Posts about search engine optimization

Why Google Analytics is Not Tracking Correctly: Your Troubleshooting Guide

Google Analytics’ tracking capabilities make it a great asset for any website to have. However, when Google Analytics is not tracking correctly, or its data is inaccurate, the usefulness of the tool essentially disappears. Anyone who has ever used Google Analytics can tell you that there are a lot of intricacies involved that may not seem all that important until you’re sorting through a lot of useless reports, thinking, “How exactly did I get here?”

Luckily, when Google Analytics is not tracking or is having other issues, it usually isn’t a death sentence. Many fixes are even straightforward enough to tackle in a DIY fashion. If your Google Analytics data is not showing up or you’re just struggling to get things off the ground, this list is a good way to uncover any problems. If you haven’t set up Google Analytics on your site yet, even better – read through and save yourself the extra work later.

Ok, so you carefully followed all the instructions for adding and publishing the tracking code on your site, and you’ve been waiting for data to start pouring in, but Google Analytics apparently isn’t tracking. Or maybe your site had been tracking perfectly, but now something has changed, and you’re not sure why. What’s going on?

Before you panic:

  • Test it out by checking your Real-Time stats. Hop over to the Reports section in the property of concern and select Real-Time. If Google Analytics is tracking correctly, the Overview tab should give you an idea of how many people are on your site at that very moment. Test it out yourself – open your site in another tab, then refresh the Overview If your Google Analytics code is working, you should be able to see data on this page. You should be able to see your page view sitting on your site in the Real-Time report, and you should even be able to discern that it’s you by the location of the dot on the map.
Google Analytics live tracking

“Hey, that’s me on the Real-Time report!”

You can also visit the Tracking Info section under your property name in the Admin section of Google Analytics, and click Tracking Code to verify if Google Analytics recognizes that your property has been recording traffic.

Google Analytics tracking codeGoogle Analytics tracking status

  • Verify that you’re tracking the correct property and view. If you’ve been using Google Analytics to track multiple websites or have already set up several views on this property, you might be using the snippet from another location. Sure, this may sound obvious to you – but why frantically disassemble the device before checking to see if you plugged it in?
  • Check out your filters. If you’ve been tracking your site for a while and have added some filters in this view, you should re-visit what filters you have set and if they could be unintentionally cutting off tracking. One important detail to note is that the order in which you apply filters in Google Analytics matters, and it can be easy to accidentally block your tracking by adding filters in the wrong order. For example, if you decide you only want to track traffic from Arkansas but you’ve already set the view to only track Alabama visitors, setting an Arkansas-only filter now won’t do you much good, because you already left all the Arkansas visitors out with the Alabama filter. This kind of mistake will quickly bring your traffic down to zero.

Unfortunately, if you’ve set some filters that seem to be excluding traffic you want to be recording, you can’t take filters back on that particular view. That’s why it is critical to always preserve an unfiltered view, such as the default view All Web Site Data. If you suspect you’ve overdone it with filters, you can try reordering the filters for better results or start over with a new unfiltered view.

If you’ve confirmed that your Google Analytics code is not working for a view that it should be tracking, it’s time to dig deeper. Answer these questions to get a better idea of what could be going wrong.

Have you reviewed your Google Analytics tracking code?

If you have recently set up your tracking code but Google Analytics is not tracking your traffic, this is an important step to take. When adding the snippet into a plugin or the tracking code onto the pages of the site, it is imperative that you copy and paste directly from your Google Analytics property settings to your site code. If you copy over to a word processor or similar program on your computer before putting it on your site, extra white spaces or small changes in punctuation may occur and can make or break your tracking. The tracking code is also case sensitive, so don’t neglect capitalization.

Have you added the tracking code to every page of your site?

Just adding the code to the homepage of your site won’t do – Google Analytics will not be tracking all pages of your site if you don’t add the code to each page. This includes subdomains and those less-than-obvious landing pages hiding on your site. If you’re the one installing the code onto your site and adding it to every single page sounds exhausting, you can browse the wide assortment of plugin options available on many of the more common content management systems (such as WordPress or Magento). These plugins will make adding code to every page of the site into a much simpler process. You can also enlist help from a web development specialist if the process is too daunting to take on yourself.

Google Analytics tracking

“Hey look, we’ve got traffic after all!”

Do you have duplicate tracking codes running on your site?

If you’re unwittingly recording Google Analytics data twice, you may notice that you’re having the opposite problem – your visits, page views, and bounce rates seem far too good to be true! However, having multiple tracking codes on your site is a bad practice and will cause your Google Analytics data to be seriously inaccurate, as well as vulnerable to malfunctions in multiple areas of data collection.

If your site has been around for a while and has had a few different developers, consultants, and managers working on it, it’s possible that things have gotten lost in the shuffle. If your Google Analytics code is not working correctly, rifle through your source code for signs of old Google Analytics tracking code. You may be surprised what you can find and purge from your pages. With the wide availability of Google Analytics-compatible features and add-ons available on WordPress and other popular platforms, it is easy to overlook a lurking plugin or buried code.

Has your site been penalized by Google?

Google continuously rolls out updates to its search ranking algorithm that help make the search experience richer, more accurate, and less dangerous for searchers. With every big change in the algorithm comes a new group of websites that see huge changes in their traffic due to big rankings promotions or demotions. In other words, a ranking penalty (or demotion) could bury your site on the 100th page of Google without you noticing much other than a huge drop in site traffic in Google Analytics.

Why might you have received a penalty? It’s hard to say. Each algorithm change is different and may declare that a certain aspect of your site is positive or negative. By doing this, Google weeds out spam and punishes websites for using less-than-ideal methods to sit higher in search results. In short, you may think that Google Analytics is not tracking your traffic, but maybe people just aren’t finding your site due to a penalty or two.

If you’ve finished this list and suspect you have received a penalty or still think that Google Analytics is not working correctly, it might be a good time to look into hiring SEO specialists like the ones at Leverage Marketing to review your site. Our experienced Google Analytics experts can get your tracking moving, help you recover from penalties, and help bring your site to a place in the organic search rankings where users will be able to find you.

How to Create a Valuable Holiday Gift Guide


Why Create a Holiday Gift Guide?

It’s hard to believe, but the holidays are almost upon us. We’re around the corner from Thanksgiving, and the winter holidays are just a stone’s throw away in marketing time. What can you do to get your customers ready for the season? How can you make them aware of what products you or your partners have available for purchase?

With average spending reaching over $800 per consumer this holiday season, digital marketplaces are excellent places for consumers to buy gifts for everyone on their list without driving to multiple stores. 44% of US holiday shoppers bought gifts online in 2014, and for 2016, online sales are forecast to be as much as $117 billion. Making a holiday gift guide can help your company grab a chunk of this revenue.

With holiday shopping now starting as early as the day after Halloween, making a holiday gift guide early can be a great way to highlight best-selling and popular products. By creating a visual representation of your product selection, you can facilitate the holiday shopping processing and make buying easier for your customers.

Holiday gift guides are a way to take marketing and make it creative. Instead of just a boring sales email, you get to take the products you want to sell and present them in a visually enticing format that transports the reader where you want them to go.

