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What is GA4? The New Google Analytics


30th May 2022

Google Analytics is one of the most important – and powerful – tools in the arsenal of online businesses. In the digital realm data is king: knowing who is viewing what, how often, when and to what ends matters. Information gives you options: improve what is working, ditch what isn’t; aim more at the audiences that are engaging with you, expand into new sectors. You can do all of this best when armed with knowledge.

Google Analytics provides that intelligence. Once its code is installed on a website, it can track a huge range of metrics. Google Analytics gives real-time access to everything you might want to know about its performance. This includes page views, bounce rates, unique visits, conversions. Businesses rely on Google Analytics; it’s their anchor in the often fast-moving digital world.

Google Analytics is also itself changing, and soon. You need to keep track of how.

Google Analytics 4, the search giant’s latest iteration of its hugely popular site-tracking service, is different in several key respects. Underneath the hood, the service’s infrastructure has completely altered – Google is storing and processing data in a different way to the manner employed by the prior version, Universal Analytics. The effect of this – and for businesses that’s what matters – is that reports are being displayed differently … but also able to deliver new and different data.

For example, “bounce rates” are now “engaged sessions”: Analytics will no longer tell you who leaves your website after a short period, but who stays and why. When you think about it, this is more useful: bounce rates could only every tell you that a site wasn’t sufficiently engaging N% of your visitors; “engaged sessions” tells you what about a site is engaging the rest. This is consistent with GA4’s “event-based” approach: rather than set goals to measure users against, GA4 offers a set of events (outbound clicks, scrolls, video engagements) that you can choose to monitor.

Likewise, GA4 will not store users’ IP addresses – and while this may seem like a loss of data, in fact it will help businesses comply with privacy laws. Indeed, GA4 in general is big on user privacy – and is retooling Analytics for an era of mobile viewing, widespread app use, and a focus on data security. With all the changes to how cookies are handled and what information various platforms such as Apple’s OS and iOS report back to Google by default, Analytics needed to change – and GA4 is their answer.

That means there is no choice: businesses will have to switch over, though the previous version of Analytics will keep logging data until July 1st, 2023. You’ll not want to wait until then, however: GA4 will not include your historical data, so you’ll need to set-up and run GA4 now if by 2023 you want to compare and contrast 2022 data within the GA4 dashboard. Your old data will remain accessible in your Universal Analytics dashboard for at least six months, but you’ll want to avoid as much switching between platforms as possible.

You’ll also need to get used to GA4 ahead of it becoming the only “live” version of Analytics: because of the various ways it now processes data, its reports do look rather different to Universal Analytics’ read-outs. They’re not immediately user-friendly – they take some learning. Use the run-up Google is giving us all: get logged in now so you’re future-proofed, and be a GA4 whizz by the time UA is no more.

Analytics is relied on by many businesses, since it provides information – a centre of gravity – in an always-changing digital landscape. Now Analytics itself is changing, and quite significantly, businesses should get ahead of the curve – be aware of the above, and get using GA4. The best way to keep your data clear is to understand how to interact with GA4 now – and what is happening to Google Analytics.

If you need any help with this, please just drop us a line.

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The Importance of Favicons – And How To Get Them Right


4th May 2020

Take a look at the Bookmarks bar in your browser. Next to the each of the websites you’ve marked to return to later, there will be a small square image. In the case of the Image+ blog, it’s our logo; a lot of sites will be similar. That’s a favicon.

The favicon also appears in the tabs within your browser – when you have multiple sites open, each tab is marked with the title of the page … and that small square image again. It’s a great visual prompt to remind you of which sites you have open, right?

The power of the favicon is in this branding and this convenience. People often have huge numbers of bookmarks and numerous browser tabs open at any one time. Your favicon helps your site stand out from this herd.

From browser history to search results, the favicon has become a ubiquitous means of associating a website with its wider brand – and giving users a quick visual cue about the sites they’re visiting. Brands are powerful when they evoke responses in users; the favicon is a way to conjure the brand associations a business has earned in a quick, clear and convenient manner.

