29 Aug

10 Google Analytics Settings to Look For in a WordPress Plug-in

WordPress Plugin IconThe default settings in Google Analytics do not provide data you can really take action with.  After all what actions can you realistically take with page view and traffic source statistics?  Google Analytics is software, and like most software to be valuable it must be configured. Thankfully for WordPress users there are a wide variety of plug-ins available to help you configure a few of Google Analytics’ settings.  Here are a few of my favorite settings”:

Site Search (a personal favorite)

If you have a search box on your website, you want this.  Google Analytics tracks how many times your visitors use your website’s search box; and even better it tracks how many times each search term is used in your website’s search box. There are many powerful ways you can use the search box data, including for:

  • New SEO search terms
  • Blog / Content ideas
  • Missing content your visitors would like to see

When setting up site search with your WordPress plug in you will need to provide the search query.  The search query is a letter, usually an “s” or a “q” on most WordPress sites.  To find your website’s search query go to your website’s search bar, type something in and hit return.  Go to the URL bar at the top of your search results and look for the letter immediately after the “?”.  Insert that letter into plug-in.

The Site Search Query is the letter immediately following the ? on in the URL.

The Site Search Query is the letter immediately following the ? on in the URL.

Exclude Some WordPress User Types (a favourite of mine)

As the Administrators of our websites we don’t need our traffic activity included with our regular visitors.  In fact our own traffic can skew our data.  Check this setting to exclude WordPress Administrators activities from being included in your data.

WordPress Categories and Tags (another favourite of mine)

In addition to keep our blog content organized, WordPress tags and categories are valuable SEO juice.  When GA tracks how your website visitors use your tags you can rank them and swap out the low performers for fresher tags that might perform better, perhaps with something you see from Site Search. This setting is tough to find in WP plugins.  I have only seen it in the Yoast Google Analytics plug-in.

PDF Downloads and Outbound Links

Many of us offer PDFs for download.  If you have PDFs on your website it is a good idea to understand how they contribute to your website goals. Check this box on the plug-in and then all PDF downloads on your website will be tracked.

Set Domain Name

10 Google Analytics Settings to Look For in a WordPress Plug-in

Click for a Summary of 10 Google Analytics Settings to Look For in a WordPress Plug-in

This prevents others from using your tracking code on their website and inflating your data.

Enhanced Link Attribution / In Page Analytics

This is a fancy name for telling you what percent of visitors to a page are clicking on specific links.  It is useful for analyzing underperforming pages or if you are considering redesigning a page.


If you have advertising on your blog you will want this feature enabled.

Load GA Code onto Your Website

It’s easy to take this one for granted.  But it’s important because if the Google Analytics Tracking Code is not inserted on every page, you don’t have Google Analytics. When you sign up for Google Analytics you are provided with java script that should be loaded onto every page you want to track.  Without a plug-in you have to insert the java script manually into the header.php file just before the closing head tag.  If you are just starting out this is intimidating because there’s the risk (albeit small) of messing up your entire website. If you don’t know what that header.php and closing head tag is, you probably shouldn’t be inserting the GA code – let the plug-in do it for you. The WordPress plug-in will have a box for you to insert the GA Tracking ID (the number highlighted at the top of Figure 1.  Copy your GA Tracking ID and paste it in the plug-in.  Your Google Analytics tracking is ready to go.  Now it’s time to configure with the plug-in.

Do You Have Anything to Add?

So that’s my list.   Please add yours in the comments. WordPress Plug-in image: Image from ZERO TO WORDPRESS HERO Ben Lobaugh

29 Apr

WordCamp Ottawa 2013 – an event review

Since this website uses WordPress I always seek out tips and tricks managing it. That’s why I spent last Saturday (April 27th) at WordCamp Ottawa 2013.  Here’s why it was well worth the day’s investment:

Overall assessment of WordCamp Ottawa 2013

If you have a WordPress website it’s well worth the day!  This is an excellent event packed full of good advice, information and valuable networking opportunities. 

With three learning tracks there was something for all levels of WordPress users; Content Creators (beginner users), Site Creators (Intermediate) and Code Creators (Advanced).  Even better if you needed one-on-one attention there was “Happy Bar” staffed with experienced users eager to help. 

