3 Nifty Things To Do When You Are Publishing Your Website
Publishing a website is certainly easy but doing it for a purpose and making sure that purpose is met is a bit more difficult business altogether.
There are a gazillion websites in the world according to Wikipedia (It is a real number, don't fact check that) They have all been published. Which makes it appear like the easiest thing to do in the world, which is not the case. Well, publishing a website is certainly easy but doing it for a purpose and making sure that purpose is met is a bit more difficult business altogether. While there are practically infinite resources on doing that business better, it is often easy to overlook some of the simplest (but powerful) things around. Here are a few things I found useful while trying to make a website work. It is not a complete list but it will certainly make your life a little bit easier.
“Is this guy going to advise people about setting analytics on their website? ” I’m not. There is plenty of material online to cover that part if anything is amiss. I will share two tips that could improve your Google analytics game. If you already knew this, then good for you. If not, here we go.
Using views properly.
Views are basically ‘the data’ from your property analytics viewed in a particular way. Imagine your data as a raw photo, and the view is an Instagram post with or without any filter added. All views have all the data from your property by default (#nofilter ). But you could modify views in a way that helps you make sense of the said data. You could set up filters for certain data and filter out unnecessary information, or set up goals and see if you achieved them. So the question is how do you use these views to your benefit.
- Use a master view
This will be the unadulterated version of your data. No filters, no modifications. Never touch this view as you will need to access the raw data from time to time. If you go ahead and play with all the incoming data without any backups, it will become a problem later on.
- Use a test view
This will be your canary in the tunnel. Always test your modifications, filters, and goals here first and see if it works properly. The data will get mangled up here, but that is the purpose. You will test your analytical tools like you test your culinary skills on your family on a cursed Sunday (for them). Google Analytics doesn't let you undo the filters that have been run on a view. Filtered Out data is lost so, don't forget to do this.
- Use a master view
Filtering out your comrades.
If you work with a group of people who are also working on the same product as you, it is better to filter out their activity from your data, or you will get confused with that ‘heavy conversion rate from a particular apartment complex in Bengaluru’. If you used to work in an office together, you could have filtered traffic out like ‘here’. But filtering out internal traffic is not that easy (thanks COVID) since most of us are working remotely from random places. So another good way is to use a browser extension that does not record your analytics activity. You can download it from here. It is available for Microsoft Internet Explorer 11, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari, and Opera. If you use a browser, not on this list, maybe you should switch?
Setting Up Pixels
Social media pixels are a powerful tool in your hand with your website. (If you are a person concerned about privacy and how it is used and all kinds of certain things, I'm with you. Maybe use this responsibly, or don't use it at all. I’m just writing a note on what's out there man. Leave me alone.) help you to track the visitors of your site in their respective social media sites, without revealing their details of course. So what is a pixel? Pixel is a line of code from a social media platform, (Just like the analytics code that you have installed), that goes into the header of your website and tracks the user and keeps tabs on them. It is very easy to install and it boosts your digital marketing efforts if you know how to use it properly. Here are a couple of examples of the use of pixels:
Advertise to your visitors.
If your visitors are left without making any meaningful conversion, how do you get them back? What if you could advertise to them the next day and show them why they are missing out or why you are awesome. Pixels let you do that.
Find similar audiences.
Pixel lets you find users similar to the ones that visited your site. Say you sell handmade leather shoes. And a few people have visited and left. A Pixel could help you target users who have similar tastes to the people who visited. Or if you are a small website development company and your targets were other SMEs who would need websites, you could target meaningfully based on the existing visitors. How cool is that!
If you are in the B2C domain, Facebook is your best bet to use the pixel to your advantage. If you are in the B2B sector, even if you use FB, use LinkedIn because you will be able to get a lot more information usually FB couldn’t provide.
Using Google Tag Manager
If you are a product manager or a product owner who likes to experiment a lot with your site (as you should), one thing you would usually hate is asking your engineer/website guy to constantly make changes and publish it. Even if you are doing it yourself, it is a headache to do it all the time and keep track of all the snippets of codes you added and changed. Google tag manager is an agile tool that you could use to easily customize your site without getting your hand in the code. (Except for maybe when you have to install this tag manager)
Here are a few useful ways:
Adding tracking scripts without editing the code directly:
Tag manager helps you set up codes in the header of your site in the easiest way possible. It already has set up almost all the major players' code ready on the go, so that you will only have to use the ID of your said code in the tag manager. Or if you are into pasting the whole code, you can do that as well.
If you are using Google analytics, then one of the meaningful ways of using the GA is by creating events on the site and tracking it. It is always a pain to get the event created if your engineer/website guy is loaded with other ‘important work’. Well, the tag manager helps you create events on the site and trigger it according to your criteria without directly messing with the website code. This will start appearing in your GA right away.
Creating Event Listener’s:
The tag manager also lets you define any of these conditions specific to pages or other conditions you could define. You can even modify style elements (for short term quick results. Not a permanent solution) to your liking if you want to try something. Modifying your site and creating a complex tracking infrastructure without affecting your ‘website guy’s’ mental health? I’d say it is worth it.
Bonus: Getting an SSL/TLS certificate
SSL/TLS certificates certify your sites on Making connections to your websites secure is more important than ever. It protects your user and yourself from all sorts of threats that get increasingly sophisticated every day. You can get an SSL certificate most usually from the service you bought your domain name from. Or any other service provider on the market. It doesn't cost much but the added advantage is that it could get your site increased preference since all the major search engines prefer sites with strong security and appropriate certification.
If you are not inclined to pay for this, then you could always avail a certificate from Letsencrypt.org, a non-profit organization that provides TLS certificates (TLS is the more jacked nephew of uncle SSL) free of charge. The renewal period of these certificates are a bit shorter than the paid versions in the market, but I’m sure you can handle it if you are into free stuff.
It is worth noting that Let’s encrypt lost a little bit of their mojo when a report came in about how phishing websites misused their service to get certificates for their paypal phishing operations. They rescinded those certificates later but that revitalised the debate on free certificates and free certificate authorities. Free CAs are a hot debate and choose your side wisely. Either side, make sure that you get your certificate because it could mean more traffic to your website.
So that’s it. From this list you must have noticed one thing. All of these tools are for tracking, testing or modifying the website and it’s traffic. Like I said in the beginning, publishing a website is one of the easiest things in the world. But if you are to use it effectively, you will have to constantly test observe and modify it as you go. Even if you are not going to use any of these tools, which I highly recommend that you do, make sure that you do those three things. Test, observe, and modify.