Home / 2008 / February

Blog Changes: Subscribe via Email

Okay, here’s a quiz. Let’s start of with an easy one. Who knows what a “feed reader” is? A few of you out there… Okay, now who uses one? A few less; okay, that’s fair. Raise your eHand if you know what “RSS” stands for? Two hands? Hmm. I’m not surprised.

It’s okay–the goal on this quiz is to not know the answers (why didn’t more teachers offer quizzes like that?!). If you couldn’t answer any of the above questions, but want to conveniently read Linden’s Pensieve, then this post is for you!

Look over there —-> to my right-hand column. See it there, right under my picture? It says, “Subscribe to Linden’s blog.” You might have to scroll just a little bit, but just above the green Technorati button is a link that allows you to subscribe to my blog via email. That means that every day I post something new, you’ll get the post delivered right to your inbox. Now you can read my blogs without visiting the site and without dealing with one of those feed reader dohickies.

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Blog Changes: Open Comments

Google Analytics Step Four: Loose Ends

There are a few final loose ends I’d like to tie up in this little series, so this last post is going to be a buffet of Google Analytics tidbits. I’ll define a couple potentially baffling Google Analytics terms, explain how to add data to your dashboard, and point out a few Google Analytics reports you might want to check out.

Terminology Explained

Bounce Rate
The first word to take notice of is “bounce rate.” Think of a ball bouncing around a small room. It was tossed in through a window on one side of the room and is bouncing toward the door on the other side of the room.

Your visitors are like the ball, and your blog (or web site) is like the room. If your visitors bounce into your blog and only read one page, you will have a high bounce rate because more people bounce in and right back out again. However, if most of your visitors bounce into your blog, read several different pages, and then bounce out, so your analytics would show a lower bounce rate.

Now, for a normal web page, the goal is a bounce rate between 20% and 35% (it’s like golf: lower is better). For a blog, however, where most of your recent content is displayed on your main page, it is very common to see a high bounce rate.

Visits vs. Page Views
What’s the difference? For this definition, let’s think of your home with all it’s rooms. Now imagine a friend comes over. During that one visit, your friend will probably go into your living room, the kitchen, perhaps the bathroom, and maybe your dining room too.

In this comparison, the parallel to visit is quite obvious: one visit is like the one visit your friend makes. The page view stat is comparable to mini-visits your friend makes to each room in your home, if each room is like a page on your blog or website.

In other words, no matter how many different pages a person looks at on your blog, she will register only one visit, while generating as many page views as pages they look at. Are you seeing a similarity between page views and bounces? The more page views a visitor registers, they will influence your bounce rate in a good way: It will go down.

Add to Your Dashboard

As I said before, Google Analytics is not some free, cheap web stats generator that offers all the real goodies to paying customers. As is the standard for Google products, Google Analytics is free. So I encourage you to explore it as you become more familiar with it. You might stumble across a report that you find interesting, like Entrance Sources or the screen resolutions of your visitors.

You do not have to click through to these reports every time you log in to Google Analytics, though. You can add any report to your dashboard in one simple step: Just click the “Add to Dashboard” button under the page title for every report.

Other Interesting Google Analytics Reports

Now that you know how to add interesting reports to your dashboard for easy viewing, let me tell you about a few of my favorite reports.

Traffic Sources > Keywords and Content Overview (on Dashboard)
Sarah told me about this one, and she actually has some pretty cool results. She discovered from her Keywords report that “any variation of ‘kai springfield sushi’ in Google, [her] original review appears on the first page of results” (Kai Disappoints On Valentine’s Day). The Content Overview report (which already appears on your Dashboard) showed her that her post on Springfield’s Kai restaurant was getting a lot of hits.

Even if you don’t have a record blog post, these two reports considered against each other can reveal some very interesting trends about who is finding your blog and what they are coming for.

One thing to note in the Content Overview or Top Content report, especially on a blog, is that your top site will probably look like this in the Google Analytics report: / Huh? Just a slash? Yep, that’s right. That indicates your main page. For my site, it’s http://xgravity23.blogspot.com.

Visitors > Languages
It’s simple: I like this report because I like languages, and I like seeing which languages pass through my little part of the blogosphere.

Dashboard > Map Overlay
This is by far my favorite report, plus it appears on the Dashboard, so you won’t have to go searching for it. I love looking at which countries are sending visitors. This is highly interactive, so as you are exploring, click away! Clicking on the map can take all the way down to the state level and you can see which cities are sending visits and how many.

This is my last planned post on Google Analytics, but as you are using it, don’t be afraid to email me or leave a comment with your questions. I’d love to help clarify!