Here are a few methods to make holiday gift guides that grab your customers’ attention:

Use a Data-Driven Approach


Don’t just choose your favorite products to include in your holiday gift guide, use targeted products that are either currently popular or were popular last holiday season. Generate reports on the top sellers in various categories and try to find items that would make good presents. Furthermore, it’s important to get a good mix of products in your gift guide to appeal to a broad range of consumers. You probably don’t have only one type of customer, and your holiday gift guide should reflect that. Look back to your buyer personas and make sure your gift guide reflects the variety inherent in them.

It’s important to get the raw data to find what people are purchasing–use tools like Google Analytics and Hubspot. Track what people are purchasing and what their purchase path is. Use social media and online polls to ask your customers what items they’d like to see. All this data will help you create an approach to your guide that targets a wide swath of customers and reflects the diversity of your business.

Create an Immersive Experience

When creating your holiday gift guide, it is best to curate an experience that submerges the reader in your content. Try segmenting your gift guide into different gift collections by age or gender (if applicable), or by price point. The consumer is then drawn into a selection of items targeted exactly for the people on their gift list. By creating a seamless experience with colorful, high-resolution images of your products, readers are more likely to buy.

Use Pinterest and Other Social Media to Create Holiday Gift Boards

As much as you may segment your holiday gift guide, there is no way to account for every different group and taste. Creating a variety of simple holiday gift boards on Pinterest to augment your existing gift guide is a simple way to help your customers. You can create a specific board for the customer (or buyer persona) you’re trying to target, such as “dog lover” or “stay at home mom.” This strategy works better for some B2C businesses with audiences and demographics more likely to use Pinterest. Tailor your approach to your customers and you’ll have more success. Find out what platforms they use through Google Analytics and online polls and promote through those.

Marketing using Pinterest and other social media sites is incredibly useful in today’s digital age. You can target users who wouldn’t otherwise interact with your content and start new conversations about your products. Remember to continually engage the users from social media and offer them exciting special offers to pique their interest.

pinterest holiday gift guide

Continue Writing About and Promoting Your Holiday Gift Guide

Once your holiday gift guide is out there, don’t just leave it sitting in cyberspace. Write about it using blog posts to provide additional context to the products you’re recommending to your customers. Tell your customers why they should buy this particular item. Explain why your product will make the perfect gift for their friend or family member. Producing blog posts about the products in your gift guide creates additional engagement around your products and adds a framework for your buyers. Do keyword research so that you can incorporate phrases for a higher organic ranking.

Promote the gift guide and your blogs on social media. Don’t let them stagnate on your website waiting for organic hits. Include links in emails, launch a paid campaign, and perhaps even look for promotional opportunities with other blogs or websites in your industry for link sharing. These methods can further enhance the reach of your guide to additional customers.

Your holiday gift guide can be your customers’ entry point into your product offerings. Make sure it is inviting, accessible, immersive, and understandable. If you use these tips to create your gift guide, you’re more likely to succeed this holiday season.

The team at Leverage Marketing has been through many holiday seasons and knows holiday gift guides inside and out. If you have questions about marketing for the holiday season, we are here to help. We are experts in helping our clients meet their needs all year-round. Sign up for our newsletter today to get tips about SEO, social media, marketing, and lots more.

Prep Your Website for Black Friday: A Marketing Checklist [UPDATED]

This post was originally published on October 8th, 2015. We’ve updated it with several new checklist items for 2016.

With Black Friday coming up on November 25th and Cyber Monday following right on its heels, your holiday marketing is no doubt well underway. In all the chaos, it’s easy to overlook some of the small but impactful online marketing tactics you can use to boost sales on two of the biggest shopping days of the year. With that in mind, we’ve put together a marketing checklist of things to do in the weeks leading up to Black Friday.

Download a PDF of our Black Friday Checklist

Web Design

o Update homepage for Black Friday.

Make sure anyone who lands on your homepage in the days leading up to Black Friday/Cyber Monday knows about the deals you’re going to offer. Add relevant banners and calls-to-action, change your home page header/hero image to highlight your Black Friday offers, and consider adding a countdown clock to build excitement. You may also want to create a banner that you can place at the top of all pages to remind shoppers about your deals.

o Simplify forms and checkout process.

Take some time before the holidays to go through your checkout process and identify steps where shoppers are likely to drop out. Eliminate unnecessary form fields and try to minimize the clicks it takes to complete a transaction.

Compress and resize any images that are weighing down your pages. 

Unnecessarily large images can slow down page load times, and online shoppers aren’t going to wait patiently for your site to load. Take some time before Black Friday to check images on your home page and most popular product pages, and either resize or compress high-resolution images.

o Test site to ensure all pages are mobile-friendly.

By now you likely know how important it is to have a website that looks good on mobile devices. Even if you think your site is fully responsive or adaptive to mobile, it’s worth testing individual pages—especially new ones you’re adding ahead of Black Friday. Enter page URLs into Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test bar to determine if all pages meet Google’s criteria for mobile-friendly design.

o Set up live chat.

There are dozens of live chat systems available online, and you can easily set one up by adding a piece of HTML code to all the pages where you want the chat window to appear. If you don’t have a system in place yet, install one before your big holiday sales days so that potential customers can quickly get help from one of your team members.

Email Marketing

o Craft emails to build anticipation for your sales.

Schedule your emails so that subscribers receive an initial announcement about your holiday sale, followed by several messages designed to build anticipation and keep you top of mind. Consider revealing some of the upcoming Black Friday sales prices on top-selling items, or send out a sales offer that is exclusive to email subscribers.

A/B test subject lines.

Remember: before you can get readers to click on email links leading to great Black Friday deals, you have to convince them that opening your email is worth their time. Businesses flood their subscribers’ inboxes with promotional messages around the holidays (MailChimp delivered 1.2 billion emails last Black Friday), so you need to make sure your messages stand out. Be clear about the deals you’re offering in your subject line, and A/B test different subject line variations to see what gets the most engagement.

o Write copy for transactional emails.

Tailor order confirmations, abandoned cart notices, and other automated email messages to your Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales. Consider adding copy about upcoming holiday sales to encourage visitors to shop with you again before the end of December.

o Write emails to remind shoppers that your sale is about to end.

Create a segmented list of email subscribers who haven’t purchased anything on Black Friday or Cyber Monday and send an email several hours before the end of sale, reminding them that there is limited time to take advantage of your discounts.

o Test email links.

Before running any of your holiday email campaigns, take a few minutes to make sure none of your email links are broken and that all links go to the appropriate landing page.

o Create landing pages that align with email CTAs.

It can be jarring for email subscribers to click on a call-to-action that takes them to a landing page with a completely different offer—and shoppers aren’t as likely to convert if the initial CTA and landing page don’t match. Check the copy in your email message and on the landing page to ensure it’s coherent.


Make sure you’ve enabled ecommerce tracking. 

If you sell products through your site, you should absolutely set up Ecommerce Tracking in Google Analytics (if you haven’t already). Ecommerce Tracking will give you more insights in your customers’ behavior patterns so that you can better tailor future sales to your audience. If you’re not sure how to set up Ecommerce Tracking, check out our step-by-step guide.

o Check page load times.

Go to the Site Speed tab in Google Analytics to check the load times of your web pages. On average, people will give a page three seconds to load before abandoning the site, so if you have pages with slower load times, you’ll need to fix them. If you’re not sure what’s causing the slow load time, have your marketing team perform an audit.

o Create landing pages for sales categories.

