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A paywall news website

How to remove paywall sources from Google News

The paywall is a tool to restrict access to users who have paid to subscribe to a website.

In recent years it has been incresing among some news sources, despite a massive use of advertising and cookies that can already cover costs.

Ok, quality news has a cost, but users can’t pay for them all. Waiting for an overall solution that allows choising single articles rather than subscribe for the entire source – Google is working on that, will editors agree? – let’s see how to remove some annoying paywall news sources from Google News that are just wasting our time.

 

An annoying news paywall

An annoying paywall

 

Users are free to pay for good quality information but they should also be able to opt for free information. Free does not always mean bad quality. Not at all.

Besides, many sources with paywall are quite biased, mostly posting political propaganda. Others are just bad quality, nothing original. Others are full of annoying ads and popups. All these can be sufficient reasons why some users want to hide specific sources (it doesn’t matter if free or paid).

You can bypass the problem by deleting cookies but if you’re tired of some specific sources it’s time to hide them forever, on your Google account.

If you want to filter out some sources from your Google News feed, the world’s most popular news aggregator, there’s a simple way, shown below:

Remove news sources with paywall

Select “Other”

Remove news sources with paywall

Hide news from that specific source

 

Hide (nascondi, in the Italian screenshot) the specific source and you won’t see it anymore. You can still see subdomains though (for example blogs associated to it). They have to be hidden separately.

 

digital marketing

Countdown to Chrome warning for non-https websites

HTTPS is a secure protocol that helps defend your visitors’ info by encrypting knowledge traveling between the internet browser and the server.

SSL protocol

Google AdWords already recommends (and in some cases, requires) that every one URLs use the HTTPS protocol rather than HTTP to shield customers’ personal and money info.

As of April 2018, more than 57% of the Internet’s 137,971 most popular websites have a secure implementation of HTTPS (source: Alexa).

Starting from Chrome 68, expected to be released in July 2018, all HTTP pages will be market as “not secure”. This might cause a significant drop in traffic.

 

Not Secure website on Google Chrome

In terms of SEO, HTTPS is among the top Search Engine ranking factors.

If your website supports HTTPS and you run AdWords campaigns, make sure that the final URLs and mobile final URLs start with HTTPS – you can bulk edit this step wither on the platform, through Adwords editor or API.

If your website doesn’t support HTTPS speak with your webmaster or the CMS administrator and make sure that HTTPS is enabled on your server (double check with your hosting provider), then make sure that all internal links are HTTPS (on WordPress you can force them with specific plugins).

A free SSL service is LetsEncrypt, trusted and supported by the major hosting providers.

Any help? Get in touch!

 

SEO

SEO: 8 top ranking factors for Google in 2017 [infographic]

The Google algorithm keeps on changing regularly, making life harder and harder for SEO experts. Some people assume that SEO is dead, but in fact SEO is alive more than ever. Simply, the old way of doing SEO is dead, or at least it’s not bringing the desired results anymore, whilst a new set of SEO strategies and techniques is rising due to search engine algorithms that become intelligent more than ever.

Here is an interesting infographic, created and designed by Harris Myers, that lists the 8 top factors to keep in mind to rank high on Google SERP in 2017.

 

The Top Google Ranking Factors 2017 (infographic)

 

 

Did you know Google+ Ripples? It helps you monitor shares of a post on Google Plus

Google+ Ripples

+ Ripples for a very popular post by Matt Cuts: “The decay and fall of guest blogging for

UPDATE: Google+ Ripples has been terminated on 20th May 2015.

 

Last 20 January, the Google webspam team leader Matt Cutts posted about decay and fall of guest blogging for SEO. Whatever he says in his blog sound like the Bible for the SEO industry. Despite some times (like the above case) he might change his mind.

The above screenshot taken directly from Google+ Ripples shows the public shares of such popular post on Google+.

Google+ Ripples (in Italian Google+ Eco) creates an interactive graphic of the public shares of any public post or URL on Google+ to show you how it has rippled through the network and help you discover new and interesting people to follow.

Ripples shows you:

  • Who has publicly shared a post or URL and the comments they’ve made
  • How a post or URL was shared over time
  • Statistics on how a post or URL was shared

A link to Ripples for web pages / posts shared through Google+ is now available also in under “Acquisition / Social / Data Hub Activity”

Google+ Ripples accessible directly through Google Analytics

Google+ Ripples accessible directly through Google Analytics

You can see Ripples for each post just by adding its URL at the end of this one, in your browser bar:

https://plus.google.com/ripple/details?url=_________

and SEO are getting closer day by day and guest blogging apparently is decreasing in popularity – if Matt has said so, it’s true.

Let’s imagine a link between number of shares and author(ship) rank for each of such shares. It would certainly give an idea of the weight of such an important ranking factor like Google+ activity.

Here is my Google+ Author Rank measured with the experimental tool by Virante that calculates a score based on the content linked to my Google+ profile via Authorship. It does not currently include any measure of authority due to my actions within Google+.

Google+ Author Rank

Google+ Author Rank

You can monitor Author Rank for any of your (Google+) friends.

UPDATE: Google+ Ripples has been terminated on 20th May 2015.

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).

informazione

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.

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!

 

 

New screen for GA Goals set up

New Conversion Goal setup interface on Google Analytics

Many people do not set up Goals on their Analytics account. That’s a shame, because despite not having an website, Goals help them to 1) deep dive into the most challenging side of the analytics world (where the magic rule is learning by doing) and 2) learn more about a website, in a consistent way.

To track Goal , some users limit their efforts to placing the tracking coming from their ads platform. Not bad, but not even comprehensive as it could be setting up GA Goals.

Google Analytics has just refreshed its Conversion Goals setup screen adding some standardised categories that are self-explanatory about what Goals are: good move for newbies.