Related Posts
Google Analytics Step One: Begin Tracking
Google Analytics Step Two: Don’t Track Yourself!
Google Analytics Step Three: Get Your Stats By Email
Linden’s Pensieve Top 10s

100 Mile–8 Week Challenge: End of Challenge

This challenge did not end with a bang for me. It just kind of fizzled out. But I’m not too worried about that; I met the challenge goal and that is that.

On Sunday, the weather finally turned beautiful, so we went for a really long walk, winding in and around our little area of Giessen. So it was impossible to map. Even though we didn’t venture more than a 3/4 of a mile away from our home, we found many new restaurants and a botanical garden! I look forward to all the nice weather ahead of us this year so we can discover more about our quaint little town. Anyone want to come visit so we can try those restaurants with you? *hint, hint, nudge, nudge, wink, wink*

So even though I am reporting 5.6 miles for this week, I know it was more. And I’m okay with that. How did your challenge go?

Week 8 total: 5.6 (plus some)
Challenge total: 109.5

Related Posts
Week 1’s post
Week 2’s post
Week 3’s post
Week 4’s post
Weeks 5 and 6’s post
Week’s 7 post

Google Analytics Step Three: Get Your Stats By Email

Emailing yourself reports is a great way to save time because it automates one process in your life. If you don’t have to remember to log into your web stats, your brain can be spending its power on other more important tasks. At the very least, you can use the automated report as a reminder, much like IWantSandy emails reminders to you so that you you can stop trying to remember every task you have to do.

(Logging in isn’t altogether a bad idea, though, because Google Analytics is very interactive and offers detailed information. You can click on the state of Missouri on the map and see which cities your visits are coming from, for example.)

  1. Once you’ve logged into Google Analytics, click on “View Reports.”
  2. Under the large word “Dashboard” at the top, click on the “Email” button.
  3. Click on the “Schedule” tab.
  4. Make sure the “Send to me” check box is checked.
  5. Since you’re just sending it to yourself, you don’t have to enter anything in the “Description” box, unless you want to.
  6. Click “PDF” for the format.
  7. Set how often you would like to receive the report.
  8. If you’d like to see a comparison for the last time period (selected in step 7), check the box next to “Include date comparison.”
  9. Click “Schedule” and wait for your report!

Related Posts
Google Analytics Step One: Begin Tracking
Google Analytics Step Two: Don’t Track Yourself!
Google Analytics Step Four: Loose Ends
Linden’s Pensieve Top 10s

Google Analytics Step Two: Don’t Track Yourself!

This step is probably the most complicated part of configuring Google Analytics, but it’s really nice to have because otherwise you think you’ve been getting a ton of hits, when really, it was just you checking how your blog looks or loading pages so you can link to them.

Is Your Tracking Code Installed Properly?

But first, a slight digression. We need to make sure that you have correctly inserted the tracking code on the web page.

  1. Log in to your Google Analytics account.
  2. On the main page, look at the “Website Profiles” box and find your blog.
  3. Scan to the right-most column. If the box is red and says “Tracking code not detected,” then we have a problem! But if you see a green check mark and “Receiving Data,” we’re good to go.

It can take up to 24 hours for Google Analytics to start seeing your code, so you might give it one more day. Here is a Google-sponsored page for troubleshooting this problem–I have never had this issue before, so I don’t have any personal advice on fixing it. If you do encounter this issue, though, comment or email me and I’ll see what I can do.

Excluding Your Visits

Okay, now that we have ensured that the tracking code is being read by Google Analytics, we can proceed to the main issue of today’s post: Not tracking YOUR visits!

First, we have to know your IP address. The easiest way that I know of doing this is by going to WhatIsMyIPAddress. Upon loading the site, your IP address will be displayed. Copy your IP address exactly. Now follow these steps.

  1. Log in to your Google Analytics account.
  2. From the main page, scroll down to the bottom. Click on “Filter Manager.”
  3. On the right side of the dark gray box, click “Add Filter.”
  4. In the “Filter Name” box, type something like “Home computer (Giessen)” or “Work computer (JLU)” so that you know exactly which location you are excluding.
  5. From the “Filter Type” drop-down menu, select “Exclude all traffic from an IP address.”
  6. In the “IP address” field, paste your IP address.
  7. Add a backslash \ before every period in your IP address.
  8. In the box below, click on any blogs you wish to ignore your visits, then click “Add.”
  9. Click “Finish.”

Now that you have told Google Analytics to ignore visits from your computer, you can feel free to load your blog on excluded computers as much as you want–you won’t see your visits counted!

EDIT: These steps apply only if your have what is called a “static IP.” That is, if your IP address never changes. (Be sure to recheck it and change your Google Analytics filter if you have to reset your router/modem. This action will cause your IP address to change.) But what if you have an IP address that changes every time you connect to the internet, a “dynamic IP”? The smart guys at AnalyticsExperts.com wrote an excellent and detailed post about solving exactly that problem. Thanks to liz who asked this great question!