Include ‘Black Friday’ or other holiday-related keywords in your title tags, header tags, and content so that the landing page has a better chance of being served to web users who enter relevant search queries.

o Research long-tail keywords.

Long-tail keywords will have a lower search volume than more general Black Friday-related keywords, but they will also have less competition and are more likely to attract shoppers who are looking for your specific products or services.

o Pitch products to influencers who curate gift guides.

Backlinks from high-quality third-party sites are a ranking factor for SEO, so it’s always a good idea to make connections with bloggers and journalists in your industry who may be interested in sharing your content. Lots of sites begin publishing holiday gift guides in November and December, so try pitching some of your best gift products to relevant sites. In addition to the SEO-value of backlinks, having your products featured in gift guides can also help drive traffic to your site.

o Local brick-and-mortars: check your online listings.

If you own a brick-and-mortar as well as an online store, go through all the major online directories to make sure your address, phone number, and other important information are up-to-date. If you have not yet claimed your business on Google, do so now using Google My Business.


o Set up meeting with your PPC team.

Keyword bids will be high around Black Friday because this is one of the busiest shopping times of the year, so you need to get the most out of your budget by choosing the keywords that are most likely to lead to conversions for your business. Unless you are a PPC professional, you should meet with your PPC team to discuss strategies.

o Create PPC campaigns tailored to consumers who are researching before Black Friday.

Most Black Friday/Cyber Monday shoppers will be researching deals in advance so that they can get the products they want before they are out of stock. In the weeks leading up to Black Friday, tailor the copy in your PPC ads to your customers’ research phase.

Prepare ads for several top sellers if you think you may run out of inventory.

Have you been promoting a particular product heavily? Is it possible that this product will be out of stock before the end of Black Friday? If so, write ad copy for several other top sellers so that you will have ads ready to go if you have to pull the ads for an out-of-stock item.

o Retarget web users who have already visited your site.

If you have a retargeting pixel set up on your site, start remarketing to customers who have previously browsed your site. This is a good way to stay top of mind and announce deals to people who may not be on your mailing list but who have shown interest in your products.

Use day parting and bid scheduling to maximize your paid search budget. 

Look at your historical data to see which times of day you’re likely to see the highest levels of traffic and conversions. Allocate more of your paid search budget to the top-converting hours of the day to maximize your ROI.

Social Media Marketing

o Use Facebook and Twitter remarketing.

Retargeting pixels on your website aren’t just for PPC ads—you can also use them to create ads for custom audiences on Facebook and Twitter. Facebook even lets you serve ads to Lookalike Audiences—that is, people who are similar to your existing customers and therefore likely to be interested in your products. If you’ve never done this before, talk to your online marketing team about creating targeted social media ads before Black Friday.

o Create exclusive offers for followers on social media.

Offering exclusive discounts is a great way to reward your followers on social media—and to encourage those followers to recommend your social profiles to their friends and family.

o Put together holiday gift guides and share on social sites.

Use a design template site like Canva or Piktochart to create visually-appealing gift guides in different categories (e.g. ‘Stocking Stuffers’, ‘Gifts for Grillmasters’, etc.), and share those guides on your social channels. If you have a following on Pinterest, keep in mind that you can now create buyable pins that integrate with Magento, Bigcommerce, and IBM Websphere.

Use relevant holiday hashtags. 

Do some research into hashtags that are being used around Black Friday and think about how they pertain to your sale. You can, of course, use tags like #blackfriday and #cybermonday, but keep in mind that everyone else will be doing this as well. To stand out and get customers excited for your sale, consider using additional hashtags related to your store name and location. Let social media users know they can get updates on your sale (or maybe even get entered into a contest) by using your business-specific hashtag.

o Make sure at least one team member can monitor Twitter on Black Friday/Cyber Monday.

If you have an active presence on Twitter, you should assign at least one team member to monitor this social site for mentions. If customers are tweeting at you because they have a question or complaint related to your sales, you’ll want to be able to respond quickly.

Having trouble with any of the action items above? We’d be happy to help you check all the boxes on your holiday marketing to-do list. Contact us to get started.

How to Set Up Ecommerce Tracking in Google Analytics

You probably already know that Google Analytics is a great tool for tracking consumer behavior patterns and traffic to your site. If you’re already using Google Analytics to track activity on your site, great job – but that’s only half the battle! If you sell products online, one of Google Analytics’ most powerful tools is its ability to analyze not only how people use your site, but what they’re buying and how they’re purchasing your products. That’s where Google Analytics’ ecommerce tracking comes in.

As a newbie or even as a seasoned user of Google Analytics, implementing and understanding ecommerce tracking may seem a little intimidating. Not to fear – follow our quick-start guide to get moving with ecommerce analytics tracking.


First off, you’ll need to decide what kind of ecommerce tracking will fit your site’s needs. There are two kinds of ecommerce tracking available within Google Analytics:

  • Standard Ecommerce Tracking: Includes most of the major info you’ll need to analyze customer purchase activity, such as transaction information and average order value.
  • Enhanced Ecommerce Tracking: Includes all the functionality of Standard Ecommerce Tracking, but also allows you to analyze consumers’ paths to purchases and inspect other factors such as shopping cart abandonment. Enhanced ecommerce tracking is only available if your site uses Universal Analytics (recognizable by the “analytics.js” snippet in your analytics tracking code).

It’s up to you to decide what kind of ecommerce tracking will be best for your business. If you’re looking to get a better understanding of the way consumers make purchases on your site, Standard Ecommerce may be all you need, and the relative simplicity can be helpful. If you have more specific questions (for instance, if you’re noticing that your customers seem to be viewing a lot of pages but are struggling to complete the buying process), Enhanced Ecommerce might be a good way to zoom in on the deeper processes behind customer decisions.

So now that you’ve decided what kind of ecommerce journey you want to set off on, it’s time to implement tracking. We’ve broken the process down for you:

  1. Enable Ecommerce on Google Analytics: The first thing you’re going to need to do is enable your analytics account to record this kind of data. Simply…
  • Sign into your Google Analytics account
  • Click on “Admin” at the top of your page
  • In the “View” column, select the view you’re ready to track
  • In the “View” column, select “Ecommerce Settings”
  • Set the “Enable Ecommerce” button to “On”
  • If you’re setting up Enhanced Ecommerce, switch it on as well
  • Click “Next Step” and then “Submit”
  1. Set Up Tracking on Your Website: This next step can be a little tricky, so tread carefully! To collect ecommerce data, you’ll need to add JavaScript to your website (or Analytics SDKs for mobile apps) to track the data. If you’re comfortable with writing and editing code, this shouldn’t be too difficult, and Google offers a general guide to implementing it here. If you’re less well-versed in coding, reaching out to a web developer or Google Analytics expert for assistance is a better plan to prevent any mistakes that could incorrectly record data and negatively affect your decision-making process.


The home of your ecommerce data

The home of your ecommerce data

Now that you’ve implemented ecommerce tracking, what’s next? Luckily, once you’ve added your tracking code and set Google Analytics to detect it, your ecommerce reports will start populating with data and you’ll be able to start analyzing your customers’ shopping habits like a pro. Here’s a quick crash course in understanding your Google Analytics Ecommerce reports:

Finding Your Ecommerce Reports in Google Analytics:

-In Google Analytics, navigate to the view in which you implemented ecommerce tracking.

