Good Starter Questions for Organizing an A/B Test

A/B testing and optimization does not always sound like a sexy subject to talk with someone (if that someone is not an analytics practitioner). Neither is going to the dentist for some people.
But just as people do make an appointment with a dentist, managers need to make an appointment with their analytics teams to understand what content and app features are working to attract customers.  Thus managers need to have discussions about testing and optimization plans.
In starting discussions about testing and optimization,  a few simple questions are worth asking.
  • What testing is needed in the overall digital strategy? What website elements, qualities or user actions are repeatable to warrant testing and optimization?  These questions highlight what the test is meant to accomplish – essential asking “What is the test for?” The questions also highlight what element in a website or app is being questioned.
  • Which internal organization owns the Testing / Optimization process? In short, who is running the test and responsible for the reporting?
  • How can this testing support the analytical needs of the marketing campaign?  In other words, how does this support a goal for the organization?
  • What obstacles hinder testing?  What resources are needed?
Consider the following as those thought-starter questions that can lead to a healthy discussion and decisions on how to best approach a digital presence for an organization.

How To Keep Site Performance Tip Top – From 301s and 302s to Page Loads

301 and 302 redirects
301 and 302 redirects can create new challenges in making content appear in search queries

Building a customer experience that includes a website means more than being visible online. It also means managing the negative aspects of a digital presence – removing duplicate pages and staying alert for usage of a business name.

To do this, consider the following tips to keep a digital presence as pristine as possible.

  • Examine 302 redirects – make sure that the temporary redirects are managed correctly. That means examining how the pages appear in a search query, because a older page that is deprecated against the newer, temporary page can be viewed as obsolete and thus ignored by the search engine, though there are signs that 302s won’t impact pagerank (Google just explained this, according to Search Engine Land)
  • Be leery of 301 chains – numerous permanent redirects in a series can seem spammy to search engines, leading to delisting on search engines. It also impacts the latency for a site by creating unnecessary page calls to a server.
  • Make sure the site map is up to date to reflect the site pages and associated sites.
  • Examine how the site is loading with page speed reports. Pingdom and Yottaa can examine how a site loads relative to a server. These can indicate fishy server calls that slow down a site experience.
  • Audit the site for duplicate pages. Siteliner offers a free and premium tool for identifying duplicate content as well as broken links.
  • Be aware of online copies of your site text. Use a plagiarism checker like Copyscape to discover other sites that may be mimicking your site. The results can yield potential phishing sites and well as sites that scrape content.
  • Keep Google Alerts for usage of your company name, products, and other brand as needed. Alerts can help you discover new allies for your business, as well as nefarious sites that have scraped and copied the site.
  • Use the Page Load Speed report within Google Analytics to note spikes in page loads. Increasing the page load can encourage site visitors to leave a site rather than view other pages or material.
Polymer.js example

How Semantic Search Relates Online Content to Customers

Polymer.js example
This HTML mark up is a technical example of how semantic search works. It calls out specific parts in the code, like this callout designed to address a version of JavaScript called Polymer.  Although JavaScript case like this is not an influence on SEO, most semantic search is meant to address highlighting specialty HTML elements in a search query.

Search engines have subtly changed their methodologies over the past few years. One methodology that has yet to see widespread adoption has already experienced its most significant change yet.

Back in 2013, an ontology library site, Good Relations, announced an alignment of its markup structure definitions with those used on schema.org, a metatag library. The end result is increased consistency of definition usage among businesses, and a wider shared usage of structure markup among web developers and search engine optimization practitioners.

This merger occurred thanks to increasing search discovery needs for digital media. From music to webinar presentations, businesses have added numerous content to appear when potential customers research product and service information online.

The content has led marketing managers to give a refreshed look at their optimization strategies through apply semantic search. Semantic search involves organizing keywords and content with website element protocols and structure markup language. The organization makes the pages and site content more visible to nuanced search engine queries.

Good Relations and schema.org support separate protocols for semantic search. Schema.org contains metadata meant for HTML5, an update of the venerable website structure code language positioned for future website development. Good Relations contains RDF – resources description framework that has proven utility for current retailers and E-commerce sites.

