Subscribe to Our Newsletter

x

Google Analytics Traffic Declining? Here's What You Look At

By Paul Berry

We've been working with publishers a long time and we frequently hear from clients panicking at a sudden decline in Google Analytics traffic. (Btw, you may also be seeing the decline in Chartbeat, if that's your preferred analytics tool -- we love clients that rely on Chartbeat's real-time numbers and know where they should be at any hour of any day of the week.)


In my experience, 99% of media traffic problems come from ad tech and third party JavaScript calls. JavaScript calls are what stitch the web together. That's awesome, but the reality is that the Javascript fiber is no Kevlar, or even a good sturdy cloth. It's frail and easy to break, and the tangle of JavaScript libraries being called together in a page can quickly conflict with each other.

When those numbers drop, that directly impacts your business. So it's important to understand what to look at when this happens. Here is how you keep a cool head, take steps to diagnose the problem, and be prepared to fix it.


Check Platform Health on RebelMouse

You can check status.rebelmouse.com or check in with an Account Manager. If your website is loading normally and your real-time analytics and GA traffic are showing a decline, then there's something more to dig into. If RebelMouse is having some type of issue, we'll pro-actively provide you with email updates.

While you may want to blame the platform, it's actually very rarely a RebelMouse problem. We find that we're typically helping our clients untangle the way their ad tech, analytics and any custom JS combine together. Ad tech is always breaking the delicate Javascript mesh that keeps the internet together (apart).


Check Your Network Tab and Javascript Console in Chrome While Loading Your Website

If you want to actually understand what's happening this will tell you. It is the first thing our team would do. You can actually read way more than you thought. We know, it's really nerdy, but it's the year of the nerds, right? So try looking at this link and reading through it, you would be shocked how much power this information gives you:

https://developers.google.com/web/tools/chrome-devtools/console/

BONUS: Use it in mobile mode where, almost surely, all your traffic is. Find out what's breaking your sites.

GUESS WHAT? The ads broke it. They always do. See if that conflicts with any core analytics calls or if it's creating issues with Facebook etc.


Chase Down Bad Ads

Some ads that are served through the networks are really horrible. They do things that will get you banned on Facebook, who has no way to know the difference from you, innocently trying to monetize your content, and the horrible scammer spammer. So that bad ad that traps a user - it's on you. You have to talk to your ad networks. Think of it as talking to an airline in the Denver airport on New Year's Eve, when all the flights have been cancelled. Be charming and determined and relentless. Maybe use more reputable ad networks. But remember, even the best networks get hacked and spammed at times.


Review Ad Blockers

Some people get fancy activate ad blocking in their Google ads manager. Ask your ad ops team if they have played with those settings. You can check it yourself through the JS console and in view source:



Review Your Lazy Load and Load Priority Settings

If you have been playing with page load optimization settings (i.e. figuring out which components to lazy load and how to prioritize JS components) then suspect any of those changes are responsible. Where you place the Google Analytics code and how you prioritize it on the page will 100% effect the reporting totals.

It's always better to load the ad scripts in a sync mode so they're not blocking the page rendering and you have a great page score in Google PageSpeed Insights. You can always check your page score here at https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights

e.g.:

-OR-


Check If Facebook Instant Articles Is Activated and Works

In Google Analytics, in real-time, you can go to Traffic Sources and see Facebook Instant Articles. Is it a healthy number? By healthy, I mean a significant portion of your traffic?

Because that where the audience is. If you are doing it right, you have a lot there. If you don't, then get a little paranoid about whether you should be turning it on. And if you thought it was on, check your articles on your phone - do they have the lighting icon and go to Instant Articles. Check in with an Account Manager if not.


Find Your Google WebMaster Tools and Run a Systems Check

If you don't have access to and aren't set up to own your Google webmaster tools, then welcome to the best (or the worst) part of the Internet .

This is webmaster tools:

https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/home?hl=en

You might need this:

https://support.google.com/webmasters/?hl=en

Run through to check if you are being indexed, crawled, if there are errors and if AMP is registered / working.


Reading Your Real Time Better

1 - Check your traffic sources. Anything missing? Some big normal traffic source suddenly gone? Find out if you have a particular source that has gone down. Normally it's seen as a decline in Facebook because Facebook is the biggest source of traffic.

2 - Check Facebook insights and messages and notifications. Did you get a bad ad that blocked you? Did a viral post get banned because of copyright reports? Go dig into any Facebook messages and your Facebook insights.

3 - Check your top post. Check them in developer mode in Chrome, and in mobile. Is something off? You can isolate craziness there quickly.

NEW: Page Views per Particle Enabled for Google AMP

Increase mobile page views for every particle using Google AMP

RebelMouse has deployed an exciting update: We've enabled particle tracking in Google Analytics for articles using Google's Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) format, which means every particle now triggers a page view event upon scroll. Before, just one page view event would be logged when the mobile page initially loaded.

