Digital marketing news

periodic table of google analytics

Google Analytics under a chemical perspective: the periodic table (free pdf download)

Can periodic tables be considered infographics? Whatever your answer is, what I am going to present here reminds me of the SEO periodic table published some time ago (and constantly updated).
It is an useful overview that can help beginners to spot whatever has not been considered into their work/analysis/knowledge. 
Have a look at the elements of such an interesting visual guide about Google Analytics main features seen from a ‘chemical’ perspective. It has been made and published by the certified GA expert Jeff Sauer @ Jeffalytics.
GA elements have been splitted into four main categories: Product, Metrics, Reports, and Features.
Are you aware of all its elements? Anything missing?

Little update – On 20th Feb Google Analytics has  redesigned its UI again. Accounts are now listed on a dropdown menu placed in the top right corner.

Guido Barilla apologies

PR on SERP: why copywriters should work with SEO guys. Barilla epic fail


Guido Barilla apologies

Guido Barilla video apologies. Too late.

26 September, morning. Guido Barilla, co-owner of the famous Parma-based pasta maker, during a live radio interview (La Zanzara, Radio24), proudly claim that gay people would never appear on its brand advertisement because he and his company will always support ‘traditional’ families. After being provoked by the speakers on this topic, he replies that anyone who doesn’t agree with his view can eat other pasta. After few minutes twitter tags #boicottabarilla, #barilla and #boycottbarilla became trend topics (#tt) in Italy. A lot of criticism raise also on Facebook and blog comments. Few hours later images and video parodies start to populate the social environment and later expand on the web. In a couple of hours after his radio interview, Guido Barilla gain the home page of popular online newspaper and, consequently, the top news on Google News. Some direct competitors (e.g. Buitoni, Garofalo, Misura, Bertolli shown below, etc.) took the occasion to declare their open minded point of view and their ironic but strong replies got viral immediately. A double damage.

Bertolli after barilla fail

Bertolli is one of Barilla’s competitors that has taken advantage of Guido Barilla fail with an immediate viral reply.

Too late to repair. A couple of brief textual apologies on Facebook and on Twitter did not seem enough. Two days later (28/9) Guido Barilla recorded a short video (about 1 minute, in Italian, where he looks quite unsecure in comparison with his radio interview). He sent apologies to everyone that felt offended by his previous declaration, saying that he must learn a lot about the contemporary concept of family. Money comes before personal point of views.

Still not enough. What is the most immediate place where you can write something that must be there for everyone curious to read? You might think of twitter, a twitter cover, a facebook cover, your home page. No. It is the SERP (search engine result page). Many people search for the company to find out how it reacts. And SERP is a crucial area where to place a reply that will be immediately noticed by everyone.

How to communicate through SERP? Well, first of all you must do a great SEO to rank on top, possibly before your detractors that are not just competitors. After a fail everyone is potentially your enemy.

Barilla ranks number one and took the occasion to communicate through two SERP channels that are page title and description, as seen in the picture below.

PR through SERP: Barilla fail signals are everywhere.

PR through SERP: Barilla fail signals are everywhere.

This case shows how social is the spark that triggers the fire (on the web). Social is immediate, fast, spread the virus easy and fast everywhere, potentially with no control and can disappear the same way through easy censorship operated by social media platforms (e.g. certain keywords, tags, images, songs, etc.)
The web is slower but slowly burn and can generate unexpected effects in the medium/long term. Predictions are difficult in both cases and correlations too, despite social and web are both integrated, they are two areas of the same environment.

Title, a typical SEO tool, can be used with the power of social for an immediate response, to enforce an official point of view against doubts rising on other channels. Therefore the few words allowed there (70 characters and 156 for description) must be used in the best way, not forgetting the brand that should be highly visible on title to remark the official site distinguished by the rest.

Copywriting and SEO should definitely help each other, in particular during critical times. Memes don’t come from nothing.


Localisation vs English: what’s the best choice?


Internet expands market capabilities but language translation counts and has a cost.

I am going to present in a very simple way a case of International SEO concerning the opportunity to translate a site content to get more customers from specific countries.

What languages to prioritize, English (considered good for most of the countries) or the local? The best answer obviously is “local”, but it has a cost therefore we should measure its effectiveness.

A typical practice is starting to translate content into the most popular languages. It doesn’t mean getting the best translation ROI though, because smaller languages might be more rewarding than popular languages – not least because in their web environment usually there is less competition, both on organic and paid search.

