Connect

Aug. 24, 2010 | by James Taylor URL Tools Add-In for Excel

Here in the Natural Search department we use Excel. A lot. And frequently we are taking data from the web (such as from the rather good Open Site Explorer) and manhandling it in order to make more sense of it. As part of this process, it’s often helpful to be able to quickly pull out the domain portion of a URL. For example, let’s say you have a list of URLs like this:

  • http://www.example.com/
  • http://www.icrossing.co.uk/file1.html
  • http://www.icrossing.co.uk/file2.html
  • http://example.com/another_file.html
  • http://www.acompletelydifferentdomain.com/

You might find yourself in a position where want to take this list and reduce it to just the domain portions like this:

  • example.com
  • icrossing.co.uk
  • icrossing.co.uk
  • example.com
  • acompletelydifferentdomain.com

It’s possible to use an Excel formula to do this. Here’s one I found by searching:

=IF(LEFT(LEFT(SUBSTITUTE(A1,”http://”,”"),FIND(“/”,SUBSTITUTE(A1,”http://”,”")&”/”)-1),4)=”www.”,MID(LEFT(SUBSTITUTE(A1,”http://”,”"),FIND(“/”,SUBSTITUTE(A1,”http://”,”")&”/”)-1),5,256),LEFT(SUBSTITUTE(A1,”http://”,”"),FIND(“/”,SUBSTITUTE(A1,”http://”,”")&”/”)-1))

This is fine, but as you can see the formula is rather long and combining this with any further functions would be a real headache. To try to solve this, I wrote an add-In for Excel that adds a handy function to perform this step (along with a few others).


Continue reading…

Aug. 06, 2010 | by Tamsin Hemingray What can brands learn from the best digital publishers?

The phrase “brand as publisher” seems to be as commonly used in digital marketing circles as “what’s the ROI of social?” at the moment (which is great news if you’re an online content specialist like me!) Even hardened SEO-focused, direct marketing types are eyeing up the “softer” side of online content and wondering whether they shouldn’t be getting a piece of the publisher action – if only as a means of creating “link bait” and pleasing Google’s algorithm. It means that Content Strategy becomes even more relevant and essential for our clients. We can take a close look at what is working for other publishers, and take a long hard look at their own content, assessing what is going to work for them. And what isn’t.

If your brand is serious about becoming a publisher – whether on your own site or elsewhere on the web, you can learn a huge amount from the people who are creating and delivering the best content and services on the web.

I’ve asked the members of the Content team here at iCrossing to describe their favourite websites – and explain why it works for them on a personal level. It’s a good way to share our ideas on how to match content delivery to user need and business objectives, which is what content strategy boils down to. So here, then, is the iCrossing Content Team’s Top Websites List. If you’re thinking of getting going with a content strategy in the second half of this year or planning for 2011, it’s a good place to start if you want to understand best practice.


Continue reading…

Jul. 30, 2010 | by Adam Boulton 7 ways Google Analytics can help when redesigning your website

Your analytics data is nearly as important as the financial accounts of your business when it comes to making a decision about your website. Your analytics data helps you understand how effective your site’s marketing, design and content is. And just as you wouldn’t hire more staff without being sure you have the budget for it, you shouldn’t redesign your website without understanding what your customers do when they are on it.

Below are seven ways Google Analytics can be used to help make the right decisions during a redesign.

1. What browsers and windows sizes should we support?

When designing your site you want to ensure that the majority of your customers can view your website and convert without browser versions or sizes preventing this.

I’d personally think that you should design your website in a size that at least 95% of your visitors can see without having to scroll horizontally. An easy way to check what browser sizes your current visitors are using is to go the Screen resolutions report under Visitors > Browser capabilities > Screen resolutions.

By comparing to site average you can also see if any particular screen resolution(s) has a significantly higher bounce rate


In the graph above you can see that the wider screen resolutions are actually performing much worse – this could be addressed by using a liquid layout or JavaScript to position content.

A quick way to check if your site has browser compatibility is to look at the browser report and compare each type to the site average, for the website below it is clear that there is poor support for safari.


Continue reading…

Jul. 28, 2010 | by Simon Mustoe Does human behaviour make the social web a retention game for brands?

I am mightily impressed by a recent presentation from Paul Adams, a senior user experience researcher at Google. Entitled ‘The real life social network’, it examines how people connect, relate and communicate with each other, and what this means for experience designers online.

