SEO Articles

Universal Analytics real time latency issues won’t be fully fixed, says Google

Google has responded to the complaints around Google Analytics’s real time reporting being off and inaccurate within Universal Analytics 3, saying they won’t be fully fixing the issue. Google has responded to the issue tracker thread saying that the engineering team has “not been able to fully eliminate the issue.” Google added that the company is “no longer seeking to resolve this issue.”

What is the issue. Many site owners love looking at real time analytics, specifically in Universal Analytics, because it tells them what is trending on their web sites right now. GA4’s real time analytics shows you the past 30 minutes or so, while Universal Analytics is within minutes, not 30 minutes. Earlier this month, site owners have noticed that the real time analytics in Universal Analytics, aka Google Analytics 3, has been off or lagged. Google confirmed the issue but has not been able to fully resolve the issue.

Google’s resolution. Google posted a “resolution” but that resolution is not a fix, it is just saying Google has given up on fixing the issue. Here is what Google wrote:

As you have indicated that you were experiencing an issue with realtime reporting in your Classic Analytics property. Our Product and Engineering team has extensively investigated this issue to find the root cause, but after making a few improvements to the report we have not been able to fully eliminate the issue.

Knowing that this issue is temporary and that ‘Google Analytics 4’ (GA4) properties have an improved Realtime report that does not suffer from this issue, we’re no longer seeking to resolve this issue. We recommend waiting a few minutes to see accurate numbers in UA Realtime reports, or we invite you to consider implementing an GA4 property alongside your existing Universal Analytics property to access our next generation of Real-time reporting (help center: https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/9744165?hl=en&ref_topic=9143232).

We understand that this may be frustrating to hear after so many months of waiting, but please know that we exhausted all options before coming to this conclusion. Unfortunately we will not be able to help troubleshoot the Realtime inflation/deflation further.

What to do. Google says either (1) wait “a few minutes to see accurate numbers in UA Realtime reports” to see if they load properly or (2) implement GA4 for that real time analytics. Both don’t seem like a good solution but with Google to sunset UA3 for GA4, it doesn’t seem likely Google will resolve the UA3 issues.

Why we care. If you notice your that your real time analytics data is off in Universal Analytics, you are not alone and Google likely won’t be fixing this ever. So you need to adapt and understand that what you are seeing (or not seeing) in UA3 real time analytics is not fully real time or accurate. Communicate this to your clients so they are aware as well.

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How to get reviews for local SEO: The must-do list 

Online reviews are important. They improve trust signals with users, provide social proof that your brand is who it says it is, and can even assist in SEO efforts.

While the focus on reviews in SEO tends to be on how reviews affect rankings, rankings are just a small part of why reviews are important for local SEO.

Benefits of a healthy review profile include increased leads, social proof, customer service opportunities and increased customer loyalty and engagement, to name a few. 

Why does this matter?

Great and terrible reputations alike spread quickly. While you don’t want to be known for having a bad reputation, you also don’t want your brand to get lost in the shuffle.

Reviews are a free way to generate brand recognition, a reputation for responsiveness and great customer service, positive exposure, SEO benefits and influencing purchasing decisions with potential clients.

Even negative reviews offer an opportunity – showing potential clients how you respond to or handle frustrations (all reasonable clients know that things can and do go wrong occasionally), and they provide you with free feedback on which aspects of your business can be improved upon.

Use critical reviews to better your offering and client experience. This will show in your overall review profile over time, and in client satisfaction immediately. If all of your customers hate the coffee in your lobby, change it. 

Getting reviews for a local business

So how do you go about getting reviews?

One of the most common questions we get from clients when it comes to reviews for their local businesses is how to encourage their customers to leave reviews without annoying them or risking public negative feedback.

Here are some top tips on how to secure reviews for local SEO.

The Ask

It seems simple, right? Ask, and ye shall receive. But

The “Person You Already Know” Ask

Good sources of online reviews include:

Clients.Customers.Colleagues.Business partners.Personal contacts (depending on the platform).

This is a great way to source reviews because if you’re asking someone you know and are comfortable with, you likely have an established relationship with them and they’re more likely to leave a great review.

While Google does not allow reviews from non-customers, Facebook does not limit reviews to paying clients and customers. Industry partners, your neighbor, and even your mail carrier are totally welcome to leave a review.

Don’t ask them to lie, however, as authenticity is key here. If it’s not a client or customer, ask the reviewer instead to speak to your integrity, professionalism, personality, or character vs a brand-specific experience.

The “Verbal” Ask

Like the person you already know, the verbal ask allows you to decide whether someone would be a good candidate for a positive review.

