Sometimes, it really is simple

After migrating my site to a new hosting service, I was getting a perplexing error, namely:

“Warning: call_user_func_array() expects parameter 1 to be a valid callback, no array or string given… in class-wp-hook.php”

Searching, there were lots of discussion about hooks and functions and arrays, but nothing definite.

At the same time, I also noticed that my ‘glyphs’ or symbols were messed up – for example, > was showing as 5, the search icon showed as a U.

Clearly, it was all related to the migration. Was I missing some files?

A good starting point when looking for WordPress problems is the browser Console – I used the Inspect tool in Chrome to view the console, and immediately saw what could have been the issue – certainly, the Glyphs weren’t showing because there was a cross-domain font issue: I had transgressed the “Cross-Origin Resource Sharing policy”!

In other words, I had a typo in my WordPress domain name. A fat-fingered extra full-stop in my domain name had caused both the font issue and the WordPress error…

B is for Bounce Rate

B is for Bounce Rate, one of the key indicators of your site’s engagement. A bounce is a single page, non-interaction visit. In other words, it measures visitors that comes to your site without seemingly doing anything.

But how little did they read? How much did they scroll? How much of the page video did they watch? How long did they stay? All we really know from a Bounce is that they didn’t click on to another page, or otherwise ‘interact’. They might have been happy with what they saw; they might have avidly digested the whole 2000-word article, or watched the entire 20 minute video. Or maybe they called the phone number they were looking for. In other words, unless you can measure other aspects of single-page engagement, you’re not getting the whole picture.

So capture any interaction. Track video views, phone number click-to-call clicks, even page scrolls, as Events. An event is an interaction, and once an event is fired, the visit is no longer a bounce. It’s still only a single page visit, but you’ve got far more insight into the user’s behaviour. And of course, entice them interact with a clear Call-To-Action (that is of course tracked as an Event).

And yet, at the highest level, Bounce Rate should be take with a grain of salt. It’s when you Segment it that you get far better and actionable insights. To get meaningful insights into Bounce Rate, drill-down to something more specific. For example, look at the Bounce Rate for Mobile vs Desktop traffic; it’s always going to be different, that’s the nature of the beast, but if there’s a massive difference, make it a priority to do something about it. Likewise, if your PPC traffic has a ridiculous BR, examine page relevancy and Quality Score.

Equally, if your site Bounce Rate is low (and we’re talking about <10%) the chances are you’ve got a Analytics code mis-configuration problem. I’m shocked at the number of WordPress sites I’ve seen with multiple Analytics code blocks. This deflates BR, so if you see single-digit BR you’ve either got the most sticky site there is (well done!) or something is wrong.

And don’t forget, we know Bounce Rate is an SEO ranking factor so a focus on reducing it will help both your audience and your rankings!

In this example, there’s one page that stands out with a massive Bounce Rate. This page is losing nearly 90% of those who land on it (good job it’s low traffic). Looking at the page, all the links are off site. Think about how you could better retain this traffic, with more in-site links and CTAs.

To get these A-to-Zs in bite-size form, follow me @AnalyticsAtoZ on Twitter. Or sign-up to get notified when a new one is out or when my forthcoming ‘A-to-Z of Google Analytics’ book is published.

A is for Attribution: The A-to-Z of Google Analytics

Welcome to the first of my A-to-Z of Google Analytics. Or rather, the A-Z of Google Analytics For The Small Business Owner. Because every business owner who depends on their website for success should know the difference between a Source and a Medium, an Event and a Goal, and a Metric and a Dimension. This series of short articles & bite-sized insights aims to help them better understand analytics.

It’s been hard to just pick one relevant analytics topic for each letter (sometimes I’ve not even tried). But given some obvious omissions, I’ll be fleshing this guide out over time. And a link to the complete A-to-Z Guide will follow. Feel free to comment and critique. And follow me @AnalyticsAtoZ on Twitter to get the A-to-Zs in even more digestible form. Let’s get the ball rolling with…

A is for Attribution

Attribution is giving credit to the traffic source or channel that’s the origin of your conversions.; attribution models are the rules which do this. So often, it’s the ‘last click’ traffic source that gets the credit or attribution for an online sale or conversion. A customer came from Organic and made a purchase? Organic’s great!