When going international most digital marketers think that English can be good enough to cover most world areas. English is fine, but what’s the value of translating/transliterating/localising content (including URL’s)?

Let’s have a look at a little case concerning an English website that offers its services also to the Vietnamese market.

Context: a company dealing with cars want to explore if English is ok for its web content or not. Translating content has a cost therefore it’s wise to run a small pilot lasting a certain period (e.g. 6 months, to allow enough time for it to be indexed) on a small relevant part of the site (including the conversion funnel). Then it’s time to find out outcomes.

First, let’s have a quick look at the internal situation through the company’s web metrics to understand how local content (Vietnamese) has been performing against original English content:

Vietnamese content beats English content, but look at page value is higher for English.

Vietnamese content beats English content, but look at page value…

At first look it seems clear that local language performs better than English in terms of visits (about 80% overall) and engagement (better bounce rate, lower exit rate). Page value is much lower though. It means that people not speaking English are not willing to ‘convert’? In this case before assuming conclusions it worth having a look at conversion goals to find out if they are relevant or not. It is the crucial step before taking a decision about translating content: we might find out that despite quantity belongs to content written in local language, quality  comes from content written in foreign language.

For example let’s imagine that conversion goals are related to online payments (e.g. visit of an after successful payment page). If in the country local people that do not speak English are not willing to do ecommerce, in comparison with people that speak English and are generally richer more accustomed with innovation, therefore a lower page value for local content should not be a problem: the company should focus more on offline when coming to final conversion, but web content still count a lot in terms of getting more engaged customers in comparison with English.

Now let’s have a look at the external search environment to understand how local keywords are more or less popular than their English

Source: Google Trends

Source: Google Trends

In this case it’s clear that the English word ‘car’ has been losing importance in comparison with local translated keywords (many versions, I had a look at the one that seems the most popular and showed a stable popularity). It’s interesting to note that the English KW is more popular in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) where the Western post-colonial influence is still popular, whilst the local version is highly popular in the capital Hanoi located in the North.

If you find that local language is not rewarding after the pilot, therefore your pages should be carefully 301-redirected to the main content (English). Finally a personal view which I’m sure it’s shared by many: local content should be written by local authors rather than translated. Culture, even the invisible part of it, is a crucial element of the engagement process.


Google giornalismo

E’ Google il miglior giornalista 2013? La rete supera la fantasia, e la stampa

Google giornalismo

Hal Varian, Chief Economist di Google, ha ritirato il premio “E’ Giornalismo” 2013.

“Uno stimolo a cercare una strada che accomuni le esigenze dei nuovi mezzi di comunicazione a quelle del giornalismo più autentico”.

Con questa motivazione  la giuria del premio “È giornalismo” 2013 ha conferito il riconoscimento a Hal Varian, Chief Economist di Google, qualche giorno prima del 15esimo compleanno del motore di ricerca e qualche giorno dopo l’avvio del nuovo ambizioso algoritmo Hummingbird che nei prossimi mesi darà non poco filo da torcere agli esperti di SEO, ancora alle prese con le alchimie di Penguin.

Internet significa democrazia? McLuhan sosteneva che il medium fosse il messaggio. Ora il medium è anche l’autore.
Google – e più in generale la rete – a quanto pare ha portato democrazia nell’informazione, concretizzando un principio costituzionale valido in Italia (e in tante altre cosiddette ‘democrazie’), ma occorre cautela prima di attribuire un’accezione positiva al termine democrazia, soprattutto in riferimento a variabili chiave del giornalismo come la qualità, l’attendibilità e l’imparzialità della notizia.

Chi cerca qualità nell’informazione non la può trovare in un sistema dell’informazione che è il prodotto di una democrazia mistificata alla base attraverso l’informazione stessa.

Io la vedo così: il sistema nel suo complesso è un’iterazione i cui frutti saranno sempre artificialmente alterati in assenza di meccanismi di controllo qualitativo scevri da strutture legali (vedasi l’anacronistico ordine corporativo dei giornalisti) o economiche (vedasi i capitali investiti per dirottare lettori presso le proprie testate).


