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In this episode, you will hear Mark Williams-Cook & Jack Chambers talking about: - Yoast on Shopify: The popular WordPress plugin makes its way to Shopify - What average position on Google Search Console actually means and how it's calculated - IndexWatch 2021: The biggest losers - How to find 'hidden' organic traffic in your direct traffic on Google Analytics
Mark: Welcome to episode two of season two of the Search with Candour podcast recorded on Wednesday, the 19th of January 2022. My name is Mark Williams-Cook. And today I am joined again by my new and to-be-regular co-host Jack Chambers.
Jack: Hello, that's me.
Mark: And today we're going to be discussing Yoast coming to Shopify, the average position report in Google search console, and just some interesting facts on how that's calculated. We've got the Sistrix index watch biggest losers, always more fun than the winners. And we've got a really in-depth, interesting guide. Well, hopefully, I'm going to give you a breakdown of it, of how to recover direct traffic within Google analytics. So where your hard-won organic traffic is being classed as direct.
Jack: Search With Candour is supported by SISTRIX, the SEO's toolbox. Go to sistrix.com/swc if you want to check out some of their excellent free tools, such as checking your visibility index, Google update impact, keyword research, and page speed checker. You can also register for a free trial of their paid services, which include website auditing, content optimisation, and over 13 years of trends and search data that's S-I-S-T-R-I-X.com / S-W-C. The S-W-C stands for Search with Candour.
Mark: OK, let's start with Yoast. So, Yoast is a name I imagine most of you working in SEO know quite well. They have been around since the golden olden days, many stories of golden olden days. So Yoast has been around a long time. They are, I think, generally the most popular WordPress plugin for SEO. Although surprisingly, actually, I think it was today or yesterday, I saw a Twitter poll of which SEO plugin are using for WordPress and Rank Math came almost neck and neck, with Yoast. I would've thought Yoast would've run away with that. Yeah.
Mark: Yeah. Well, I think they would generally, I think this is because this is like an SEO professional heavy kind of skew, not that most Twitter polls are particularly fair, but it was super skewed and I think maybe more kind of professionals are looking at other alternatives, but Yoast is certainly the most popular WordPress plugin.
Jack: Yeah. We were talking about it in the office earlier today when we were kind of talking about “Oh, what we're going to discuss on the podcast?” because the other members of the SEO team here are interested about what we're going to be talking about. And we were like “Yoast!” Yeah. That's like the stuff you learn on day one, that's the basics. Whenever you kind of build your first website or work with your first client or work in house on a WordPress website, you're going to be working with Yoast SEO. That kind of feels like it kind of sets the standard for so many WordPress sites and it's very interested they're finally kind of branching away from WordPress.
Mark: Yeah. It's kind of part of the problem.
Jack: Yeah. Oh, absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. That wasn't particularly a compliment, by the way, saying it was kind of the standard.
Mark: Yeah. It's a double-edged sword. And I think you see this through whether it's software or conferences, which is when, as the SEO industry's grown and the audience changes and people reposition themselves. So, from, I know from an SEO professional point of view, it's almost like a running joke about people have come to you with their WordPress site, they say “Oh yeah, our developers have done the SEO.” And essentially that means “Does Yoast show us the green light?”
Jack: We've got all the green lights. Yeah exactly. We've got readability, we've got keywords in there. And all the green lights are green. We have at least 300 words on every page. What's not to like?
Mark: Exactly. I mean, and to be fair to Yoast. I mean, I still use Yoast myself on a lot of WordPress sites. I really like some of the stuff they've done with schema. So particularly Jono Alderson's been involved a lot. With, I mean personally my understanding of schema and graphs. And I think they've done a really good job with how they generate the schema for sites. Certainly, more than pretty much everyone else and that's a really great thing. And they do a lot out of the box for WordPress because despite WordPress being so long in the tooth now, empowering last time I checked, it's like a third of the web, it still isn't great out of the box for SEO. And this is what surprised, well, not surprised me, this is what I found interesting. So, the announcement here that we've taken ages to get to is that Yoast has launched now for Shopify. So they have a Shopify app for all the people using Shopify, which is a lot now.
