Chad Hallberg mentions 2 things he likes…

Chad Hallberg mentions 2 things he likes about Google Buzz… I only like one thing so far and it’s related to one of his points. I REALLY like that I’m now following a bunch more folks in Google Reader. I’m finding a constant stream of great posts that I never would have uncovered. I’m sure someone also tweeted many of these posts, but with all the noise on Twitter, I’m finding the “people you follow” to be the best way to find interesting and eclectic posts from around the web.

Geeking with Gmail

Things have been pretty quiet around here lately as I’ve been just swamped with work.   The work is really good stuff and I’ve been getting my hands dirty in all kinds of interesting projects.   I’m not ready to say who any of my clients are, but I’ve currently got some really interesting clients (almost none of whom are in the real estate space) and loving the work.

Anyway, for reasons I’m not ready to get into, I’ve been playing with Seesmic for the past few days and having a lot of fun with it.   If you don’t know, Seesmic is an online video community where folks get together to chat.  The potential is pretty darn high and it really doesn’t take long to connect to other folks.

All of which leads me to the video that I just posted on Seesmic…    I called it Geeking with Gmail and spend a few minutes talking about how I’ve been using gmail to keep my email-life organized.  Maybe you’ll find it interesting/helpful.

Geeking with GmailGiving some tips… and looking for your ideas.

And because I mention it in the video, here’s a link where  you can sign up for the free hosted version of Google App.

By the way, if you have a webcam and want to test Seesmic out, things are set up so that you only need to leave a video comment on this post to take part! (Click on the “Add a video comment with Seesmic” option at the bottom of this post!)

Has Google Analytics Gone Bad?

A few weeks ago I moved the Rain City Guide servers over to new servers.  Starting a few days before I moved the site over, I noticed a drop in the amount of traffic that coming to RCG as measured by Google Analytics:

Total Traffic to Rain City Guide

The fact that it started a few days beforehand didn’t really surprise me since I had been having trouble with the host (hence the move!).

However, the huge drop that Google Analytics shows is almost entirely from a drop in search engine (think: Google) traffic: Search Engine Traffic to Rain City Guide

It’s not pretty, but I figured it was a reality and just part of the consequences of moving the site from one server to another and I figured Google would hopefully start sending lots search traffic again over time.  But here’s where it gets weird.

The ONLY indication I have that our search traffic has decreased is Google Analytics… All other indications are that the traffic is just about the same.

For example, Quantcast total daily visits from the same time frame (which, just like Google Analytics, uses a bit of javascript I installed in the footer of the site):

Quantcast Daily Visits to Rain City Guide

Diving deeper into the search terms I can see that for terms we used to rank really well for, like [moving to Seattle], Google Analytics said we dropped to only one person visiting us from that search term yesterday:

Moving to Seattle search term on Rain City Guide

But, I simply can’t believe that for two reasons:

  1. The Rain City Guide post on Moving to Seattle is STILL the #1 result on Google for the term
  2. WP-Stats (also using a bit of Java-script in the footer) says we got 32 views from that term yesterday which is a bit low, but closer to what I’d expect by showing up #1 under that particular term in google:

WP-Stat Top Terms

For those wondering, I didn’t touch the Google Analytics code when I moved servers. Nor did I install any caching or other plugins that would be related to this in any way that I can think of…

And finally, just to show you that the issue really is only related to search engine traffic, both the direct traffic and referring traffic have remained pretty consistent throughout this time period:

Direct Traffic to Rain City Guide

Referring Traffic to Rain City Guide

So finally…

My questions for the 4realz community:

  • What is going on with Google Analytics?   Is it busted?  Any ideas on why it would only be picking up a small portion of the search terms that come to Rain City Guide?
  • Or maybe you’d argue that RCG’s google search traffic really did drop off heavily…  But then wouldn’t you have expected us to stop ranking well in the usual phrases [agent recommendations], [Seattle real estate blog], etc.?

UPDATE:

After only 14 hours or so of a fix (thanks to an idea I had inspired by a comment below), the search engine traffic on RCG as measured by GA has had a nice bump: Updated Search Engine Traffic on Rain City Guide

(Notice the jump at the right of the chart… That’s today’s traffic from search engines)

At least for one of the WordPress blogs that I run, all evidence points to the fact that the existing tracking code went bust at some point in mid-May!   Obviously, if you’re also noticing that GA is measuring a drop in search engine traffic, as some others have mentioned in the comments, then try upgarding to the latest javascript code.

4realz Roundtable today: Tracking and analytics for agents

NOTE:  You can listen to the podcast and read a brief summary of the show at the bottom of the post!

As I mentioned last week, I’m putting together a list of resources for agents for a presentation at RE Connect…  and at the end of the process, I’ll end up with a list of the top 50 marketing tools for agents.   However, over the next month or so, I’m hoping to really dive into some specific areas and so I thought I’d start with tracking and analytical tools for agents by bringing the conversation to the 4realz Roundtable.

