. Linux & mobile browser support will be included later, source said.

How to Start Video Chat in Gmail

Gmail Video and Voice will be publicly available to all Gmail users starting Tuesday at noon PST. Global rollout should be complete by the end of the day. If you would like to check whether you have this functionality, simply open up a chat window with someone and if your account is video-enabled, at the lower left of the chat window, there will be an interface element labeled “Video & more.” Clicking on that will directly walk you through the installation of the plug-in that is required. If you want to make a video call to someone who hasn’t yet installed the plug-in, you’ll be able to invite them to do so.

Sadly even though the existing Desktop chat client – Google Talk has voice support it may only get the video capability later.

Update:

Watch the following video that introduces Google Video & Chat Program:

My Two Cents

I’m really excited to try out this new video feature of Gmail. But I’d much prefer to have that feature in my Google Talk instead of Gmail. What do you say? Share in comments!


Tips for Optimizating Your Adsense Ads

Google Adsense Optimization TipsGoogle has recently started to publish a series of videos for AdSense tips at their official Inside AdSense blog. This is definitely a wise effort to help Google Adsense Publishers to better monetize their websites. After all, the better the Adsense publishers can make out from adsense, the more money Google makes, right?

Basically the first video talks about ad sizes, and Google recommends them to be big. They think that “bigger is often better”. They suggest using the following sizes:

  • 300×250 medium rectangle
  • 728×90 leaderboard
  • 160×600 skyscraper

Mel Ann Chan of the AdSense Australia Optimisation Team makes it very clear that the suggested ad units have delivered proven in the past and proved to be profitable for both publishers and advertisers. Advertisers usually favour these formats, and if you’ve receiving all ad types, you’ll find that advertisers will specifically target your sites more often.

Chan says that, If a publisher can position his ad units well, the users will be more likely to see these ad formats and find an ad that they are truely interested in.

She suggests that if a publisher displays at least one of these ad formats on their page it can increase the AdSense earnings of that publisher substantially.

I completely agree with Chan as I myself have seen many websites that has really poor design and ad placement. I think Ad placement is purely an art rather than a science. You really need to test different kinds of ads and see what works and converts best for you.

And I think the primary reason why Google recommends large sized ad blocks, because those ads are more likely to catch the eye, but if they are placed poorly and blended within the site’s design, It may result in a lot of ‘accidental clicks’ which doesn’t convert well for the advertisers.

Some other tips for Optimizing your Google Adsense ads:

In the Inside Adsense blog, Google Adsense team has also shared some other tips that can benefit Adsense publishers.

Competitive Ad Filter

Adsense Publishers can restrict contextually-targeted and placement-targeted ads from appearing on your pages by adding the URL of each ad to your Competitive Ad Filter. To access this filter simply login in to your Adsense account, click the AdSense Setup tab and visit the ‘Competitive Ad Filter’ page. You can also find full instructions and tips for entering in specific URLs in Google Adsense Help Center. Why is this filter useful? Well, if your site is about dogs and you are selling a particular type of dog food on your site, you wouldn’t want your visitors to see an ad of your close competitor who is selling a different brand, right? So with this competitive ad filter, you can easily filter out your competitors so that their ads don’t show up in your website. This tool is also proven useful, if you want to filter out ads that’s pays really is low and doesn’t convert well for you.

Ad Review Center

The Ad Review Center is a very useful addition in Google Adsense that gives publishers additional control over the placement-targeted ads that may appear on their pages. Using the Ad Review Center, a publisher can review specific ad groups and advertisers before they start appearing on their pages. This will also allow publisher to block certain types of ads from showing up. You’ll need to opt in to the Ad Review Center at the top of your Competitive Ad Filter page, and then you can begin reviewing ads instantly. This is particularly useful for those publishers who has a lot of traffic and gets a lot of advertisers who site target their ads.

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Programming for Children – Small Basic

programming-for-children This is a bit off topic but, I felt that it might be useful for some of my readers. If you have small children in home and you want them to learn basic programming language from an early age, Small Basic is for you!

What Is Small Basic?

Small Basic is a free programming language by Microsoft that is aimed at kids. Unlike other tools that has been previously designed to teach kids programming in a ‘codeless’ environment, Small Basic is essentially a small version of the popular BASIC language.