Jack: It's a lot of people. Yeah. So to kind of touch on Shopify. Again, I'm sure plenty of listeners have at least heard of Shopify or perhaps even worked on Shopify sites themselves. Shopify is pretty, pretty big in the eCommerce world talking about 20% market share of eCommerce sites, particularly in the U.S. that goes slightly higher to like 25%, more than 2.3 million live websites using Shopify as of December 2021 is the third-largest online retailer in the U.S. after titans like Amazon and eBay. And there's a great quote about, they recently reached a global merchandise volume, like a cumulative total base of all the stuff sold on there of $400 billion. And it took them 15 years to get to 200 billion. And then in the last 18 months they doubled that to 400 billion because of course, online shopping has just continues to grow basically. And Shopify has been there for so many sites over the last few years. And as that continue to grow, Shopify kind of caught on that wave.
Mark: That really doesn't surprise me either as well. So there's been quite a few senior figures if you like within the SEO industry, which have recently gone to Shopify. And I feel like over the last couple of years, pandemic driven, I guess, especially.
Jack: Yeah, absolutely.
Mark: There has been a bit of an arms race for these SaaS type platforms to use another example Wix is something several years ago you would not have got me to recommend to anyone and I'd be rolling my eyes talking about SEO. They'd made huge developments to their platform and it was actually, we had a guest Mordy on the show who used to be such liaison on for Wix and told me about all the improvements they're making. I actually got members of the SEO community. I was like, Hey, why aren't you recommending Wix from an SEO point of view?
Mark: What's your issue with it? And actually, when we went through them, there weren't many issues actually remaining that existed in the platform. I think the same's true from a Shopify point of view. So historically there's been all the bugbears about “Oh, you can't edit your robots.txt. You can't do this. You can't do that.” How it organizes collections and they've tackled a lot of these.
Jack: Yeah, absolutely.
Mark: And it really doesn't surprise me that they've seen that growth. And again, I certainly have no issue in a lot of cases for the right people recommending Shopify. And this is what made me pause to think, which is okay. I wonder what Yoast is going to add to this party in that Shopify is seriously investing in SEO.
Jack: And how does that differ from what they offer for WordPress? Right? Because as we said, it's almost like they go together and you can't say Yoast without WordPress. I wonder if they're going to be able to kind of break that association and really kind of get as much of a foothold on the Shopify side of things as they do with WordPress, they are two different platforms. They're going to have to offer slightly different things that they do on WordPress to what they're going to do on Shopify.
Mark: So I had to look through the site and the announcement by Yoast about Yoast, the app for Shopify and primarily the things they listed did for Shopify. And I'm going to be a little bit of a negative Nelly here was the kind of three things they went in two or four things was this traffic light system for readability personally, I'm not a fan of this.
Jack: I feel like it veers very closely into a lot of SEO urban myths of like 'keyword density' and 'minimum content length' and all that kind of stuff that you get that so many people for whatever reason still believe in now in 2022, despite that not being a thing for about a decade in SEO.
Mark: Sure. Yeah. I mean yeah, if your website's readable, that's great obviously for users, but I mean I've got websites that I've worked on that come up “Red light, oh, we've got big problems here with readability” and they're smashing everyone to pieces and I know what's written there does make sense and it's written like we've got good copywriters and good content writers and they've written it that way for a reason.
Mark: The next thing it says is Yoast analyzes your content, and this is a quote just like Google does, which for me is probably a bit. I understand what they're saying, but it's a little bit of a stretch. I don't think it's particularly that advanced, you mentioned the keyword stuff and the target keyword thing again, this is where we get this division I think between pro SEOs if you like, and which in fairness, then the majority of people which are, maybe don't know a lot about SEO who are setting up their small e-commerce kind of ‘mom and pop’ type shop, which is that, “What would you like to rank for?” you type it in the box. And then essentially Yoast is checking that you are talking about that in the copy.
I don't necessarily think getting people thinking along those lines is always the best thing to do. And again, there has to be that absolute basic level. So from what I've seen and they did do schema as well. And obviously, I said, they were great at schema for WordPress. Again Shopify does some schema as well. They've got integrations with Google. Certainly, you don't seem to have any problems with the sites I've worked on getting stuff listed and getting rich results.
