Category Archives: Facebook

Panda 2.4 and Analytics Session Update Rolled Out Simultaneously

Posted by MikeCP

On August 12, Google announced that their high-quality sites algorithm, otherwise known as "Panda", had been rolled out for all languages save for Korean, Chinese, and Japanese. The change is said to impact 6-9% of users’ queries, down from the 12% seen in the initial Panda update back in February. Though the official announcement post doesn’t make mention of this update’s effect on English queries, Vanessa Fox at Search Engine Land reported that a few minor changes were made, but there shouldn’t be a substantial impact.

Only 9 hours earlier, the Google Analytics blog announced a change to the way visits are to be calculated, effective immediately. We’ll get into just how this changed in a bit, but according to the announcement post, "most users will see less than a 1% change".

So, with all of of my clients being US based, I wasn’t expecting to see much of a change from Panda, and I can deal with a 1% change in Google Analytics. However, apparently two insubstantial impacts make a big one, because upon checking Analytics on Monday night, I was surprised to see this:

traffic is up
Organic traffic is up 30% week over week

This particular client saw a 20% drop from the initial Panda update back in February, and we’ve been working to get back to previous levels ever since. Was this the recovery we’d been hoping for?! After all, the site in question hardly fit the mold of the typical ‘Panda-lized’ site. Though we were told not to expect much change to English SERPs, I was hopeful.

Google’s decision to push Panda 2.4 and the Google Analytics update on the same day wreaked havoc on my ability to see what was really going on. I can only imagine that some of the first-time Panda sites using Google Analytics are reeling right now.

Google pretty frequently points out that many of their teams do not share information intentionally. As an example, the search team has stated time and again that sites that run AdSense advertisements do not receive preferential treatment in the SERPs, despite the fact that this would positively affect Google’s bottom line. Similarly, Google’s other web properties like Maps, Places and Knol (purportedly) aren’t given any special treatment, either. Perhaps this is a similar case, but it’s borderline irresponsible for Google to have pushed these two updates simultaneously. I believe the onus falls more on the Analytics team, but it’s hard to know really.

Seeing Through Pandalytics 1.0

In trying to get to the bottom of this issue, it’s important to understand how visit calculation in Google Analytics had changed. Straight from the announcement blog post:

What’s changing?

Currently, Google Analytics ends a session when:

  • More than 30 minutes have elapsed between pageviews for a single visitor.
  • At the end of a day.
  • When a visitor closes their browser.

If any of these events occur, then the next pageview from the visitor will start a new session.

In the new model, Google Analytics will end a session when:

  • More than 30 minutes have elapsed between pageviews for a single visitor.
  • At the end of a day.
  • When any traffic source value for the user changes. Traffic source information includes: utm_source, utm_medium, utm_term, utm_content, utm_id, utm_campaign, and gelid.

Ultimately, this change is about assigning proper attribution for conversions and engagement. As Michael Whitaker points out in his blog post, previous to August 11, it was possible to find plenty of keywords with pageviews and unique visitor counts but 0 visits. Grab the custom report from his post to see for yourself, or take a look here (with filter applied so that visits = 0):

Visits set to 0 before the change

Now, each new keyword is going to count as a visit, which is really the right move. See this same report set to a date after the change:

Now more empty visits

Some Examples

So what is actually going on here? Well, here are a few real-world scenarios where the way that visits is calculated is changing.

Scenario 1:


  1. User searches Google for "Product Name" and clicks on your AdWords advertisement.
  2. User leaves site and searches a few more times, click on competition and comparing prices and features.
  3. User ultimately decides to with your product, Googles "Your Brand + Product Name", clicks your organic listing, and buys the product. This whole process takes less than 30 minutes.


Previously, the second visit to your site would still count towards the original query, "Product Name". The conversion is attributed to the most recent non-direct source, so "Your Brand + Product Name" gets the credit, but would not appear in your organic keyword report (or would with 0 visits attached). Now, this counts as 2 separate sessions, and "Your Brand + Product Name" will appear in your organic keyword report with 1 visit.

Scenario 2:


  1. User searches "Product Name" and lands on your site.
  2. User exits and visits a few other sites.
  3. User searches "Slightly Refined Product Name", lands on your site, and buys.