-Select “Reporting” from the main menu.

-On the left-hand side menu, select “Conversions”.

-Select “Ecommerce”.

Another cool feature that comes along with implementing Ecommerce Tracking is that you can now see ecommerce info directly in many of the reports in Google Analytics.

Select your favorite report and check out the ecommerce info that you can now find by selecting “Ecommerce” in the menu of the “Conversions” section at the right-hand edge of your reports. This is very convenient when you want to quickly segment your ecommerce data in relation to dimensions such as demographics, geography, or channels.

Looking at ecommerce info in a source/medium report

Looking at ecommerce info in a source/medium report

Understanding Ecommerce Lingo:

You probably already understand several of the metrics within Google Analytics’ ecommerce report, such as Revenue and Quantity, but there are some new metrics within this report that you may not be as familiar with. Here are a few important terms to keep an eye on:

Ecommerce Conversion Rate: This is the percentage of sessions that culminated in an ecommerce transaction. Your ecommerce conversion rate gives you a quick way to determine if your shoppers are buying or if they’re just browsing.

Unique Purchases: This refers to the number of times that a specified product (or set of products) was part of an order. In other words, if one person purchases two or more of the same item, that will only count as one “unique purchase”. This can be useful to determine how customers purchase your products and could help you identify if offering promotions such as bulk discounts could be a beneficial action for certain products.

Transactions: Are a few customers buying a ton of stuff, or do you have a ton of customers buying one item each? The Transactions metric tells you how many times a customer made any kind of purchase on your site. When you compare your number of transactions to your total revenue, you can calculate “Average Order Value”, which is another useful Google Analytics ecommerce metric for understanding how valuable, on average, each customer’s transaction is to your business. Knowing the average value of transactions is key to efficiently planning your digital marketing efforts going forward.

Obviously, there is a lot more you can look at within ecommerce reports, especially if you have decided to implement Enhanced Ecommerce. If you ensure that your ecommerce tracking is installed correctly, the data collected in these reports can help you understand your customers’ behavior on a much deeper level.

If you’re ready to dive in but are still unsure where to start, contact the Leverage Marketing team today. We’re seasoned Google Analytics experts who are pros at setting up and analyzing ecommerce data, and we’re ready to answer your toughest ecommerce questions.

What is the Future of Google Search?

Predictions about Google and its search engine in the future exist mostly in the realm of science fiction. Massive takeovers of major businesses and technology giants seem like the stuff of dreams. But just as universal credit and debit cards sprang to life in Edward Bellamy’s novel Looking Backward way back in 1888, Google continues to make fiction reality as it rolls out advanced semantic search technology, driverless cars, and modular phones.

In digital marketing, you have to be truly one step ahead of the technology that drives your industry. To do so, experts make as many data-based, logical decisions as possible about what tomorrow holds. Not the least critical of digital marketing’s unpredictable but powerful tools is Google Search, our friend and enemy. Even the wildest predictions about what’s under the hood of the machine that processes each of our Internet searches could prove to be an incredible boon to the efforts we make to succeed alongside our clients.

As we nervously await the next wave of change in Google’s search algorithm, we have formulated a few thought-provoking ideas about where the search engine might go and what grand plans it has to continue its conquest of the infinitely expanding Internet space.

Ads-Only Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs)

Sure, a SERP completely filled with ads sounds preposterous, but paid search revenue is the main source of income for Google, and ads are what allow the company to continue to make improvements in search and beyond. In 2011, money from paid search accounted for 96% of Google’s income. Licensing and other sources made up the remaining 4%, which can’t even fund Google’s employee base. Their income doesn’t come from organic search, as noble as Google’s intentions may be.

austin local search results for plumbing with 4 ads and mapTo see why we believe Google may start leaning toward an ads-only model, try a search for a popular service in your area. Here, we tried plumbing.

We were served four ads, one of which had an extended description, and three of which displayed links straight past the landing page to different parts of the company’s website.

Below that, there was a handy map and the beginning of a list of business information. The organic information was nearly cut off, and classic organic search results didn’t even make an appearance above the fold.

Currently, 64.6% of people click on Google ads when they’re looking to pay for goods or services.

That number could increase if most searchers are faced with ad-only SERPs. It’s most likely that ads would only be served when Google believes the searcher intends to buy or rent goods and services. Those searching for information rather than a place to sink their money still seem to prefer organic search results.

But even organic results could turn into a money maker for Google. Already, paid search ads are starting to blend in with organic search results. Though Google’s approach to ad labeling in the SERPs is still far more eye-catching than competitors such as Bing, differentiation between paid search results and organic search results has become much subtler over time.

Look at Search Engine Land‘s history of the appearance of ads just in the last 10 years:

google ad label background color history

The elimination of a defining color in the background of paid search results was only the first step. The Ad label also no longer has a distinct color, and the overall appearance of the search result largely resembles an organic search result. Webmasters may end up paying for their information to be displayed in Google one day – but that might violate Google’s Don’t Be Evil policy.

Complete Google Integration

Productivity tools such as Gmail and Google Docs, internationalization tools like Google Translate, and even wacky and unusual ventures such as the Google Earth Flight Simulator and the Google Art Project are likely to be fully integrated into one another one day. Already, Google’s main suite of office software and search engine flow together more seamlessly than we could have imagined. Agencies like ours are moving to all-Google work platforms, which we find increases productivity (and drastically decreases frustration).

As Google gets better at learning where the hiccups in work productivity, online shopping, Internet research, and GPS pathfinding occur, small but important integrations occur within the grand structure of their multiple software offerings. For example, Google Drive is available in your browser and on your desktop, and you can access it when sending emails or when using a long list of supporting apps such as our office chat client, Slack.

google drive and slack integration with google docs

You may one day be able to cycle through a comprehensive list of Google products to come up with a complete solution to your query with integration at a high level. Imagine sharing a Google Doc with your coworker on a chat client, then opening that doc to find a business proposal for a new client with a Google Map of their location and service area. Look closer into that map and you’ll find Google Search results that highlight their competitors, which links to Google Shopping so you can get an idea of the price range of your potential client’s good and services.

You can do all of that now, but you’ll have to take a few extra steps to input information manually. However, Google continues to learn and serve the needs of searchers, and they’re learning ways to get you the information you need before you even know you need it – which could also lead to search dominion of a more massive scale.

A Total Takeover of Search

All searches, not just basic search queries, could one day become the domain of Google. Think airline ticket sales and hotel bookings, restaurant reservations and online orders – all of the services to which Google Search normally leads could be served from a SERP.

knowledge graph with paradise lost information from multiple sourcesThe search engine giant is already creeping in on what was once the territory of informational websites. The Knowledge Graph is an incredibly handy addition to Google Search results; it allows searchers to gather fast facts and synopses for common queries without ever having to go past Google’s SERP. But what if their ability to bypass websites entirely to gather information moves into sales?

We might one day see simple search forms for available flights, electrician appointments, movie ticket sales, and similar search-based goods and services sales shift to the might of Google.