Not Familiar With What This Means? Read On

The days of static, flat media are over. Sites with low performance scores, obtrusive ad experiences, and poor content structure simply won't make it. Knowing these truths, the way we think of an article can no longer be static either.

An article today now takes several forms: short-form, long-form, listicle, slideshow, etc. Because of this, we've created a simple framework called Particle Assembler that accounts for all possibilities when building out content.

We playfully call each piece of your content a "particle," which is quite literally a "part" of an "article." These particles have become the core way to author content on RebelMouse, and are standalone elements that use their own imagery, title, and copy. For example, let's say you create a post that's titled, "The Best Place for Tacos in Austin." Each taco destination in this article will have a lead image, the name of the restaurant, its location, and a description of the restaurant with images of their food. Each of these restaurant highlights contain enough information to stand by themselves as individual posts.

Building particles in RebelMouse's Entry Editor.

And they do stand alone successfully when you're on RebelMouse — each particle can be shared separately on social and each will register as a unique page view thanks to our latest update. This is a critical part of our modern pageview methodology that ensures our publishers deliver an elegant user experience to readers while still capitalizing on a meaningful monetization strategy. For instance, not only is every particle now a page view on Google AMP, but it's also a new revenue opportunity. This is thanks to the various placement opportunities for ads we offer within our Particle Assembler.

ICYMI, Google AMP is the search engine's lightning-fast mobile experience. With this update, sites powered by RebelMouse will not only deliver the best AMP experience to their users, but they'll also earn the page views their content deserves, too.

See the Massive Difference

In just a short period after implementing this change, one client experienced a massive spike in AMP pages per user, where it jumped from 1.6 to 8.2:

Here's what their AMP pages per user looked like just prior to the update:

If you're interested in experiencing this type of growth and getting more page views for your mobile content, request a proposal today and let's start working together. If you're already on RebelMouse, email support@rebelmouse.com or talk to your account manager to learn more about particle views for Google AMP.

Primary Tags: Structure Your Site for Success

Dynamic taxonomy improves usability and propels SEO strategy

It's not a surprise that quality content can easily be spoiled by a poor site experience. This is why we're extremely proud of the lightning-fast sites we power. But speed is only the beginning of the user experience.

The temperature on platform dependency has cooled in recent years, revitalizing the value of site visits and search strategy. This is good news for both users and publishers who need site stability to survive. Because of this shift, RebelMouse focuses on three primary key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure site usability and health:

  • Sessions per User: The average number of site sessions that each user has in a given time period.
  • Pages per User: The average number of page views that each user has in a given time period.
  • Time per User: The average amount of time spent on site by each user.

In order for these metrics to shine, a site's architecture must be organized in a way that increases every user's time on site. The logic is simple: If a site is easier to navigate, the user will likely stick around longer. This is the gateway to user loyalty.

One important way we support these KPIs is through our intuitive tagging structure for content. Let's take a look at our primary tag functionality and how it can set up any site for success.

What Is a Primary Tag?

On RebelMouse, we give you the ability to use as many tags as needed on every article to help keep you organized. But there's also an option to assign one primary tag to a post. A primary tag is built on the same principle as a primary section. One tag lets you assign higher importance to certain pieces of content when processing and organizing your posts.

The Primary Tag and Tags sections in RebelMouse's Entry Editor.

The Benefits of Primary Tags

Dynamic Taxonomy: One of the primary benefits of using a primary tag is that it exposes the depth of content available to your users. Many publishers do this through the use of sections, which often turns out to be redundant and, in turn, ignored:

Sections can often be annoying to navigate and repetitive.

Using a variety of relevant tags for every article, rather than just repeating the same handful of sections, opens up more opportunities for targeted descriptors. For example, instead of using "Recipes" as a section over and over again, a primary tag can be used to create specific content flows for topics like "Vegetarian," "Soups," or "Cocktails."

Richer SEO: Since a primary tag exposes more information about your article, it also supplies more relevant data to Google's algorithm. Surfacing content in usable ways supports Google's mission to serve content based on audience behavior and intent instead of outdated and frowned-upon SEO methods like keyword stuffing. This approach is called white hat SEO, or ethical SEO.

By targeting specific interests, your dynamic tag structure will allow Google to more accurately understand your article's content and rank it accordingly. On RebelMouse, this creates a trickle-down effect, because users can click a tag and quickly get directed to more relevant articles, which boosts your SEO efforts further.

Here's how the site experience looks on RebelMouse-powered EcoWatch when viewing their primary tag "Plastics."

RebelMouse-powered EcoWatch takes advantage of a primary tag construct.

Improves Crucial KPIs: As mentioned before, RebelMouse traffic experts are constantly focused on improving the three KPIs that matter most to site usability and building audience loyalty. These metrics answer the following questions:

  • Frequency: How often are users coming to the site?
  • Depth: How many articles does each user consume?
  • Duration: How long is each user staying on the site?