Again, now this counts as two visits, where it used to be one. In fact, for this particular client, I believe this scenario was pretty common, as average query length increased significantly, suggesting users were refining their queries.

So Is My Traffic Up Or What!?

Still, in my example above organic visits were up over 30%. This is quite a bit more than the expected 1% change from Google Analytics, and the "insubstantial impact" from Panda 2.4. How can I know if there is any Panda recovery at play? If I want to compare apples to apples, the answer is going to have to come from my visit-agnostic numbers: Pageviews and Unique Visitors.

visit count
Visits up 30%
unique visitor count
Unique Visitors only slightly up
pageview count
Pageviews also only slightly up

So it is pretty obvious from the images above that while traffic is on the rise, it’s not quite up 30%. It does remain pretty difficult to tell if there was any sort of Panda impact at all, or just a natural growth from some recent link building successes.

Google Pushes an Update to Analytics

Another factor at play in some of this data is that Google acknowledged a bug in the original rollout of this change, and updated their announcement blog post on the following Tuesday:

We identified an issue responsible for unexpected traffic changes following our recent update to how sessions are defined in Google Analytics. A fix was released at 2pm PST Tuesday August 16th. The issue affected some sites using the following configurations:

  1. If a user comes to a customer’s site with a space in some part of their traffic source data, then revisit the same landing page during that session by refreshing the page or later pressing the back button, a new session will be created for every hit to that page. (Clicking a link elsewhere on the site that leads back to the page should not matter.)
  2. Google Analytics implementations using multiple trackers (an unsupported configuration) are also affected when a space is included in the traffic source data. These sites will see fewer visits from new visitors, and more visits from returning visitors (with some variation due to different implementations).

Taking a look again at the visits report above, this bug obviously affected the site in question, as visits after Tuesday dropped considerably. Still, the overall effect here is a change significantly higher than a 1% increase.

Again, non-English sites using Google Analytics that are seeing Panda for the first time may be in for a bit of a headache. I’m hoping I was able to shed some light on this problem.

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What’s the Toughest SEO Gig You’ve Ever Had? I’ll Start.

Posted by randfish

I recently spent a few days in New York, Philadelphia and New Jersey, and got to meet with great friends at consulting firms. One conversation in particular stuck with me regarding the hardest project they’d worked on in the last few years. It got me thinking that I should share a few of my most challenging SEO projects, and see if the community had stories they could share, too. I learned a lot in my short chat on the subject, and I’m hopeful that will translate here on the web, too.

Thus, my top 3 “toughest” SEO projects over the last decade were:

  1. The “I Just Want PageRank 10″
    It’s hard to believe in 2011, but in 2005, Moz really did have a client who’s entire goal was increasing toolbar PageRank. He was a very wealthy individual who fretted over his PageRank score in comparison to a rival’s organization in the same sphere. We were able to grow it from 6 to 8 with mostly white hat stuff (yes, even I used to dabble with link buying back in the day), but when he continued pressing for a PageRank 9, we gave up and sent him to a link broker. We provided very stern, very aggressive warnings that this could hurt his traffic or even make Google penalize the PageRank score, but he wanted all the options and did end up spending a small fortune on paid links. To my knowledge, the PageRank score never went above 8/10, and of course, since he wasn’t doing any keyword targeting to speak of and didn’t care about traffic, the value of those links was virtually nil.
  2. The “Breaking Out of the Sandbox”
    One of my first few SEO consulting clients, starting in 2003, was a commercial lender in Seattle. I did very old school SEO for them (not knowing any better, and really learning the practice as I went along), jamming anchor text and links wherever I could. Unfortunately, this was right around the time of Google’s “sandbox effect,” which a Googler explained to me once as “an artifact of something else we created.” For nearly 18 months, I fought against the sandbox, earning #1 rankings for nearly every term in MSN search and Yahoo! (which, at the time, had much more significant market share), but page 10+ on Google. Then, suddenly, one morning, we were #1 across the board in Google, along with a number of other sites that also “popped out.” One odd element of the sandbox was that Google seemed to release sites en masse, similar to the Panda updates this year. We celebrated heavily, the company started getting customers and over the next few years, we paid off a lot of nasty debt.But, I remember most that every day and every night, I did virtually nothing but crawl the web (manually – there weren’t any tools like OSE or Link Intersect) and try to find link opportunities of any kind. I hadn’t really discover the power of inbound marketing, and the social web was nearly non-existant outside of blogs + forums, which I used heavily. Walk to work. Build links. Walk home. Think about other places to get links. Eat dinner in a crappy, old 500 sq ft. apt. with Geraldine. Build links until 2am. Get up. Do it again. I sometimes wonder if we hadn’t broken out whether I’d have career at all today.
  3. The “Linkbait that Brings Customers”
    Later in my career – around 2007 – we had a client that wanted to invest heavily in linkbait, but wasn’t quite sold on how the process worked. To be fair, neither were we. We’d seen plenty of examples of linkbait being very successful in driving links, which then drove great search rankings and more high quality traffic (vs. the typically more high-bounce-rate visits to linkbait pieces) and on occasion, we’d had success with a linkbait piece that did get email addresses or trials of a product. But, this was in the housing/real estate field, and those consumers are very research-heavy. It’s hard to get a first-time visitor from any channel to fill out an application or leadgen form in that world, but this was the project, so we executed the best we could.Needless to say, it failed. Of 3 linkbait content attempts I recall, 2 generated some decent links and 1 was a real success, but only from a links perspective. The customers never appeared, and the client left, unsatisfied. If I recall properly, we refunded half of the cost and lost money on the deal overall (we hadn’t charged enough in the first place, honestly), but wanted to preserve a positive relationship. Lesson learned – create realistic expectations and don’t agree to a project that goes against the laws of marketing.

