Why am I Getting Traffic from ctiod.net?

Are you getting reported traffic from ctoid.net or have you been curious why certain websites show the ctoid.net domain when using Safari? When this first happened to me, I was worried I had a virus on my iPhone or the site I was working on had been hacked. After a bit of digging, I found out what has been going on!

This started with a recent update to the Safari browser (version 11+), designed to protect user privacy from third-party and cross-site tracking advertising platforms.

What is Criteo?

This scenario is triggered by websites using Criteo, a digital marketing platform primarily used for remarketing efforts. For example, if you visit a website that has the Criteo tracking pixel installed, the advertiser can serve remarketing ads showing in the ad slots of common websites visited. Have you ever visited a site and then been chased around the web with ads for that product/service right after? Criteo is one of the popular platforms used to manage this. Google and Facebook both have similar tools for this type of digital marketing.

Based on the recent Safari update, Criteo had to adjust their default tracking experience. Previously, Criteo would provide the warning at the bottom of the page notifying the user of the tracking in place. Now the message has changed slightly, where the user first needs to take an action on the website to activate the tracking scripts (also giving the user the ability to opt-out).

Why is ctoid.net showing in my GA report?

The first action on the website is where this ctoid.net referral traffic is coming from. You can see the following steps when viewing the backcountry site on a mobile device.

criteo tracking pixelctoid.net redirectredirect after ctoid.net

Criteo intercepts the click so the user is redirected through the ctoid.net URL. In some cases, Google Analytics is losing the original traffic source. Instead, these are seen as a new session from ctoid.net. In other words, you’ll start to see this domain showing up in your site referrals report.

In Closing

Don’t worry, your phone hasn’t been hacked (at least not by Criteo) and your analytics isn’t broken (at least in this particular way). Keep a close watch on your referral traffic and opt-out on if you don’t want remarketing advertising.

Let me know if you are seeing anything different out there in the wild with respect to the Safari update and Criteo tracking.

The Best Way to Break a WordPress Website

WordPress is great for its easy-to-use interface, allowing even those of us without the ability to code to launch a website. While simple to use, you may have discovered there are a number of ways to break your site. You have a number of tools at your fingertips and sometimes updating the wrong field can bring down your site!

Here’s one example, that will leave you blocked from WordPress, without a front-end method to log back into the WordPress dashboard (don’t worry, I’ll also tell you how to fix it).

One of the easiest ways to break a WordPress website is by going into the Settings and changing the WordPress Address (URL) and/or the Site Address (URL).

 

It was so nice of WordPress to give you the ability to update the WordPress Address. What they don’t tell is that if you update this URL, you’ll break your site and eliminate the ability to access the page again to fix!

If you incorrectly make an update here, you’ll find yourself blocked out of the WordPress admin. Your entire site will likely break, and the login at example.com/wp-admin.php will no longer function.

If you are in this situation, luckily there is a way to fix! It doesn’t even require a site backup or programming knowledge. However, you will need hosting or CPanel access. It will also require a bit of digging to find the right file to update.

The process is a bit different for every hosting provider. If you are using GoDaddy, open up the manage hosting experience and click on file manager.

From here, open up the public_html folder. All the public facing website assets live here. If WordPress is installed at the root directory of the domain, you should see a file with the name wp-config.php in the folder.

A few changes to this file and your site will be back in action. If you don’t see the file listed, you can search for the file name using the search bar. Since you’ll be making a change to a core file, the first thing you’ll want to do is download a copy of the file.

It’s always good to have a backup of the file before you start making changes should things go south.

Once you’ve downloaded a copy, select the file and click edit. GoDaddy allows for the inline code editor to easily make changes to files. Again, this may differ depending on the hosting provider you’re using.

Once the file is open, the first line will be <?php. Create a new line and paste the following two lines of code, with example.com replaced with the correct location of your WordPress site.

define('WP_HOME','http://example.com');
define('WP_SITEURL','http://example.com');

Save the file and recheck the site. After the file is saved, the fix should be in place instantly. Go back to the WordPress login page to see if it did the trick.

Still not working? Make sure you followed the steps correctly and that you have the WordPress address correct. For instance, if you’re using WordPress only for a blog at example.com/blog then that might be the directory WordPress is installed.

Hope that gets you back in gear.  These sort of things happen, and they happen often. If you aren’t making mistakes, then you aren’t pushing yourself far enough.

 

 

 

 

The Easy Way to Get Google Reviews

Reviews will make or break a business. As savvy consumers, it’s one of the first places we look when selecting a new product or service. Without a doubt, reviews play a large role in the user’s likelihood to convert.

Reviews Matter

A recent study found that 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Wow!

According to a 2011 study from iPerceptions, 63% of customers are more likely to make a purchase from a site with reviews.

Even better, there is a local SEO benefit to having positive Google business reviews! According to the 2017 local SEO ranking factors published by Moz, reviews weigh-in at 13% of local search ranking factors.

Now you’re thinking, yea…reviews are good…how am I supposed to get them?

Getting these review just might be easier than you think. I’ll show you how.

