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Search Talk Live Podcast

Deep Dive Into Google Analytics with GA Expert Dave Fimek

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June 2, 2020

ANNOUNCER:[00:00:05] Welcome to Search Talk Live, with search engine optimization and marketing experts Robert O’Haver and Matt Weber. Brought to you by Pixel Cut Labs.

Robert O’Haver: [00:00:18] All right. Welcome back to another episode of Search Talk Live #socialdistancing. With me today is Matt Weber of ROAR! Internet Marketing here in Orlando, Florida. Matt, how are you?

Matt Weber: [00:00:32] I’m doing well, man. Social distancing, again, you and I – not in the same studio, doing it remotely, keeping safe. I’m doing fantastic. Are you doing well as well?

Robert O’Haver: [00:00:41] I’m doing good. Yeah. Staying healthy and wearing a mask anytime I go grocery shopping or anything like that.

Matt Weber:[00:00:48] Oh, we’re not supposed to be wearing the mask now, while we do the show?

Robert O’Haver: [00:00:50] Uh, no, haha!

Matt Weber: [00:00:53] All right, hang on a second. I think this is a great time to be a Search Talk Live host, Robert, I gotta tell you, and maybe you’re getting the same feedback, but, you know, you can’t get a hold of Google anymore during this as they’ve shifted resources. You know, people are looking for places to get answers to the questions they have. Google support is way down. And I think we have a guest today that’s going to answer a lot of questions that people are having. Yeah, we’re going to talk Google Analytics today, and we’re going to talk Google Analytics with someone who probably has taught more people Google Analytics than perhaps anybody else. And if you’re listening to the show, you probably know somebody who learned something about Google Analytics from somebody who is taught by this gentleman, Dave Fimek. Dave, welcome to the show.

Dave Fimek:[00:01:35] Hi. Thanks, Matt.

Matt Weber: [00:01:36] Great to have you. Tell us a little bit about your background.

Dave Fimek: [00:01:40] Sure. Yes. So I’ve been working in this industry or just in analytics in general for quite some time. I got my start in 2002 in the U.S. Navy. I was an intelligence analyst, and while I worked for the Navy, I worked primarily with different clandestine organizations. After I got out, I started doing work in the private sector around 2006, and this was when I started venturing into the marketing applications of analytics. During that time, you know, I’ve worked in this industry, I’ve done hundreds of analytics implementations and deployments. I work for companies big and small, spanning too many industries and verticals to list companies such as Mercedes, Electronic Arts, United Music Group, Sally Beauty, Fandom, a ton more. Odds are, if you have been on the Internet in the past 10 years, you’ve probably been tracked by something I put in place implementation wise. It’s pretty creepy, and I creep myself out when I say that. But it’s oddly true. I’ve done a lot of consulting and training work directly for Google as well. As Matt mentioned, for a while there, I bounced around the U.S., delivering a three-day GA GTM training. I lost count around 250 events. I got to meet a lot of great people. You know, I got to learn a lot because all that exposure to people who are working in this industry, I got to learn about what’s there, what they’re using, and what they’re doing. So today, I work for a fantastic company called Info Trust, as a lead consultant. I head up a handful of projects that help teams build and leverage their data. Most of what I do is on the technical and implementation side of things, but I come from a big analysis background. So for me, when I’m building out a technical strategy, it’s all about what those end reports look at at the end of the day and how much value they’re going to bring to my clients.

Robert O’Haver: [00:03:28] Well, I’ve got to tell you, I’m really excited about the show. I have been doing SEO for a very long time, and everything I do is data-driven. So it derives from Google analytics for a big part of it. So diving into this is exciting for me.

Dave Fimek: [00:03:47] Excellent.

Matt Weber:[00:03:48] Now, Dave, did you say you worked for clandestine organizations when you first got out of the Navy?

Dave Fimek: [00:03:54] No, while I was in the Navy.

Matt Weber:[00:03:55] In the Navy.

Dave Fimek: [00:03:56] Yeah.

Matt Weber: [00:03:57] So no one listening to the show is trying to track you down right now.

Dave Fimek:[00:04:01] I sure hope not! Haha.

Matt Weber: [00:04:05] Awesome. Dave, let’s get started. Just for some quick kind of basics. We’ll start at the beginning. Give us some basic routine checks just so people can be assured that their Google Analytics is set up correctly. What’re three or four things they’ve got to look at to make sure it’s set up right so they know they can rely on the data?

Dave Fimek: [00:04:24] Yeah. That’s a question I hear frequently. And a lot of it boils down to just trusting your data, right? You want to look at what’s in your reports and feel that it’s reliable and that’s quality, right? And there are a lot of indicators in the data itself that indicate something is awry. One of the big things I always check is if the bounce rate is way one-direction, especially if it’s extremely low because typically that means that things are firing when they shouldn’t or when they’re not expected. So I usually joke if you have a really low bounce rate, you’re either doing something extremely right, or something very wrong. I haven’t found anyone that’s doing anything extremely right quite yet. So, the other checks, too, are on the page itself. There are a lot of tools that are built into Chrome that you can create or use that will essentially tell you out of the box if they’re working as intended. So Google puts one out called Google Tag Assistance, it’s just a free Chrome extension, and it gives you the most basic output ever – a little smiley face that frowns if you screwed up. So it is very, very boilerplate, you know, so it doesn’t accommodate everything. But those are two big areas. Another place, too, is just making sure that your reports are what you assume. You know, like if you look in your e-commerce stuff and you see stuff that’s way out of whack, if you see anomalous readings on your timeline’s – big spikes, big dips – those are always worth investigating.

