Using Google Analytics is an important skill for any webmaster. Using Google Analytics is a little tricky, but very helpful for determining what is working and what is not. Most of my Google Analytics experience is from an eCommerce perspective. We used Analytics to drill down on Keywords we were bidding on in PPC (Pay Per Click) ad campaigns. We actually focused on Micro-targeted keywords. In fact, with many products we were selling we were bidding on exact product descriptions and sending searchers directly from the ad to the product they searched for. This was helpful for conversion rates as eliminating clicks someone has to make before making a purchase is important in any eCommerce strategy. We actually did very little by way of SEO so I didn’t spend much time analyzing organic traffic. I’ve been learning more about using Google Analytics to drill down on issues like where your traffic is coming from, what keywords they are searching, looking at bounce rate based on which page they land on, and seeing which pages are top performers. You can do all sorts of things like comparing date ranges, bounce rate, set goals and track your performance.
(image from Tampere, Finland – these locks are put on this fence by couples in love)
The amount of data provided by Google Analytics is pretty staggering and it can be confusing. Observing trends and capitalizing on what is working should be the goal of any website. You may be getting traffic for Keywords you weren’t even targeting. Those people, you might find, are actually spending more time on your site than the people who enter using the keywords you thought were most relevant. If this is the case, it is time to adjust your strategy. Give the people what they want!
This post is not going to be very long since I think the videos below are really going to be more helpful then I could ever be trying to explain in words. Google actually shares LOTs and lots of information on how to use Google Analytics. If you are unfamiliar entirely, start with the first video. Then move on to the more advanced videos. Take some time to familiarize yourself with this powerful tool Google has to offer. Data is becoming more and more crucial in making business decisions, so make sure you understand how to use yours. There is SO much data available, learn how to interpret it properly, as it’s very easy to waste time looking at data and not getting anything useful out of your time.
This is a good look at the overall interface of Google Analytics:
Here’s a pretty easy look at basic interpretation of your Google Analytics account:
Here’s some tips on using Google Analytics for more advanced users:
Here’s a VERY in-depth look at Web Analytics – this is more general, and showcased by Google analytics, but not necessarily only applicable to Google Analytics – it’s over 1 hour but I recommend taking a look as it’s full of great information:
One more interesting video about internal site analysis:
If you have any good resources to share about analytics, or have any tips you use, please COMMENT!
Amazon Kindle book reader, my thoughts (and yours?)
This post will talk about my new Amazon Kindle, and will include my thoughts/experiences so far.
I will outline in this post some reasons I wanted one but never ordered it, and what made me finally decide to purchase a Kindle. My tangent to this story may surprise you!
We’ll talk about how to get free books – there are literally thousands out there – and no I don’t mean from piratebay (this is great even for non-Kindle owners/wanters so make sure to keep reading!). These books are 100% FREE and legal to download.
I will also talk about a few really useful sites that can integrate with your Kindle eReader, which gave me some great new perspective on the full functionality of the Kindle (Instapaper is a great bookmarking site that integrates with your Kindle and Kindlefeeder is great for setting up RSS/atom feeds) – These sites alone might make you consider if a Kindle would be a good addition to your tool chest of gadgets.
I will also talk about the Kindle Case I purchased and why I’m happy I did (read more if you want the story of how on the first day I almost destroyed my new Kindle).
Like many other people this past holiday season, I got a wonderful brand New Kindle 3G Wireless Reading Device, Free 3G + Wi-Fi, 3G Works Globally, Graphite, 6″ Display with New E Ink Pearl Technology If you haven’t checked the new Kindle out, Click the preceding link! It’s got a ton of great features and the price has gone down significantly since the Kindle was first released. I waited a long time before finally breaking down and ordering one. It’s a bit of a shame too because I’ve been traveling a LOT in the last 2 years and it would have been really useful. A story (see below) immediately comes to mind. Also, with the amount of time I spend staring at a computer screen burning out my retinas, I could have been looking at the easy-on-the-eyes Kindle eInk.