Notizie = Informazione – Comunicazione. (Fortunatamente) le fonti di informazione  appaiono sempre più il frutto della partecipazione collettiva di un crescente numero di lettori e autori, con sempre minori mediazioni se non dovute all’autorità della fonte (determinata da algoritmi e trucchi per aggirarli, piuttosto che da saccenti commentatori). I neologismi nati in rete (un tempo si sarebbe detto blogosfera ma oggi appare riduttivo, quasi desueto) vengono vulgarizzati nel giro di pochi tweet. Quelli nati sulla carta rischiano di rimanere lì. Non sono più i tempi del darsi all’ippica di Starace o dei goleador di Brera. La rete tra reti (letteralmente, internet), soprattutto grazie all’amplificazione data dalle piattaforme social, ormai integrate pressoché ovunque, è divenuta un marasma nel quale comunicazione e informazione, buone o cattive che siano, si mescolano inevitabilmente. Questo post non è una notizia (e mai potrebbe avere la pretesa di esserlo), ma un commento, eppure una volta indicizzato da un aggregatore, tanto più se postato su una testata giornalistica, appare come una notizia.

In rete siamo tutti giornalisti. Soprattutto fra blogger che si occupano di attualità, vale sempre più il detto: “siamo tutti giornalisti!”, ma in tale campo i veri professionisti continueranno a distinguersi da mediocri e troll iscritti all’ordine solo grazie alla qualità dei loro coraggiosi e difficili approfondimenti, inchieste, dossier (e non dossieraggi, sia chiaro). A mio modesto vedere, i giornalisti professionisti potrebbero essere definiti degli abili (e rapidi) storici contemporanei e gli storici contemporanei a loro volta potrebbero anche essere definiti abili e rapidi geografi umani.

notizieDistinguere l’informazione dal resto spetta al lettore. Anche grazie all’amplificazione di aggregatori customizzabili (come il defunto Google Reader) o precustomizzati (come il sempreverde Google News) i cui contenuti variano a seconda delle scelte pregresse dell’utente – i cookies hanno eroso spazio vitale agli analisti di mercato – quel che resta al di fuori delle poche, valenti “notizie” sulla stampa è costituito da comunicati, opinioni, chiacchericcio, mistificazioni, dossieraggi, vanità, fuffa, gossip e affini, e pubblicità anche velata da content marketing (=markette). Pur essendo stilosi e riportando in calce la firma di un giornalista professionista, che sia sopravvalutato o, come spesso accade, sottopagato (= manovalanza intellettuale), tali tipologie di contenuti non dovrebbero avere alcuna dignità di essere definite giornalismo, neppure dilettante. Eppure compaiono regolarmente, in massa, fra le notizie, oscurando la qualità sempre più difficile da digerire da parte di un’utenza drogata dal sensazionalismo e in cerca di una fruizione caratterizzata da rapidità, superficialità, customizzazione e  lotta  contro una pubblicità sempre più invadente e noiosa.

Sequenzialità vs. caos. Quello che oggi, nell’ambito dell’informazione, probabilmente spaventa di più, è il venir meno della regia palese (vera o verosimile che sia) che un tempo selezionava e/o produceva e ordinava sequenzialmente le informazioni trasformandole in notizie. In assenza di tale guida, le notizie appaiono spurie, degradate a informazioni, mistificate, ripetute, ridondanti, passate di mano, riprese, cancellate. non ci sono più direzioni chiare, ma confuse, in seguito alla sovrapposizione di più regie temporanee, con gradi di autorità estremamente variabili anche in breve tempo (il real-time marketing applicato all’informazione che in casi di fail può causare più danni economici in un giorno di una cattiva gestione operata per anni, vedasi il caso #boicottabarilla ad esempio).

caosForse, in questo caos, diventeremo pazzi (cit. Andrea Aufieri, grande amico e ottimo giornalista, dal cui commento Facebook è partito lo spunto per questo post), ma prima di internet credo che ci fosse stata eccessiva ingenuità nel riporre fiducia in fonti di informazione gravemente alterate da regie palesi, il più delle volte agli ordini di poteri neppure troppo occulti. In Italia stampa di chiesa e/o di partito, Rai politicizzata e berlusconismo insegnano, ma molti continuano a fingere di non aver appreso la lezione.


Tidy up your subdomain and multidomain web metrics with Google Tag Manager


SITUATION Let’s suppose that you have two sites to track, a main site and its subdomain

  • (for example it can be a specific product minisite or an ecommerce platform, a campaign landing page, etc.)

OBJECTIVE You want to monitor both all visits under one main Google Analytics profile (now called view) and also each single site separately. So you are planning to have at least three GA views.

