Harmoney Partners With FIRST To Gain Deeper Customer Insights And Smarter Campaign Optimisation

published by on 27th August 2015 under Case Studies, Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO), Google Analytics, etc


How Harmoney.com gained deeper customer insights and smarter campaign optimisation with help from FIRST 

Harmoney is New Zealand’s first peer-to-peer 100% online lending platform. A lack of understanding into the website behaviour of different customer segments was preventing Harmoney from converting leads into customers. Gaining clear visibility on its conversion funnel performance to uncover needed insights was a challenge for the marketing team. In addition, tracking was difficult due to the technicality of their website’s design.

Since partnering with FIRST for customised analytics tracking solutions and actionable insights on user segmentation, Harmoney gained deeper understanding of their customers’ behavior, enhanced campaign performance and improved online experience for their customers through Google Tag Manager implementation.

Find out how FIRST customised Google Tag Manager for Harmoney to meet their objectives, read the full case study here.


Glen MacKellaig Head of Digital Marketing Harmoney

Read the full case study here. 

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Google Partners Masterclass 2015 Insights Part 7: Uncovering (Not Provided) Keyword Data in Google Analytics

published by on 21st August 2015 under Digital Strategy, Digital Trends, Events, etc

Uncovering (Not Provided) Keyword Data in Google Analytics

In yesterday’s post, we took a closer look at Google AdWords’ latest enhancement to Dynamic Search Ads (DSA). I also shared with you some best practices and tips on how to make the most out of this new enhancement. For the 7th and last post of the Google Partners Masterclass 2015 series, we’ll dive into cracking the (not provided) keyword data in Google Analytics (GA) so you can enable better SEO performance reporting and find out what’s working and what to improve on.


Uncovering (Not Provided) Keyword Data in Google Analytics

What is (not provided) in GA?

In October 2011, Google changed the way it delivered keyword data to website owners in its move to make search more secure for users.

What does this mean? This means goodbye keyword data.

All searches made by users in Google, are encrypted and referral data relating to the searches are hidden. This includes information such as the keywords used in the searches. Whether you are logged in to your Google account or not, browsing incognito mode, your searches in Google will be conducted over SSL encrypted search and you’ll be redirected to the https:// version of their chosen Google domain. No keyword data will be passed to website owners from encrypted Google searches.

What does this mean for my site? Sadly, this means a whole lot things.

You won’t be able to track site visitors or users by their keyword searches. It will be harder to segment them by the keywords they use within your Google Analytics (GA). Additionally, this missing information makes it difficult to have a complete and clear picture of the ROI of certain keywords in organic search and to properly determine SEO budget allocation.

Note that only organic search is affected and the ‘not provided’ data is not applicable for paid search results. Google AdWords users will still have access to the keywords.

I see some eyebrows raising there…

Lots of speculation around this, but for now, let’s focus on how you can work around it.


What now


David shared some steps on how to get back your (not provided) keyword data in Google Analytics. In the next section, we’ll go through the steps with additional insights and inputs from our in-house Senior Consultant, Rattandeep Singh.


How to uncover (not provided) keyword data in Google Analytics? 


Step 1: 

Mine your Google Analytics data for user’s behaviour on your website with the Landing Pages Reports.

Go to Reporting > Behaviour > Site Content to find Landing pages report and apply the Segment for Google Organic Traffic (see no.4 in image on how to create custom segment). Select the right metric for your goal if you want to include conversions data.

Uncover not provided data step 1


Also, add “Page Title” as a secondary dimension to the report, we will need page titles in coming steps:

Uncovering (Not Provided) Keyword Data in Google Analytics Step 1-2


Select “Show rows” to 2500 or as appropriate to include all of the pages as per your data at the bottom of report and export all the landing pages to as a CSV from Analytics.


Step 2: 

Luckily we have search traffic data available for keywords from Google Webmasters tools (GWT), now known as Search Console.

If you have linked your GWT to Google Analytics, you will be able to get search queries report within Google Analytics in “Search Engine Optimisation” tab under “Acquisition”. If not, you can go to Search Analytics in GWT and apply filters there to get non-branded data or do it in excel after exporting data.

We highly recommend using Google Analytics for this step because of being able to add more precise filtering.

Uncovering (Not Provided) Keyword Data in Google Analytics Step 2

Export this data to excel with maximum rows selected at bottom of the page to include all queries in the export.


Step 3:

Put your excel hat on, ‘coz now is the time to play with data!

Put together the data in one excel file in different sheets that you have exported from GA & GWT/Query Data from GA.

Uncovering (Not Provided) Keyword Data in Google Analytics Step 3


Step 4:

Extract the terms from URL, titles or H1 tags of the landing pages. You can use Page titles if you have keyword details in titles. See Step 1 on how to get this data from Google Analytics. You can also use some SEO / Analytics plugins for Excel to pull data directly.

then, table-ize the data.