If AdWords-like technology develops, competitive companies might bid for a spot at the top of the SERP where users can input all of the information necessary to obtain their goods or services before they even see the company’s home page. You can get a sneak peek of what it might look like if you type a relevant query into Google Search:

google query for buying airline tickets with destination form

When we tried to buy airline tickets, we were treated to a handy, prominently-displayed form that already knows from which airport we want to take off. Just enter a destination and Google Flights will start showing you a list of available flights and prices similar to Google Shopping results. If the technology continues to evolve, companies will need to supply only a database of information to Google instead of developing their own search software to integrate into their websites.

Not every consumer uses Google, however, and direct-to-site visits are still a major source of website traffic, especially for well-known brands. Google and corporate America would need to create a phenomenal public awareness campaign if such a sweeping change were to happen, but it’s still not outside the realm of possibility.

Global Mapping and Exploration

Google has rapidly expanded both its Google Earth and Google Maps platforms as they have gained popularity. An unbelievable amount of Earth is now rendered in real-time 3D for use with both products. Google Street View currently covers most developed nations as well as large business and tourist destinations in developing nations. As growth continues, we’ll be able to explore more of our planet faster from the comfort of our homes and offices.

google earth street view of shops on mt fujiThat means Google Search queries may sometimes be answerable just by exploring your Google Maps or Google Earth apps. Wondering what kind of architecture you can find in central Italy? Curious about the shops available at the mid-point of Mount Fuji? Just plant yourself on-location using Google Street View and look around to find out. Large-scale discovery may well fill information gaps in which content isn’t available or hasn’t been written – and could inspire the development of new and important content, as well.

Artificially Intelligent Digital Assistants

There’s a race happening behind the scenes as major software developers are upgrading and tweaking their digital assistants to try to eliminate the need to type queries. The goal is to create digital assistants that understand and respond with natural language to humans who input queries using voice commands. If successful, digital assistants will scour sources of information to draw conclusions about real questions posed by real people.

google assistant logo with transparent backgroundGoogle has recently entered the ring, too, with Google Assistant. After finding that 20% of mobile search queries were made using voice features on mobile phones, Google saw an opportunity to improve the search experience in a major way by developing a digital assistant that runs on the Google Search engine. It is capable of two-way conversation using ever-improving natural language processing algorithms.

If Google continues to upgrade its Google Translate capabilities and learn from the follies and mistakes of searchers, it could turn a majority of search, mobile or not, into voice-activated and controlled search.

Though users will likely make the transition to digital assistants slower than the technology will develop, the lively competition between Google, Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon asserts that they may know the value of digital assistantship well before we, the consumers, do.

Our Influence on the Future of Search

The way we use search, just like the way we use language, defines what lies ahead for our search engines. By using search in a way that is intuitive for you as an individual, you sway the actions of search giants such as Google. Your vote in the future of search may be only one vote, but it’s a powerful vote nonetheless, so if you find a particular feature of search that you enjoy, use it as often as you can.

All of us are moving the data that moves decision makers to pour time and energy into improving our life experiences, so ensure that the decisions they make will benefit you by actively using Google Search the way you love to use it most.

TL;DR – Google’s future is forever mysterious, but we have a few educated guesses to make. To increase revenue and create an advertising utopia, Google might make all-ad SERPs the norm. Software integration will likely improve, and may lead to a takeover of on-site product and service searches. Google’s fully explorable 3D earth could mitigate the need for some hard search queries, and digital assistants might lead to a new wave of search overall. No matter what, Google Search is what you make it, so use it every day to your advantage.

The experts at Leverage Marketing are on top of the future of Google Search, social media, email marketing, and everything else digital marketing. Let us help change the way you think about your marketing strategy on and offline. Call us today at 512-572-0460 to learn how we can superpower your Internet presence – then subscribe to our newsletter now so you don’t miss any more of our incredible marketing news and tips.

Should You Put Your Money on Video Marketing?

If your online marketing efforts don’t include video, you’re now in the minority. An estimated 87% of online marketers are using video content in some form, and advertisers are spending $10 million annually on digital videos. Of course, “everyone else is doing it” isn’t enough to justify using video for marketing. Let’s look at some of the advantages of video marketing that may help sway you if you’re still unsure where to allocate your digital marketing dollars.

Benefits of Video Marketing

Informative and entertaining online videos can provide a great return on investment for your business. Videos can:

  • Increase your links and brand visibility. That’s because 92% of mobile video consumers share videos with people in their network, according to Invodo. Having videos from your site shared doesn’t just increase your visibility, it also helps your search engine rankings.
  • Increase a web user’s average time on your site. Many web users prefer to consume information through videos rather than text; in fact, Diode Digital found that video promotion is 600% more effective than print and direct mail combined. Web users are more likely to engage with your site if they can watch a video. More time on your site means greater engagement and a boost in search engine rankings.
  • Help your potential customers make a purchase decision. 90% of web users say that watching a video about a product helps them decide whether or not they want to purchase it, according to Insivia.
  • Help your B2B company reach its audience. Insivia also reports that three-quarters of executives watch videos on relevant business websites on a weekly basis.
  • Boost your email engagement. Forrester found that adding video to a marketing email can increase the click-through rate by 200-300%.

Determining Your Online Video Costs

Filming Online Ad

It’s clear that there are numerous benefits of video marketing for your business, but can you afford the upfront costs? The good news is that the barrier to entry for video production is lower than you might think. You can even make company videos using a smartphone, some basic editing software (typically costing around $40-$100), and your in-house team. Of course, the quality of the video generally increases along with the budget. Marketing company Hinge estimates that a basic 1-2 minute video produced by a professional corporate team will cost about $5,000-$20,000, while a premium 1-2 minute video with top-level talent, high-end cameras, and a studio will cost $25,000-$50,000.

Free to $50,000 is obviously a pretty wide range, so if you’re thinking about using video for marketing, you’ll need to spend some time working out your own budget and determining if the cost is worth the benefits.

Your budget can be broken into three basic categories: time, labor, and equipment.


If you’re making a simple explainer video with members of your in-house team, you might only need to set aside a few hours for shooting, but if you’re making a larger-scale video advertisement or case study, shooting might take a few days. In addition to actual filming time, you’ll need to account for pre-production planning, writing the script, traveling to and from the filming location, and editing. Remember that you’ll have to account for the time of everyone working on the project, so the more people you have, the more man-hours you’re likely to log.


Some companies are able to produce quality videos using employees as their actors, camera crew, and editors. However, if your in-house team has limited experience with video production, you may need to set aside part of your budget for hiring a professional videographer, editor, and/or spokesperson. The more experience these contract workers have, the more you can expect to pay.


As previously mentioned, it is possible to make a DIY online video with a smartphone camera and basic editing software. However, for a more polished product, you may need to purchase (or rent) high-end cameras, multiple lenses, and sound and lighting equipment. Depending on the shots you have planned, you may also need specialty video production equipment such as a tripod, dolly or jib crane. Each of these items will add to the cost of the final product.

Investing in Video: Know What You Want to Achieve

Video Streaming

Before deciding exactly how much you want to spend on video marketing, it’s important to determine exactly what you’re trying to achieve. For example, are you trying to increase your brand visibility with top-of-the-sales-funnel advertising? Are you trying to show consumers who are at the decision-making stage how to use your product? Are you trying to establish yourself as an authority in your industry? Make sure the goal of your campaign remains top-of-mind with everyone working on the project so that your online videos have a significant impact.

Still unsure how much your company should invest in video marketing, or any other form of online marketing? Talk to our team at Leverage– we’ll be happy to help you come up with a strategy for success.