Drawing inspiration from the original BASIC language, but based on the newer .Net Framework, Small Basic has many useful features that will definitely help your kids to learn programming in a more professional but easy manner.

Small Basic - A Programming Language for Kids

Some of the highlights of Small Basic are:

  • Small Basic Language: The Small Basic Language consists of just 14 keywords, that is extremely easy to learn and remember. Small Basic is pure imperative code that runs on the .Net Framework.
  • Programming Environment: Small Basic’s development environment is simple but provides features that professional developers have come to expect from an IDE including Intellisense (Intelligently detects error and suggests you different variation of code)
  • Small Basic Libraries: Small Basic also comes with a set of libraries, and allows you to create your own libraries or modify existing ones. It also allows third-party libraries to be plugged in. (Hint: So if you are a developer and would like to do something nice for the young generation of programmers, here is your chance!)

Free Resources for Small Basic – Programming For Kids

If you are interested to give Small Basic a try or if you wish to introduce it to your kids you don’t need to go and buy any expensive books. Just download a comprehensive and easy to read, FREE SmallBasic Introductory Ebook (PDF) that introduces the reader to this new language and to programming in general.

Even though Small Basic is primarily made for children, it just may be the ideal way for anyone interested in programming to dip their feet in the cold water.


Jerry Yang Making A Fool of Himself

Jerry Yang - CEO, Yahoo

Jerry Yang - CEO, Yahoo

Yahoo’s current CEO Jerry Yang very recently gave an interview in the Web 2.0 Summit that has been described as a train wreck, self-delusional, and as making a mockery of the vaunted company he helped create. Andy Beal of Marketing Pilgrim thinks that Jerry should step down from the CEO post and TechCrunch on the other hand states Jerry is Just Out of Gas!

I seriously don’t understand what is wrong with him. I know that it’s not easy to become the CEO of a company like Yahoo!, but lets face the facts — he was never forced to become the CEO, He wanted it badly to bring change in the company back in June 2007. In the official Yahoo Blog he wrote (June 18th 2007) –

I look forward to teaming more closely with her as we pursue our joint vision. What is that vision? A Yahoo! that executes with speed, clarity and discipline. A Yahoo! that increases its focus on differentiating its products and investing in creativity and innovation. A Yahoo! that better monetizes its audience. A Yahoo! whose great talent is galvanized to address its challenges. And a Yahoo! that is better focused on what’s important to its users, customers, and employees.

Lets identify the key points from the above quote:

  • Focus on Differentiating Products & Investing in Creativity & Innovation
  • – They have been very late to adapt to change and often acted as a ‘copy cat’.

  • Monetize the Yahoo Audience
  • – Yahoo still can’t monetize their audience well.

  • Focus on What’s important to Users, Customer & Employees
  • – They are still far behind in determining whats important for their users & customers and most importantly they can’t make their shareholders happy.

And last but not the least, two major deals (one with Microsoft & Google) were canceled while he is still holding his chair. Now I know he may only take a $1 dollar pay cheque from Yahoo, but that certainly doesn’t give him the right to destroy Yahoo completely. When Microsoft came knocking at Yahoo’s door a number times with an acquisition offer of $31/per share, Jerry was not willing to sell his company to Microsoft and now suddenly after being dumped by Google from their ad deal, Jerry says – “Its best for Microsoft to Buy Yahoo…”. Just watch the video and see how Jerry Yang, the current CEO of Yahoo! Makes a complete fool of himself!


Top SEO Mistakes Video

If you are very new at SEO, you might find this video really useful. The video presentation is done by Stephan Spencer at WordCamp 2008 San Francisco.

And for those who don’t know Stephen – He is a Internet Marketing Guru and also the founder and president of interactive agency Netconcepts. He is a journalist and also a professional Speaker. He is often invited to speak at different search conferences. Read his full bio here.

So what do you think of the above video? Is there any comments that you would like to share?

Update: Some of you have asked for the presentation slides, so I’m including a direct link to the ppt file – http://www.netconcepts.com/learn/seo-mistakes.ppt


Google Profile Search

Google recently released a Google Profile Search option under your own Google Public Profile. So use the link to go to your profile and once your public profile loads, simply look for the search box named “Search profiles”.