Of course, there have been (and still are, though I only provide consulting pro bono and through Q+A, now) plenty of other big challenges, but these ones stand out in my mind. I also asked some folks on Twitter and Google+ and received some terrific responses, highlighted below:

You can read the Google+ thread here and see Twitter replies here (at least for the next hour or two). I’d love to continue the conversation and the sharing in the comments. I’m flying back to Seattle tomorrow, but will try to be in the comments. I’ve also got a post coming tomorrow AM on a new Linkscape update.

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An SEO’s Guide to RegEx

Posted by robmillard

RegEx is not necessarily as complicated as it first seems. What looks like an assorted mess of random characters can be over facing, but in reality it only takes a little reading to be able to use some basic Regular Expressions in your day to day work.
For example, you could be using the filter box at the bottom of your Google Analytics keyword report to find keywords containing your brand, such as Distilled. If you want to include both capitalised and non-capitalised versions, you could use the Regular Expression [Dd]istilled. Pretty simple, right?

9 Actionable Tips for Link Prospecting

Posted by Paul Rogers

This post was originally in YOUmoz, and was promoted to the main blog because it provides great value and interest to our community. The author’s views are entirely his or her own and may not reflect the views of SEOmoz, Inc.

I find link prospecting to be one of the most time-consuming and challenging parts of link building. In order to build and maintain a natural link profile for your website, your prospecting activity needs to cover a wide range of opportunities and generate the right targets and leads for your project/campaign. So prospecting is usually pretty easy to start off with – run a few Google searches and you’ve got yourself a set of content-rich websites within your target industry. However, once you’ve gone through this initial list, you realise the challenge that you’re faced with.

Here are some of the things we do at GPMD to generate a broader set of quality prospects. Using these practices, we’re able to identify a huge selection of relevant, high quality blogs and industry websites within different sectors. Continue reading

Article Marketing: Mostly A Scam – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by Aaron Wheeler

Article marketing is mostly a scam. Well, wait… some types of article marketing are really scammy. Guest blogging, legitimate article sharing, and similar tactics are great and sustainable linkbuilding practices, but making up terrible article content and passing it off as something people should read or link to is both bad for users and bad for long-term SEO. This week, Rand discusses some of the reasons article marketing is so nefarious and some alternatives that are more user-friendly. Have any alternatives or tactics you’re fond of? Let us know in the comments below! Continue reading

6 Keyword Research Mistakes You Might be Making

Posted by jamesagate

This post was originally in YOUmoz, and was promoted to the main blog because it provides great value and interest to our community. The author’s views are entirely his or her own and may not reflect the views of SEOmoz, Inc.

Keyword research is an all too often under-appreciated aspect of SEO.

