How To Identify & Block Spam Referral & BotTraffic In Google Analytics

All of us that use Google Analytics are to one extent or another blighted by bot and spam referral traffic. For those of us which rely heavily on data for business and marketing decisions its a real nuisance.

Whats the problem with bot traffic & spam referrals in Google Analytics?

  • It can seriously reduce reported conversion rate
  • It can negatively impact reported bounce rate
  • It can over-inflate reported traffic volumes

In short it makes analytics data unreliable. It’s particularly frustrating when comparing data for periods of time as inevitably the comparisons can’t be trusted if you suspect data in 1 period is tainted.

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Conversion rate optimization tips from some of the leading experts

It’s always been a kind of obvious concept – make your website better at selling to increase leads and revenue but it has evolved into a much more scientific and influential task than before with many really useful and dedicated tools available to the marketer to help with the process of optimising for conversions. For example, in 2016 there is no shortage of AB testing SaaS providers, some of the best being SiteSpect, Optimizely, Unbounce & VWO and the price of such services is far more amenable than it used to be.

Many of the best-known CRO experts and ideas are discussed in the following excellent webinar hosted by HubSpot. A transcript is also available below. Unfortunately, I couldn’t grab the name of the host so he’s referred to as ‘male speaker’!

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5 powerful tips for those new to remarketing

Remarketing as a means of recapturing traffic and growing sales can be a powerful tool for web reliant businesses and the platforms and opportunities available to marketers that facilitate remarketing are growing and becoming more sophisticated. Here a few simple but powerful tips to help you get the most out of your remarketing.

1) Decide exactly who you are going to remarket to and test variations of that audience

For example targeting cart abandoners is likely to produce higher conversion rates as that audience already ‘almost’ bought and are more likely to be convert than other site visitors. You could also try targeting cart abandoners from yesterday v the last 30 days and see how ROI compares.

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Bing Organic Traffic Drop – Showing As Referral in Analytics

Update: This now seems to be a non issue as Bing, or Analytics, i’m not sure which, have made a change resulting in Analytics once again correctly identifying all Bing organic traffic as bing / organic from the 19th August.


You’re probably here as like many webmasters and marketers you have noticed that recently there has been an apparent and significant drop in your Bing organic traffic showing in Google Analytics reports. The good news is that actually your site hasn’t had some kind of Bing ranking penalty, rather something is afoot that is making some of your bing / organic traffic actually register as / referral in your Analytics.

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Things you can AB test in Adwords – A guide

AB testing in Adwords i’d guess is performed by a very small minority of Adwords users yet it’s a really valuable tool that can help maximise your Adwords results.

What things can you AB test in Adwords?

You can test a wide variety of things within Adwords experiments. Here are the tests that I think can lend most value to your campaigns:

1) Ad copy – the obvious one. Run 2 or more ads together and see which has the better CTR, conversion rate and ROI.

2) Destination url. Find out which destination url produces the best conversion rates and ROI.

3) Dynamic destination urls. I sometimes work with a developer to make elements on the page change, usually the h1 (header tag/title), by using paramaters in the destination url e.g. V The latter changes the standard H1 on the page to ‘Sale Ends This Week’. If you access to a savvy developer you could do the same for images, pricing and whatever else you think could be changed on the page. Example of a H1 that could be tested…


4) Bids. I’ve never heard of anyone else doing this before and perhaps it’s not well known that you can do this but you can actually AB test your max cpc’s. This can help you find out things such as; how much extra traffic you can get by being in top position, what the impact is on CPA by bidding +50%, how much more impression share you can get by increasing your bids etc etc.

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Google cache not updating

google cache datesI noticed recently that many of the pages i’ve been working hadn’t been cached by Google for an unusually long time and that typically and probably not coincidentally those cache dates were mostly the 21st or 22nd October. I started looking at random other sites, big ones like and noticed the same thing there. Since then there has been the odd comment about it in Moz q&a’s and now it’s come to the attention of Search Engine Roundtable ( and I expect it will become a more mainstream topic in the SEO world.

