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  • Blocking Referral Junk & Spam Traffic In Analytics

    Do you ever look at your referral traffic in Analytics and notice sites that aren't even linking to you sending hundreds and maybe thousands of visits? At first glance you may be tempted to pat yourself on your back because these referrals gives your traffic stats a boost. At second glance however you realize these aren't real referrals; they're spam referrals. These so called visitors aren't actually going to your site. Instead they are sending data to Google Analytics making it look like they're visiting your site.


    An easy way to detect if these referral sites are spam referrals is by paying close attention to the bounce rate and the conversion rate for those sites. If the bounce rates are high and the conversion rates are 0%, this generally signals referral spam.


    Referral spam is particularly annoying because it ruins your data's integrity. It makes it difficult to evaluate your marketing campaigns because it appears you're getting more traffic than you really are. It also makes you worry about your conversion funnels because referral traffic doesn't convert, skewing your conversion rate towards the low end.


    There is an easy way to block future referral traffic from site's you designate in Analytics. Unfortunately this isn't a perfect solution because it won't remove the traffic from previous dates and you will have to add a new filter each time a site sending junk traffic to you pops up. However many other filtering solutions will designate these sites as Direct traffic instead which creates a whole other set of issues. From my experience, referral spam sites don't pop up too often so your data moving forward will be much more accurate with the solution outlined below:


    1. Click the Admin menu at the top of your Analytics Account

    2. Click All Filters

    3. Click the red New Filter button

    4. On the Filter creation page:

    -Name your filter

    -Select Referral under Filter Field

    -Type the URL of the site you want filtered under Filter Pattern

    -Select the domain(s) you want to apply the filter to under Apply Filter to Views

    -Click Save

  • Barracuda Advanced Spam Filtering

    Tired of drowning in spam just so you can get to your important emails? With our Barracuda spam filtering service, now available on our Web Hosting accounts, you can quickly get to those crucial emails without having to sift through spam.


    Barracuda processes all incoming email through its servers by scanning each message for potential spam and viruses. Messages that pass the Barracuda filters are sent through to your mailbox.


    Messages meeting the spam criteria or those potentially with viruses are kept on the Barracuda server for retrieval, if necessary. You can even setup an automated email to be sent daily or weekly with a list of these quarantined emails. You can choose if you want any of the blocked emails sent through and whitelist any email addresses you don't want filtered in the future.


    Barracuda starts at just $3/mo for a single domain. We have a number of other options too including Barracuda protection on unlimited domains for just $10/mo. Contact our Sales staff to learn more about Barracuda and add this time saving solution to your Web Hosting account!

  • Now Featuring PHP 7 Hosting

    With the recent Alpha release of PHP 7, A2 Hosting is proud to be one of the first providers to offer PHP 7 Hosting. PHP 7 is available on A2 Hosting’s Turbo Web Hosting service. Our PHP Switcher makes it easy to move between multiple PHP versions including PHP 5.1-5.6, and of course PHP 7.


    With speed being a key focal point of PHP 7, the PHP development team decided to move past PHP 6 which had entirely different goals. It appears the PHP developers have been successful so far in meeting their performance goals. Tests show PHP 7 performs 100%, and even faster in some tests, than PHP 5.6. This is not surprising as PHP 7 is based on the PHPNG project (PHP Next-Gen), designed to speed up PHP applications.


    PHP 7 Alpha is a development preview so it's not quite ready for production use and there is no guarantee of specific application compatibility as of yet. However a full PHP 7 release is scheduled for this year.

    Get PHP 7!

  • Accessibility Testing with Tota11y

    Khan Academy has released a new accessibility testing plugin called Tota11y. It's a JavaScript plugin that can go in any web page and help you identify accessibility issues with your website. It will not only help you identify the problems with your site, but offer suggestions on how to correct the problems. Some of the categories that Tota11y will look at include:

    Headings - Making sure that you are using H1, H2, etc. tags properly so that readers can organize the sections properly.

    Contrast - Most designers know that text needs to contrast with the background, but making sure that the backgrounds of different sections contrast with each other enough to make them distinct is also important.

    Link Text - Common phrases like "click here" can be extremely ambiguous when being read out by a reader. Especially if there are multiple of them.

    Labels - A label that is properly labeled as such in within the HTML is important. Simply putting a span or div adjacent to the input is not enough.

    Tota11y will help with more than just the issues above. Problems with these can make navigating your site difficult or even impossible for some of your users. Correcting these problems is often easier than you might think, and is obivously the right thing to do. 

  • Is User Experience The #1 SEO Ranking Factor?

    Still stuck in the mindset that tons of backlinks and tons of content is the most effective way to skyrocket up Google's rankings? Sure these both have an impact on your rankings, but always make sure to provide a positive user experience for your users. Google has even been quoted in previous blog posts about rewarding high quality sites that "The goal of many of our ranking changes is to help searchers find sites that provide a great user experience and fulfill their information needs. "


    So what are some of the important factors to keep in mind when providing a quality user experience? Obviously there is a lot more than what I can cover in a single blog post, but here are a few of the key items to look out for:


    Your Site's Speed


    Perhaps the most important user experience factor is your website's speed. Google has specifically mentioned that site speed does play a part in their algorithm. Just think about how maddening it is waiting for a slow page to load. It should come as no surprise that a 1-second page load delay decreases visitor satisfaction by 16%. If you don't care about SEO rankings, you should care about the fact that the same 1-second delay lowers conversion rates by 7%.



    Mobile Friendly


    In April, Google announced that they were going to give priority to mobile friendly sites in their mobile SERPs. After all, mobile devices now account for over 50% (by most reports) of Google's paid search clicks. They want to provide a great experience for those users searching from mobile devices. Sites accessed via mobile with a ton of text and require a lot of pinch/zoom equate to a negative user experience.



    Clear Calls To Action


    Your site should invite your visitors to read, explore, and/or take an action. Think of call to actions as the GPS directions to make it easy for your users to navigate your site, find the information they're interested in and maybe even make a purchase. Your CTA's should be clearly visible (I recommend not using the color you select for your CTA buttons anywhere else on your site), should give clear directions, limit the number of options available and look click-able.


    Streamlined Homepages


    You do not want to bombard your users with all the information they could ever want right on your homepage. This may seem counter-intuitive for SEOs since content is generally viewed as king, but by segmenting out all the content listed on your homepage into individual pages and funnels, you greatly increase your opportunities for even more content. Just make sure to use those clear calls to action to navigate to that content, and you're delivering the content you're promising from your links.

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