How Long Does It Take Google to Index a New Site?

It takes between 4 days and 4 weeks for your brand new website to be crawled and indexed by Google. This range, however, is fairly broad and has been challenged by those who claim to have indexed sites in less than 4 days. Even though Google’s inimitable search engine works on an algorithm, the eternal math that’s happening behind the scenes can’t produce a single, solid answer for us. Still, a guideline of 4 days to 1 month gives webmasters a small amount of comfort while they wait to see where their page will appear in the search giant’s results pages.

How Sites Are Crawled and Indexed by Google

The entire process of indexing is handled by Google’s search algorithm and bots like the Googlebot, which have real-world limitations of hardware speed and physical space for servers. The bots run constantly as they turn the endless digital fields of lost information into over 100,000,000 gigabytes of index. In this way, Google creates a map of the infinite library of the visible Internet.

  1. googlebot google colored robot cartoonGooglebot, the algorithm-equipped web-crawling digital robot, sets out to explore the Internet and stops at websites.
  2. When it encounters a site, it reads the information on the website according to instructions outlined in the site’s robots.txt file. Bots like Googlebot prefer to read text and follow links that they find to bank more information, and will follow sitemaps provided by webmasters.
  3. The content the bot discovers and what that content contains is sent back to Google servers, where it is added to a database.
  4. Information in the database is fed to computer programs that keep track of which sites should be crawled, how often bots should visit them, and the number of pages to fetch.
  5. Other programs determine the relevance and value of the content on crawled sites and reward the ones that meet Google’s strict criteria with rankings near the beginning of search results.

Googlebot has an affinity for new sites, changes to existing sites, and dead links. If you’re a new site owner and want your site to be indexed as quickly as possible, you may want to put the spotlight on your site using some of the methods listed below so that the bots looking for fresh reading are drawn to your domain.

Can I Make Google Index Faster?

Yes, many webmasters have found that taking steps to signal to Google that you’ve got a new, real website brimming with potential keeps the indexing time closer to the lower range of 4 days to 4 weeks. The steps follow the logic that making your site visible in the digital realm will also make it stand out to Googlebot.

Build a Site That’s Indexable

Before connecting your site to existing channels on the Internet, make sure your site’s structure is prepared for its very first presentation. Provide the following to the Googlebot:

  • Value – Produce content with text that a Googlebot can crawl
  • Ease-of-Use – Make sure you have a high ratio of text to code in favor of text
  • Navigation – Include a navigation bar that links to all of the major and permanent content on your site
  • Real Language – Use URLs on web addresses and alt text on images that explain the site content
  • Simplicity – Minimize Javascript or code it to load after the HTML (since Googlebot reads text and gets signals of the importance of text from HTML)
  • Direction – Check your robots.txt to see if it allows the Googlebot to crawl your site properly

These are search engine optimization basics that unlock the door to your website once the bot finds it. Delays in indexing may be caused when Googlebot can’t gain entrance even if it sees your site clearly.

Set up Google Analytics

google analytics logo with chart

Google Analytics is the comprehensive, free web analytics tool that collects and organizes website traffic data into customizable reports. Connecting Google Analytics to your website is a way of saying “Hello!” to Google. Though data may not appear in Google Analytics until your website is indexed, it still sends a signal to Google that you’re serious about building your web presence.

Set up Search Console

google search console logo
Google Search Console
, formerly Google Webmaster Tools, gives you more in-depth information about how your website appears in the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) and reports to you when Googlebot has a problem crawling and indexing your site. Before your site is initially indexed, you won’t receive any search console data. But showing Google that you are manually activating Google services sends another green light to Googlebot, who is on the search for all the green lights it can find.

As a bonus, setting up Google Search Console will also help you look for crawl errors so you can find ways to fix them.

Submit a Sitemap

submit sitemap google search consoleIf you want to create a sitemap, which is a rough outline of your site optimized for bots, take advantage of the Google Sitemap Generator. Though many content curation tools and website development kits now generate their own sitemaps, you’ll still need to submit one through Google Search Console. To do so, choose Sitemaps under Crawl in Google Search Console and click the Add/Test Sitemap button.

Google Fetch & Render

fetch and render google search console menuYou can ask Google manually to send a bot out to your website via the Fetch & Render option or the Submit URL option in Google Search Console. Google makes no guarantees that submitting your URL will result in a crawl or indexing. Additionally, even if Google is able to render your website, having it fetched may not produce fast results. However, doing one or both increases the odds of an early detection by Googlebot.

Note: After performing a fetch & render, Search Console will provide an option to index what was fetched. Clicking this option further raises your chance of becoming visible.

Get Links

Grabbing links to your site before it is indexed creates pathways to your site on websites that Google is already crawling. Just getting links is not as easy as it sounds, though. You’ll have to search the web for places that you trust, trust you in return, and believe in your website enough to offer you a link. Traditional networking and marketing approaches may help you earn links, so don’t be afraid to hit real pavement in search of links that will accelerate indexing.

Start Outreach

While you’re searching for links, start developing digital relationships with your target audience, other business owners, webmasters through outreach. You can:

  • Send emails to potential connections
  • Look for guest writing and blogging opportunities
  • List your site on directories (blog directories, business directories, etc.)
  • Send out press releases

We are in an age of rule by social media, and whether you enjoy it or not, those who want attention to their websites and fast indexing must embrace social media tools as a means of creating links, customers, and fans.

Set Up Social Media

social media buttons alignedChoose social media outlets that you have the capacity to manage and make accounts for those. Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Pinterest, Instagram, and LinkedIn are among the most popular and well-used, but you’ll need a social media manager, a team of social media specialists, or the willingness to sacrifice the majority of your free time if you expect to keep a constant social media presence.

Create accounts with your business name and post links to your site as soon as it’s up. Most links created on social media are called nofollow links, which instructs bots not to go down the link’s path. However, Googlebot crawls social media quite a bit, and it will notice follow as well as nofollow links.

Anything Else I Should Know About Google Indexing?

Don’t fear the 4 days to 4 weeks range. Even 4 days gives you time to optimize your site so that when it finally gets indexed, it will top the SERPs. Before you begin signaling the Googlebot, read Google’s guidelines for valuable content and make sure each word you write adheres to them. Have patience, be active, and trust that Google and its hard-working team has the best interests of searchers in mind when it crawls and indexes.

Why Mobile Marketing Matters to Your Brick-and-Mortar Store

As a local business owner, it might seem to you as if web design and mobile marketing are the domains of ecommerce companies. After all, your primary goal is to get customers to make purchases in your brick-and-mortar store, not off of your website.

However, even if you don’t sell any products or services online, local mobile marketing still matters to your business, and you need to have a mobile-optimized website. According to the latest Pew research, almost 7 in 10 Americans now own a smartphone, and the majority of these smartphone owners have used their mobile devices to find information about local businesses. You’ve probably experienced this yourself—maybe you’ve pulled out your phone to search for a good lunch spot close to work, or you’ve searched for nearby bike repair shops after getting a flat tire.

As you no doubt know from your own mobile search experiences, people who look up local business information on their phones or tablets are typically motivated to take some sort of follow-up action. In fact, one study found that 55% of mobile-influenced retail conversions take place within an hour of the original search.