Google Profile Search

This Profile search option simply lets you view the Public Profile of Any Google User. To test the feature, I searched for some names and majority of them returned no results (due to the fact that not everyone has their profile set to “public”). But Anyway check out some of the profiles that I could see:

Matt Cutts

Matt Cutts Google Profile

Profile Link: http://www.google.com/s2/profiles/109412257237874861202

Brittany Bohnet

brittany bohnet google profile

Profile Link: http://www.google.com/s2/profiles/106665185918564754695

Andy Beal

Andy Beal Google profile

Profile Link: http://www.google.com/s2/profiles/113171227622011939089

Chris DiBona

Chris Dibona Google Profile


Profile Link:
http://www.google.com/s2/profiles/114765095157367281222

My Two Cents

It is really interesting to see that Google is bringing in a lot of “Social Features” within their existing services. Just few days back we saw a Social Voting Feature being implemented in Google Search, and now they are also doing something with the Google user profiles. So I believe Google is planning on something big here … What Do you Think? Share in Comments!


Google Experiments with Social Voting within Search

Yes Finally Google has started to experiment with Social Voting. I heard this story long ago in Techcrunch but didn’t really get a chance to see it. Thanks to Lee Odden‘s Tweet, where he posted a link to a Metacafe video which shows this feature live in action.

Leeeodden-Twit-Google-Social-Voting

Before you watch the following video remember — This feature is still probably on an experimental stage and you might not see it right away. (Even I don’t see it). Google is still testing this on a very limited basis.


Google’s New Social Voting FeaturesWatch more amazing videos here

So what do you think of this new feature? Share in comments!


Google Alerts Providing RSS Feed

Yes Its Official! Google has started to provide RSS Feed of Google Web Search Results inside Google Alerts. To get the feed url of any search term in google, simply log on to – http://www.google.com/alerts and click on Manage Your Alerts.

Note: For first time users, you may need to add an Alter first with your “Email Address”. (Don’t worry later you will be able to change that and get the Feed URL).

Google Alerts Providing RSS Feed

Once you go to Manage your Alerts page, edit the alert that you wish to get via Feed, and you will notice in the “Deliver To” column a new item has been added called “Feed” (Previously there was only the email option).

Google Web Search Feed via Google Alerts

So select the “feed” option and save and you will notice that Google Alerts will provide you a unique feed URL for your search term.

Google Providing Feed URL of Web Search Results

So now simply add it to your favorite RSS reader (or just add it in your Google Reader) and you are done.

What Can This Feature Do For You?

You may ask, what is the point of having this feature? Well this is pretty important if you want to keep track of certain things (like your brand name, product name) as they get mentioned in the Web, blogs and so on. This is certainly going to make your Online Reputation Management efforts a lot easier. What else can it do for you….Can you think of anything? Share all in comments!


Gmail Gadgets: Google Calender and Docs

Gmail Gadgets - Google Calender and Docs

Google has recently added some useful sidebar options (a.k.a Google Gadgets) inside Gmail. Now you can add some of these useful gadgets on the side that show your appointments directly from Google Calendar and also your last five edited/added documents in Google Docs.

In the calender gadget you can view all your subscribed gadgets and also add events directly from your Gmail. Similarly you can use the Google Docs gadget to view your recent documents directly from your Inbox. You can customize your view options such as – only spreadsheets, only presentations, or only documents previously opened by you.

Gmail Labs is also planning to release an option that will let the user to cut and paste the URL of any Google gadget and turns that gadget into a sidebar item in Gmail.

However the feature isn’t very user friendly right now; it’s basically a sandbox mainly aimed at developers who want to play around with gadgets in Gmail. So I don’t really think its a good idea to install it right now.

How to Activate the Gmail Gadgets

Step 1- Log on to Gmail.com

Step 2- Click on Settings

Step 3- Move over to the Labs Tab

Step 4- Scroll down and you should see the gadgets. (Screen shoot provided below)

Step 5- Click on Enable & Save!

Gmail Gadgets


Free Online Notebook – Memiary.com

Do you remember what you did last tuesday? I seriously don’t! And that is when we need a personal scheduler or a diary. There are tons of free online notebooks out there that can help you to keep notes & remember things. But most of them are very complex in nature and sometimes requires fancy registration or often takes time to load – because they are for more “advanced” use and purpose.

Memiary.com provides a free online diary services and lets you record down the 5 things you did today in a very simply & clean interface. The signup takes less than 10 seconds and after signing up it lets you go straight to business.