Uncovering (Not Provided) Keyword Data in Google Analytics Step 4


Step 5:

Load Search Query Data in another worksheet on the same Excel file

Uncovering (Not Provided) Keyword Data in Google Analytics Step 5


Uncovering (Not Provided) Keyword Data in Google Analytics Step 5-2

then, table-ize the data.


Step 6:

Download and install the Fuzzy Lookup extension for Excel.

Fuzzy Lookup Plug-in will help you in finding similar data in Excel. Once installed, you can then assign values in left & right table and select the columns from each data set (GA & GWT) in a new worksheet, you can call it “Output” or any other name.

Uncovering (Not Provided) Keyword Data in Google Analytics Step 6 Fuzzy lookup

Source: Cardinal Path

Step 7:

Generate report from the data.

You will get a similarity score in the output for each column in the output tab and then you can filter out the one that has more than 0.8 similarity score.

Uncovering (Not Provided) Keyword Data in Google Analytics Step 7

Source: Cardinal Path


Step 8:

Query & Performance

Now you are ready to look at the performance by keywords in your report.

Uncovering (Not Provided) Keyword Data in Google Analytics Step 8

Source: Cardinal Path


Step 9:

Group Landing pages

Find duplicate landing pages in the report and group them together to find, which key terms are sending traffic to these pages.

Uncovering (Not Provided) Keyword Data in Google Analytics Step 9

Source: Cardinal Path

For more information, check out the articles posted by Chris Liversidge and Avinash Kaushik.


Until Next Time…

FIRST Digital Team at the Google Partners Masterclass

(Left to Right) Cindy Li, Eamon Hoolihan, David Neubauer, Grant Osborne, Zharina Pelea, Katherine Steffensen, Mike Child and Rattandeep Singh


Overall, I had an awesome first time experience at the Google Partners Masterclass with my teammates at FIRST who attended the event. A chance to be in the company of talented digital peers and to learn a huge amount from David Booth and the rest of the attendees. Events like this help everyone be in the cutting edge of the Analytics and Web tracking scene. Can’t wait to see what the next event brings!

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Google Partners Masterclass 2015 Insights Part 6: Dynamic Search Ads (DSA) Overhaul

published by on 20th August 2015 under Digital Advertising, Digital Strategy, Digital Trends, etc

Google Partners Masterclass 2015 Insights Part 6: Dynamic Search Ads (DSA) Overhaul

In yesterday’s post, I presented 6 possible solutions on how to get rid of referral spam from Google Analytics (GA) as discussed at the Google Partners Masterclass 2015 event. Although, there is no foolproof solution for this problem, implementing those will help you report on cleaner and more accurate GA data. Today, we’ll talk about Google’s latest enhancement to Dynamic Search Ads (DSA) that can help you reach your customers better with more targeted ads, focus on the campaigns that are most important by automating the ones you don’t have enough time for and overall optimize and improve on your paid campaign workflows, especially in the set-up phase.


New and Improved DSA

Dynamic Search Ads (DSA) was recently overhauled and now has tools and features for those with huge inventories of landing pages (i.e. e-commerce advertisers). Aside from crawling your website, DSA now sorts your website content (i.e. products and services) into recommended categories and saves you time by targeting your ads based on those categories. With DSA, text ads are automatically generated by Google for inclusion in an auction based on website content. Google also creates the headline and ad copy and chooses the relevant landing page on your website.

Recommended Categories for DSA


A Closer Look at DSA

Although DSAs are a good way to propel a low performing e-commerce site forward, David cautioned everyone not to use this as a primary way of managing campaigns. For control freak-advertisers, the downside of this is the lack of control on what ads are being displayed and where you are driving people to. Another issue would arise if your website contains not optimized title tags or H1 heading tags which would make the search query matching of the ads with your online product or service quite difficult.


Some Helpful Tips For You

Tip #1

Best practice would always be to manage your keywords, ads and bids yourself. Be wary about anything Google does on autopilot, especially when it comes to keyword selection and bids (which directly impact spend and, therefore, Google’s profits).

Tip #2

A good tip, from David, is to manage most campaigns manually but use DSA for covering all your bases on the large number of low search volume long-tail keywords or in cases like where you have a huge number of location based keywords. So kind of use it as a “Catch All” for anything you’ve missed. Also suitable where you have thousands of landing pages, such as e-commerce advertisers with thousands of products in stock.

Note in the case of above, normal bids take precedence over DSA bids, so your manual campaigns will show first.

Tip #3

You can use DSA for harvesting valuable keyword data, for cases where the Google Keyword Planner tool doesn’t provide information for extremely specific terms.

Tip #4

Recommend ensuring you have a good list of negative keywords, as DSA will pick up very broad traffic otherwise.