I’ve written a few keyword research posts here on SEOmoz and that’s because I believe it to be the blueprint of any successful SEO campaign.

Here are some of the more common mistakes that I see people make with their keyword research. Continue reading

Content Marketing for the Talent-Impaired

Posted by Dr. Pete

Minimalist Roger MozbotThere’s a reason people balk at content marketing – it’s hard. Not only do we have to be marketers, but now we’re supposed to be subject-matter experts, writers, and designers? Sure, we can hire it out, and sometimes we should, but there’s something to be said for crafting a piece of content entirely on your own. It’s not just ego – it’s your vision and only you really understand what you want in the finished product. Continue reading

Linkscape Updates and Wireframes/Feedback on New Task List PRO Feature

Posted by randfish

As you may have seen, Linkscape has just updated with a brand new index crawled primarily in early August. This means there’s new data in the web app, in Open Site Explorer, the Link Intersect tool and the mozBar (note: the new Firefox 6 caused a bunch of issues w/ our toolbar displays, so it will be another week or so before it’s re-compatible with this version).

In Linkscape’s previous index, we focused a bit more on crawling large, powerful, important domains more deeply at the expense of some smaller, low mozRank sites on the fringes of the web. This time, we’re trying to compromise a bit with an index that’s a bit more balanced – it’s still quite large; 51 billion URLs (vs. prior index sizes in the 38-42 billion URL range), but contains more unique root domains – 98 million vs. 91 million in the prior index. Continue reading

Data: Identify Yourself Authoritatively for More Followers

Posted by danzarrella

This post was originally in YOUmoz, and was promoted to the main blog because it provides great value and interest to our community. The author’s views are entirely his or her own and may not reflect the views of SEOmoz, Inc.

For more data on social media and busting of unicorns-and-rainbows social media myths, be sure to register for the Science of Social Media webinar that is being held on Tuesday, August 23rd at 2:00pm EST. This webinar is actually going to be certifed as the largest online marketing seminar ever by the Guinness World Records folks.

The easiest social media myth to bust is “don’t call yourself a guru.” Proponents of this myth argue that self labeling yourself as an expert makes you sound pretentious. Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t. But the data clearly shows that telling your audience why they should listen to you absolutely works to increase your reach.

When I first started analyzing Twitter account data, one of the first things I noticed is that a surprising number of accounts don’t include profile pictures, bios or homepage links. But when I looked at the number of followers accounts with and without those things have on average, I found huge differences.

It may sound pretty obvious, but users who’ve taken the time to identify themselves with a bio, picture and link tend to have many more followers than those who haven’t taken that time. The above graph shows the effect of including a photo, but the effect is the same with bios and links. In real life and in social media, if I know who you are, I’m much more likely to listen to what you have to say.

Taking the identify yourself suggestion a step further, I analyzed common words found in Twitter bios. I found that users who included authoritative words like “official,” “founder,” and the dreaded “guru” tended to have more followers than the average Twitter user.

Once I know who you are, if you’re someone important I’m even more likely to want to hear what you have to say. If you’ve founded a company or authored a book, I’m interested in what you think.

Social media isn’t that different from the offline world. Introduce yourself, tell us who you are and why we should listen to you.  

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Brand Loyalty in a Nutshell

Brand Loyalty

Understand and Power up your Social Media!

Every relationship needs to have some sort of feedback to keep it alive. Social media has made the relationship with customers and prospects to a whole new level. Before the internet and Social Media the idea of a successful brand revolved around deliverance and there was word of mouth to attract more customers, but now, besides being able to satisfy our customer’s demands, there’s the idea of a brand being more than that, it’s about creating some kind of friendship that keeps money flowing from your customer’s hand to your business.

That’s what Brand Loyalty is about.

Has it ever happened to you that when you go shopping for something you go straight to your favorite brand, almost overseeing the others? Have you stopped and tried to figure out why everytime apple comes out with a new product there’s tons of people lining up to get them? Well, those are clear examples of brand loyalty right there.

In today’s highly competitive environments, improving consumers’ loyalty to brands permits marketers to maintain a comfortable and lasting position in the marketplace.

For this reason I’ve brought an infographic from the folks at “get satisfaction” that will give you more reasons to get your social media to full gear and get you loyal customers.

Continue reading