When Apple first launched iOS 6, it caused a bit of an uproar among digital marketers. Depending on how an iOS 6 user searches in Google, it used to be the case that the refer would not always be passed. If the search box in the top right was used, no refer would be passed and the organic traffic would be incorrectly attributed as direct.

This had big implications when tracking campaign performance, as iOS 6 accounts for around 30% of traffic, resulting in approximately 15% of overall traffic being misattributed.

This week, Searchengineland reported that on the latest version, iOS 7, Apple was again passing the refer. But does this now apply to iOS 6 too? That’s what our data at Arena suggests.

Using various iPhones running iOS 6 in the office at Arena, our tests consistently show the refer being passed. Next, we looked at the web analytics of our clients.

Case study one: This client receives 1m+ visits monthly to their website. Gradually, over the past few months, the proportion of their keywords which are encrypted (represented by the green line) has gradually increased. However, since the 30th July, the proportion of encrypted keywords has jumped by 6% in just one day. This is consistent with our observation as, even though a refer is passed, no keyword is passed within it.

Omniture

When we investigated the web analytics in more depth, we saw a decline in direct traffic.

Case study two: Again, this client receives 1m+ visits monthly. Assuming that the change was made on the 29th, Arena looked at the amount of traffic attributed to organic search on iOS 6 devices and compared it to the same period in the previous week; the amount of organic iOS 6 traffic increased by 50%. Overall traffic was flat period on period, while, as you might expect, direct traffic fell.

As the SEO channel matures, the need for data to support the business case for investment increases. This change will certainly help that cause, and is great news for digital marketers.

In June Arena hosted a SEO Seminar at the Soho Hotel. I was one of the speakers and I chose the topic of how to properly measure SEO. Over the past few months I’ve encountered a lot of SEOs who sadly have no consideration for issues such encrypted search and iOS6. It’s especially timely given that Firefox are now fully supporting Do Not Track (DNT) so looks like the on going battle to get data is set to continue. You can view the bulk of my talk below, otherwise see the rest of the videos here.  

There are few things as rewarding as just seeing traffic going up every week in Google Analytics. Sometimes it’s easy to get lost in the details. We forget that just doing the basic elements of search engine optimisation can be lucrative. No need to talk about semantic mark up, or the impact of social as a ranking signal. The most powerful thing a SEO can do is actually to do some SEO. Hot air isn’t a ranking signal (sadly for a lot of people). This is what I’ve been up to the past couple of months.

1) Find a moderate volume keyword to rank for

This took a few good hours to be fair. If the average est CPC in Adwords is greater than £20 that usually means those in the paid positions are monetising the traffic really well. A challenge is to get a good balance between competitiveness and volume. No good trying to rank for something that will take months when all I want is fairly instant gratification.

2) Spend weekend  building a website

This is usually WordPress. Create some page templates and spend the rest of the day breaking and fixing stylesheets. Absolutely love the developer tools as part of Chrome.

3) Spend another weekend creating content

I find this one of the most difficult tasks. I don’t spin or scrape any content. I actually research the area and then write up some decentish content. As time goes on, I’ll slowly see the bounce rate drop.

4) Spend further weekend linkbuilding. 

When linkbuilding really quickly, I like to mitigate the risk of tripping any filters by leading primarily with brand/URL anchor text. The bulk of my backlink profile will predominately be like this, about 90% and when I get a really high authority/trust link, I’ll opt for some money anchor text.

5) See traffic to the site grow

Frequently check Google Analytics, and occasionally even watch it in real time.

6) Start making £1k per week from the site.

Open a bottle of champagne and book a holiday in the Canary Islands. Good work, job done.

 

googleanalyticsgraph

Doesn’t look too shoddy in Searchmetrics either…

 

 

searchmetricsgraph

Super duper new infographic by Tesco Compare Car Insurance. The new infographic compares a myriad of cars in terms of top speed, performance, new price and cost per mile. The amount of data on this infographic is so much that you need to click on the image to open up the lightbox.


A Pound for Pound Car Comparison by Tesco Compare

 

Anyone who has worked on a financial client will appreciate the frustration SEOs commonly face. Google primarily uses the link graph as a proxy for determining what are useful sources of information, however because many of the financial companies are FSA regulated, their hands are legally tied on what content they can produce. In the instance of Mortgages for example, providers can offer the product, but can not take an advisory role. This makes it extremely difficult for websites to make their site worthy of generating authentic link citations.