Robert O’Haver: [00:05:56] Yeah, tag assistance is kind of like my wife. When I screw up – sad face.

Matt Weber: [00:06:05] There’s a title of a book in there somewhere.

Robert O’Haver: [00:06:08] So what role can real-time data play in QC-ing a Google Analytics installation?

Dave Fimek:[00:06:15] Yeah, so the real-time reports, I think they were originally built for analysis purposes, right? Of course, it’s within those reporting systems, and I’m sure anybody that’s ventured into it went, “Wow, that’s cool,” and then immediately said, “So what? Why do I care about this?” From a technical side, I often use the real-time reports to save myself the weight of determining if one of my implementation changes has taken effect successfully. So Google Analytics has a 24-hour availability window to the data unless you’re paying for the commercial license, which most people are not. So as opposed to sitting there trying to wait for that full 24-hours to see if the change you made to the implementation is correct and being received as intended, those reports are really valuable for finding out if event hits are coming through if you’ve got that goal set up correctly if you’re seeing traffic from the geographic locations that you expect. So there’s a lot of value in those reports from a troubleshooting perspective that you can use. And one little dirty trick that I like to do is if you go to the sites and you add like, say, a unique query string parameter. So if you put ?Dave=true, and then you go into the real-time reports and go into the content section and look for that unique one that you added. It’s, of course, harmless to the site, it really shouldn’t affect anything. But what that does is, it allows you to isolate yourself in the real-time reports. So when you start poking around, you know it’s just you setting those off. So it’s a great little testing trick.

Matt Weber: [00:07:53] You better hit that one more time. Go through that one more time.

Dave Fimek: [00:07:56] Sure. So if you go to your site, just on the back end of your URL, they’re sometimes going to be already there query string parameters, which are just key-value pairs. Marketers are familiar with these with UTM parameters and all that. So you just add a bogus one. It could be anything you want. It could be – just so long as it’s unique to you, and you’re the only one in the universe that’s going to be doing it right now. So when you add that in. What happens is, it sends that URL, that page path to Google Analytics, if you’re tracking, and then in the real-time reports, you just navigate over to the content section and put in that unique value that you’ve added to the URL. Then, what happens is it adds in this little blue filter onto it, you’ll see a pop up at the top of the reports, and then you can navigate around and either real-time reports confident that it’s isolating just you. So you could start triggering events and goals. So long as you have that’s query string parameter staying in the URL, you’re going to isolate yourself in that data.

Robert O’Haver: [00:08:53] So what are some of the common mistakes people make setting up Google Analytics?Â

Dave Fimek: [00:08:58] Setup mistakes are usually around placing the code; when you add it. The new way to do it, and I say new as in a couple of years, but is using a tag management system. The most common mistakes you’re going to see with people deploying out to this code is using it the old school way and just slapping it to the page and hard coding into it. What ends up happening is you’re adding a lot of effort into the development by not using a tag management tool. Now, in addition to how you’re placing that code, where on the sites you’re placing, it is also pretty pivotal. If you put it at the bottom of the page, you’re going to miss a lot of data. If you put it in the incorrect order, you’re going to throw some things out of sync. So placement is key in deployments, and deployments like a tag management system are also key.Â

Dave Fimek:[00:09:50] As Google tag managers is very helpful, especially for people that do work on the site and really don’t have access to the site where they can still go in and make code changes and all that stuff.

Dave Fimek: [00:10:02] Yeah, I can’t imagine doing this without it anymore. It’s greatly reduced my reliance on the client’s developer teams, which are always a bit of a mixed bag in terms of quality.

Matt Weber: [00:10:15] Dave, I know one of the things that a lot of people wrestle with in terms of mistakes are self-referrals. They go into referrals, and they see their Web site referring traffic to itself. What’s the most common cause of that, and how do you correct it?

Dave Fimek: [00:10:30] Yeah, so self-referrals. They’re actually happening less than less thanks to a default configuration that Google decided to put in when you create Web properties within Google Analytics. So within the administrative panel at the Web property level, there is a little option there for you to add in domains that are essentially interpreted as self-referrals. This is good to clean up the data, but it also has the problem of obscuring the fact that you are self-referring. It always makes me think of like if you guys ever watched The Simpsons, when Homer couldn’t get the clock in his car to work properly, he just put a piece of tape over it and wrote the time on it. That’s essentially what this is doing. So what happens is when it’s part of that self-referral exclusion, it removes the fact that you have a self-referral and just says “direct.” Now, the most common cause of a self-referral generally goes back to that common mistake in setting up Google Analytics – not every page was tracked properly, or the code is in the wrong location. So just to walk you through a scenario, let’s say I have a Web site, and there’s page A page B page C. I phoned in the implementation, and I slapped the code to the bottom of the page. Now, as that user is cruising through from page A to page B to page C if they click through to fast on page B and they didn’t load the entire page, including my tracking code, they end up on page C, what happens in the reports is page A is tracked, page C is tracked, but page B is just in the nether – it’s not there anymore. So what happens is when it looks back to go, okay. Who referred you here? It’s, in fact, page B, and it’s a self-referral. But again, you see this less and less on the data as like, you know, example.com, if that’s yours and you don’t see it in the referrals because of that referral exclusion list.