So I’ll start off with a story and a photo! In July of 2009 I went on a trip with a friend to Spain and Morocco.
(Me with the Moroccan city Fez in the background, one of the most interesting and also scary/exciting places I have ever been)
________________________________________________________________________________________________ Warning*** if you want to just learn about Kindles then skip this section – but you might find it interesting anyways My friend and I (both avid readers) set off for a 3 week trip to Spain and Morocco. We collectively were carrying about 10 books. Over the course of the trip with finished all of our books and read each others books as well. A Kindle would have really saved my back and shoulders as after lugging those books all over the place, I wish I had just had to carry the 8.7 ounces a Kindle weighs. I actually read one of my favorite books in the city in the picture An Artist of the Floating World. This book really impacted my life and I have a LOT to say about it, however for the sake of brevity and staying (as much as possible) on topic, I’ll let you check it out on your own.
Now a quick story. Fez is a VERY old city with something like 9000 winding streets running through the old town area (which you see in the picture). Read more in Lonely Planet Morocco (Country Guide).
I use the term streets liberally since they are more like glorified alleyways. We had taken a train from Tangiers and on the train, many Moroccan people wanted to chat with us. We met a guy who told us he knew a great place to stay in Fez, and we needed to go there and ask for Abdul (his friend). Abdul was a guide, and I cannot stress enough how important having a guide is in Fez since the city is absolutely the most confusing place I have ever visited. If you don’t know the way the streets are connected, you could easily find yourself hopelessly lost in a maze. Well we arrived, and sure enough, Abdul himself was at the hotel our fellow train-rider had mentioned and he quickly agreed for a reasonable price to be our guide for the next day. In the morning, he arrived with his son and began discussing all the great stuff we could see (and all the great stores we could visit). We indicated we would not be interesting in purchasing any souvenirs since our bags were already overloaded with books (like how I tied that in! haha). Due to the fact that Abdul was a bit of an affiliate marketer himself, and we were not likely customers, he left us with his son (around age 17 or so). We spent the day wandering the city – much of which was extremely interesting.
When we got back to our hotel, we met an Australia couple who were quite flustered. They said Abdul had been guiding them (I guess instead of us!) and that he had suddenly disappeared. They were lost in the city, and didn’t have any cash. In Morocco, a great way to get somewhere you don’t know is to take out a map, and wait for a bunch of “friendly” people who want to “help” you to swarm around. They will usually start leading you somewhere without establishing a price, only to demand a ridiculous payout upon arrival at your destination. If you refuse to pay, this often turns into a shouting match, you handing the person a fair sum, and everyone leaving angry (such is the way a good compromise works right?) Well, without cash, and not knowing where an ATM was located, this Australian couple had a hell of a time getting out of the Old town area and back to the hotel. They were quite mad at Abdul and we didn’t know what happened.
We had some Moroccan Mint tea and sat around and exchanged some travel stories, just chatting, when Abdul shows up! He was clutching a blood-soaked cloth to his chest and ran in to say he was sorry to the Australians, but he now had to leave to go to the hospital. Apparently he had a dispute with somebody and the person had pulled a knife on him and slashed him across the chest. We were all stunned. The idea that this guy who was supposed to be taking care of us in the city would end up stabbed didn’t bode well for our chances of making it on our own. We opted to spend the rest of the night in the hotel and left the next day.
So keep this kind of thing in mind! If you are every in a city as confusing as Fez, slightly scared from seeing a man with a knife wound, and decide to stay in for the evening, it might be a good idea to have something to read – Moroccan television is not so good 😛
How-to get FREE eBooks for your Kindle!
So after more traveling, and more carrying heavy books, I moved to China for a year. I did very little reading since it was so difficult/expensive to get English books. I then learned about how many books you can get for the Kindle entirely for FREE. Many of these books I have actually purchased and when I added up the total I could have saved, I EASILY could have purchased a Kindle and probably an ipad, netbook, etc. etc. (I own a lot of books).