New screen for GA Goals set up

GA brings more clarity around Goals

After choosing the type of Goal in Step 1 (e.g. create an account or make a payment or whatever you like, see figure 1 above) you might be surprised to find the following four standard categories in Step 2. Nothing magic then, the new interface has just been designed to assist users in creating new Goals.

Describe your Goal...

Describe your Goal…

Finally, on Step 3, you setup your Goal details. For example, if you have chosen Play a video in Step 1, you will end up in events (you need to configure your media player properly in order to send events data to GA).

Set up a Goal corresponding to an event

Set up a Goal corresponding to an event

Look carefully at the last row before the buttons: Verify this Goal. That is a very useful tool to check if something is worth (or is wrong). If your Goal bring 0 despite you expect something you might go back and check something – usually you need to adjust URL’s or Event variables. Pay attention when using RegEx and always test before being sure that everything is ok.

Now, I’d like to express a critique to this new approach. As you all know, GA allows 5 Goals for each of the 4 Goal Sets that make up to 20 Goals in the free GA (well, the premium version doesn’t have any limit but that’s another story).Unfortunately it is not possible anymore to assign Goals to particular Goal Sets as it used to be before the change. Goals are assigned sequentially, making very difficult – or impossible in some cases – to group them in Sets depending on their nature.

If you are tracking transactions (completed), remember to opt for E-commerce tracking – if possible. To setup Ecommerce tracking you need to add some variables just on the page where the transaction is confirmed (usually a thank-you page). It’s fundamental to have a unique ID for each transaction, that might contain one or more products. Some values are optional, others are compulsory. If you are managing Google Analytics Tracking Conversion (GATC) through Google Tag Manager, then you need to use data-layers instead (and the code slightly changes).

Finally, if for some reasons you cannot setup you can still add just Goal value to the transaction page. Just avoid to add both Goal values and Ecommerce revenue or you might end up in doubling your revenues… unfortunately only on GA!

How to track each Google country search engine on Universal Analytics

Google Universal Analytics

Have you tested the Universal Analytics by Google? If you haven’t (yet) just create a new free GA profile and you will now have the option to choose between the old and the new route – which not surprisingly is still in beta.

You will not see big differences on the User Interface, but some changes are in the Admin section and are related to the wider flexibility in terms of customisation that such new system allows, including multi-platform tracking. I am not going to list the new features, you can find them here and you can even watch a brief showcasing video at the end of this post.

I just want to focus on an interesting finding that happened by chance (let’s say so…) Among the other things that differentiate it from “traditional” GA, you can set up as much search engines as you want. There’s already  a list with the main search engine available – it obviously includes also all Google search engines and they will appear, as usual, under one single voice “google”.

Let’s say that your friend has just launched the new Google enemy (!) and you want to treat it as organic rather than a classic referral: you just have to add it using the following simple form located on:

Admin – Account – Tracking Info – Organic Search sources – Add Search Engine

How to add a search engine on Universal Analytics

How to add a search engine on Universal Analytics

Now, despite Google is already in the predefined UA list, why not configuring a few single country search engines, just to test? Of course, your site should be indexed there and you should run some test (and wait a bit for statistics to show up in reports). Don’t be impatient: just sow your seeds as follows and wait…

 

Track each single Google search engine on UA

Tracking each single Google search engine on UA

Now that you have set up all accounts and waited for data on the Sources reports, have a look at this!

Metrics divided by country
What you find on Universal Analytics: not just one single “google” anymore

Interesting, isn’t it?

Now, why don’t you get a bit deeper trying to track also visits from single Google bits like Images or Maps? I haven’t tested it fully yet, but you can try either using a domain like images.google.com or just google.com and another word on the optional path field, just like this:

How to set up Google country engines on Universal Analytics

How to set up Google maps and images engines on Universal Analytics

This system is still far from tracking local searches as it should, but if you will be able to distinguish between pure organic and maps, you can certainly enrich your reports with meaningful metrics. And what about finding out data only for images? Such data are highly relevant for photobloggers, but also for news/magazines/blogzines/etc.

Unfortunately you cannot upload all Google “search products” in bulk so if your plan is to add them all… good luck! Differently, why not adding just a few relevant for your business? All the others will still appear under the same old “google” category so you are not going to miss anything.

A solution for Not-Provided keywords …or at least a little cure?

A final consideration to add concerns the sadly famous “not provided” keywords affair: I’ve added two different GA tracking codes onto the same site – ok it’s not the best practice suggested but this way it still works and allows checking differences between two different ways of measuring things.

Starting from October 2011, Google has increased encrypting search queries so you end up by not knowing anymore about 30% (or more) of search queries that brought visits to your site. Official reason is privacy, such as protecting users logged in with their Google account – it might be for privacy but also for a future possible strategy to sell relevant, precious information for SEO and marketing people.
There are some solutions to understand what’s hidden behind the “not provided” variable, here’s a popular hack proposed by Dan Baker on eConsultancy. I’ve tested it, it’s very helpful but unfortunately not resolutive.

In my recent test, the “old” GA shows about 30% of not-provided keywords (it’s more or less the recent standard that wiped the smile off SEO-people’s faces), whilst (apparently good news) UA shows just 5% of not-provided on average. On a website, for a local search engine set up on the admin panel as shown above, I still haven’t seen any “not-provided” kw! Is that just my (wrong) impression or a subtle Google strategy to move people from the “old” GA to UA?

Update: that was my wrong impression: few data don’t bring good assumptions. In fact the problem of not-provided kw’s remains unsolved (it would have been too easy/revolutionary)

Now, if you (still) haven’t heard of UA, this video gives an idea of its capabilities.

Or if you fancy caffeine…