That’s why your business needs to use them. If your website doesn’t adopt a favicon, anyone who bookmarks it or opens it in another tab, searches for it or scans through their browsing history for it, will have a harder time finding it – and that’s bad news for any business. Consider these four factors:

  1. Brand awareness. The humble favicon is a stealthy and effective brand ambassador for any business. It is shown on Google Chrome search results page, shown in tabs, shown in favourites, and even appears as on icon on mobile phones when sites are bookmarked. It can embed your brand in your users’ online experience – that’s really valuable penetration.
  2. Brand transparency and trust. Associating your logo with any online content you produce is a way of signing it, a means of signalling that your business approves the message and stands by it. That goes a long way to establishing trust. And, once that trust has been achieved, you can leverage it: your icon against any content will attract loyal users to those pages. It’s a virtual circle.
  3. User experience. Users reward brands that help them live easier lives. We’ve all been guilty of opening lots of pages and suffering from the dreaded “tab bloat”; the favicon, as small as it is, becomes in this situation an invaluable friend, letting us quickly scan a list of pages for the brands we trust. Enhancing user experience in this way will ensure that your customer base rewards you in turn.
  4. File format. You want your brand to look professional – and that means your favicon needs to be crisp. The minimum size for a favicon is sixteen pixels square. Don’t fall for this – go for high-resolution imagery that will appear bright and vibrant in every context. Most designers now favour the PNG format for favicons, but it’s by no means the only option – be aware of the file format choices ahead of you.

All this simply means that favicons are important and you need to think about them. If you have more questions about the favicon after reading this blog, then great! You should do. Drop us a line or give us a call to discuss the importance of favicons – and how to get them right!

Contact Image Plus for Web Design & Development

If you need web design or development, then speak to our friendly experts. Our web developers are based in Coventry, Warwickshire, and are always ready to help. Please feel free to contact us and speak to one of our website design specialists.

Call us on 024 7683 4780 or send us an email at info@image-plus.co.uk.

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Top Four Favourite WordPress Plugins to Boost your SEO


27th April 2020

We love WordPress: it’s intuitive, flexible, and endlessly upgradeable. In many ways, it’s the ideal Content Management System for your website: really powerful and full of customisation potential, but also slick and straightforward when you need it.

That’s why WordPress websites are so popular online: more websites than not are powered by the platform, and this alone is a token of how good WordPress is. People choose it because it makes websites look and feel good – but also because it makes websites easy to build and manage.

That’s good news on two fronts: your users will keep coming back to a site that’s fun and easy to use, and you’ll be able to keep it fresh and up-to-date. All this assumes, though, that you have an audience. What if you don’t? And, even if you do, surely you want to grow it, right?

That’s where websites alone aren’t enough. You also need to optimise your site for search engines, so that new users can easily find your products and services by typing in the key phrases most relevant to your business.

Search Engine Optimisation (or SEO) requires a lot of small tweaks to a number of elements on your site – and which tweaks and to what effect change all the time, as the search engines update and alter their algorithms. That can make for a lot of work.

There is a wide range of plugins for WordPress that can help. That’s another of the platform’s strengths – as open-source software, anyone can write great plugins for a WP site that expand its functionality. The only problem with this is that it can be difficult to choose the best plugins for the job at hand! 

Often, you need more than one plugin working in tandem to get the best results. This is particularly true when it comes to SEO, which requires so many different boxes to be ticked for the best results. That’s why we suggest the suite of our following four favourite WordPress plugins for SEO. 

Together, this fantastic four will get your site shooting to the top of Google (or Yahoo!, or Bing Or DuckDuckGo … you get the point):

  1. Yoast SEO’s free version helps with your on-page SEO, from writing enticing meta-descriptions to crafting easily readable copy. Purchase the premium version and you can get extra benefits including suggestions for internal linking and automatic redirection tool.
  2. Redirection by John Godley is great when you need to tweak your URL to make it user- (and search) – friendly, but don’t want to break any referral links you’ve already generated.
  3. WP Super Cache will store a version of your website for faster page load – which will, in turn, earn you serious search engine brownie points.
  4. Compress JPEG & PNG images by TinyPNG reduces the size of your images without compromising their quality – and this, too, helps improve your page speed (remember, too, that alt tags and image titles really matter to SEO!).

And there you have it: your recipe for SEO success on WordPress. Or, to put it another way, our top four favourite WordPress plugins to boost your SEO!

Contact Image Plus for SEO Management 

If you need further assistance with advanced Search Engine Optimization, PPC, or other services then speak to our friendly experts. We are based in Coventry, Warwickshire and are always ready to help. Please feel free to contact us and speak to one of our specialists.

Contact us on 024 7683 4780 or send us an email at info@image-plus.co.uk.

 

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