Tip #5

Also, I recommend regularly running search query reports to pick up any high cost, low performing keywords.


Is DSA right for you?

DSA is a powerful way to reach your customers, spearhead remarketing and display campaigns and guide your landing page creation, but is it right for your business?

It really depends, but we can help!

One of the benefits of partnering with FIRST is that we can help you sort the wheat from the chaff and make sensible decisions about how to use a tool like DSA for your business.

Give us a call at +64 9 920 1740 or fill out the contact form below so we can get in touch with you and have a chat around your specific needs.


Up Next…the Last of the Series

For the seventh and last post of the Google Partners Masterclass 2015 series, our article tomorrow will cover Google’s (not provided) keywords data in Google Analytics. David presented the process developed by Chris Liversidge on how to match keyphrase data from Webmaster Tools to their landing page URLs and how to workaround Google’s (not provided) keywords for better SEO performance reporting.

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Google Partners Masterclass 2015 Insights Part 5: Get Rid of Referral Spam From Google Analytics

published by on 19th August 2015 under Digital Strategy, Digital Trends, Events, etc

Google Partners Masterclass 2015 Insights Part 5: Getting Rid of Referral Spam From Google Analytics

Yesterday’s article was about Remarketing Lists for Search Ads, powered by Google Analytics, making it possible for you to target your search ads based on your customer’s past activity on your site, create deeper segmented audiences, customize your messages according to your user segments and save you the marketing budget for users you don’t want to re-attract. Today, we’ll talk about what everybody hates – Referral Spam and how to get rid of it!


Are your Google Analytics reports getting jammed up with bogus data from nasty referral spammers? Don’t worry. You’re not alone!

Throughout this post, I will be referring to great sources of information from the following authors and sites:

Let’s begin!


What’s the Problem – Annoying referral spammers!

During the event, David discussed the types of Google Analytics (GA) referral spam. In GA, there are two types:

  • Nasty bots and spammy web crawlers

These are robots that actually visit your website and show up in your analytics reports as sessions, often (but not always) with a 100% bounce rate and 0 second duration. They may or may not identify themselves as bots and can be filtered out.

  • Ghost referrers

They are tougher to identify and deal with as they never actually visit your website but exploit the Google Analytics Measurement Protocol.

How is that possible?

David cited a blog post by Ben Travis of Viget that provides you with a solution on how to deal with referral spam. According to the post, with ghost referral traffic, spammers can “spoof” a session very easily by generating a simple program that sends fake HTTP requests aimed at different Google Analytics properties, so this ghost referral traffic doesn’t even hit your website.


What’s the Solution – Crush them!

David presented 6 possible solutions on how best to get rid of these annoying referral spams:


Solution #1 – Enable Bot Filtering

Enable bot filteringSource: Cardinal Path

This can be done within Google Analytics Reporting View Settings. By checking this box, you can automatically exclude known bots and spiders from your GA data. Read more about understanding bot and spider filtering from Google Analytics in this post by Sayf Sharif.


Solution #2 - Use Valid Hostname Filters 

Hostname filtersSource: https://megalytic.com/blog/how-to-filter-out-fake-referrals-and-other-google-analytics-spam

David advises to include ONLY your site hostname because ghost referrals are coming from other hosts. The article from Mark Hansen of Megalytic shows how to create a list of valid hostnames that shouldn’t be part of your reports. Additionally, according to the article of Mike Sullivan of Analytics Edge, “since spam referrers don’t know whose website the tracking ID belongs to (randomly picking numbers); they send the ‘referral’ using a hostname that is not one of yours. You can then create an INCLUDE filter that keeps only what was recorded from one of your valid web hosts”. It cautions users to make sure to identify ALL valid hostnames or else end up excluding valid traffic.


Solution #3 - Exclude Bots With Campaign Source Filters 

Campaign Source filter

Source: https://viget.com/advance/removing-referral-spam-from-google-analytics

For those non-ghost referrals that actually visit your site, you need to create another filter that will exclude a list of known referral spam sources or domains. Read Mark’s post to know how you can implement this on your site and Mike’s post from Analytics Edge for more information on this solution.


Solution #4 - Use Advance Segments To Get Historical Data  

Advance Segments

Source: https://viget.com/advance/removing-referral-spam-from-google-analytics

You can use advance segments to view historical data from before filters were implemented. Creating segments can help you select sessions that match your set criteria. Scroll down Mike’s post which shows how a single segment can include valid hostnames to remove ghost referral traffic and to exclude spam referrals created by crawlers.