It’s tough to beat the value on the dollar for WordCamp.  My total spent was $37:  $28 on the conference (including $5 was for a 3 hour pre conference WordPress introduction) and $9.00 on parking at the University of Ottawa. 

I sure hope there is a WordCamp 2014!

WordCamp Ottawa 2013 – what I learned

Here’s my summary of some of the sessions I attended.

Making a living with WordPress.  Presented by Chris Ross @thisismyurl

Chris was very entertaining and had some great quotes (that will probably show up later on this website, thanks Chris):

  • ·         Consultants are trouble shooters.  They find trouble and shoot it.
  • ·         “This graph means nothing…”

A lot of graphs (meaningful ones), charts and data were used to show how one can make a living servicing (design, customization, etc.) the 65 million WordPress websites out there.  Chris was generous with valuable personal experiences.   

How to write a blog post.  Presented by David Hamilton @ko_davidh

This was an inspiring session for me.  The best part of this session was “Beginnings, Middles and Ends”.  David laid out what they mean and who to do them well:

Beginnings have two parts – “lead”, the first paragraph which identifies the who, what, when where…  Part two is the “pitch” which answers why read this article, the value to the reader and sets the expectations what is going to be covered.

Middles set out the scope of the article; what points are going to be covered and there is a logical progression through these points, 1st, 2nd, 3rdStructure this section with headings to help readers.

Ends provide the summary that sharpens your point, perhaps raises other relate questions or previews upcoming posts.

Help me Help You:  the art and science of getting good WordPress support by Kathryn Presner (@zoonini)

WordPress help comes from volunteers not paid (and therefor accountable) employees.  Hence Kathryn’s advice – be nice and people will want to help you.  Act entitled or snarky, don’t expect a lot of help.  The point was emphasized with some real life examples. 

Other things you can do to help yourself get an answer to your question include: 

  • Provide a link to your site – I put this first because it’s important that helpers can look at your site and if get source code.
  • Present a clear goal – what you are trying to do
  • Be clear about the problem you are having and what you have already tried to fix the problem
  • The browser and version you are using
  • OS / device you are using
  • Version of WordPress
  • Anything unusual about your set-up
  • Screenshots of the issue.

Typography in Web Design.  Presented by Jasmine Vesque @jasminevesque

Fonts – just how exciting a topic can that be?  You might think it’s a recipe for a morning nap.   Not so fast…  Jasmine’s passion for the subject of fonts is contagious and so I learned a few interesting tidbits that will help me with my website. 

Font Selection considerations: 

  1. Readability – is the font easy to read and understand
  2. Don’t use multiple colours – it’s annoying which distracts the reader
  3. Use one font for headings, use another for the body
  4. Careful with colour usage – to make the point Jasmine had a slide with red type covered with a yellow highlight. 

There was also an introduction to fonts summarized in the table below:   

Font Type



Best use

Serif Little Feet and tails Garmond, Oldstand Headings
San-Serif No feet or tails Ariel Text
Display Sorry missed this Missed this too Short text
Script / Handwriting Looks hand written. Missed this too Short text


WordPress Themes and Frameworks Explained.  Presented by Richard Martin @richardmartin

This session was a summary of how to pick a theme and a bit of a review of Richard’s two favourite theme providers; Woothemes and Gennis.

When selecting themes consider the kind of website you are building; a blog, a brochure or a store.  As you review themes consider things like your freedom in sidebar placement and what is needed in page templates:

  • Blog
  • Landing pages (can you remove the navigation which distracts visitors from your goal)
  • Columns
  • Home page design.

Introduction to WordPress by Rick Radko (@r3designforge)

This three hour pre conference introduction to WordPress was just enough to get a beginner user started.  I am more of a novice than beginner and there was a lot of value in this session for me.  For instance:    

  • Pages and Posts– Rick is the first person who has clearly explained to me the difference between a “post” and a “page”
    • o   Post – for blogs;  posts are collections that have date associations, categories and tags and can be searched by any of those criteria.  You can also sort by author and not usually on the website menu.
    • o   Pages are single (standalone) pieces of content without tags, categories or date associated.  They usually show up on site menus.
  • Images – use the Alt tags, they describe the image and help your SEO
  • PermaLinks are URLs – page codes that are numbers.  The numbers are meaningless to people and to SEO so Rick showed us how to customize URLs in the “Settings”.


Comments from speakers, other attendees welcome.  Please add anything you think I missed.