Rather than waiting for reviews to magically roll in, give your customers an extra nudge.

Send an Email to Your Customer Base

If you have a customer email list, email them! Even better if you can segment to loyal customers.

The key is to make writing a review as easy and effortless as possible. For instance, send them straight to your Google Business Listing review experience!

It takes a few steps to create, but it’s worth it.

To create the URL, first grab your Business Listing ID here. Search to find the correct business listing and copy the Place ID as shown below. Google Places API - Local SEO

Then add the Place ID to the following URL after the equal sign:

https://search.google.com/local/writereview?placeid=

So the full URL will look like this:

https://search.google.com/local/writereview?placeid=ChIJF94c5Q9y3IARbvf69T0Mvhs

When logged into a Google account, the landing page goes straight to the write-a-review experience:

Google Reviews

If not logged in, the experience will first be the Google login form, before redirecting to the experience above.

Still unsure how to set this up? You can go straight to the source for additional details here – https://support.google.com/business/answer/7035772?hl=en.

Ask for Reviews On-Site

Asking for reviews on-site is another great way to solicit reviews. While this may feel like the more straight forward approach, it comes with considerations.

You’ll need to be strategic with how you collect reviews. For instance, if you have a computer on-site and ask customers to leave reviews, the reviews can be blocked or filtered over time. Google will recognize that all the reviews are coming from the same IP address and may see as an act to manipulate ratings.

To avoid this trap, you can send customers to a vanity URL that is easy to enter on their phones, and then redirect to the Google review URL above. For example, if you go to – mindfulsearching.com/gregorios this page redirects to the Google review experience. Give it a try.

Redirects are easy to setup for most CMSs. For instance, I setup the redirect above in WordPress using the Simple 301 Redirects plugin.

In Closing

Positive reviews are critical to business success and you don’t have the luxury of waiting. Now you have a few tools to use to start building the review base. Not getting the traction you’re looking for? Sweeten the deal with a discount on their next purchase or a chance to win a larger prize.

4 Things You Need to Know About SEO

You’ve heard of SEO. You know it’s important and that it has something to do with keywords. This post isn’t going to teach you everything you need to know about SEO, but it will get you started.

SERP (Search Engine Results Pages) Breakdown

Understand the search engine results pages (SERPS). There are Organic Search listings (listings ranked by the search engine’s algorithm) and Paid Search listings (listings ranked by auction based pay-per-click bidding).

search engine results pages

A organic search result breaks down into the following elements:

organic search result

Building Blocks of SEO

SEO can be divided into three buckets. Authority, Accessibility, and Relevance. The buckets apply to two tactics, on-page (changes you make to your website) and off-page (marketing efforts that are done off site).

building blocks of seo

Authority

Not all domains are created equal. Trusted domains such as www.techcrunch.com or www.wsj.com can publish an article today and have it ranking in minutes. If a new site launches the same piece of content, it may not be indexed for days. A number of factors influence authority, such as the brand trust within the niche, the quality and quantity of inbound links, the age of the domain, and the social presence.

There isn’t a perfect way to measure the authority, although tools such as Open Site Explorer by MOZ, give each page and domain a 0-100 score. While this doesn’t exactly map to search engine performance, it’s a good indicator.

Accessibility

Accessibility refers to the ease and ability search engines can crawl and index a site. Programming languages such as AJAX and Ruby are harder for search engines to crawl. On a similar note, sites ridden with errors, broken pages, or poor internal linking can hinder search engine performance.

The larger the site, the more important this topic becomes. As you’d imagine, structuring a 5 page site requires a simpler approach than a 50K page site.

Relevance

Site relevance is the most self-explanatory bucket. A blog about gluten-free recipes will have content about gluten-free recipes, therefore making it relevant to rank for gluten-free related search queries. However, if I search for “homemade sourdough bread recipes” you wouldn’t expect the same site to show up.

A site has the opportunity to rank for keywords relevant to it’s site content. It comes down to crafting the site around common ways people search for a given topic.

SEO Tactics

The buckets are approached with two types of tactics, on-page and off-page.

On Page SEO

On-page efforts such as page tagging, keyword inclusions in copy, and site structure influence accessibility and relevance.

on page seo ranking factors

Off Page SEO

Off page efforts such as link building will have the greatest impact on authority and accessibility.

off page seo ranking factors

How the Industry has Evolved

The search engine optimization world has evolved considerably since birth. Years ago, search engine results were easily manipulated with a few easy to follow recipes. Some of the tactics that used to work (but no longer do) include:

  • High volume of forum post links pointing to a site
  • Keyword stuffing – use the same keyword on the page multiple times to start ranking for that keyword (at one point repeating keywords in white text on a white background worked!)
  • Link networks – nest of low quality sites that link to each other
  • Press Releases – syndicate a press release with targeted anchor text links
  • Ezine article publications

Search engine updates such as Panda and Penguin (among many others) tightened the ranking criteria to limit visibility of lower quality content sites propped up with low quality links.

Now it comes down to writing high quality and useful copy, collecting valid references (links) from trusted sources, and providing a product or service of value.