EDIT #2: Unfortunately, the post that explains how to exclude dynamic IPs does not contain the promised link to the script source required to actually exclude your dynamic IP, effectively making the post useless. I have notified AnalyticsExperts about the problem, and will update once they’ve solved it or “answered my inquiry.”

EDIT #3: Thanks to Phil LeClair for point me to this article, “Count Me Out!” on Analytics Talk, we now have an answer to our question about excluding dynamic IP addresses. Since I have static IPs, I’d be interested to hear from those of you who needed this info: Did LeClair’s link solve your problem? Thanks!

Related Posts
Google Analytics Step One: Begin Tracking
Google Analytics Step Three: Get Your Stats By Email
Google Analytics Step Four: Loose Ends
Linden’s Pensieve Top 10s

Google Analytics Step One: Begin Tracking

After my post yesterday which reported a few stats for this blog from Google Analytics, I realized that a few of my dear readers might enjoy having the same knowledge about your blogs.

And I realized that some of you might be intimidated to use Google Analytics. However, I really think that Google Analytics is simple enough: It has a lot of power and offers complex data, but it is very user-friendly and intuitive. I think you’ll like it if you give it a try, so I’ll lead you through it. This is the first of at least three posts that will get your blog set up with Google Analytics.

As Julie Andrews sings in one of my all-time favorite movies, “Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start!” Here are the steps to setting up a Google Analytics account on a Blogger blog. (Because Google Analytics uses JavaScript, you cannot use it to track visits to a MySpace account blog or page, as the MySpace admin frown upon tracking for some strange reason. You can also use the Google Analytics tracking code in any regular HTML web page.)

  1. Visit http://www.google.com/analytics and register using your Google account.
  2. Click “Add Website Profile” at the bottom left of the page. NOTE: You can always add more sites to this account later by clicking this button and following this process again! I use one Google account to track four different sites.
  3. Enter the URL of your blog and your time zone, then click “Continue.”
  4. On the next page, click on “New Tracking Code” and copy the code that appears in the text box.
  5. In another window, go to your Blogger account and click on the “Layout” tab at the top.
  6. In the skeleton view of your blog, click on “Add a new page element,” which will give you pop-up window.
  7. In the pop-up window, right column, select the fourth option down from the top, “HTML/JavaScript.”
  8. Paste the code you copied from Google Analytics.
  9. In the title field, you can write something like “Thanks for Visiting!” or you can just leave it blank. No one will be able to see that you have tracking installed just by looking at the web page if you leave it blank.

That’s it! Not too hard, now was it? You will have to wait until tomorrow before seeing any results, as Google Analytics does not show any data for the current day. Tomorrow, you can log in and see if you had any hits.

Any questions? Is there a part of this set of instructions that doesn’t jive with what you see on your screen? Leave a comment so we can fix the problem publicly, in case other have the same issues.

Related Posts
Google Analytics Step Two: Don’t Track Yourself!
Google Analytics Step Three: Get Your Stats By Email
Google Analytics Step Four: Loose Ends
Linden’s Pensieve Top 10s

Blog Changes: Open Comments

I had previously limited comments to those with Google accounts because I hate getting spam comments. But this limits the people who can comment on my posts, not that that is a bad thing… I don’t want those five of you who regularly engage me in conversation by commenting to stop commenting, so don’t think I don’t like your comments. I just want to let more people join the convo. So now, I have changed the settings so that everyone can leave comments, Google account or not!

I will still be using a captcha, though, to discourage spam comments, but now you can leave anonymous comments if you wish. I would like to know which of my friends I’m talking to, so please feel free to write your name at the end of your comment or maybe just your initials. Thanks. :)

Let the comments begin!

Image Source: http://www.pgbball.com/

Linden’s Pensieve Top 10s

After Sarah reported her blog analytics, I just had to look at mine. And then I decided I might as well post them too. After all, I found her post interesting, so I figure that maybe some of my readers might find my analytics lists interesting.

Plus, if you have a blog and want to know who’s reading, using Google Analytics is a great way. The interface is very user-friendly, especially compared to some of the other analytics sites out there I’ve used.

Using analytics can also help you recognize which posts your readers like the most. After this little review of my blogging, I have discovered that my readers like reading posts about our life here in Deutschland. And that’s great! But the posts I have enjoyed writing the most and worked the hardest on don’t appear on this list. That tells me where my blogging focus should be!

So without further ado, here are the top 10 pages, countries, states, keywords, and referring sites for Linden’s Pensieve.

Top 10 Pages

These pages are my all-time performers: They have the most visits. I am a little surprised about a few of these, but I think it would be interesting to compare this list to one for a year from now.