One strategic benefit for managers is learning enhanced ways to translate potential client language to its digital properties. If businesses within a given industry agreed to ontology for services and needs, those businesses can adjust their content tags to position its content to potential query results from those businesses. Imagine a video on better financing for construction projects – With a metadata protocol, now imagine that video section appearing in a search query run by a construction firm.

That exact example lies at the heart of HTML5. HTML5 added video- and music-related tag elements, developed to increase media exposure to relevant search engine queries. Other tagging protocols can help search engines recognized a group of authors – an aid to marketing teams leveraging personal brands of its members online (You can learn about what Google accepts in structured markup here – Bing also has a structured markup guide). The fundamentals of digital marketing is increasingly shifting toward strategic data ownership, which is supported through content marketing and semantic search.

With the schema.org – Good Relations alliance, digital marketers and website developers can optimize metadata and RDF information across varied content. The success of such an effort will create a true application of semantic search’s definition – the science of actual customer’s language.

Analytics Tips: How non-techies can monitor branding for small businesses and non-profit organizations

Google Analytics Affinity Reports
Reports like Affinity Report can be set in the dashboard for quick referral of traffic quality.

Monitoring your brand. It’s a phrase brought up by marketers, yet no one thinks about how non profits or non technically inclined individuals should be monitoring their “brand” online.

Why is this overlook important? Well, the definition of a brand is ”how others remember you”. In general you are asking the public to remember you – for a donation, for purchase a service, or for purchase from your inventory when your nearby competitor has the same product (and these days, everyone online is a nearby competitor!).

So let’s assume that you have added a Google Analytics account to your website. If so, you’re half way to monitoring your data and your brand. To get that other essential half, try the following few starter ideas for digging into the reports without getting too overwhelmed.

  • Schedule a reporting time – minimum once a month review with the analytics reports. Expect more frequency if you are using paid search or other budgeted media for marketing.
  • Set Goals in your analytics account – Set the pages and webpage actions that relate the site to your objectives.
  • Set visits by geography if your business or nonprofit is covering a specific region. Geography reporting can be the easiest to understand, if your business is marketed to certain regions. Review if traffic consistently lined up with where the business is marketing.
  • Look for trends over time. Examining where data comes from will narrow down what actions to take to strengthen or adjust.
  • Look at affinity reports to see what other topics of interest that attracts visitors and are receiving your visitors after they have visited your site. The reports can spark ideas for Adwords campaigns by lifestyle to sites that are suitable partners for increasing exposure to your site and brand.
  • If you are receiving regular reports from an analytic practitioner, ask for the meaning behind a report or metric definition. They should be following along your business at some level, and making connections between the metrics recorded and your business objectives.

The “James Bond” of programming: Javascript And Its Importance To Business Development

James Bond Skyfall Image
If James Bond can be rebooted, as Daniel Craig has done back in 2008, then so can programming languages.  That is the backstory for JavaScript, which has grow in capability and importance since its pop up window days.

JavaScript has been rising in importance for web and app design over the past few years. It’s an old programming language, much like James Bond is an old movie series. But just as Daniel Craig revitalized the series back in 2008 with Casino Royale, culminating in 2015’s Spectre,  JavaScript is being revitalized for a new era of mobile devices and IoT that was not in existence in its 1996 debut in Netscape.

Part of the reason stems from the canvas element in HTML5. Because it is called out in a container, called <canvas>, Javascript can be used to manage the elements. This gives Javascript the capability to manage elements in an unprecedented way, such as data visualization.

Another source is a growing number of Javascript libraries for interacting with the document object model. Originally Javascript was used for pop up windows – to instruct the browser to show another window automatically – or infamously, depending on the content.

But new uses developed, requiring more interaction with the DOM in the browser. The DOM is an operational code within the browser that is accesses to tell the browser how to render a page or another media that appears in a browser.

The business value is the capability for developing browser features that the user can see and interact while cutting calls to a server and reducing time to render a site or app.

A dashboard with visual elements, telling the story of trends that lead to business decisions, is a great example. The data can be called without multiple calls to a server, permitting visualization for tablet devices.

You can read how JavaScript is influencing technology in the following posts:

CMSWire – How To Use JavaScript for App and IoT Development

IOT Solutions – The IoT Ushers In the Ascendance of JavaScript

Also check out this Zimana JavaScript post on coding basics that can help you understand JavaScript better for your website and app development plans.