Matt Weber: [00:12:33] Interesting. So you’re really kind of masking your own problem, so you still need to figure out why it’s happening.

Dave Fimek:[00:12:39] Yeah, exactly. And sometimes too, building out a separate Web property and tracking on it and maybe just turning that off just as a test to see if it is an issue sometimes is a worthy troubleshooting effort.

Matt Weber: [00:12:53] Interesting. Speaking of referrals, it’s not uncommon to pop into somebody analytics, and you see Google.com acquisition, under referrals. And a lot of people think that that’s organic traffic when it’s listed as a referral. What is that, really?

Dave Fimek: [00:13:10] Well, whenever you see a referral, it’s always going to be a link on an external Website driving traffic to yours. Now, organic traffic, the way that it classifies and attributes that, it’s a little bit more intelligent in terms of, ‘this is a search engine’ versus ‘this is not.’ Now, if you see Google dot.com or Yahoo.com, or any search engine, that just means that the route that the user took, didn’t come as a result of a search engine result page or anything like that. So great example: let’s say that I am on Google’s Analytics support forums, and I’ve been there, you can ask questions. It’s a relatively small community. But let’s say that I answer a question for you and I drop in a link to say, “Hey, check this out, this solves your problem,” and it goes to your Web site. Now, the person on the receiving end in that analytics is going to see that as a referral from Google.com despite the fact that I’m on just a public forum on Google.com. So it can be a little bit tricky, and sometimes it’s handy to use the dimension ‘full-refer,’ which essentially gives you the entire URL of where that user came from. So when you see Google.com as a referral, that’s just the hostname. But there is a dimension that gives you the full fleshed-out URL.

Robert O’Haver: [00:14:30] I get this question a lot. Why doesn’t the number of clicks in Google search console match the number of organic clicks?

Dave Fimek: [00:14:40] Yeah. So the general rule of thumb, and this goes for any stat-tracking or analytic platform, is that the numbers are never really going to be one to one. And that’s okay. There’s always going to be a standard deviation between the two. And sometimes you think because it’s Google Ads, or it’s Google Search Console, or it’s Google, it’s all part of the Google sphere that they’re going to play together nicely, but that’s that’s rarely the case, right? And a lot of it boils down to the method in which those values are counted is going to be based on different tech. So think about like Google search Console. Think about Google Ads. Think about Google Analytics. Most of those products and services were actually acquisitions by Google of other companies. So they all started outside of Google Space, and then they came together under it. So the inherent tech with it is going to be slightly different. The only time you’re ever going to see a one to one match in terms of this is exactly that in two different systems, is if that data is shared between those two. The TLDR is, it’s a different technology, tracking it in a different way.

Matt Weber:[00:15:51] Dave, what are some secrets that SEOs can use to decode what organic keywords are used, since we don’t see them anymore, but everybody is trying to crack that code?

Dave Fimek: [00:16:01] Sure. Yeah, I think that’s the golden question, right? That’s what a lot of people want to know. And the thing is, that question is essentially a constant, perpetual fight with Google’s attempt at very different privacies, right? Now, one of the things that I like to do, and this came about when ‘not provided’ came out. Now, the whole history behind not provided is essentially a secure search became the standard norm that was enabled by default and not provided means that the service that’s in Google in this instance, ceased to provide that information because it’s going from encrypted to your site, which is unencrypted or having a different certification. Now, to figure out essentially how that user got there in terms of the keywords is very difficult. And you can narrow down the keywords by essentially getting a better understanding of the landing page. Because if you think about how a user traverses just the Internet through an organic search engine is they go, they do a search, and they see a search engine results page. And that results page is going to have a series of pages or landing pages that go to different sites. Now, the dimension in Google Analytics, the landing page is always going to be the very first page that that user arrives at on your site. Hence the landing page. So, one of the trucks that I like to do is essentially take that page in particular, go over to Google Ads and push it through its keyword planner, which will essentially somewhat use the same logic that they’ve got on the back end of Google Ads to determine what keywords is suggesting you bid on. You don’t have to bid on them. You don’t pay for anything like that so long as you have a Google account. You just go in there, feed it the page, and then you get a listing of the keywords that it finds the most relevant for that page. Now, again, it’s not exact. The days of it being exact are gone. But that’s essentially how I like to do it when I’m trying to understand like the SEO impact is by using Google against itself with the keyword planner.

Robert O’Haver: [00:18:19] Yeah, same here. Imminently, you obviously can get really a good clue from the topic of the page it lands on. But if you’re tracking your keywords, you can put those two together, and you can get a pretty good idea of what they came in on.

Dave Fimek: [00:18:36] Yeah. And it’s interesting, too, because I know when that came about, there were a lot of folks that were really upended by it. And the thing is, in terms of categoric topic, that’s usually what it seems like a lot of the pages are targeting. For example, you know, if I’m trying to make an SEO-centric site around cats. Does it really matter? The various different misspellings of cats. Can I really change my entire marketing strategy because someone said cat instead of cats, that sort of thing? I know it’s a little hyper boil there, but I mean, ultimately, how nuanced your strategy, if it’s that particular, where it requires such specific variations of words, you know, I think you may be spending your time in the wrong areas.