Memiary is a creation from Sid Yadav who is a long-time app reviewer at Rev2.org. On his blog he wrote an interesting post about the process of creating Memiary and how proud his mom was of him who happens to be the very first user of memiary.

My Two Cents

As shown in the screen shot, I tried out Memiary and so far I have found it to be an excellent app. There may be too-many online diary sort of app on the web now, but I have found this to be the most simple. However there are few things that they can improve on, such as:

  • They should let the user to export this data out
  • Send a Auto Reminder (SMS/Email), asking the user to update the notebook.
  • Give more space to write! Incomplete sentences aren’t pretty.
  • Give user the option to add more than 5 items
  • An option to change the Password

A Sneak Peek at New Google Analytics

google-analytics-reviewJust when Yahoo launched their own Web Analytics service to compete Head-to-Head with Google Analytics, Google polished up their Analytics service and added 7 brand new features (currently in Public beta) that really takes Web Analaytics to the next level.

Thanks to Googler Avinash Kaushik who was kind enough to give me access to this Public Beta features of Google Analytics. Avinash is currently Analytics Evangelist at Google and he is also the author of the #1 book on Web Analytics, titled “Web Analytics – An Hour a Day“. [You can check out the book in Amazon].

New Features of Google Analaytics

The features of the old Google Analytics was somewhat limited for advanced tracking. Which is why many users (especially big organizations) spends money on other paid web analytics service like Omniture.

Some of the new exciting features of Google Analytics are:

  1. Auto User Interface refresh
  2. Google AdSense can be now be integrated into Google Analytics
  3. Advanced visualizations such as Motion Charts is now available
  4. Make Custom Reports
  5. Advanced Segmentation Options
  6. The Google Analytics API.
  7. Automatic importing of AdWords cost data into Urchin.

The two public beta features that I was given access to are – Advanced Segmentation & Custom Reports. The rest of the features are still in private beta and only available upon invitation.

Advanced Segmentation

This is something that I was looking for in GA for a long time. Consider all that GA provided you previously were plain “facts” or raw data. E.g. – How many people visited your site, how did they come to your site, Which keyword they searched for etc. What can change these data into rather useful “information” is if you can actually combine some of these together and come up with a more meaningful query that may help you to make some sense of it.

For example, What if you want to know – How many people searched for your brand name and came to your site from United Kingdom and has made a Purchase? Or How many Visitor came to your website from a particular Adgroup that you were running in Google Adwords during a specified period of time, say from 12:00 Midnight until 6 am.

So all these advanced query involves operators (AND, OR) and Conditions which can help you to take few raw data and then combine them according to your specific needs. Many experts were already doing it manually using spreadsheet and combining/comparing all the data using formulas and doing a lot of mathematical calculations. But with google’s advanced segmentation feature, I guess any average Joe can now become a Web Analytics Expert!

Some Default Segmentation Presets

google analytics default segmentation

Custom Segmentation

google analytics custom segmentation

So basically now you can mix and match and play with different variables provided and come up with your own custom Segmentation. This will definitely help you to know your visitors & market better and create a better online marketing plan.

Custom Reporting

This is something that I’m yet to explore, but it seems like a easy-to-use interface that lets you build customized reports based on your own needs & requirements. This was a highly demanded feature by the webmasters and I’m glad that Google has finally decided to implement it.

google-analytics-custom-report

If you want to get a more detailed overview of Segmentation & Customized Reports of Google Analytics, I strongly urge you to check Avinash’s post. On his blog, he has provided step by step screen shoots of some of his segmentation ideas like the following:

Idea #1: How to segment out your own Brand Search Keywords.
Idea #2: Find out the % Visits with a high “Degree of Engagement”.
Idea #3: How to Segment Precious Customers.
Idea #4: How to Use Segmentation to do Ad-Hoc Analysis.

My Two Cents

My hat tip to the Google Analytics team for coming up with some of these wonderful features. Especially the advanced segmentation is really going to help me save a lot of time that I spend now combining data from different metrics in Excel and then coming with a custom report for my clients. Hopefully we will be able to see more exciting feature from GA in near future.

Update: Check out this video that shows you to create and use Advanced Segments in Google Analytics to isolate and analyze specific parts of your traffic.