PROCEDURE A standard way to distinguish pages after multidomain tracking can be made through a view where the hostname is added to the URI: this way pages will be distinguished by their hostname (normally absent on GA) as follows:

  • etc…

Here is an alternative approach through Google Tag Manager:

1. Create a GTM container for the whole web property

2. On the container create two different GATC tags, each bringing data to the same GA property ID (UA-xxxxxxxxx-x). You can call GATC-main and GATC-third-level (you can use spaces if you like)

3. Mind the Rules! Each GATC tag need to have a Rule that activate it only when the visitor is on the relative site. For example, GATC-third-level tag will have the following rule:

GTM Rule

The Rule fire the tag only when the visitor is on the thirdlevel domain

4. Now just one more step – the most important – add a virtual page to GATC-third-level:

4.1 Before doing that create a Macro called path (or any other name) to collect URL / Path

GTM URL Path Macro

Add a URL Path Macro on GTM

4.2 Then add it to the Virtual Page Path

GA virtual page path gtm

Collect subdomain metrics under a virtual folder on GA through GTM

PLEASE NOTE – If you don’t follow this step, your pageviews will merge together when having the same name (e.g. index.php pageviews from the main domain will be summed up to index.php pageviews from the subdomain). You can still create separate profiles (views) for each site using a filter that distinguish traffic to the hostname (e.g. mysite vs thirdlevel.mysite) but you will not be able to have the whole view under one profile (mysite + thirdlevel.mysite but differentiated with a virtual folder).

5. change the Rule TO GATC-main tag in order to activate it only when the visitor is on your main domain (not the third-level); no need to add Virtual Page Path to GATC-main tag.

6. Now let’s move from Tag Manager to Analytics and add two more Views to your web property. The default view will collect all metrics (main domain and third-level) whilst two more will be for each site separately.

6.1 You just have to create a new view, e.g. “Main site only” and Filter out all visits that starts with subfolder “/yoursiteonthirdlevel/”

6.2 For the other view “Third-level only” instead the FIlter has to include only subfolder starting with “/yoursiteonthirdlevel/” as shown above:


Apply a filter to your subdomain GA View


PROCEDURE FOR MULTIDOMAIN TRACKING The same procedure is valid also for multidomain tracking

  • etc.

CROSSDOMAIN Don’t forget to add also crossdomain tracking following the procedure suggested by Google to let cookies move across all your funnel. If you don’t take this step, you will not be able to measure campaign performance attributing value to each digital marketing channel. Good luck!

Google Databoard

The continuing r-evolution of Google services/tools and its benefits for the marketing industry: Think Insights & Databoard

Google Databoard

Marketing paid services are struggling against the fact that Google offers the same tools at no cost. From analytical tools to tag management, from videoconferences to market researches, Google is offering to business a wide range of fundamental marketing (and web marketing) tools and services that improve day by day.

For example, Google Tag Manager has been launched silently in October 2012 and “is now (July 2013) serving twice the amount of traffic it was in April 2013”. At the same time, Google is planning to standardise one of GTM’s core features, the Data Layer, through a specific “Customer Experience Digital Data Community” Group born on the W3C site (source: Analytics Blog).

Whilst Google is closing down many services (among the others Wave, Buzz, Reader, Latitude) or reshaping functions and integrating tools – for example website optimizer integrated into Google Analytics, GA Conversions Goals can be imported into Adwords, Adwords remarketing lists can be done through GA and G+ gaining centrality on all aspects, from being considered a top SEO ranking factor to pushing communication through Hangouts – it keeps on launching new services whose strengths are: cool, free, easy, accessible.

A recent site that worth a visit, mostly by marketers and communicators, is Think Insights, a collection of market research for many industries. Among cool examples here’s a Japan-based English language school whose classroom are made through Google Hangouts.

It includes also the Databoard, that “lets you explore insights from Google research studies, share them with others, and create your own custom infographics”. Unfortunately at the moment data are available only for the US.

Through Databoard, as an example, I’ve made for you an infographic showing key facts about use of smartphones in the US (2013). It’s time for you to build your own infographic!



ALtavista UI

July 2013: goodbye Altavista and Google Reader

ALtavista UI

One of the first Altavista UI.

After 14 years, starting from 8th July, the search engine Altavista will be redirected to its current owner Yahoo!.

Altavista used to be the top search engine in many countries until Google took over in 2001.