Robert O’Haver: [00:19:31] Very good. What are some of the common KPIs that people overlook and should pay more attention to?

Dave Fimek: [00:19:38] Sure. Yeah. KPIs, of course, key performance indicators, and one thing that I would warn people against is that there’s no single dimension or single metric that’s going to tell the entirety of the story around success or fail certain efforts. Usually, when I think of KPIs, I think of, okay, this is the main one I want to measure, such as goal conversions, or button presses, or something like that. But there’s always going to be a spattering of information or dimensions and metrics that are going to be what I call a quality. Like, for example, a KPI, a very common one for an e-commerce place, is going to be transactions, the number of transactions. We want to increase our sales, but then you have different quality indicators such as revenue or, you know, the returning user or something like that. So common KPIs that people overlook, generally are around engagements. So the crown jewel of most retailers is a transaction. But there is a whole journey before somebody hits that transaction that can indicate, or even predict, how a user is going to behave down the line. So engagement KPI, such as how deep in the site they go, how much time they spend on the site, if they hit key bits of content, page velocity is a good way of thinking and essentially monitoring how far into the site your landing page drives a user. Another one that I like to build out is something called engagement scoring, which is essentially like a customization to your implementation that will add a quantifiable number to the way that people behave. And I think that’s a good KPI in terms of understanding how engaged they are and how far down that funnel they’re going to get.

Matt Weber: [00:21:37] That’s really interesting. So it’s like lead scoring for Web site visitors.

Dave Fimek: [00:21:42] Yeah. Essentially what happens is, so I’m a user, I’m on your site. I’m poking around, I’m pressing buttons, and filling out forms, and watching videos. Now, one of the struggles that a lot of analysts have is trying to rope in all of these different actions and types of data from page views to events and string it together to tell a cohesive story. It all boils down to you sitting in front of a C suite with a PowerPoint going, “This happened, and this is where I think is good,” kind of thing. But making it easier by taking each one of those actions and giving it a score, and it doesn’t have to be, like there’s no hard-set rule – watching a video could be 100, one-page view, could be 1. You know, the higher the score, the more valuable it is to your company. And what happens is if you stick a number or a metric on all of these actions, at the end of the day, you have this number that you can slice and dice by what interests you. So let’s talk organic SEO. You could say this is the average engagement score from people coming from organic traffic vs. social traffic vs. direct. So it’s a simplification of a very complicated question. Engagement scoring. So that makes a great KPI.

Robert O’Haver: [00:23:10] I’m going to have to go back and listen to this, because he just opened a nugget, and I’m like, “Oh, my God!”

Matt Weber: [00:23:18] I’m running three different clients. And I have I now I got to do that because if one of the things we’ll do that’s a relative I should even use or equivalent, but it’s a derivative of that is making sure that we put a conversion value in all of the conversions, regardless of whether it’s e-commerce or not. So that at least you can get a dollar value per page, which I think is calculated on how often it appears in the path of conversion. So it just allows you to talk to clients and something that they understand. This page is worth more than that page.

Dave Fimek: [00:23:52] Yeah. So I love engagement scoring. I actually wish I did it more often. The struggle with that is it can be a relatively complicated implementation to do because essentially, you have to think through every action that’s already taking place and assign it a value in a way that is not too technically prohibited. Like, if I have 100 different actions on the page that I can take, I, as your implementation person, would have to go through all of the ways that are built out and ensure that those values are accurate and consistent. The other hurdle is organizationally, and this one is actually kind of funny because these numbers ultimately are arbitrary, right? They’re just you giving a point value. So a lot of times when you sit down with a larger team, you know, we’ve got – Matt, let’s say you do YouTube videos and I do the blog. I’m going to be sitting there at the table going, “Somebody reading my blog is worth 100 points,” and you’re going to be looking at the sheet going, “No, somebody watching my video is going to be 100 points. You’re worth five points.” And it is funny sitting through those conversations; it’s almost like I’m a divorce mitigator or something, like you guys are both worth 10 points. Can we settle?

Matt Weber: [00:25:12] Well, let’s go deep into the closet for this next question because way deep into the admin settings, there’s a search term exclusion list in the property settings that a lot of people don’t use, and a lot of people don’t know about. What’s the value of using that setting? How can any SEOs benefit from that?

Dave Fimek: [00:25:31] Truthfully, I don’t see this used too often either. And I do believe that this feature was implemented mostly to strip out possible bot traffic or usage of that. Especially if you’re getting flooded with keywords and information that are, not necessarily keywords exactly, but you’re just trying to filter through some of the noise. So any time you have an exclusion list anywhere in the panel, you’re kind of marking that bit of data for death, you know, and typically that’s always going to be something that is erroneous or anomalous data, typically from bots, at least that’s in my experience.

Matt Weber:[00:26:13] You know, I have seen a few people use it where they put in the brand terms, because what they’re trying to do, I think, is eliminate the gimmes, you know, the low hanging fruit from the analysis of the organic. So if you’ve got a brand that is so uncommon, it’s not duplicated, you really don’t want to credit yourself for driving organic traffic that kind of fell in your lap because you’ve got an extraordinarily rare brand name. I’ve seen people use imputation for that purpose so that organic is really hard work type organic traffic.

