Event_trackingEvent tracking was on my to-do list for some time but I recently had a client ask me how they can track downloads of their PDF's.  So, I did my due diligence and beefed up on event tracking in Google analytics.  Frankly, I should have written this blog post this ages ago because event tracking provides you with another layer of incredibly powerful information that small business people will want to track in their websites.  Follow these steps and you will be able to see how many people click on doc, pdf, mailto and other links (including those going to other websites) that you have in your site.

I use BigShot Google Analytics for all of my Joomla sites so I'm going to explain the implementation using BigShot.  But the process is the same for other sites including those that are not using Joomla:

 
  1. Obviously, you'll need to install BigShot Google Analytics first.
  2. Download the gaAddons.js javascript file from Immeria.  Full credit to them for this.  I'm just tweaking BigShot Analytics for you guys.
  3. Then you need to upload that file to your website.  I have a /scripts directory for most of my sites.
  4. Then you simply add one line in /plugins/system/bigshotgoogleanalytics.php.  Just make sure the src for the gaAddons.js file is correct for your site.
$google_analytics_javascript = '
<script type="text/javascript">
var gaJsHost = (("https:" == document.location.protocol) ?
"https://ssl." : "http://www.");
document.write(unescape("%3Cscript src=\'" + gaJsHost +
"google-analytics.com/ga.js\'
type=\'text/javascript\'%3E%3C/script%3E"));</script>
<script type="text/javascript">
try {
var pageTracker = _gat._getTracker("'.$web_property_id.'");
pageTracker._trackPageview();
} catch(err) {}</script
<script src="/scripts/gaAddons.js" type="text/javascript"></script>

It's that simple. Check your analytics in a day or two and you'll see a bunch of new statistics under Content -> Event Tracking. Enjoy!

Published in Blog

link_taggingRecently, Yardstick Services has been working with clients on a number of newsletter campaigns.  Some small, some large.  We've seen in the past that when clients are managing their own newsletter campaign, they often aren't able to tell which articles, links and images in the newsletter are creating the spikes in traffic.  This is because they haven't setup the links with the correct syntaxes to allow Google analytics to track each click.  Yes, newsletter campaign management software, such as Vertical Response, does track clicks.  But it's especially nice to be able to see everything relating to your website all within Google Analytics.

So, the simple solution to knowing which campaigns, pieces and links are driving traffic to your site is to tag your links.  Tagging links simply means that you are adding a few syntaxes at the end of the link that tell Google some unique information about that link as follows:

  • Source: the location of the ad (such as Google or the name of a site that you have placed a banner ad on)
  • Medium: the type of ad (PPC, banner, email, etc)
  • Term: the keywords you are targeting
  • Content: if you are running champion vs challenger ads, then you will want to identify which ad the links resides in
  • Name: a general name for the ad

You do not need to have a unique identifier for all 5 of these bits of link information but you do want to make sure that your off-website links are organized and all uniquely identified.

So now the really easy part is creating a "tagged" link.  Let's say I've created a newsletter for Yardstick and in the newsletter I've got an article talking about small business websites.  Instead of putting in the ordinary http://www.yardstickservices.com/small-business-websites/ link, I want to add syntaxes to the link to make it unique and able to be picked up by Google analytics.  I might use the following syntaxes (remember, these are totally arbitrary; they just need to be unique for each link):

  • Source: yardstickservices.com
  • Medium: blog
  • Term: small+business+website
  • Content: v1
  • Name: spring_2010

Now, all I do is go to Google's URL Builder and fill in the blanks and it creates a nice clean tagged link for me that looks like this - http://www.yardstickservices.com/small-business-websites/?utm_source=yardstickservices.com&utm_medium=blog&utm_term=small%2Bbusiness%2Bwebsite&utm_content=v1&utm_campaign=spring2010.

Now you might be thinking that this link looks really long and messy but it doesn't matter because you're not actually pasting the link into your readable content.  In this case, I would go back to the newsletter that I was writing and create a link somewhere in my article.  For example, let's say I finished my newsletter off with the following phrase - contact us to get started on your small business website.  I've linked the call to action with the tagged link which looks just like any other link within the text.  But this one, gets picked up by Google analytics and tracked uniquely.  Go ahead, click on it!  Either way, I'll be able to tell if you did or not ;-)

If you need any help with this, feel free to comment, email us or check out the Google Analytics help page.