Looking again at EcoWatch's use of primary tags, it's important to note that a primary tag is exposed on every one of their articles. They're also used in a left-hand navigation module that features the latest stories and trending topics:

Start Leveraging Primary Tags on RebelMouse

If you aren't on RebelMouse yet, request a proposal today and let's start working together to make sure your site is optimized for user growth. If you're already publishing on RebelMouse, and want to learn more about tagging best practices, contact your account manager or email support@rebelmouse.com.

Page Speed Is Crucial to Your Marketing Efforts

Most marketers don't prioritize page speed because they don't think it impacts their bottom line. However, page load has a direct impact on conversions and revenue.

Here's a very simple scenario, supported by industry data, to underscore why the way pages are built and powered is crucial for paid media initiatives and your overall business:

Let's say a paid media campaign drives 100,000 new visitors to a landing page that takes five seconds to load. Google says that 53% of mobile site visitors will leave a page that takes longer than three seconds to load. So of the 100K mobile site visitors you paid to bring to the page, ~50K are leaving immediately due to poor page performance alone.

Some studies even show that bounce rate increases approximately 100% for every two-second delay. So, if site load jumps to seven seconds, you'll pretty much lose all of the visitors your paid strategies brought in.

A Poor Site Experience Costs More Than You Realize

Page load plays a huge part in customer dissatisfaction, too. Continuing on with our previous example, let's classify the ~50K that didn't abandon the page as dissatisfied due to poor page performance. As HubSpot points out, 79% of them are less likely to buy again from the same website. That's ~40K visitors never coming back to the site due to poor page speed. The loss is even greater when you consider how valuable returning visitors are: They represent up to 48% of all transactions and spend almost 2x more than new visitors, according to Business Insider.

Plus, people love to spread the word about a bad experience, probably more than a good one. 40% of visitors who had a bad experience with a website's performance would tell a friend or a family member. So of your 50K dissatisfied visitors, 20K are talking negatively about your brand. If they tell only one person each, that's an opportunity cost of another 20K potential site visitors and customers.

The main takeaway? Your paid media has to work much, much harder when you neglect to optimize your site for performance.

Owned and Paid Media Should Work Together for Better Efficiency

And speaking of site improvements to help the bottom line, marketers can't overlook the value of owned content (e.g., articles, reviews, social feeds, etc.) and its impact on overall traffic and lead generation strategies. Sites tend to see significant lift in audience reach and conversion when content is paired with commerce: For e-commerce companies, content can account for up to 69% of total organic traffic. And, even more compelling, conversion rates have been 6x higher for companies that adopt content marketing.

RebelMouse's CMS makes it easy for brands to systematically optimize page speed performance and organic reach, which allows paid media to be more efficient.

RebelMouse allows clients to easily manage website layouts and components at any time, ensuring sites remain fast and are rewarded by Google and Facebook. Our platform features proprietary SEO tools designed to help clients optimize organic search with every post and better align paid and organic search strategies for increased efficiency. Similarly, our platform also includes proprietary social tools to organically build community and growth, and our data helps clients spot winning organic trends that can inform paid social media.

RebelMouse Is a Partner That Can Guide You

When it comes to content marketing, it's important to be mindful of the relationship between owned, earned, and paid media — it will only help your teams engage and convert more audiences into customers and brand loyalists. At RebelMouse, we're proud of how we work with brands and our ability to provide the expertise, best practices, and modern technology that help teams become better content marketers. If you're a brand marketer, feel free to reach out to us to learn how RebelMouse can help you be more strategic and effective in your content marketing efforts.

Related Articles

Target High-Value Users With Affinity Categories

Unlock valuable audience data and shape a new strategy

In today's landscape, quality content isn't enough — it's half the battle. Publishers need to produce shareable content backed by data to experience sustainable growth. At RebelMouse, we have a unique pageview methodology that provides an innovative user experience for every reader without sacrificing revenue and growth opportunities for publishers.

To do this, we track massive amounts of data across our platform through the use of custom-built Google Data Studio dashboards.

Click here to see the kind of growth our clients experience every day.

One of the best ways to discover more about your audience is by taking advantage of Affinity Categories. This feature breaks down audience demographics, including age, location, interests, and more. Affinity Categories are usually used to target audiences for ads, but we also use them to gain insights on what topics a site's visitors are interested in overall.

Normally, each category is listed out separately in Google Analytics. In the example shown above, our data experts split categories into separate levels to reveal different levels of audience depth. For instance, by splitting up the category News & Politics, we can better explore the detailed distribution of users interested in specific types of news:

  • News & Politics/Avid News Readers/Avid Political News Readers
  • News & Politics/Avid News Readers/Entertainment News Enthusiasts

From an editorial standpoint, this is useful because it allows publishers to determine and target varying levels of high-value users, improving the efficacy of a new content strategy or ad campaign.

If your site is already powered by RebelMouse, email support@rebelmouse.com to get a breakdown of your audience's Affinity Categories. If you aren't powered by RebelMouse yet, request a proposal today and start receiving the data you need to grow loyal followers at scale.

Related Articles

Subscribe to Our Newsletter