You can ask a customer in passing, or even pick up the phone and call them. If you’re going to call them, it’s often best to start the conversation by thanking them for their business and asking for their feedback to let them know that you care about their experience with your brand before asking them to do you a favor.

The “Digital” Ask

The digital ask allows you to choose who you’d like to receive a review from. The digital ask can be delivered via email, text message, or even directly on your social channels.

Not everyone you ask will take the time to review their experience with you. However, this is a great way to grab some positive low-hanging fruit.

The “Passive” Ask

Your reception area, flyers, and other printed materials offer a fantastic opportunity to provide a QR code directly linking to your reviews.

Add some social proof, such as an image of one of your best reviews, a star rating, or some verbiage on why you want them to scan the code to encourage participation.

Review Request Tips

Make sure to add a personal contact for a real human in messages – this allows an opportunity to talk to an unhappy customer and smooth things out before they share a public review.Keep it simple! People do not have time to read a five-paragraph essay on why you want them to review you. Respect their time and get to the point quickly.It’s OK to follow up in a few weeks if they don’t review you, but be careful to not get annoying. You do not want someone reviewing your business when they’re irritated with you.If you can add personal details without laying it on too heavy, it’s great! Be careful to avoid potentially embarrassing or overly personal information. (“we’re so glad we were able to get rid of the bed bugs in your hotel!” will not go well for you)

Review Management Tools

A variety of review management tools can help you request, compile, and respond to online reviews.

Be careful if you use a third-party tool to request or respond to reviews to ensure they aren’t engaging in questionable tactics for displaying or managing review content.

Review management platforms have recently been under fire from the FTC for “avoiding the collection or publication of negative reviews,” which violates FTC guidelines.

Mike Blumenthal of NearMedia has been following recent FTC cases and guideline updates and does a fantastic job explaining them on the Near Media blog

Strategies to Ensure a Positive Review Profile

Always respond to reviews (positive and negative): Showing your current and potential customers, business partners, and community members that you’re paying attention and actually care about what people have to say can go a long way in building a positive review profile and brand reputation.Know your customers: Not only does this foster a positive connection with your customers, but it also helps you spot fake reviews from disgruntled employees or the competition quickly. Knowing your customers also helps you successfully plan initiatives, promotions, and offers that will be popular with your customer base.Make it easy – provide instructions if needed: If your customer base is not tech-savvy or may have difficulty submitting an online review, help them. Create easy-to-follow instructions that walk them through the process. This can be digital or printed out. Bonus points for visual aids and clickable links or scannable QR codes.Encourage honest feedback: Don’t bribe or guilt people into leaving a positive review. Encourage them to be honest in their reviews so you know your strengths and weaknesses alike. Make sure your request is personalized: Whether you’re sending an email or asking in person, make sure you let the customer know that you know who they are and care about their experience with your brand BEFORE you request the review. Asking how their kid’s sporting event went, or if their spouse is enjoying their new job can go a long way in fostering a positive, long-term relationship.

What Not to Do When Seeking Reviews for Local SEO

Don’t get hung up on one platform: Meet your audience where they are, because chances are, if they frequently turn to Yelp to leave reviews, you have other customers looking there for information about your brand.  You don’t want to overwhelm people with options and create decision paralysis, but give them two or three options for review sites.Don’t pay for or incentivize reviews: Ever. Never, ever, ever.Don’t ask people to leave fake reviews: This is tacky, bad business, and it will come back to bite you.Don’t leave fake reviews for your competition: As with requesting positive fake reviews, leaving negative reviews that are not accurate or true will not go well for you. Just don’t do it.Don’t ignore the feedback you receive: Look at negative reviews as an opportunity to provide your customers with a better product, service, or experience. Take the feedback and learn from it, or you’re doomed to continue repeating past mistakes. Don’t use Facebook’s autoresponder for reviews: People can tell, and you will lose their trust.Don’t delete negative reviews: Use them as a tool to show current and potential customers that you’ve taken the feedback seriously and improved your business.

Online reviews for local business: The bottom line

Why do reviews matter so much?

Great and terrible reputations alike spread quickly. While you don’t want to be known for having a bad reputation, you also don’t want to get lost in the shuffle.

Reviews are a free way to generate brand recognition, a reputation for responsiveness and great customer service, positive exposure, SEO benefits, and of course, influencing purchasing decisions with potential clients. 

Even negative reviews offer opportunities. It shows potential clients how you respond to or handle frustrations (all reasonable clients know that things can and do go wrong occasionally) and they provide you with free feedback on which aspects of your business can be improved upon.