Many books are available for free because their copy write has expired. If you like reading classics, there are tons of great novels available, in their entirety, entirely free. I’m a big fan of Russian literature like Tolstoy and Dostoevsky. You can get just about everything they’ve written for free. Here are a few sites:
The hardest thing is to decide what to read – I’m guessing you could stay busy for the rest of your life with these sites alone – so start thinking about it – would a Kindle be a smart investment?
I mean think about any time you have ever moved in your life. I helped two friends move this week and it sucks. A kindle takes all the books you own and drops their size down to 8.2 ounces!! Purchasing a Kindle is SMART!
Well, so now you have a bunch of free books, but if you’re like me, you still read lots of things online. A Kindle can be a great way to organize everything you want to read for the day and it will also allow you to take a break from staring a monitor (you’re eyes will thank me).
First Check out Instapaper:http://www.instapaper.com The greatest feature about Instapaper, as opposed to any other bookmarking service, is you can send your bookmarks to your KINDLE! While browsing the web, I’m sure you find loads of interesting articles. You may not have time to read them all right then and there, but you can organize links, and have them sent to your Kindle to read later. There is a nice bookmarklet that sits at the top of my browser. All I have to do is click it and articles are added to instapaper. They are also formated to be read on a Kindle which is extra nice.
Next, Check out Kindlefeeder:http://www.kindlefeeder.com/ This is a similar service “that lets you aggregate your favorite feeds and have them delivered to your Kindle in a convenient, easy-to-navigate format. Kindlefeeder also lets you save individual webpages and have them delivered to your Kindle along with your feeds.” Another great way to read through all your favorite blogs etc. without having to spend countless hours staring at a computer screen.
By the way, Reading on a Kindle has really shocked me. The screen has no backlight and it reads as easily and naturally as a book. Flipping pages forward and back is super easy and the whole experience is quite pleasurable.
This case is fucking expensive. I almost didn’t buy it. But then I did. I decided I wanted to be able to hold my Kindle like a book while I read it and I have to say this case makes the experience very pleasurable. The little light is powered by the Kindle’s battery and just pulls out making it very convenient if you are in a poorly lit place. The cover is a comfortable leather which is easy to hold whether you are laying in bed, riding a train, standing on a crowded subway or bus, or just sitting in a comfortable chair. It gives the Kindle a more “real” book reading experience. It also protects your Kindle.
Warning***Here comes another story so if you love reading about Kindle’s so much just skip it. We had a few people over at our house for some drinks. I actually had recently brewed some beer from scratch at a beer club I’ve joined and after over a month of waiting, it was time to try the finished product. This time, it was an American style wheat beer that came out quite nice if I do say so myself. Well my Kindle was sitting on a small table minding it’s own business surrounded by a group of after work on Friday, lets get drunk kind of crowd. The evening progressed and people started to get excited. In the middle of a particular rousing story, which required a lot of hand gestures to properly tell, my friend accidentally hit my glass out of my hand. It tipped over and broke right on top of my Kindle. This is where the case comes in. I noticed right away and grabbed the Kindle, and immediately dried it off. The glass breaking did no damage to the screen and the case prevented what was left of my beer from getting into the keypad and damaging the interior electronics. I was very happy I had sprung for the case since I anticipate my due to my carelessness, I may someday require the case’s protection services once again. That’s just me. By the way, don’t try this at home – I may have just been lucky!
I do plan on travelling again soon, so having a protected cover for my Kindle seems like a no-brainer. I am convinced it is safe even if I bang my bag against something while rushing through an airport it will still be safe. Protect your investment and spring for the case. It’s really not that much money.
This review is a little unorthodox I suppose, but there you have it. Do yourself a favor. Purchase a Kindle. You won’t regret it. Purchase it now so you can start saving your eyes from staring at a computer screen all day. Purchase it now, and load it up with books so you’re ready to go the second someone suggests lets check out Morocco. Purchase it now and start enjoying!
________________________________________________________________________________________________ Here’s the slightly less expensive non-3G Kindle and the case without a light