Thursday, July 31, 2008

17 Google Tips for Web Businesses (Google Analytics, Google AdSense, and Google AdWords)

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Whether you're a first-time blogger or you've owned a Web site for many years, chances are you're not doing it just for fun. Mostly everyone wants to make money with their online venture, or at least gain lots of exposure. If this is the case, then you may want to opt for some Google tools to track your success.

If one of your objectives is to have a lot of eyeballs on your site, you may want to set up an account with Google Analytics, so that you can track your Web site's referrals and run traffic reports. Next, you'll likely want to choose which advertisements are relevant to your site's content by using Google AdSense. This way, you can earn money every time a visitor clicks on these ads. (Yes, real money!) Finally, Google AdWords will help you customize your ads and choose the right keywords to make your site search-friendly.

The idea of using these tools may seem a bit overwhelming at first. That's why we asked the Google experts to provide PC Magazine with a list of tips for using Analytics, AdSense, and Adwords. Study them, because they may just help your Web site grow and profit.

Google Analytics Tips

Google Analytics lets you track your Web site's referrals, ads, and e-mail promotions.

1. Get the basics out of the way. Defining basic terms will help Web site owners and Webmasters with using the Web analytics tools.

  • "Visits" is the number of sessions on a Web site, the number of times someone interacted with a site.
  • "Bounce Rate" is the percentage of single-page visits or number of visitors who left instantly from the entrance page.
  • "Page View" is the instance that a page is loaded by a browser.
  • "Average Time on Site" is how long visitors stay on a site.
  • "% New Visits" is how many sessions or interactions were from first-time visitors.

2. Understand traffic sources. Once you get the basics, find out where people are coming from.

  • "Direct Traffic" is composed of visitors coming to a Web site by typing in the URL of that Web site or from a bookmark. Some people also call this "default traffic" or "ambient traffic."
  • "Referring URLs" are other Web sites sending traffic to a Web site. These can be from banner ads or campaigns, and they can include blogs or affiliates that link to a site.
  • "Search Engines" are—you know—Google, Yahoo, MSN, Ask, and others. This subset includes both organic and paid (PPC/SEM) traffic.
  • "Other" means campaigns that have run: e-mail, direct marketing, and so on.

3. Determine what reports mean the most. Learn how to read data and make use of reports.

  • Look for trends and see where growth is coming from in the last three to six months. Is it from free traffic? Paid traffic? Have efforts to get people through other channels succeeded?
  • Drill down to specific Web sites that send traffic and, of course, keywords and key phrases that are sending traffic. Both of those help make sense of customer intent.
  • Improve pages that need attention. Pages with a high "Bounce Rate" are not delivering on the promise that drives customers to a site.
  • Make sure an ad campaign's keywords are not leading to high bounce rates and are delivering on an intended action or conversion.
  • Search for surprises in your data, such as unexpected or unusual patterns.
  • Identify and label goal pages in order to calculate return on investment.

4. Walk in their shoes. Experience a Web site as a visitor.

  • Look for clusters of heavy clicks, links that ultimately drive high conversions and items that connect with people. Do more people convert on a site if they click on product comparison on the homepage, or do they go directly to a product page?
  • Follow the heavy clicks and see what people do next.
  • Check out referrers to each page. It may explain bounce and exit rates.

5. Focus on outcomes. Measure and evangelize your data, and take action.

  • Identify needed improvements to your pages.
  • Consider merchandising, cross-sell and up-sell opportunities.
  • Answer the question, why does a Web site exist? Then go through the four steps mentioned above to identify the two or three key metrics that help measure those outcomes.

Google AdSense Tips

With Google AdSense, choose which ads are relevant to your site's content, and you can earn money every time a visitor clicks on them.

1. First off, you must have launched a Web site with acceptable content and a valid URL. If you don't have a Web site, you can use Google's free programs: Page Creator or Blogger (, Then, sign up for an AdSense account and you are on your way.

2. Make sure your site is attractive by customizing the ads to your site. For instance, sites with white backgrounds should use ads with a gray background, as well as use colors in ads that already exist on the page.

3. Place ads on the best location on the page. One of the best locations is in line with your content.

4. Create a lot of content and add fresh unique content regularly. Sites with the most pages and content have more opportunities for ads and clicks. A site with 10 pages won't make nearly as much money as a site with 50 or 500 pages of relevant content.

5. Promote your Web site by emailing friends for word-of-mouth, and submit your site to all search engines so content will be indexed.

Google AdWords Tips

Create your own ads and choose powerful keywords for your site using Google AdWords.

1. Know your audience. Precision is the key to search advertising with programs like Google AdWords. You want to reach the right users at the right time. Take a good look at the products and services you're selling and the customers who are buying.

2. Identify your goals. Once you have a clear sense of your business, stay focused on how to reach your customers. You'll need to know your ultimate goal so you can measure success. Structure each campaign based on a simple, overarching goal such as a category, product line (coffee, tea, or machines), or theme (seasonal or promotional).

3. Choose powerful keywords. Choosing keywords is both an art and a science. Start brainstorming by expanding your list as broadly as possible, and then narrow your focus. Try to think like your users do. Understand which keywords work best for you and increase your bid on those words to maximize your return.

4. Write "gotta-click" ads. It's time to write the ads that users will see when they search on your keywords—the ads that will make them feel they must click on your ad to learn more. Typically, you'll have three short lines of text with which to grab your potential customers' attention. To get your ad right, try these tips:

  • Include your keywords in your title and description.
  • Convey key product benefits.
  • Get to the point quickly.
  • Write copy that includes a strong call to action, such as "buy now" or "sign up today."
  • Direct users to the landing page that most relates to your ad.

5. Hit the right users with the right ads. Once you know your potential customer, you can target individual campaigns to reach your audience. Write and target ads in a variety of languages if you have a global business. You can also target a particular geographic area, such as a region that your business serves.

6. Track down to the last customer. After your campaign goes live, measure its results regularly. Keep a close watch on your account statistics, review your own Web logs, and use conversion tracking software (available for free through some advertising programs).

7. Test. Adapt. Thrive. Continually review what you've set up, keeping in mind that there's always room for improvement, and that the online advertising environment is dynamic. Don't be afraid to make changes and try new things.


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