So there is some helpful stuff in there. The thing that stung me a little bit and I'm an SEO, so I'm going to be stingy, right, is that the pricing was $29 per 30 days. So this is kind of over three times the cost of the WordPress one, which is a hundred bucks for the year. Now, again I'm sure they have to pay for development costs and there's a lot going on there, but for me, and caveat this, I haven't used it. So this is a complete me just walking past the shop window and scoffing for me. I don't know yet my jury's still out on this, but Yoast, they've got a good track record for WordPress. They're on Shopify. So it might be worth testing it out for your site, seeing what it can give you. Maybe if you have got in-house SEOs or you're working with an agency, a freelancer might not be for you.
Jack: Yeah, absolutely. I think it's going to be key for those people that are... If you're just starting off and building your own e-commerce site and just kind of like winging it essentially and trying to work out how to go about it in the tightest budget possible without getting professional SEO people and an agency involved and stuff like that. I think that could certainly help lay the sort of foundation for future work and growth of your website in the future.
Mark: You've reminded me there talking about agencies and not winging it. And we did in the last season, we had a few shows with a chap called Nathan Lomax from Quickfire Digital. They're a Shopify specialist agency, and they wanted to do that again this year but what we're actually going to do is get Nathan from Quickfire on the search with Candour podcast. And we're going to do some sessions, have some talk specifically about Shopify and SEO. So I'm sure he will have some interesting things to share with us. And by then, I'm sure he will have some clients using Yoast. So that will be coming up in this season as well.
Jack: So the next thing we want to touch on, you mentioned at the top of the show, Mark, as one of our topics, is reporting average position in Google Search Console. And you would think that would be a fairly obvious thing. You see average position, you assume it takes all of the positions of all of the things, all of the keywords that your pages are ranking for, and then does a mean of that and divides it by the total number and gets an average.
According to the January 7th, Google SEO office hours, the English one with John Mueller, talking about how this is actually calculated, turns out it wasn't as simple as we thought it was. And it actually kind of focuses on the top position rather than the average position for all of the different keywords and all of the different pages across. If your website is visible in position three, four, and five, for example, then we'll track three as a kind of position for that individual query. Interesting. I don't know how many people have also clocked onto this. This was highlighted by Dr Marie Haynes on Twitter, of course, links in the show notes as always, but that is something I was not expecting to see. And I know again, we talked about it here in the office. We discussed it with our team and we're all quite confused by this and quite surprised.
Mark: I don't know. I think I would file this under things I'd never thought about before, but actually make perfect sense when you think about it. So is actually, there's two... It's the same way in which the averages are calculated, but it works differently whether you look at it on a domain or query level. So what we are talking about is if you look at your domain and you are getting this average position of the top positions, and that's because your domain might rank at the same time, third, fifth, and 10th, for instance, for the same keyword or more likely something like third 50th and 60th, that's quite common. And from a logical point of view, if you were going to prepare an average position, it wouldn't make sense really to take those, what are essentially outliers into account and massively drag down your visibility. So say you rank third 50th and 60th it's not a fair average to say, oh, okay, on average you are 30th or whatever, because the truth is you are very visible because you're third. So actually-
Jack: It's kind of weighting that average towards... And we've talked about this before, and I'm sure a lot of people know as well, talking about click-through rates and visibility for the higher positions, especially in the top 10 and top five compared to top 50, top 60, which is essentially zero for all intents and purposes.
Mark: And someone pointed out to me, oh, well this is actually different if it's done on a query level, then it's just the average. But actually it's calculated exactly the same. If you just have the statement, it's the average of the highest detective position over a time series. That's correct for both cases because when you have a query, you are only getting one ranking back. So it is by definition, the highest visibility anyway. It just so happens that there's an array of numbers if you are looking at the whole domain.