Solution #5 – Use the Spam Insertion Tool

Spam Filter Installer

Source: http://www.simoahava.com/analytics/spam-filter-insertion-tool/

With over 400+ spam referral domains, Simo Ahava has written a post on this awesome spam filter tool which uses GA Management API. You can use this to remove referral spam by creating and applying filters. David added that this tool automates the process of adding bot filters across all accounts and then down to profiles you have EDIT access to. He notes that this tool can’t help with polluted Measurement Protocol hits, or with spam that doesn’t come in as referral traffic, or with spam that comes in as referral traffic but isn’t in the filters yet. See Simo’s post and follow the steps to get you started with this tool.


Solution #6 - Cookies and Custom Dimensions via Google Tag Manager

Cookies and Custom Dimensions via Google Tag ManagerSource: http://www.lunametrics.com/blog/2015/03/19/eliminating-dumb-ghost-referral-traffic/

In Sayf’s article on Eliminating Dumb Ghost Referral Traffic in GA, he walks you through 5 steps to block out traffic from outside of your website with a combination of tracking changes and filters within Google Analytics or with Google Tag Manager (GTM). Below are the steps.

  1. Set a cookie on your website for anyone who reaches your website
  2. Create a Custom Dimension
  3. Grab the cookie value via GTM
  4. Pass in the cookie value
  5. Filter out the bad traffic by including only traffic where your Custom Dimension is set to your specific value

Get more details here.

You’re now only collecting data for those you cookied on a visit to your website.

Time to celebrate?! Not just yet…

Unfortunately, David and Sayf points out that it’s possible for ghost traffic to find and mimic that custom dimension too.

It should be clear by now that there is no long-term solution for getting rid of those nasty referral spams. However, by implementing the solutions above you can get cleaner and more accurate data from GA. Want to know more? Check out Carlos Escalera’s article complete with awesome visuals on how to keep away referrals spam with 2 filters.


Up Next…

For the sixth part of the Google Partners Masterclass 2015 series, our article tomorrow will discuss about another Google update which is on the enhancement to Dynamic Search Ads (DSA). With the new DSA, Google recommends categories based on the content of your websites and make suggestions on text ads. Find out more on tomorrow’s post.

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Google Partners Masterclass 2015 Insights Part 4: Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA) within Google Analytics

published by on 18th August 2015 under Digital Strategy, Digital Trends, Events, etc

Google Analytics Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA)

Yesterday’s post was about the two data feed enhancements to the Google Merchant Center which improves efficiency for large retailers when it comes to data feed updates and uploading. It helps medium size and smaller retailers to quickly get started with shopping ads. For the fourth post of the Google Partners Masterclass 2015 series, we’ll talk about how you can use audiences in Google Analytics (GA) to reach your customers in Google Search, with no tagging changes needed.


Google Analytics Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA) – At Last!

Remarketing is a great way to align digital marketing activities based on your user’s experience. Recently, Google introduced the RLSA functionality as part of the Google Analytics (GA) Remarketing option.


Remarketing Lists for Search Ads, Powered by Google Analytics


What does this mean for you?

With RLSA, you can effectively target your search ads based on your customers’ past activity on your website, anyone that matches your target criteria and anything you can track in GA. With over hundreds of GA dimensions and metrics you can leverage for remarketing, you can then use audiences to reach and re-engage your customers with a consistent brand message across both Google Search and Display.

Typically, you could create the “All visitors” audience in GA and add it to your existing Search campaigns, with a Bid only targeting setting. It’s a good idea to outbid on this audience as usually you get a better conversion rate from past visitors – so you want to increase your share of voice towards them.

Below a +100% bid adjustment has been set up, meaning that for instance a $0.50 max. CPC will become $0.50 x (+100%) = $1 for your past visitors.

Google Analytics Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA)


Similarly you could create deeper segmented audiences depending on their past engagement, such as

  • cart abandoners
  • newsletter subscribers, etc.

and outbid on these audiences.

RLSA Segmented Audiences

Source: Cardinal Path


RLSA is also useful to customize your messages according to user segments, especially for those who entered your conversion funnel but didn’t complete it. For instance, it’s a good idea to have different messages for your leads (past visitors who signed up but haven’t converted yet).

To achieve this, you will need to duplicate your existing Search campaigns and add your RLSA with the “Target and bid” targeting setting, and of course adapt your creative accordingly.

Finally, RLSA is powerful functionality that prevents you from wasting money towards users you don’t want to re-attract. For instance, if you run a lead capturing campaign, you don’t want to pay for clicks from someone who is already one of your members. Or you could also wish to exclude users who didn’t meet qualitative requirements (age, income, location, etc.) you asked during their previous visit on your site.

To do this, you just need to add these audiences to your campaigns as negative audiences at the campaign level.


Up next…

For the fifth part of the Google Partners Masterclass 2015 series, tomorrow’s post will be on getting rid of those nasty referral spammers from Google Analytics (GA). At the event, David Booth walked through the types of GA spam and possible solutions from various brilliant digital professionals.


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