As someone who works agency-side I started thinking specifically about what the implications of Paul’s observations of human social behaviour are for brands, especially those taking part in the social web. Intriguingly, it suggests that social media is a customer retention, not a customer acquisition, game.


Continue reading…

Jul. 26, 2010 | by Priyanka.Dalvi Ranking higher in Local Search Results

Since Google started including local entries in natural results for location-specific search queries, local search optimisation has been gaining more attention. And with Google allotting more spaces to its Map-packs, pushing the traditional results below the fold, getting listed in the local search space is becoming crucial.

I always thought location was the only factor deciding the ranking of the map listing; the better optimised the map is to the location keyword, the higher are its chances to rank on top. However, according to the latest edition of David Mihm’s Local Search Ranking Factors, there are more points to take into consideration. The most positive ones are summarised below:-


Continue reading…

Jul. 23, 2010 | by Antony Mayfield Brands need to understand users’ privacy concerns

A recent study in the US found that more than half of social network users are worried about their privacy.

In the main, privacy concerns seem to focus on the complexity of managing your public profile on Facebook and other services. However, with a growing awareness of broader privacy issues by  mainstream web users is beginning to invite more attention to the ways brands respect and support their customers needs in this area.

Even activities as apparently benign as listening to social media conversations about your brand are being questioned by some in the media (see the recent Daily Mail story about web monitoring). Now MPs are portraying companies “trawling Facebook for negative comments” as being “something worthy of the secret police”, understandable in a totalitarian state but unacceptable in ours (perhaps we should ask how many UK Government departments are monitoring social media for mentions of their policy areas).

Whatever our opinions on these stories, its clear that brands need to bear in mind privacy issues in how they develop their online campaigns and especially those where user participation or individuals’ data is involved.

Here are some thoughts to bear in mind:


Continue reading…

Jul. 22, 2010 | by Gregory Lyons Its summer, time to go to the movies…

Summer is in full swing and down here in Brighton that means weekends on the beach, having a drink in the sun and going to the cinema to watch the big summer movies. Being a data geek ninja I couldn’t help but take a look at where cinema search was most popular and who out of the main players ruled that space. A big thanks to Amo Bassan Head of Design at iCrossing UK for creating these infographics.

(click for a larger image)

Above we looked at how the top six cinema chains rank for search in each location.
Continue reading…

Jul. 19, 2010 | by jhawkins The importance of great content

Writing good content for your site is not a new concept. Content is king after all. However with Googles recent shift in gear, (cranking up its indexing to Caffeine level) to cope with the sheer weight of content being produced online, there is an ever more compelling need to be sure the content you produce is quality and visible amongst the endless quagmire of mediocrity and spam.

Caffeine is “a robust foundation that makes it possible for us to build an even faster and comprehensive search engine that scales with the growth of information online”. What does this mean at this stage? Well exactly what it says on the tin: Caffeine is in it’s infancy but has been built with the future of ever increasing content creation in mind.


Continue reading…

Jul. 14, 2010 | by tbrandon Content strategist as therapist

I’ve always fancied myself as a bit of a therapist. My friends who come to me with problems (you know who you are) only fuel the fantasy. And now that I’m in a new role here at iCrossing UK as Content Strategist, I’m off to buy a chaise lounge and a posh-looking clipboard.

Just a couple of weeks into the job and I’ve seen it already: A client has lots of great content, but it’s not quite doing what they want it to, like engage readers, generate social activity, lead to registrations or subscriptions, etc. But just like in therapy, the first step toward recovery is acknowledging you have a problem in the first place.


Continue reading…

Jul. 09, 2010 | by Gregory Lyons What happens when you stop bidding on Brand?

Recently we performed some analysis for a high street retailer around what happened when you stopped bidding on your brand terms. Would the lost Paid Search visits be ‘soaked up’ in Natural Search (commonly referred to as the cannibalisation effect) or would they just be lost? We found the results quite interesting so we thought we’d share them.

Methodology

In order to perform this analysis a two week benchmark period and a test period were set up. The periods were selected to be as similar as possible, both Monday – Sunday periods, however some seasonal variation was inevitable, therefore we analysed the traffic for non brand terms for the two periods to see if there was any change. The results showed a 5.1% uplift in the second period over the first, therefore a 5.1% uplift was added to the first period to normalise the results.


Continue reading…