Your website serves as an online storefront, and it can be a powerful tool in getting customers through the door. However, a poorly designed website can create a bad first impression, and if mobile users struggle to find the information they’re looking for on your site, they’re much more likely to go with a competitor.

By developing a mobile strategy for your retail or hospitality business, you can make sure your potential customers get the right first impression and make the leap from your website to your brick-and-mortar location. Below are a few tips to help you improve your local mobile marketing.

5 Tips to Improve Customers’ Mobile Experience

Choose Your Mobile Platform: Site vs. App

Facebook and other apps

There are two primary ways that users could find a business on their mobile device: they could open a web browser and go to a mobile site, or they could install and open an app. In most cases, a mobile website will be your best bet—it’s easier to create, and two-thirds of mobile phone users say they prefer getting local business information from a site rather than an app. However, an app might make sense if you are able to use it to provide additional benefits to customers—for example, you could use an app to send push notifications to users about the latest discounts and specials available at your store.

Test Site for Responsive Design

Responsive design is a popular choice when optimizing a website for mobile because it allows web content to adapt to fit any screen size. If you use responsive design for your site, perform your own user experience test by going to the site on your phone or tablet and making sure all pages are fully responsive and easy to navigate. And if you own a restaurant, make sure mobile users can view your menu without downloading a cumbersome PDF.  Due to the relatively large file size, PDFs often download slowly on mobile devices, which can be frustrating for mobile users.

Make Key Information Prominent

When consumers access your website on the go, they’re most likely looking for some essential information. According to an eMarketer survey, a physical address is the most commonly searched piece of information about your business, followed by map and driving directions, open hours, and phone number. Make sure this information is readily available on your mobile site—consumers don’t want to waste time scrolling or navigating through different pages to find what they need. Business name, address, and phone number should appear across all pages, with a consistent format (this is important for search engine indexing as well as making it easy for people to find key information).

Promote In-Store Deals

If you’re competing with online retailers, use your mobile site to convince web users that it’s well worth their while to visit your physical location. Prominently display special discounts or deals that consumers can’t get online, or highlight additional benefits associated with going to a brick-and-mortar location. For example, if you own a running apparel store, write website copy that explains how customers can test shoes out by running on your treadmills and find the perfect fit with the help of a running footwear expert.

Pay Attention to Local SEO

Local Search Marketing

In addition to optimizing your website so that it looks great on all screen sizes, you’ll also need to focus on technical and on-page SEO so that local shoppers can find your site when they enter relevant search terms on their mobile device. Here are a few strategies to try:

  • Optimize your copy with location-based keywords (e.g. ‘San Diego chiropractor’)
  • Make sure you have claimed and filled out your listing in online business directories (e.g. Google My Business)
  • Encourage customers to share their feedback on review sites that typically rank highly, such as Yelp
  • Create local content that is relevant to your business, such as a neighborhood guide or list of upcoming local events
  • Make sure your landing pages are optimized with location information

These tips provide a high-level overview of what goes into a solid mobile strategy for local retail and hospitality businesses. To learn more about how you can improve your online storefront through web design and SEO, contact our team of digital marketing experts.

Why Your Site Needs More Than an Instant Audit

This blog post was written by social media intern Ali Flowers. Ali is a Senior at the University of Texas at Austin, where she studies Public Relations. Ali enjoys good food, good friends, and spending time with her family.

So you’ve decided your company needs to invest in digital marketing. Great! Every business or organization can benefit from actively promoting themselves online. You are on Google and you search for ‘digital marketing near me’. You’ll likely be served thousands of results and several top-of-the-page advertisements about digital marketers in your area. Regardless of what link or ad you click on, you will probably be offered an instant audit.

What’s an Instant Audit?

With an instant audit, a marketer (or marketing automation software) analyzes various aspects of your business or organization’s online presence so that they can then advise you on the efforts you should take to promote yourself online. Some agencies claim they can audit your site in minutes or even seconds.

This might leave you thinking: Great! I can get all of that information at the click of a button? Who knew! Well, yes, but just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

Why are Instant Audits Risky?

Digital marketing is a huge investment in both time and money.  It ranges from things like search engine optimization to paid search and even social media, all of which can work together to increase your sales, and none of which are free. Would you really feel safe making such a big move for your company based off of such a quick assessment of your site? That would be kind of like buying a house immediately after seeing a few pictures of its exterior online.

So What Should You Do?

You do need an audit–but one that is done thoroughly. You need trained professionals to look at your previous marketing efforts and your competitors’ marketing efforts, find your strengths, identify your weaknesses, and then give you a full overview of your company’s situation. Your marketing agency should conduct interviews and create a report of your company’s digital marketing history so that you can identify specific areas for improvement. A real, fully-developed audit takes time, and you shouldn’t just settle for one that was given to you at the click of a button.

If you are ready to move your company into digital marketing, find a company that will provide you with a thorough audit. Look for a marketing partner who can accurately tell you where to invest and how to push your business forward. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your audit shouldn’t be either.

Check out our methodology page to learn about the in-depth analysis Leverage Marketing performs for prospective clients. If you’re ready to have us review your digital marketing opportunities, schedule a call.

What is Attribution Modeling in Google Analytics?

Attribution Modeling in Google Analytics assigns values of credit to defined channels within a buyer’s journey to conversion. That’s a lot to take in – so think of it this way: Digital marketing experts and data analysts attribute credit to the parts of the journey they believe won the conversion into a business lead or customer using attribution in Google Analytics.

Can I Use It If I’m Not a Data Analyst?

Absolutely – Google Analytics does most of the hard work for us. It collects massive amounts of data and filters it into handy reports through which we gain insight into the behavior of visitors to our site. If we want to set up attributions to discover more about what our customers are up to on our site and at what point they decide to become our customer, we need only to dive into the Conversions menu and explore Multi-Channel Funnel Reports and Attributions.

Among the wealth of features available in the Conversions menu are reports that show us the buyer’s journey in different ways. Google Analytics has a predefined set of attribution models available through which we can filter the data in those reports even further. There is no set up required to use the default attribution models provided by Google Analytics – but for those who want the deepest knowledge of their most powerful marketing channels, some assembly is required.

Concepts You Must Know to Understand Attributions

Though you may already be familiar with some of the key concepts behind defining attributions, fully understanding the complex nature of such a customizable tool requires confidence in the key concepts of Google Analytics data analysis. Be familiar and comfortable with the following terms before moving forward.


Conversions are the actions in a marketing funnel that convert a prospective customer into a real customer. There is no one specific action that is rigidly defined as a conversion, but some of the most common actions include filling out a contact form or sending an email to the sales team.

contact form for copywriting showing conversion

Once the customer hits Send, he or she has converted.

Digital marketers often set up goals in their data analysis tools around conversions. While conversion rate is only one among many essential factors of marketing success, turning an interested party into a potential customer or client is incredibly valuable and easily measurable. But since there’s also no way of defining what makes a potential client a potential client, we have to set some kind of bounds in which we can identify site visitors as potential clients. We do so with goals.

In the world of marketing, goals are user-defined target actions for the potential buyer to undergo. Goals are infinitely customizable – they can be something as simple as a social share to something as complex as a page visit from a search using a specific keyword following a link.

The main functions of Google Analytics outside of the Conversions menu define conversions as goal completions. Inside the Conversions menu, Google Analytics automatically adds e-commerce transactions AND goal completions as conversions. Knowing this distinction will help you create more concrete conclusions from the data you collect on conversions.