Mark: So actually it makes perfect sense, but these are the kind of things that I love to know because there's that meeting you'll have twice a year where sometimes a sharp climb will just ask you a question like this. It's always nice just to have pre-thought about the answer rather than having to go through that logical process in front of people and it's fair enough because not everybody knows everything of course. Nobody knows everything rather. Not everybody knows everything, but yeah, it is one of the... I thought it was really interesting. It was a really good spot by Marie Haynes as well. She's got her own podcast and newsletter that goes along with it. So check that out as well. If you haven't, loads of great information, I'll make sure we get a link in the show notes, which are at search.withcandour.co.uk.
Jack: So as I touched on at the top of the show, we are sponsored by SISTRIX and that allows us to dive into the wonderful data that they provide us. We talked about the IndexWatch winners from 2021. We can dive into the IndexWatch 2021 losers, which I'm excited by. I know you kind of teased it last week, Mark, it's always more fun. And I think it is really, really interesting and a couple of common themes going through it as well, which I find particularly interesting. Should we kick off with one that surprised me, to be honest, the CIA of all people?
Mark: The Central Intelligence Agency. Who apparently don't have an SEO department.
Jack: The U.S. Government doesn't have an SEO department. Who would've thought it?
Mark: So the IndexWatch one of the biggest losers was cia.gov with minus 93.1%.
Mark: I doubt they care, really.
Jack: No, no. They're supposed to be secretive, right? Maybe they don't want to be visible. Maybe this is all... It's all part of the plan.
Mark: Based on historical URL data SISTRIX said that the World Factbook used to reside within the slash library directory of the cia.gov site. Have you encountered the World Factbook before?
Jack: I've never been into the World Factbook.
Mark: I have!
Jack: Have you actually?
Mark: Yeah, quite a few times because the World Factbook was generally the thing that would rank if you wanted to Google “What is the population of this country?” So it was okay, well we need to settle this pub argument now. And I just always remember... It stuck out in my mind because I was like, it's kind of weird that the CIA ranks for this, but yeah, the World Factbook is what it says on the tin. Just facts about the world that they had made publicly available. It looks like that's where they had lost a lot of rankings. And mainly the content's actually most of it is still there. Well, the World Factbook stuff is not everything in the library, but they've just done a content migration and done no redirects.
Jack: Yeah. So this is going to be the theme, ladies and gentlemen about this IndexWatch is: Be careful with your migrations because it can go horribly, horribly wrong. The little analysis here from Luce Rawlings who's written IndexWatch, clicking through some of the pages and actually having a look at where those keywords have gone, you get a bunch of 404s. It's like “Aha, somebody hasn't done their redirects properly!” And turns out the CIA do not have, as you said Mark, SEO people actually, or developers who can go in and doing redirects properly. And I can't say I'm surprised, I guess is like you said, it's probably not high on their priority to be ranking for stuff.
Mark: I think they've got other stuff to do.
Jack: But yeah, it's really interesting. And to kind of spin-off onto that, there's a kind of a mini section here I'd like to call the death of department stores because oh boy, the Arcadia group, for those of you who don't know at the beginning of the year, went into administration. The Arcadia group is the parent company of loads of well-known fashion brands, including Burton, Miss Selfridge, Top Shop/Top Man.
If you are like us here in the UK, you've probably been to these shops, you've probably heard of them, and they have seen some serious, serious drop-off. We're looking at kind of across, including other brands as well across other brands, such as ASOS and Boohoo as well. There's a big, big problem going on the Arcadia side of things. And again, again, it's all to do with how they migrated and how they're merging all of these different sites and trying to bring them together and someone didn't redirect their directories properly and didn't create the categories properly by the sounds of it and has completely screwed up their visibility. And that sounds like it should matter a lot more to these department stores than it would to the CIA.
Mark: So I guess this is like death of the department store: asterisk that don't do migrations.
Jack: Well, yes. Yeah.
Mark: We've had over the years and I've included in talks, I've done, these big, scary graphs where you show, oh look, this migration went terribly and they lost a million pounds a day every day for the rest of their lives. Just these horror stories. This IndexWatch, I would look at it because there is definitely still in a lot of fairly big companies. I've seen two, I guess, two, three main problems working backwards. I've experienced this at larger companies, which is that they have in-house SEO teams that know what they are doing. Those people are not necessarily connected to the stakeholders-
Jack: And the decision-makers. Yeah.