But what if your visitor was first introduced to your brand by clicking a Paid ad? Then down the line, and knowing your brand, they did an organic search and then made a purchase – shouldn’t PPC get some credit? In fact you could give it all the credit, and that would be a ‘first click’ attribution model. Which leads to the obvious conclusion, and that is to consider all ‘touch points’ and give them equal weight – that’s what’s known as the Linear attribution model.

There are other attribution models, but for the small business owner, the most important thing is to be aware of attribution – don’t let the default (last click) attribution model hide other valuable sources of traffic that drives conversions. This is especially useful if you want to assign a value to your marketing efforts.

Tip: To see your paths to conversion, try the Top Conversion Paths report in the Multi-channel Funnels options of the Conversions reports section.

7 Essential WordPress Plugins

‘There’s a plug-in for that’ is so often the call when developing a website with WordPress, and that of course is one of the great things about WordPress. But what are the essential plug-ins any new site needs? Here’s a look at my favourites.

  1. Contact Form 7
  2. WP Cerber Security
  3. MetaSlide
  4. Updraft Backup
  5. All in One SEO pack
  6. Google Analytics
  7. GWT
Not just a Stranglers song, Golden Brown is a cool Contact Form 7 Skin
Not just a Stranglers song, Golden Brown is a cool Contact Form 7 Skin

Contact Form 7 lets you easily set-up a simple – or more complex – form to capture and process enquiries. As to be expected from a long-standing plug-in, there are other add-ons to it, so you can also skin the form using something like Contact Form 7 Skins.

You’d be surprised at the level of attempts to hack into even a newly launched site. So I always install Cerber Security to ‘harden’ a new site. It lets you track and block multiple failed attempts to log-in to your site. You can set all types of conditions for blocking; a good start of course is never have a user of ‘admin’ or ‘administrator’.

Looking for a simple slider for a photo gallery? Look no further than Metaslide. It has the added benefit to being very SEO-friendly.

You’ve probably never ‘lost’ your WordPress installation, but one day you’ll need to restore, migrate or backup, and Updraft Backup will save the day. Think of it as insurance.

Every site needs SEO, and while there are a host of SEO plugins out there, All in One SEO Pack is the one I prefer. Does the essentials without distraction.

These next two plugins address the unseen side of SEO – the need to collect and analyse website visits. The GA Google Analytics plug-in does one thing – implement GA tracking – and does it well. The Google Webmaster Tools plugin implements GWT (now called Google Search Console). Don’t forget to link the two from within the GA admin section so that you can see GWT data in GA.

Jump-start your SEO: improve your user experience

new study on ranking factors has some interesting results. While it reinforces the critical importance of link building for your rankings, it also suggests other areas can carry a great deal of SEO weight – areas that can be actioned in the short term (because we all know how long link building takes).

SEMRush study on ranking factorsWhat the study revealed was just how much weight Google seems to give to site performance. Specifically, how engaging your site is may well significantly influence how your site ranks in Google’s search results. Yes we’ve known Page Speed is an increasingly important ranking factor, and you might also help your site rank better if you make it secure (https://). But Bounce Rate (BR), Time on Site, and Pages Per Session?

And yet, if we look at it from the POV of the user, these metrics are everything. Does the site match their search intent? Is there content they find useful and engage with? Or do they leave immediately? Does your shop window (what people see in the search results) match what they get in the store (what they find on your site).

That Google can rank for BR is slightly scary. On the other hand, it is simply the time between a click on a link in the SERPs and a click back to the search results.

What this really means is that so much SEO potential can be gained from a close examination of your site’s (organic) traffic & behaviour. This should go beyond just looking at analytics. You can easily see those crucial metrics like BR and Pages per Session. But why are the metrics what they are? You need to closely examine the user experience.

Get that heatmap tracking service installed now and start collecting data that you can action. Where are people clicking when they reach your site? How far are they scrolling down your pages? Do you have clear calls to action? There’s no need to radically change your site – A/B testing is an ideal solution to try out your changes that can impact the user experience.

Look at ways to reduce friction, drop-offs and of course, bounce rate, and you’ll get a leaner, more effective, more useful website that may well rank better.