Taking any client on a journey of producing content can be a difficult one, but those with some financial experience will hopefully appreciate what we have achieved even more. Sure there are some limitations with the infographic; it’s faced several amendments, and sure there are some limitations imposed on the CMS which has restricted our ability to make as shareable as we wanted, but it’s a good step forward and I’d personally appreciate any sharing that is done.
Burglary Infographic by Tesco Compare

Visit Tesco Compare now, to compare Home Insurance

Yesterday I generated four iGaming players from 15 clicks. That’s great, however with the data that was available to me, I had no idea which pages on my website was sending the clicks that were driving converting clicks.

I have event tracking labels on all of my outbound affiliate links, so in Google Analytics I can drill down to some level to understand what keywords and landing pages are driving those sales, but beyond that, on my affiliate portals, I cant tell which traffic my site gets actually converts.

So I thought, wouldn’t be great if I could see which pages on my affiliate website were the clicks that converted?

  1. On affiliate portals, create a different campaign URL for each of your main landing pages
  2. Cloak each URL using .htaccess
  3. Replace all of your outgoing links with variables
  4. In a PHP file, set a URL variable using the  $_SERVER function
  5. Write conditional statements that set the outgoing link based on matching the URL function
  6. BOOM!
Following this methodology, I can now break down my iGaming accounts and see of the pages that are driving clicks, which ones (and therefore what traffic) is actually making me sales.

At Arena we have regular meetings with Google about organic search (it’s not with engineers, so about as insightful as you would expect), and it was in this session we vented our frustration over the removal of the monthly volumes being exported from the keyword suggestion tool. They said that they would feed this back to the product team, and sure enough, today I can see that when you export data from the keyword suggestion tool, you get monthly volumes again. No more normalising Insights data :)

Martin here at Arena has just been looking into how Google go about blocking the keyword in the referrer. We did a search for the term “seo” at https://www.google.com whilst logged into a Google Account. With Google Instant turned on it created the following URL…

https://www.google.com/search?sclient=psy-ab&hl=en&site=&source=hp&q=seo&btnK=Google+Search

Wikipedia was top of the results, so we had a look at the html element containing the result, which looked like this…

You’ll see a bit a of JavaScript there bound to the ‘onmousedown’ event, which calls a function called ‘rwt(…)’. Here is the function declaration…

 
There is a lot going on in there, but essentially it redirects the browser to a new URL with the ‘q=’ parameter wiped (as indicated by the wonderful red arrow above), which then redirects to the desired page you clicked on in the search result (which is passed via the ‘url=’ parameter). So, from the search result itself (Wikipedia in this case), the referrer becomes…

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CGoQFjAA&

url=http%3A%2F%2Fen.wikipedia.org%2Fwiki%2FSearch_engine_optimization&ei=GpqeTqSzJsuFhQettaBN&
usg=AFQjCNHfIpCo_Ap336oSDlmNqh1STSriIg

Meaning the ‘q=’ parameter exists, but is empty! This is very bad news for our natural search scripts (and analytics packages full-stop!), the only thing we’ll be able to tell from the referrer is that they came from Google, any brand/generic keyword logic goes out of the window. The only thing we could do is isolate this traffic and track it differently, as we know it’ll be coming from ‘www.google.com/url…’ instead of ‘www.google.com/search…’.

This is one of my favourite SEO mythbusters.

It is the notion that preventing Google crawling a page in your robots.txt will prevent it appearing in organic search results. It’s rare to come across examples, but today I have, triggering me to make this blog post. In case there is any confusion, Matt Cutts explains it clearly in this Webmaster video. He also runs over the use of the meta noindex tag.

Here is the example. ESPN shop are disallowing all UAs from crawling the domain ESPNshop.co.uk.

However if you do some very strict searches, Google still shows the URL in search results.

I love quick wins. Remember if there is a page you want removed from Google organic search results, either

- Add the meta noindex to the <head> tag

- Remove the URL in Google Webmaster Tools

 

It looks like Google are giving users a subtle hint as to how they can access Google Plus. The arrow is animated; when you load the page the arrow is drawn.