Mark: That do the M&A stuff. So I have essentially exactly the same situation here at this agency. Not naming any names, a client we went to that does a lot of M&A stuff. So they do lots of mergers acquisitions of other companies, we do the SEO for their kind of core brands, and when we had a meeting with the rest of the board, we finally got everyone together, which was a rare occurrence. And we explained to them what we were doing, because we've been helping them. At least one part of this big business with these migrations was suddenly all these light bulbs started to go on in the room and people saying, oh, well actually we bought this and we've got this domain and nobody's talked about this before, and these it suddenly clicked that all of these are assets and they're worth money.
Mark: They shouldn't be left to certainly not expire, but lots of places migrations, redirects hadn't been done. And I think that can sometimes be a problem with these big companies. The other is just this assumption flash arrogance of “Hey we're big, Google will find the new pages.” And I feel weird saying if the CIA can't be trusted, I guess from a website point of view, if Google can't trust cia.gov,
Jack: Who can you trust?!
Mark: Confused emoji. It's not like Google's just gone, oh, all those pages have moved there. So I will transfer your rankings over there, sir. And just ignore that the links are going to 404s. It doesn't happen. So when this IndexWatch is published, which should be by the time you can listen to this podcast, I would have a look at that and keep those examples in your back pocket for when you're having discussions about migrations because things will go wrong if they're not done properly, nobody has a get out of jail, free card for this. And the prevention is much cheaper than cure.
Jack: Yeah, absolutely. To round off maybe my favourite example of this migration, also featured a rebrand from World of Books. And if you've ever bought the secondhand book on eBay, you've probably bought it from World of Books to put that into perspective. I know I certainly have. They went from World of Books.com and rebranded to WOB obviously standing for world of books. But now they are wob.com. Okay. I mean, you're a worldwide seller of books. Maybe keep with the strong brand name you would assume. And yeah, they also did a migration when they move from the old domain to the new domain. And that's one of the scariest graphs I ever seen in terms of migration. Like you said, Mark, if you go and have a look at our show notes, searchwithcanda.co.uk, there is a link to the index watch there. And there are some very scary graphs that should warn you all just in case you've got a migration coming up soon.
Mark: And I'd just like to say, I do care for you SEOs that are maybe working in these places.
Jack: It seems like we're laughing at you. We're not, we promise.
Mark: The truth is probably they've been desperately emailing people and having meetings, trying to get people to buy in and understand what's going to happen. And then obviously it all falls over and then the big SEO finger comes of who did this, but-
Jack: The CEO points to the SEO and go, "How did this happen?"
Mark: You can sometimes just get locked out by people you need to work with. There was one actually on IndexWatch that made me a little bit sad, which was Top Cashback. Top cashback, for those that don't know, it's essentially just an affiliate site that offers cashback. They're pretty much the biggest in the UK and over 2021 SISTRIX track visibility decreased by 90%. And I haven't looked into this in-depth and I've actually done SEO on cashback sites before.
Jack: I thought you were going to say on Top Cashback…
Mark: I think I actually have, you know?
Jack: Oh, maybe
Mark: I was going to say-
Jack: Knowing you Mark, I wouldn't be surprised.
Mark: I was going to say it, but it was quite a while ago. I'm pretty sure it was Top Cashback. Top Cashback, if you need help, I'm still here. It made me sad because well, we at home, I use Top Cashback because it has a function in the, why would I not just get some money off for very, very little effort? They've lost all this organic visibility.
Mark: SISTRIX have said, well, it looks like the links and the structure of the site has stayed the same. And then it kind of again, without going into kind of a technical analysis of it. I'm thinking, well, why might this be, because Sistrix is saying this is in step with Google algorithm updates as well. And is it because the way that Google's algorithms are now working is they've decided that it's not offering a lot of value in terms of it's just basically giving you money off. It's just an affiliate that lists stuff, that gives you money off. So from a, hey I want some money off point of view, that's very helpful. But from a generalist algorithm, what is a good site? What is not a good site? I don't know if that's getting translated.
Jack: It's providing literal value to users but not necessarily value in the eyes of Google. Yeah.