SE market nowadays is a restricted oligopoly in comparison with the peak of variety between 90s and 2000s but, inside the few ruling brands (Google, Yahoo!, Bing) social media users can gain an important influence for site rankings, based on reputation (something that doesn’t necessarily mean popularity: Panda rulez).

How many people use Google as entry point for other services like Wikipedia, Tripadvisor, Hotels or or your best recipe’s portal? Search engines have been loosing power on many fields but they still work as an entry point: they became a browser rather than a service (and Google Chrome was a great intuition on that sense… it’s weird to think of a Chrome user setting up Bing as standard search engine).

In the same month, another well known and quite popular service, this time in the Google family, closed down: Google Reader. Apparently it wasn’t as much profitable as Google expected but, IMHO, its closure is a move by Google towards big publishers that want to impose their paid channels rather than letting users choice their best blogs.
Google has launched Currents, an app to subscribe and read popular newspapers/magazines (webzine sounds too old nowadays that press became online-based). Other services, similar to Google Reader, are chasing the empty arena, starting from Feedly that took the highest share of users.

Someone still defending printed press risks to jump to a digital stage where feed readers are obsolete.

To find out more about destiny of old search engines read this interesting post by Dennis Sullivan on Search Engine Watch.

Apple iOS7 Home Screen

Does the iPhone battery last less than 2 hours with iOS 7?

In this video a guy is presenting the new iOS 7 whose beta has been released by Apple on 10 June 2013.

I find quite relevant the fact that when the video started, its iPhone 5 battery level was 63% and at the end, after just 10 minutes, it was already 55%. It means 8 percentage points in about 10 minutes which make 48% – let’s say almost 50% – in one hour.

Does it mean that with iOS 7 the battery last only about two hours? Ok, the guy might have an old battery, not fully efficient, but such data are quite scary considering that during the short preso no video have been recorded, no phone calls have been made, no games have been played.

Apple iOS7 Home Screen

Apple iOS7 Home Screen

Facebook Pages, get more likes for free

Facebook business pages: how to bypass paid advertising to get more likes and engagement

Facebook Pages, get more likes for free

This post is for business that own an ecommerce site, a Facebook page and possibly other channels. Nothing unethical or forbidden: it’s just a soft trick to get more likes and engagement avoiding paid advertising.


  1. set up a voucher code (e.g. a 20% discount) for certain or (better) all products on your ecommerce platform
  2. invite your visitors to Like your Facebook page and send a private message with a standard sentence (to avoid confusion with other private messages)
  3. answer them sending the voucher code

Alternatives: make the voucher viral

If you want to be viral instead of sending the voucher code in text use a dedicated landing page on your site, where potential customers can find out the code and also share with their friend a message that replicate the above procedure (Like the page, send a message….)

Alternatives: other promotions instead of vouchers

If you don’t have anything to sell, why not running a similar campaign to send an ebook or a voucher for another company? Many companies already run similar campaigns to get user personal data, but at some point I think that a Facebook like worth more than personal data when they can be unreliable (e.g. unsubscribe after receiving the ebook or using a secondary email opened only to avoid spam), whilst usually a person don’t unlike a page after receiving its ‘present’.

Promote the initiative with a CPC campaign outside Facebook

So far promotional efforts have been free (ok the voucher can be considered a cost, but it comes after a conversion after all). If you have some budget to spend, why not using a CPC campaign outside Facebook? For example, the same landing page can be associated to an AdWords campaign and get three opportunities instead of one.

Usually a CPC campaign is linked to a landing page with some offer. This way it is linked to a landing page that contains

  1. a bunch of products that are ready to be sold
  2. an invite to Like your Facebook page and send a message to receive a voucher (engage)
  3. an invite to share this opportunity with friends, immediately and even after receiving the voucher

And what about getting personal data? 

And what about other personal details like email, city, etc? Well, they will be needed later any way, to activate/benefit the voucher.

Track the voucher!

Don’t use a standard voucher but differentiate depending on what’s the path to get to it. To assign some criteria you can use the standard sentence that users has to send you through a FB Page private message in order to get their voucher:

  1. invite posted on site, blog, social media etc. OR CPC ads – each invite can have a standard sentence depending on criteria you want to track (mostly source/medium)
  2. user to Like FB page
  3. user to send private message using a standard sentence taken in stage 1
  4. Facebook page manager replies sending a textual voucher code or a link to specific landing page with more content and voucher code related to standard sentence