Use critical reviews to better your offering and client experience. This will show in your overall review profile over time, and in client satisfaction immediately. If all of your customers hate the coffee in your lobby, change it. 

Remember, online reviews help with lead gen, have SEO benefits, show you what your customers really want and expect from your business, inform you of areas of your business that have room for improvement, and help drive conversions. 

The post How to get reviews for local SEO: The must-do list  appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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How to safeguard your privacy while building your digital business

How to safeguard your privacy while building your digital business

30-second summary:

The need to become a public persona in order to be a successful business owner is overrated
Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to create an anonymous digital entity while using a majority of efficient marketing strategies
The problem arises when you already have your personal data published and want to delete it – it is neither easy nor possible (given all the variety of archiving tools that are publicly accessible these days)
So how do you keep your life private while owning a successful online business?
How do you navigate this conundrum as your private content may still become public at any moment?

The internet is both, a boon and a bane, depending on – how you use it, and how others use it to interact with you. A lot of new businesses and side hustles emerged post the pandemic, while brick and mortar businesses started digitizing themselves. This has raised well-being challenges around how business owners and senior executives can separate work from their personal pockets over the internet. How can they ensure their privacy and online safety are strong while building a digital business footprint?

Here are a few things you should know about safeguarding your online identity from the internet:

1. Making your site anonymous

Digitizing your business while remaining anonymous is difficult but doable. Here are all the steps you need to take to create an anonymous blog. In essence:

You need to come up with an online pseudonym (a moniker as we used to call it back in the days when we were using forums and never used our real names around the web)
Set up a new email address and create your new public social media profiles representing your business
In addition, you will need to pay for domain privacy protection to prevent your phone, email, and address from being tied to your domain. Domain privacy protection replaces personal information with proxy info in the public WHOIS directory.
Make sure you are using an SSL certificate (which you can do for free)

I know we have been talking about transparency and authenticity and building your personal brand too much, so creating a successful anonymous site without exposing yourself seems almost like an unpopular choice.

Well, I believe there’s still a place for anonymity in social media, and you can still succeed without the cost of compromising your personal details to the public. You just need to take careful steps when using all kinds of marketing tactics – like blogging and social media marketing – in order to keep your private life – well – private.

Of course, that means, not posting family pictures on Instagram, and not telling personal stories, but there is still a wealth of opportunities, from SEO to PPC ads. With more personal tactics, like blogger outreach, you will likely have to come up with an alternative identity as no one likes anonymous emails or emails coming from a business.

There’s one thing to note here: For both ecommerce and SaaS businesses creating an anonymous business entity is doable. Of course, some of your customers may be curious who is behind your brand but if you have working contact information, it is not a huge issue. It is, of course, more challenging for a freelancing business, as most freelance marketplaces require your real name in order to join.

Some may argue about the possibility of anonymity in the context of E-A-T but in reality, it isn’t common knowledge how exactly Google translates its E-A-T requirements into a ranking algorithm. So far, I’ve seen plenty of websites with no humanized ‘About’ pages ranking, and ranking high. Besides, you can tell the story of your business without telling the personal story of its founder. 

The need to become a public persona in order to be a successful business owner is overrated. It is still a matter of choice. Technical SEO and high-quality backlinks, as well as the quality of content and properly performed keyword research – remain the three pillars of solid organic visibility. A well-done ‘About’ page can exist without personal branding as long as it conveys your business’ proposition, origin story, and conveys values that will resonate with your target consumers/audience.

2. Delete your public content from third-party platforms

Chances are, you have been contributing to several third-party platforms using your real name. It is only natural because there are a few powerful social media players (like Facebook and Quora) that have real-name policies in place preventing users from maintaining anonymity.

If at some point you decide that you don’t want that content to come up in search when anyone is searching for your name, what are your choices?

The hard truth is that removing your own content that you added to a third-party site is a challenge. Some platforms don’t even have tools for mass-deleting content from the platform. In the case of Quora, you will probably need to delete your own account in order to get rid of your content.

In some cases, like Reddit and Tumblr, even deleting your own account won’t help as your content will remain there assigned to a removed entity.

In case you are curious, here’s a break-through of major third-party content-based networks and how you can wipe your content off them in an easier way:

Third-party content- driven platform
Any Way to Mass-Delete Content?
Will the content be gone once you delete your entire account?