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How to set up conversion tracking in Adwords

What is conversion tracking?

If you want to succeed with Adwords you need conversion tracking set up. Conversion tracking allows you to measure KPIs of your Adwords campaigns i.e. form fill enquiry, brochure download, sales etc. With conversion tracking you can easily identify what is producing conversions and identify what the cost per conversion is, giving you the data required in order to make for example bid changes per keyword. Lets look at a simple example…

conversion tracking example Click image to view large table
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What is link juice (or link equity)?

Link juice in SEO – an introduction

Links, both internal on your site and external – those pointing from other sites to yours are what help search engines find and index your content. The distribution of links, particularly the quality of those linking to you and the volume is a significant search engine ranking factor. For example the linking to your site tells Google that a really influential web site is ‘voting’ for your content. Voting is a bit of an odd term to use here so it may be better to think of it that if another site feels that your content is of significance, and links to it, then that is a good reason why search engines should rank your site higher for terms relevant to that content.

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My article recently published on Moz

I recently wrote an article about why the humble meta description is still mega important. MOZ included it in their YouMoz blog and it has been well received.

It covers:

  • An explanation of what the meta description is
  • Why it’s important
  • How to write great meta descriptions
  • How to write unique meta descriptions when you have 100s of pages.

Check out the Moz article here.

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Recommended SEO reading & how to read it!

I’d be willing to bet that few of my friends or associates NEED to read relevant industry news and opinion as much as I do. Working in the industry is challenging and exciting, not least because of how rapidly changing, complicated and advanced it is becoming. If I don’t keep up with whats going on in the industry daily I feel like i’m out of touch. A little OCD maybe, but  whether you are a fellow SEO or site owner or marketer it’s important to keep up with the latest best practises and tactics that can improve your site or your clients sites performance.

In this post you will find:

  • Recommended reading for basic, advanced SEO and latest news
  • Recommended reading specifically for Worpress SEO
  • Recommended reading for PPC
  • Manageable ways to read SEO
Recommended SEO reading
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Have you grabbed your G+ vanity url yet?

I’m a light G+ user. From an SEO and B2B point of view it is my preferred social platform,partly because it allows me to decide, with greater flexibility, what to share and with whom. Though it has does have SEO benefits that Facebook doesn’t, for many the jury is still out on the real value of G+ as a means to promote your business. Personally I think it’s value will grow as the platform develops and the latest development is vanity urls now open to all (who meet the criteria).

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What is conversion tracking?

Over the years i’ve had many conversations with prospective clients who I can tell from the glassing over of their eyes when i’m talking to them in person or the extended silence if speaking over the phone that ‘conversion tracking’ is a fairly alien concept to them. Of course it sounds fairly nerdy but essentially all we’re talking about is measuring the desired outcome or outcomes of their site i.e. purchase, if the site is e-commerce or lead if the service promoted is service based e.g. Solicitors. Many other things can be tracked as a conversion if desirable e.g. brochure download or contact us page view.

A conversion is measuring the desired outcome or outcomes of a site e.g. purchase.

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Review of The Smart Marketer’s Landing Page Conversion Course

Oli Gardner and have produced an exceptional 11 part online series that aims to help make our landing pages perform better. You can sign up for the course here.

The course is accessible via a secure link emailed to ‘students’ every few days. I recommend it to anyone that wants to increase the marketing performance of their site. Each of the 11 parts is very easy to understand, provides clear and often illuminating practical theory as well as examples that support what is being taught. My only criticism if I were to have one is that the focus is very much on lead generation rather than ecommerce, although much of the course applies equally to both types of site.

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Anatomy of a Google search result 2013

Wow hasnt the Google search engine results changed over the years?! Driven by advancements in its paid advertising model, Adwords, rich snippet mark up and Google’s seemingly growing desire to dominate particular search queries with its own web inventory things look a whole bunch different to a decade ago. Hell, they look a whole bunch different to last year! Inspired by Rock Cheetah’s recent post about how Google returns search results for hotel queries I wanted to take a look at and document the multitude of different items and features that show for a ‘typical’ search result, also hotel themed.