Mark: Yeah. It's hard to maybe algorithmically pick up on that and they've got... It was mainly apparently the category pages and they had again, another look at the site, which is their home pages mainly kind of the cell. And then you can click through to see what kind of things you can get cashback on. And that's when you first start to get that main menu with the categories. So again, I don't know if I don't think it's an internal linking issue, but chucking that up to the homepage might be an interesting experiment. And the other thing I did notice, so I was checking the archive.org to see if they had made any structural changes and just having a quick nose around Google. And I did notice it seems quite a few affiliates, well, quite a few, not many now. It looks like it's been stamped out.
We're managing to get their Top Cashback affiliate link index. So, there's still a few live in Google and top cashback. It looks like have tried to prevent this. And they've got really big clear banners. So when you visit a page from Google search results, that actually is an indexed affiliate link, there's this banner that says you were referred by and then-
Jack: This code, blah, blah, blah. Yeah.
Mark: So it's not like a thing someone could stealth. I found that interesting and I wonder if there's a connection there. I'm not saying there is, this is just from looking out, but made me a little bit sad that site I use has taken such a hit.
Jack: Yeah, definitely. And to kind of round things off as part of the index watch, some sites have been particularly affected by some algorithm updates that have happened throughout the end of 2020 and into 2021, including the December core update and the June 2021 core update. And even product reviews and stuff like that have been affected by the first product review that happened earlier on in April 2021. Luce picks out an example that has seen perhaps the worst decline in Honest John, which is a car advice and review site that people go to for quick one-stop shop help stuff for cars.
Mark: Sounds trustworthy.
Jack: Yeah. He's Honest John, what could possibly go wrong? As trustworthy as the CIA, I assume that's their tagline. It's interesting to see. I really love how SISTRIX keep a close eye on how algorithm updates affect their visibility index and the fact that you can track this over really long time scales to be able to see whether this update affected this site or your site or somebody else's site is really, really fascinating. And yeah, Honest John seems to have the review pages, which were a key part of their site really quite negatively affected by that product review update that happened in the middle of last year. So yeah. Something to keep an eye on there as well, and something you can use SISTRIX to track for your sites as well.
Mark: Okay. Let's round off with direct traffic. Commonly misunderstood.
Jack: Very much so. Yeah. I was very intrigued when you brought this up for the show notes, Mark. I was very interested and intrigued in this because I think that it's something that is misunderstood by even people who work professionally in SEO. I am entirely guilty of this myself. I know, kind of taking the for granted that Google analytics is telling the truth and your data is what it says it is and things like that. So yeah. Tell us a little bit more about how you can get some more information out of your direct traffic.
Mark: So this is from an article written by Arnout Hellemans and it was actually June last year. I think I remember looking at it and thinking I should talk about this and then for some reason never did. So again, I will put a link to this guide in the show notes, search.withcandour.co.uk.
Jack: It is quite an extensive article as well. It really is.
Mark: It is quite an in detail article, which is probably maybe why I sidestepped it for something easier to talk about before, but I have tried my best to summarize it because it's the best type of guide really, which means that it takes you step by step through exactly what you need to do with screenshots, which means sometimes it can be a little bit trickier to summarize, but I will attempt to do that now for your benefits. So direct traffic as we were alluding to there, can be a bit of a problem within Google analytics, because unlike, I would say, a lot of people assume direct traffic does not just mean people that have typed in your address in their Omni box in the address bar or bookmarked you. It's basically any traffic that Google Analytics can't otherwise identify because it has to go somewhere, so it pops it into direct.
Mark: And the blog post actually links to a couple of other ones that he's done talking about, fixing some traffic sources around things like email campaigns, open graph URLs, downloadable assets. So links within PDFs and other non-HTML documents, employees, signatures in emails. Essentially this is all non HTTP traffic sources because Google is looking for this HTTP referrer to work out where the traffic has come from and all those things I just said, don't provide that, but you can let Google analytics know by using the UTM tag. So the very old urchin tags. But what this blog post does cover is that many Android-based traffic sources have no HTTP protocol for Google to pick up either. So they just end up in this catch direct channel. And this means that the traffic isn't actually direct, it's a mixture of search and social traffic. It could be slack chats, Facebook, Android quick search and Android devices. You know, there's around 3 billion Android devices in circulation in use. So this isn't just like a few people on Android phones. This is like potentially a massive amount of traffic.