Multi-Channel Funnel Reports

Multi-channel funnel reports show you through which channels your customers move into conversion. The reports define the path, from beginning to end, that individual converted site visitors have taken up to the point of conversion – and show you every step along the way.

When you click on Top Conversion Paths in the Multi-Channel Funnel Reports menu, you’ll see several rows like this:

conversion path in a multi channel funnel report

This is a long conversion path, but it shows us exactly what the customer did to reach conversion. The [x #] means that particular action happened twice or more in a row. We can assume this customer found the site via a paid search ad, came back directly later, looked again and found the site twice more via paid search, came back twice to learn more directly, reached the paid ad again, found the site through a link, then came back directly a final time to convert.

The report shows us quite a bit about the customer’s path, but the information is superficial. We don’t know what the customer was thinking through each one of these channels, nor do we know what exactly spurred a conversion. That’s where attributions begin to come in handy.


Attributions are the credits we give to different actions taken by visitors to our site. Remember, attributions are different from conversions and multi-channel funnel reports. We assign attribution to find out which specific pieces of the buyer’s journey are the most effective and how we can maximize that effectiveness.

examples of channels through which attributions are made

The channels through which attributions are made.

When we assign attribution, statistics are shifted to reflect the credit we’ve given to certain channels and interactions so we can get a clearer picture of the impact of spending money on digital marketing. You may discover through attribution that your CPA (cost per acquisition) is less than you may have previously thought. This occurs because other interactions that may cost you money are actually happening after the action to which you’ve attributed credit for a conversion. That’s how attributions help us look deeper into our marketing.

Understanding the Significance of the Default Attribution Models

An attribution model is different from an attribution. The attribution is the credit we give to actions that lead to conversion. Attribution modeling is how those attributions are distributed according to the rules we create.

You’ll find the Attribution Model Comparison Tool under the Conversions menu after clicking Attribution. In the Model Comparison Tool, we can begin to make attributions to the different parts of the buyer’s journey. We can also compare one attribution model to another to draw more profound conclusions.

The free version of Google Analytics has a limited set of default attribution models that will help you begin building a picture of your most powerful converting tools. They include the following model types.

Last Interaction

last interaction attribution model icon

Assigns credit for a conversion to the very last action taken by a converted site visitor. Use this model if the data you’ve collected from customers signals that their decisions were made based on the last piece of content with which they interacted. You can then set the cost of your conversions to reflect the entire course to conversion.

Last Non-Direct Click

last non direct click attribution model icon

Hands credit for a conversion to the action BEFORE the actual customer conversion. Take advantage of this model if your data shows that customers made the decision to get more information or purchase based on content just before their final decision. This assumes that your customer already decided to make a purchase before directly going to the site to convert.

Last AdWords Click

last adwords click attribution model icon

Assigns credit for a conversion to the last paid search before the customer converted. Employ this model to focus on the efficacy of paid search and compare which of your paid search campaigns have the best cost to return on investment ratio.

First Interaction

first interaction attribution model icon

Gives conversion credit to the very first interaction of a converted customer with your website. Switch to this model to see how much it costs to grab customers that will eventually convert. You can also monitor which channels do so and if you can take advantage of untapped channels to save money on initial interactions.


linear attribution model icon

Distributes credit for conversions across each channel that assisted in a conversion. This model will help you determine which channels fall into the funnel in similar places and which ones get the most attention. It will also give you the most unbiased picture of your CPA.

Time Decay

time decay attribution model icon

The time decay model is special – it operates under the assumption that each day that passes after a customer’s initial visit to a site, the chance of a return visit splits in half. Attribution credit shrinks to lower percentages based on the time decay, which gives less credit to early interactions and more credit to later interactions the longer the customer’s path becomes.

Position Based

position based attribution model icon

Offers 40% credit to both the first and last interactions, then pushes the remaining 20% credit evenly across the remaining channels in the conversion path. Use this model if you want to take a closer look at how the majority of users are introduced to your site and what pushes them toward their final decision. Your CPA will reflect a more complete picture, but will do so with more bias than the linear model.

These models are useful for very basic analysis of cost for parts of the conversion path that have a value that’s tough to track.

Creating Your Own Attribution Models

All businesses are unique, and so is the odyssey that the buyer takes toward making a decision about the business’s product or service. Business goals may not align with competitors, and marketing approaches may differ drastically. In all of these cases, custom attribution models are useful for honing in on how customers react to important parts of your website.

Understanding the Power of the Attribution Model Creation Tool

The attribution model creation tool is massive. You can select from lots of different criteria to define on a very detailed level how your customers interact with your site and where they become inspired to convert.

custom attribution model creation tool

A custom model set to record 1.5 times the credit for initial visits to the site from Social channels

Access this tool by clicking the gray, italic Select Model option after opening the Attribution menu and clicking Model Comparison Tool. At the bottom of the Select Model menu, start creating by clicking Create new custom model.

You can assign an outrageous number of rules to your desired specificity by using the AND and OR statements that make up the bulk of your customization. Because so many metrics are available to feed and filter your data, it’s easy to see how quickly the scope of this tool becomes astronomical. You’ll have to stay grounded in the big picture while examining the finer details of attribution.

Example Scenarios

To keep from getting too lost in the minutia, try to return as often as possible to broad goals for your business when making new attribution models. Take some of these situations for example:

  • Business with heavy organic search traffic may like to attribute credit to specific keywords by:
    • Using the First Interaction Model as a base
    • Including Source specified as Organic Search as a rule
    • Specifying the targeted keyword(s) that originated that search

custom attribution model rules for heavy organic traffic


  • Business focusing on social traffic that leads to conversions may attribute credit to social channels heavily by:
    • Starting with the Position-Based model
    • Adding Social as a condition
    • Defining where in the path the credit should go

custom attribution model for first social interaction


While these scenarios may be unreasonable for some businesses, they provide a loose concept of what is possible with Google Analytics attribution models.

Creating Attributions That Matter

To really dig deep into where you should apply your credit, you’ll have to get on a personal level with your audience. There’s a large time and effort investment in finding out how people interact with your site below the surface, but once you’ve collected the information you need and your custom attributions are set, you’ll have the most complete Google Analytics report among your competitors.

Ways to Collect Information

Get to that hard to reach information about your audience by:

  • Including a simple survey question or two in your contact form
  • Ask visitors some follow-up questions on your Thank You page
  • Politely request answers to a survey in a follow-up email

Find some way to ask your customers how they heard about the site or what caused them to want to become a customer. Ask them if they would recommend to a friend and why. From this data, you can start to assign more credit where the power of your investments is actually going and watch how those specific channels contribute to the overall buyer journey.

Also, watch how others are using Attributions and use or tweak their methods. Follow creative ideas like this mathematical approach to determining the strength of visits. There’s no end to the possibilities of the Google Analytics Attribution Modeling comparison tool and custom model creation tool – you need only to learn how to harness the incredible amount of data that waits locked away in the chambers of Google’s servers.

Know who’s skilled at using Attributions in Google Analytics? The digital marketing team at Leverage Marketing. Talk to us if you need real marketing results with the data and expertise to back it up – or empower yourself with the solid inbound marketing knowledge we share by signing up for our newsletter below!

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