Reddit
No
No

Quora
No
Yes
(except for questions which are mostly anonymous)

Instagram
Yes
(You can also make your profile private)

Twitter
No
(However, you can make them all private/protected)
Yes

Facebook
No (But you can make them all private/hidden)
Yes

Pinterest
No
Yes
(but NOT re-pins other people make from your pins)

Tumblr
Yes
(Using the mass post editor)
Not all
(Your group blog contributions will be kept)

Yelp
No
Yes
(But not instantly)

YouTube
Yes
(You can mass-delete your comments and mass-hide your videos)
Yes

In summary, deleting your content from the web will take some work, and in some cases, it will not happen instantly. But it is better than saving future hours trying to block and delete spam communications targeted toward you and your business.

You can, of course, change your username on most of these networks to hide your real name but mind that your previous name will be still visible through the Wayback Machine and similar archiving tools, should anyone take the time to research.

3. Make your remaining accounts private

If you think going off the grid is an extreme sport and want to maintain some sort of social media presence to stay in touch with friends and family, simply make your accounts private. But remember that your name and profile picture may still be public and findable through Google, even when a profile is set to private.

Here’s an example of a private account on Instagram which still makes your name, username, description, profile picture, and website public, even for a non-logged-in viewer:

Generally, when a social media account is set to private, neither logged-in nor unregistered people cannot access your content or your friend list.

The culture of spontaneous sharing is going too strong: People publish and share private information without much consideration or without meaning any harm.

And let’s not forget about an always possible data breach risk that can land your personal information in the possession of hackers. From the past incidents, it is quite clear a social media platform is unlikely to even let their users know about the breach (they may do that but months after it happened, months after your private data may have ended up in the wrong hands).

That being said, deleting your accounts is probably a better – still not a perfect – option.

Conclusion

The truth is, once we start opening up our lives to the digital world, that private content gets wings of its own. It becomes very difficult to bring it under control and can easily spread without you even being aware.

If this is something of a concern to you, take at least some steps now: When starting a new business or digitizing your current one, keep your anonymity options in mind and make an informed decision as to what you want your customers to know about your personal life.

Ann Smarty is the Founder of Viral Content Bee, Brand and Community manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas. She can be found on Twitter @seosmarty.

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The post How to safeguard your privacy while building your digital business appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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Why WebOps wins for web teams

Why WebOps wins for web teams

Websites, like any asset, can become more valuable over time. A website can appreciate, or it can depreciate. To get a high-value website to appreciate even more is with a high-functioning professional web team. With this type of team, the whole can be greater than the sum of its parts.

The success of any given website depends on how well all the members of a web team (designers, developers, content editors, strategists and more) can effectively combine their work to pursue a common goal.

These team members must walk the same path that a new idea might take them to get to a website through ideation, design, development, deployment, measurement and iteration. While the components and details may change, what remains constant is the importance of teammates working together. 

But new technology alone can’t fix a broken team, process or a damaged relationship.

Join Steve Persch, director of technical marketing, Pantheon, in his informative MarTech session as he covers the choices and strategies a web team can pursue to set themselves up for long-term success, including the role of content management systems, automation and governance.

Once you attend the session, you’ll be able to increase the pace of website iteration, find flaky elements of website architecture that can be standardized or automated and plan for long-term website evolution.

Watch the session and get the WebOps-mindset you need to embrace the team sport nature of making websites. Learn to clean up and standardize the parts that are dragging you down and shift energy towards the areas where you can make the most significant impact.

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20220421 SEL Brief

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Google tests big changes to featured snippets

Google tests big changes to featured snippets

Google is testing some significant changes to featured snippets. Both will give searchers a more diverse set of sources in the coveted featured snippet position. 

From the web. A typical featured snippet features text from, and a link to, one website. In this From the web test, Google shows brief excerpts from two or three different websites, linking to each source separately. Google also includes the site’s favicon.

Here’s an example screenshot (shared via Twitter by @vladrpt): 

Other sites say. There’s also another variation of this featured snippet test where Google groups three sites beneath the typical paragraph-style featured snippet, under a heading of Other sites say.

Here’s a screenshot (shared via Twitter by @SarahBlocksidge): 

Hat tip. Barry Schwartz reported on these changes earlier today at Search Engine Roundtable

Why we care. If you own featured snippets for important keywords, you potentially could see your traffic reduced, as clicks could go to competing pages. Rather than owning the valuable SERP real estate outright, your site might end up sharing a featured snippet with at least one or two other sites (the number of sources could even be higher in the future, depending on whether this change rolls out permanently and how Google judges the success of the feature). On the flip side, if you don’t currently own a featured snippet, this gives you two additional chances to get there and potentially drive some more traffic. 

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