Dave Fimek: [00:26:42] Sure. And like I said, the exclusion list that can be, again, you’re marking a bit of data for death, and it’s not going to show up again. Like, personally, I know even those easy one, those gimmies, separating out your brand traffic is definitely a great way to think of it. But I still like to have that there so you can look at it side by side. So understanding brand traffic and those gimmies essentially allows you to understand another KPI, which is brand awareness. So seeing an increase in brand awareness could be a KPI for you, but it won’t be available if you are stripping that out.

Robert O’Haver: [00:27:21] Dave, it is time to take a break. We have a really popular segment here called, “Who Influences the Influencer?” And what we want to know is who in the industry influences you and gives you the information to keep you up to date.

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ANNOUNCER: [00:30:37] Get your questions in on Twitter. Type #SearchTalkLive and your question. Now back to the show.

Robert O’Haver: [00:30:44] All right. We’re back. So, Dave, tell us who influences you in the industry.

Dave Fimek: [00:30:50] Yes. So the one I come back to the most is, you’ve probably heard his name, Simo Ahava? He runs a fantastic blog. It’s very GTM-centric for implementations. What I love about the work that he does is he finds extremely innovative solutions to common implementation problems that a lot of people have. There are a lot of things like, you know, GTM was the new kid on the block for the longest time. And there were a lot of things the tool just didn’t do out of the box. And he bridged a lot of those gaps very early, which was, I think, a big influence on the tool itself.

Robert O’Haver: [00:31:30] So what’s his blog?

Dave Fimek: [00:31:33] SimoAhava.com.Â

Robert O’Haver: [00:31:33] Can you spell it out for the listeners?

Dave Fimek:[00:31:37] Sure. It is S-I-M-O-A-H-A-V-A.com. And it can be pretty technical. So it’s more so for implementation and technical stuff. But it’s a really great, “Here’s like a pretty big solution,” even if you’re not technical, that you can hand off to somebody who may be deploying it.

Matt Weber:[00:32:02] Yes, sure. Anybody else you follow, Dave, to get functionality updates for Google Analytics?

Robert O’Haver: [00:32:10] Besides Google, haha.

Dave Fimek: [00:32:14] Yes. There’s InfoTrust is a premier partner for the 360 reseller license. So I do drink right from the well on a lot of the latest stuff, fortunately. So as you mention, if it can’t be Google, I don’t know.

Robert O’Haver:[00:32:35] Anybody else?

Dave Fimek: [00:32:38] Avinash Kaushik. He has a lot of good stuff in terms of organizational items. I think a lot of people have heard of him before—also, Justin Cruciani. However, I haven’t seen much from him in a bit. And that just could be me not keeping up.

Robert O’Haver: [00:32:56] All right, so let’s dive back into the questions here. Is there an advantage to SEOs to create a filter for only organic traffic?

Dave Fimek: [00:33:05] So when you say filter, I’m assuming that’s you mean a view filter, which essentially isolates that data. Yes and no. There are advantages and disadvantages. The advantage, of course, is that you strip out a lot of the noise. So if you are exclusively interested in understanding organic, then it’s okay that it’s in a vacuum. Now, the way that a view filter works is it essentially stops a hit from coming into that particular report o that view. It stops it cold at the door. When it comes to doing this, it can be a little bit of a disadvantage to look at items in a vacuum simply because a lot of the strengths of understanding how your organic is performing is understanding how your organic is performing in the grand scheme of things marketing-wise. So yes and no. So the biggest advantage is it’s a shortcut to stripping out the noise. It’s a really great place to start and understanding organic without a lot of clutter from other channels. But after that, I do usually recommend doing some comparative analysis against your other marketing channels.

Matt Weber: [00:34:29] Dave, Google Analytics can be customized to a degree that I think a lot of people don’t realize. And users are changing, the world is changing. Do you think in this world of multi-tab users and mobile use, is there a benefit to changing the default definition of a session duration?

Dave Fimek: [00:34:48] So that’s a really interesting question. Especially just with the way that analytics is changing, is it’s going from session-centric reporting to user-centric. And, of course, the main struggle for that is the multi-device user where they’re on a phone or on a different computer or something like that. I’m sitting at my desk here, and I have, I’m just looking around, like three, four devices in range that are essentially classifying me as four different users, depending on where I log in and when. Now the session duration, the setting for that is essentially an expiration for the user’s session. And what happens is after 30 minutes, if that site or that tracking hasn’t heard from me, it times me out. Now, it’s a bit of a – they’re two different ideas. It’s trying to unify the user versus the session duration. They’re apples to oranges. I usually don’t recommend changing the session duration strictly because of the sole reason that all the documentation and information and reporting, all the videos and training that you’re going to watch are going to operate under the assumption that that’s 30 minutes. So it’s almost an advantage in terms of the technical stuff that it may bring introduces the disadvantage of constantly having to tell the new guy that you change the setting.

Robert O’Haver: [00:36:22] So where does it like, you know, in case of, let’s say a blog where you see a lot higher bounce traffic? Does it make sense for someone like that?