Published in Blog

Okay, so now that I have you convinced on the benefits of upgrading your site, your next question is, "How long and difficult is this process going to be?". Having done it myself, I can tell you that it isn't as daunting as it sounds. I'm not going to get into the specifics of the migration process, for that you can visit this site for documentation: http://docs.joomla.org/Migrating_from_1.0.x_to_1.5_Stable. I do have 3 pieces of advice though, based on the migration I went through:

BACKUP YOUR OLD SITE FIRST: This should really go without saying, but during a process like this there's always the potential for something unexpected to happen. Worst case scenario, you can always reinstall your old Joomla 1.0 site should something go wrong.

 

Install 3rd party migrator plugins: The migration process will update the core of your site only. To make your job easier, install as many of these 3rd party migrator plugins as possible. For example, if you have a small business website with e-commerce using Virtuemart, installing the plugin will allow you to move all of the existing data over to your new Joomla 1.5 site. Otherwise you'll have to re-create the entire store and inventory from scratch (which I can tell you is incredibly tedious).

 

Choose a versatile template: If you're thinking of giving your site a bit of a re-design at the same time that you migrate it, just keep in mind that the original content was created with a specific template in mind. If you install a new template with a different layout, your original content might look awkward when it's dropped in there. I would recommend that you choose a template that has a variety of customization features (e.g. column widths, module positions & variations, color options, etc.).

If you follow my advice then I'm sure your migration to Joomla 1.5 will go smoothly (if it doesn't, please don't blame me...I'm only the messenger). Be sure to follow the documentation instructions closely and research further anything you're unsure about. Just keep in mind, it's all worth it in the end and it'll be over before you know it. Then you can enjoy all the benefits of an up to date Joomla website for yourself or your small business client...or at least until Joomla 1.6 comes out.
Published in Blog

So you've got an old Joomla 1.0 website, either for yourself or one of your small business website clients (if you're a web developer). While it may look and function perfectly fine, it's probably a good time to consider upgrading that website from Joomla 1.0 to Joomla 1.5. Having just gone through one of these migrations for the first time recently for one of our small business clients, I definitely have some valuable advice to pass along from my experience that is sure to help some of you Joomla-philes out there.

Before I get to that though, it's important to understand the benefits to upgrading your website's backend architecture. You may ask yourself, "Why would I bother going through the trouble of upgrading to Joomla 1.5 when my Joomla 1.0 site is working perfectly fine?". It's not just about having the latest backend interface; the Joomla 1.5 installation affords a web designer a number of other important features. Here are a few of them in no particular order:

 

Security: (This is the most important reason to migrate your site) As of July 22 2009, Joomla 1.0 will no longer be supported. This means that Joomla will not be updating the 1.0 code going forward, which also means that any potential security "holes" will no longer be patched. Joomla hackers know that your 1.0 site is vulnerable, and are constantly looking to exploit this code. In a world of digital information, nothing reflects more poorly on your small business' professionalism than a website in disarray due to a hacker.

 

Support: Another consequence of the Joomla 1.0 code no longer being supported is that many 3rd party extensions will no longer work with it. If you want your site to enjoy all of the latest and greatest components and plugins, you'll be out of luck with your 1.0 site.

 

Search Engine Optimization: Many of today's best search engine optimization (SEO) tools don't work with Joomla 1.0. There's nothing better than getting your site on the first page of Google after only five minutes of SEO configuration, when it would otherwise take you hours of tedious work. I'd personally be lost without some of the great 3rd party Joomla 1.5 SEO extensions that I lean on heavily.

Okay, so now that I have you convinced on the benefits of upgrading your site, your next question is, “How long and difficult is this process going to be?”.

(read more about migrating your Joomla 1.0 site in “How to Migrate a Website from Joomla 1.0 to Joomla 1.5”)

Published in Blog