Today’s Roundtable will be at 4PM PST! And, as always, we’d love to have you take part!

If you’re an agent who’s eye’s glace over at this subject, I’m hoping you’ll try to stick with it a bit because I think there is no better way to find value in your internet marketing then measuring, tracking and adjusting your online marketing and I hope to get into some strategies with the participants of the roundtable today!

With that in mind, here’s a great list of tools from an email that was sent to me last week by Gahlord Dewald of Union Street Media last week (and reprinted with his permission!):

Survive the downturn by using analytics to listen to and observe your customers
  • Google Analytics. Survive the downturn by knowing more about your customers. More reports than you’ll ever have time to read. Free.
  • SiteScan GA. To save a few bucks you installed Google Analytics yourself. Did you install it correctly? Use SiteScan to find out. Free
  • CrazyEgg. Know exactly where on a page people are clicking and how soon after arriving they click. Ruthlessly prune links that don’t improve your conversions. Free.
  • 4q. Listening to your customers is important no matter if the market is good or bad. 4Q mashes analytics expert Avinash Kaushik’s brain with qualitative experts iPerceptions into a simple, easy to use 4 question survey to capture the voice of the customer. Free (this is the absolute best free “qualitative analytics” tool on the market).
  • FeedBurner. Sure it’s also great for simplifying your blog’s RSS feed. But it also lets you know what content your audience is reading and clicking on. Use this to help you write stuff your audience wants. Free
  • ClickTale. Ever want to observe exactly how visitors browse through your site including cursor placement, clicks and time? Clicktale is the next best thing to looking over their shoulder while they browse your site. WARNING: Time consuming and addictive. Free
  • GetClicky.  Where your visitors come from, what content they view, what links they followed, how they got there and more: in Real Time. Free
Survive the downturn by dominating your competition
  • Keyword Envy. You’re good enough to know which specific keywords matter to you. You can track your site’s performance over time at Keyword Envy. Free
  • Compete.com.  Competitive research on the web is notoriously fuzzy. But people still want it. If you want to do competitive research, use Compete.com for its combination of data sources. Free
  • SEOQuake. What is so great about the sites ahead of yours in the Search Engine Results Page? Install SEOQuake on your browser and find out things like latest cachedate, google page rank, number of backlinks, did they submit a sitemap and more right at the SERP. Free.
Survive the downturn by getting smarter
  • Web Analytics Wednesday. Once a week, in your town (or one near you) web analysts get together to drink beer, give a short presentation and talk shop. They love talking to real people with real business problems. Attend a Web Analytics Wednesday.
I found this list from Gahlord to be extremely helpful… and a GREAT jumping point into the world of analytics.  With today’s participants, I hope to get people talking about the tools they use and/or recommend… and why!

Are you an analytically-minded agent or someone who wants to get more technical in your online marketing? Join us at 4pm to let us know what tools you’re using and get some feedback from others from the roundtable on what you could do better in the future!

Note about the Roundtable

I’ve had more than a few questions about what it takes to get involved… Essentially, the answer is not much.   If you want to listen into the conversation, then you need only log in from the talk shoe site.   If you want to ask questions live (as oppose to the chat), then you’ll need to call in using any phone.   ALL the information needed to get involved is on the TalkShoe site!

UPDATE:

What an awesome show!

There was a great group of people on the call including Andy Kaufman, Kevin Tomlinson, Mark Eckenrode, Grant Freer, Jeff Turner, Todd Carpenter, Gabe Hoggarth, and Jim Marks.

We covered all kinds of topics including a few websites not mentioned above like Have a Mint and Woopra.  However, I think the real value for most agents will come from our discussion on how much agents should know (and need to know) about SEO.

If you’re an agent interested in understanding what you need to know about SEO, tracking and analytics in order to improve your business, I can only imagine that you’ll find this roundtable discussion very enlightening:

Trulia adds Spotlight ads and lowers…

…the overall price of their featured listings with a revamp of their ad platform.

Some details… What used to cost $50/month for 10 listings now costs $39/month for unlimited listings.   In addition, as part of Trulia Pro, agents can also add unlimited spotlight ads.  So far, so good…

However, similar to Joel, a move toward “unlimited” ads had me scratching my head a bit.  From a business point of view, the upside of the spotlight ads seem somewhat limited for both Trulia and the ad buyer… especially in that they don’t do much to reward creative or innovative ads.

One of the keys to success of Google’s AdWords program is that users are constantly tweaking their ads and adjusting (often increasing!) budgets for their ad campaigns. With the Spotlight ads, there’s very little incentive to tweak. Sure you might be able to tweak things to get a slightly higher click-through-rate, but at the end of the day, you won’t be able to increase the amount of money you spend on the service (remember I get “unlimited ads for $39/month”), so even if you figured out the “system”, most agents won’t be able to use that knowledge to substantially increase their exposure.

Nonetheless, especially while the system is new with lots of excess inventory, there’s probably a lot of low-hanging fruit to pick up for agents looking to find potential buyers…