Dave Fimek:[00:36:34] Yeah, you know, well, it depends. It’s the right idea. It’s identifying the correct need. But the solution is actually more my new tracking on that blog page, not like changing the parameters of the session. So let’s say I’m on a blog and let’s say it’s got a high bounce rate or, you know, it has, you know because people are timing out because it’s a really long article. That’s a great article. Everybody is just enthralled by it and spends forty-five minutes reading this article. There’s other tracking that you can put in place to let you know that the user is still there and still active, such as scroll tracking. When they start scrolling down, you can trigger stuff that says, hey, this guy’s still here. He’s interacting. He’s engaging in the content. So the solution there is more minute in granular tracking. That’s based on either, sometimes on automation or timing, but most of the time on interactions from the user. But changing that session duration, it’s a bit of an older method that I don’t see much anymore.

Robert O’Haver: [00:37:43] So on the scroll, if you can track that scroll action, does it add to the session duration?

Dave Fimek: [00:37:50] So yeah. So the session duration of ‘time out of 30 minutes,’ – that’s just like I haven’t heard from you in 30 minutes, so I’m going to assume you left. The time metrics are essentially measured between hits. So if I am sending a hit, it’s going to measure the distance in time between those two hits to fill out those metrics. Did that answer your question?

Robert O’Haver:[00:38:17] Absolutely, perfect. Thank you. Let’s see, one other thing I wanted to ask you, too, is, A lot of people don’t know about this, surprisingly, but attributions. Like you have different types of attributions you can do in analytics. I know this is a huge rabbit hole. We don’t have time to go through all that. But could you walk through the different types like linear versus, you know, last click, those types of things?

Dave Fimek:[00:38:48] Yeah, sure. So there are different attribution models that you can essentially lay over the data that you have that you’ve collected. Typically, when you see, like, these different models, such as linear or the time decay, I think there’s a handful of them. They are going to live in the attribution modeling tool, which is very centric around goals. So if you do plan on getting more advanced with attribution modeling, you have to really up your goals game and make sure that they’re valuable, they’re insightful, and they’re properly configured before you start applying that’s. You know, the attribution, and it’s really interesting, this topic of attribution is something that I think, right now in the industry, is a real key issue. Mostly because a lot of people are engaging in multi-channel marketing and they’re across the board. And to be frank, a lot of people are sitting around the table going, “How did I contribute?” Now,the attribution model, the base reports GA are called “last non-direct interaction.” Which essentially means the last channel that interacted with the user, so long as it wasn’t direct, is going to get all of the credit on those reports. Now, layering on those attribution models allows you to essentially distribute that credit at different points in the user’s journey to a conversion. So, for example, if you are part of, social is a common one that shows up as the meat in the attribution sandwich, they’re the ones that stay in front of the user, but rarely are the ones that push them across the finish line. So starting to apply those models, there’s no right answer to which one applies best to you. It’s more of a ‘let’s layer them on and see where my channel or my efforts fit into the grand scheme of things, of all of our marketing work.’ So in terms of organic or SEO, you may find that you bring people in really well, but you don’t push them across the finish line. Alternatively, you may find that you don’t capture them right away, but you are the one that does shove them across the line. So those models are there for you to understand how that channel fits into the grand scheme of things.

Robert O’Haver: [00:41:21] Right. I wanted for the listeners, just want to explain this. So, like a linear attribution is where, let’s say, like he just said, ‘I saw you on Facebook, but then I saw you on Google Ads’ and then they came to your Web site and did the conversion. So then you would see that whole path down the road until they got to that conversion—the funnel.

Dave Fimek: [00:41:45] Yeah. Just attribution, in general, is becoming, it a hit a real bump in the road with multi-device users. Because, for example, I’d go onto my work computer and I pop onto your site and then later in the day I jump on my personal computer and then convert. So it’s like the other ‘person’ would be completely lost. So a big part of attribution solutions nowadays is actually working on a technical level to unify your users across their devices.

Matt Weber: [00:42:21] A lot of people think it’s not uncommon for the site speed and Google Analytics to be very different from other third-party tools. You can get some really wide-reaching numbers. Why are the numbers so different?

Dave Fimek: [00:42:34] That’s that’s another excellent question. And I’m struggling to find an unbiased answer. To be honest, I’ve used it before in the past, and I’ve been victim to its wild swings in terms of results. But I think it actually just boils down to Google Analytics in terms of its timing tracking can be a bit of a tactical mixed bag, right? It is lumping together an extremely wide array of users across a very wide array of devices. And it’s doing so in a way that is behind the curtain. There are several different steps with a page-load that are key milestones for people from a development perspective. So, for example, when the dom is loaded, and the presentation layer is available when the window is fully loaded, and all the gears in the background stopped turning. I’ve always found that Google Analytics just has always historically done a poor job at articulating at what step, at what milestone and how it applies to this user, that user. I usually do call these reports, if you were interested in poking around and just looking for major red flags to pop in there and take a look. But ultimately, the development teams that are building these sites are using specialized tools for that. And they’re going to find that those tools are going to do a far better and more accurate job at understanding site speed and all that. Now, I know that’s obvious. This question is like SEO is like site speed is a big condition to making sure that you start ranking well because if your site’s slow and people are leaving, it’s going to kill your rankings. And that’s just it. So with that being said, venturing into those reports and making sure that you get extremely segmented with the way that you’re viewing it, making sure that you’re looking at the traffic that is most important, most valuable to you, and looking for any major red flags. Because honestly, that’s the surface level stuff that you’re going to find. It’s a good way to rule out a major technical problem in the event that you’re doing analysis and can’t figure out why something didn’t work. But ultimately, you know, think it’s a better route to lean on your development team with those sorts of questions about site speed and also, a bit of a shameless plug here, but InfoTrust, the company I work for does make it tool called “Tag Inspector.” Which actually breaks this out a lot better. It does have some specialization in that it can monitor the various different tags that you have working and show you what’s bogging your site down.