  1. My First Half Marathon
  2. Eva Longoria, Salma Hayek. . . Linden Mueller?!
  3. Trip to Germany
  4. Book Review: Like Water for Chocolate
  5. DELI Language Centre
  6. Dr. Linden A. Mueller: That Don’t Actually Sound Too Darn Bad!
  7. Our Home in Deutschland
  8. Care Package
  9. Shitty Day
  10. Teaching at a German University

Top 10 Countries

No really any surprises here, either. One of the main reasons Germany shows up here is because I didn’t block gAnalytics from capturing info from my IP address for a couple months. I don’t really think it would be on this list otherwise. My best friend is currently living in Guatemala, and I have colleagues teaching English in both Turkey and South Korea. On the other countries, your guess is as good as mine!

  1. United States
  2. Germany
  3. Guatemala
  4. Switzerland
  5. United Kingdom
  6. Canada
  7. Turkey
  8. New Zealand
  9. Australia
  10. South Korea

Top 10 States

This one is definitely interesting if you look at all the states I’ve had hits from. I can pin-point a few states where I expect to see visitors from, and those are the ones that appear on this list. But who is visiting my site from Florida?

  1. Missouri
  2. California
  3. New York
  4. (not set)
  5. Kansas
  6. Utah
  7. Illinois
  8. Oklahoma
  9. Arizona
  10. District of Columbia

Top 10 Keywords

Very interesting! Who is Googling me? At least one of the searchers is German (see number 8) because s/he used the umlaut to search for me.

  1. is the jar full
  2. linden mueller pensieve
  3. “linden mueller”
  4. am i a runner or a jogger?
  5. german binders
  6. like water for chocolate book
  7. linden jar
  8. linden müller pensieve
  9. “click here”+drop.io
  10. “deluxe yours truly”

Top 10 Referring Sites

Thanks to all my blogger friends who link to me!

  1. Google
  2. Blogger
  3. Blog.myspace.com
  4. Facebook
  5. by105w.bay105.mail.live.com
  6. AdventuresInLinguistics.blogspot.com
  7. SarahJoAustin.com
  8. Mail.google.com
  9. MarathonLeap.blogspot.com
  10. BrightYellowGun.blogspot.com

Set in the News

You might consider it a little nerdy, but everyday, my best friend and I have a little eCompetition. Sometime during the day, we each play Set online and email each other the our times. It’s nice because it creates a little daily conversation—and we exercise our brains.

I hadn’t really read up on Set, so I didn’t know why it was good for you. I just knew that it is fun and that it had to be working some brain cells. Then, when I visited the site today, I noticed a link to Set in the news. I learned that Set “strengthens and creates new connections between the left and right brain.” Sweet! So what are you waiting for? Start playing!

Oh, wait. You probably need the rules. Here are the official rules, but I will try to describe them a little differently. And hopefully in an easier-to-understand manner.

First, you have to understand the cards. A quote from the website:

(A) Color:
Each card is red, green, or purple.

(B) Symbol:
Each card contains ovals, squiggles, or diamonds.

(C) Number:
Each card has one, two, or three symbols.

(D) Shading: Each card is solid, open, or striped.

Here is a visual example of some of the cards (they also happen to make a set).

To make a set, you have to consider each of the above features (color, symbol, number, and shading) independently.

If the color is not all the same (all purple, for example), the color must be different on each card (so of the three cards, one must be purple, another green, and the third red). If you have two reds and a green, you do not have a set.

Next, consider the symbols. Just like with the color, the symbol on each card must be the same (all ovals), or it must be different on each card. So let’s say we have checked and our three cards are all red. Now, we’re checking their symbols. One is a diamond, one an oval, and the last a squiggle. Good! We don’t have any duplicate symbols. So far, we might have a set.

Third is the number. I bet you can guess what I am going to say about number… If all the cards have the same number, or if they all show a different number, they we are one step closer to having a set. Hmm, we have two red diamonds, two red ovals, and two red squiggles: Yep! We’re still on track for having a set.

Now the final element: The shading. And, just like before, the shading must be the same on all the cards, or it must be different on each card—no repeats. And all of our cards are solid, so we have a set!

Think you get it? Here’s a little test. Look at each of the following three cards and decide if they are a set or not. I’ll tell you the answer afterwards.

Blog Review: Indexed

I am not sure which particular post it was, but someone who knows me very well emailed me a link to one of the posts on Indexed (http://indexed.blogspot.com/) And I loved it.

Jessica Hagy posts images of clever charts which reveal poignant, smarmy, and often outright true observations of life. All of the images are written on an index card (thus the title). It isn’t a complicated blog; it is simply entertaining.

Hagy will even be publishing a book soon (on February 28), which just goes to show the freedom of the Internet. If you write something good online, you have more chance of being recognized for it than you did during the pre-Internet time!

I added it to my gReader. And one day, while grading, I was hit by an Indexed of my own:

Any of you other (writing) teachers agree?