Jack: Yeah. I've been an Android user for my entire life since getting smartwatches and smartphones and stuff in our lives. Everything I have is pretty much Android. So I find it really interesting that it's Android specifically. I would've thought that just going off assumptions, you would assume Apple would be the problem. No offence, Apple users out there, because they have so much more proprietary stuff that ties in with the Apple ecosystem. If you're not using an Apple thing with another Apple device, then it doesn't work. You would assume Android has such close ties with Google, specifically being the operating system for Google pixel and stuff like that, that it would make sense and all work nicely with Google analytics and kind of makes sense. But no, apparently Android is the one that's kind of causing the issues here.
Mark: Yeah, the answer is no, it doesn't work nicely.
Jack: No, no nothing ever does.
Mark: But that's good because if everything worked perfectly and nicely and was easy, none of us would have a job. And that outlines a solution using session-based tracking and actually, the blog post goes into a nice bit of detail links to Google docs about session and hit scope as well. So an example here where you commonly get issues in Google analytics for instance, is if you are using like third party checkouts, maybe like PayPal is a really common one. So how Google analytics tracks that is, throughout the session is you go off the site to PayPal and then you come back and then pay press though your best-converting traffic is coming from paypal.com, which obviously isn't very useful and there's a couple of basic ways people usually fix that with things like exclusions.
So you can ask them to skip that out of the data and get a step back. What we've got here is essentially a slightly more complicated, but better solution. So as I said, you're probably going to need to go and have a look at this guide yourself to see the images and actually follow the walkthrough. But what you're essentially doing is using Google analytics to create a session scoped custom dimension, and you are filling that via Google tag manager. Now we've got some kind of before and after pictures in terms of direct traffic and the results, I mean Arnout got on his blog were huge. So there was just a sudden drop in what was being classified as direct traffic. There's some actually fascinating things that I actually had no idea about that were included in this blog post.
And this is one of them, which is that when he was looking at the new referral information that he'd picked up using this technique, he was sometimes getting just a, kind of a weird set of numbers. And he started Googling those and adding APK on the end, which is the Android application package. So that's the like file type for Android apps and that code corresponded to some packages, which in this case were Google news. So actually it was-
Jack: That sounds like organic results to me, Mark.
Mark: Yeah, it was Google News traffic. And then we've got more steps in this guide to essentially, and I'm skimming over this to try and get through it and just give the overview. So you've got this kind of relabeled referral data. That's still labelled. It still actually says it's direct, but you've got some referral data, but you can then reclassify it in Google analytics using an advanced filter to change the referral codes to the real source.
So you'll be getting direct traffic from say, Android's quick search. You can then reclassify that as organic. So then it becomes part of your reports and really kindly really, really kindly and has also provided the Regex in the blog posts. And I've used Regex for many years and apparently I still can't get it right first time.
And I still have to Google stuff every time and get it wrong the first three or four times. So I really appreciate when people don't just say, you can use Regex to do this. It's like, ah. So it's a really good guide. I'm going to create some new... And I recommend maybe if you are on universal analytics still creating some new views to do this because you do want to be careful that you don't filter or lose traffic data. Because remember when stuff is processed in Google analytics through filters, it's not like a filter you can always just add, remove easily stuff gets processed and it's done. So anytime I'm doing anything with Google Analytics, it's always a good idea to have a test you set up.
Jack: Thanks to SISTRIX for their support. If you want to check out some of the excellent free tools such as checking out your visibility index, your Google update impact, as we talked about early on in the show, doing some keyword research or checking your page speed, you can go sistrix.com/SWC. There you can also register for a two week free trial of their paid services, which include a full website audit content optimization and access to over 13 years of data of trends and subs. That's sistrix.com/SWC. Thanks again, SISTRIX for their support.
Mark: And we'll be back in one week's time as usual, which will be Monday the 31st of January. From myself and Jack, I hope you have a lovely week.
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