Matt Weber: [00:45:32] Yeah, I think it’s tough to get people to get divorced from their Google speed in Analytics because a lot of people think, you know if that’s Google’s ranking signal, that that’s what they’re showing you, then why do you want to trust the data right from the horse’s mouth. But you’re right. It can be wildly inconsistent. And who knows what’s going on behind the black curtain.

Dave Fimek:[00:45:52] Yeah, and just with Google Analytics in general, too, that’s data for you and exclusively used by you. There are some items that are shared between you and Google, but they’re never going to base anything that’s in your analytics on their SEO decisions.

Matt Weber:[00:46:09] True. You know, I want to come back to goals for just a second, because you talked about that as kind of the center point of attribution modeling. And so we can’t ignore that as a topic. What are some of the common mistakes you see when people do goal or conversion setup?

Dave Fimek:[00:46:27] Yeah. The most common mistake is not doing goals or conversion setup. It is the number one way that I find people screw that up. And it’s pretty surprising how often it gets overlooked. And I’m even guilty of it. It’s very easy to get lost in the weeds of some of the data and then not take a step back and go, you know, we should track this as a goal. But the second most common mistake is typically actually fumbling a regular expression. So there are a lot of goals that you can create. Of course, the most common would be destination goals, where a user lands on a page, not lands on a page, but, you know, arrives at a page somehow or sends a hit to our page view to a page. It’s very common too to get more robust with those goals by building out regular expressions that will encompass several different pages into the same destination, the same value. A great example is if you have eight contact forms across your Web site and different pages, and ask different questions, they all land on a thank you page at some point, and they all go to the same sales team, that could be organizationally the same strategic objective. So it would make sense to have one goal associated with it. But a regular expression would essentially allow you to encompass all eight of those pages into a single goal just to keep your goals more strategically relevant. But the second most is just, and regular expressions can be complicated. And I see a lot of failed attempts when I am correcting goals.

Robert O’Haver: [00:48:05] So where can SEOs go to get some customer reports that they can use to improve their work?

Dave Fimek: [00:48:12] Yes. So the customer reporting aspect of Google Analytics – it’s one of those things where there are a handful of templates and items that you can download from the gallery, which is actually built-in right into Google Analytics. So anytime you see or build out a report, you’re going to see a button there that says, you know, load from a template. And there are a bunch of industry experts and leaders, some of which, you know, I mentioned in the influencer section that is pre-baked customer reports that you can look at and use. They target different things, from e-commerce to SEO. It has a pretty, believe it or not, Google does pretty well at search, so it has a pretty good search function, and you can use it. So just poke around in there. And what I would encourage people to do, too, is don’t settle for the template because it’s built off of the most common denominators in terms of your data. So go in there, pull out a template, find what you think is the most interesting, and then tweak it to your personal interests.

Matt Weber:[00:49:18] I agree, and I’d encourage people to experiment. It doesn’t cost anything at all. So pull down some of these templates. Try half a dozen of them. See which ones generating data that’s impactful to you. And see if it be tweaked. But I think people are hesitant to try. And I say it doesn’t cost anything. It’s a no brainer. Put it out there. You don’t have to show it to anybody until you’re comfortable with it. But give them a try.

Dave Fimek: [00:49:42] Yep. Yeah, exactly.

Robert O’Haver: [00:49:44] And you can also take bits and pieces from the different reports you look at. So you like one thing and move it into that other one if you need to.

Matt Weber:[00:49:55] Yeah, people have done some amazing things.

Dave Fimek: [00:49:58] There are a lot of non-destructive aspects of Google Analytics tweaking and configuring. You know, if you’re in the admin panel, you can mess stuff up in there. But if you’re outside in those reports and building segments, there’s very little you can do that just doesn’t affect exclusively you. So just go to town.

Matt Weber:[00:50:18] I couldn’t agree more.

Robert O’Haver: [00:50:20] All right. So it’s time for ‘believe it or leave it.’

Matt Weber: [00:50:24] Alright, Dave, one of the most popular parts of Search Talk Live: ‘believe it or leave it.’ We’re going to give you three statements we found on the Internet. And we’re going to ask you to tell our audience whether they should believe it or whether they should leave it. Are you ready?

Dave Fimek: [00:50:39] Yes.

Matt Weber: [00:50:40] Alright, number one. There is a secret formula that only a few people know about that can reveal the organic keywords behind the provided organic traffic.

Dave Fimek:[00:50:56] Leave it. Yeah, if I could say something harsher than ‘leave it,’ I would.

Matt Weber: [00:51:04] And yet you see so many people investing such a tremendous amount of time writing articles about how to decode that and how they have cracked the code.

Dave Fimek: [00:51:13] Yes.

Robert O’Haver: [00:51:14] All right. Question number two. A user who is using a cookie blocker will not be counted in Google Analytics.

Dave Fimek: [00:51:24] So this is – man, I’ve got to say, leave it. There are methods out there for cookie-less tracking that you can use. So a cookie blocker is not the end of the world for analytics.