Understanding and where possible taking advantage of the various snippet types, ad units, extensions and features can be extremely beneficial to your SEO efforts e.g. the review rich snippets in organic search results can really help clickthrough rates.

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How to track email sales and traffic with Google Analytics

Email marketing for many businesses is a significant driver of traffic and revenue and there are some excellent email marketing campaign tools out there such as MailChimp and Campaign Monitor which offer the ability to create and send effective emails. The problem with these tools is the reporting options that they offer, although impressive, is limited to email interaction data such as open rates, clickthrough rates, bounces and so on. Conversion, sales and revenue data isnt readily available however except in limited instances e.g. I believe MailChimp has a module that will work with Drupal sites to measure sales. Our good old friend Google Analytics enables you to track email sales and traffic.

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Adjusting bidding by most specific location retired from Adwords Enhanced Campaigns

Ive written here a few posts about the new Adwords Enhanced Campaigns and proclaimed just how cool it was to now be able to bid by location at the most specific level available, usually, zip or suburb. This is particularly useful where physical or other boundaries might mean someone living in zip code x is twice as likely to convert as someone a couple miles away. I reported earlier that functionality seemed to have dissapeared and can now confirm its gone after just a few weeks in service.

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Adwords enhanced campaigns, tablets & responsive web design

The problem: desktop and tablet biddding is now one and the same Ive been using the new Adwords Enhanced campaigns now for a little while and it has some really great things about it and I promise ill be sharing some of those great things here shortly. I cant help feeling however exceptionally frustrated about Google not allowing me (and you) the ability to bid differently for tablet devices. Ive read alot about others finding tablet traffic converts higher. My experience is usually the exact opposite in that they convert significantly worse.

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Google Adwords Enhanced Campaigns Explained

Changes have been coming and some seem great, some seem like a way to squeeze more revenue out of its advertisers, though I reserve judgement just now. The biggest gripe would appear to be about the inability to target campaigns individually at desktop/pc/tablet level which is an important tactic as cpc’s conversion rates and CPA’s differ across devices. Ill report more soon. Heres an email I had from Google today together with my analysis, which admittedly is based purely on my understanding of the imminent changes and not based on my actual experience of them yet…

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The long tail – keywords you really do want to rank for and why

Long Tail Keywords

So you really want to rank highly for a keyword but you just cant get there. Really annoying isnt it?! I wonder how many site owners forget to pick up all the loose change on the way to the pot of gold (so to speak). The reality is we’d all love to have those big keywords right at the top of Google (and im pretty good at doing it) but even more traffic and revenue is to be had from all the keyword variations that are much easier to rank for and which, accumulatively generate more visitors and business.

Focussing on maximising these ‘long tail’ keyword opportunities is a favourite strategy of mine and often it can blow clients competitors clean out of the water. By building out pages and often whole new directories gives a site so many more opportunities to rank well and outrank the competition.

Lets look at a made up example of how it can be done.

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How to track affiliate traffic & sales in Google Analytics

You’ve got Google Analytics setup perfectly to accurately track almost all traffic sources and sales but you’re really frustrated that you cant track your affiliate traffic and sales and it messes your whole stats up, aaargh! Well dont dismay theres a relatively ‘easy’ way to get this sorted so that all your affiliate links get traffic and sales credit in analytics.

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Page title and meta description length tool

Ok so we all (should) know how important page titles (or meta titles) and meta descriptions are. Page titles help you rank for keywords and meta descriptions really help increase your CTR (clickthrough rate) from search engines. Page titles also being your search result title (most of the time) also greatly helps CTR so you wanna get the title and meta description length right, right?

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Importance of unique product descriptions on ecommerce sites

duplicate product descriptions result in poor rankings and CTR

Ecommerce sites can be a haven for duplicate content. Many site owners wonder why it is that they can have such poor rankings and traffic when they have so much content. Much of the time its because the content that they rely on – the product descriptions – are not unique. In fact not only are they not unique seemingly everyone else selling the same product on the net has the same description!

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