Matt Weber: [00:51:43] That’s interesting because we’re about to maybe enter into an era of a no cookie tracking system. So that’s a very significant answer that you gave.

Dave Fimek: [00:51:54] Yeah. And I’ve been saying for a while, cookies just generally, from a tech perspective, it seems so archaic. All cookie is, it’s a little text file with a little bit of text that the Website sends you. It feels like I’m passing notes in sixth grade when I’m talking about cookies like that. There’s got to be a better way. And it’s funny that the legalities of it caught up to this honestly archaic means of doing this. So I would not be surprised if, in a year or two years, cookies were something that we laugh about in terms of tracking.

Matt Weber: [00:52:30] I agree.

Robert O’Haver: [00:52:31] So much for retargeting! Haha.

Matt Weber: [00:52:35] All right, number three. When a Website has a high proportion of its traffic coming from organic, that automatically means it’s ranking really well.

Dave Fimek: [00:52:47] Leave it, too. Leave that.

Matt Weber: [00:52:50] Tell me why.Â

Dave Fimek: [00:52:52] Volume doesn’t always equate to success, and especially in this regard, volume from organic could mean that there’s a bot coming through. You can have something that is malfunctioning in terms of attribution. There could be a lot of different reasons why this may be happening. But I would love to say believe it and say, yeah, that’s going to be the case every time. But I’m always suspect of really good news or really bad news.

Matt Weber: [00:53:26] Yes, a good data analyst always is. Good stuff.

Robert O’Haver: [00:53:30] We could probably do a couple more shows just for this with him

Matt Weber: [00:53:36] Easily.

Dave Fimek: [00:53:39] Yeah. Let me know.

Robert O’Haver: [00:53:43] So now it’s time for the Search Talk Live Tattoo.

Matt Weber: [00:53:48] So, Dave, we need your best, most concise, shortest piece of advice you’d give our listeners based on our content today and the things we talked about. Remember, it’s going to be tattoo-able because Robert gets all of these as tattoos. So what’s your Search Talk Live tattoo?

Dave Fimek: [00:54:03] I would say, “Analytics without insights is just counting.”

Matt Weber: [00:54:09] That’s a bumper sticker if I’ve ever heard one. Analytics without insights is just counting.

Robert O’Haver: [00:54:14] That’s a half sleeve right there.

Matt Weber: [00:54:20] Awesome. Well, hopefully, you’ve inspired more people to get involved in more than just counting and go deeper into analytics. And I think you have.

Dave Fimek: [00:54:28] Great, me too.

Robert O’Haver: [00:54:29] So I want to thank you for being on the show. The information you’ve given me has given me more excitement than I have had in a while when it comes to analytics because there are nuggets there that are going to take back as soon as we end the show.

Dave Fimek:[00:54:46] Perfect.

Robert O’Haver: [00:54:48] But if someone wants to reach you on, say, social media or something like that. How would they do that?

Dave Fimek:[00:54:55] Yeah, absolutely. So LinkedIn is really the one that I pay attention to and use the most. I used to do Twitter, but I found that I’m too long-winded and actually had an issue where a bot was pretending to be me. And Twitter banned me because the bot was more interesting. I actually had to send a picture of my license to verify that I’m the actual person. And this bot was posting muffin recipes. It was great. And unfortunately, I got the boot. But yes, it’s definitely LinkedIn. And I love hearing from folks. I connect with everybody that I can. I also don’t mind questions, as well. I get messages a lot from the previous trainings. I love to see what people are up to.Â

Robert O’Haver:[00:55:44] Are you currently training people now?

Dave Fimek: [00:55:47] No, no, I’m strictly consulting with clients at the moment. So, actually has a result of some of this COVID stuff, I did want to put together just quick five-minute videos to go deep into just various different topics. Very short. I’ve not done any of that yet. So the way that I figured it was with everything that’s going on, my main contribution could be at least people coming out of this a little bit smarter than they were before now that they have the time to train. So I just have to make the time to make the videos, but probably look for that on LinkedIn when I do start rolling those out.

Robert O’Haver:[00:56:28] I would do it sooner than later. There a lot of people sitting at home looking for things to do. And, you know, if you’re geeks like us…

Dave Fimek: [00:56:34] Yeah, with all of this, though, I’m an avid indoors-man, so I still manage to stay pretty busy.

Robert O’Haver: [00:56:45] All right. So great. So your LinkedIn is the best way to reach you?

Dave Fimek: [00:56:50] Yep, absolutely.

Dave Fimek: [00:56:51] And the Web site for your company?

Dave Fimek:[00:56:54] InfoTrust.com

Robert O’Haver: [00:56:55] Nice. So thanks for being on the show. It’s been great. Thanks to the listeners. Especially, I want to thank our sponsors, Pixel Cut Labs, and Directive for sponsoring the show.

Matt Weber: [00:57:04] Thanks, Dave. Thanks everyone for listening

Robert O’Haver: [00:57:05] Thanks, everyone, see you in a couple of weeks.

ANNOUNCER: [00:57:14] Search Talk Live is brought to you by Pixel Cut Labs, a 2019 U.S. Search Award-winning SEO agency. Welcome to page one. If you have a question about today’s show or would like to be a sponsor, e-mail [email protected] That’s [email protected]