Tools in the work of a contemporary journalist – part 2



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In the previous post, devoted to the tools in the work of a contemporary journalist, I described how a contemporary journalist uses the telephone, camera and statistics. In today’s post, tools from Google.

Google Analytics

The idea of creating a tool that would analyze the traffic on websites appeared in 2002. Google specialists wanted to find out what was happening with the material posted on the web – who was reading it, where it came from, how he got to the site, how much time he spent on it, and step by step what he did on it.

All this was to be made possible by Google Analytics, which was made publicly available in November 2007. It is a free tool available to all sites with less than five million hits per month. This is how Google advertises its service:

“Google Analytics is a web analytics solution for businesses that provides accurate insight into website traffic and the effectiveness of marketing efforts. Advanced, flexible and easy-to-use features let you view and analyze traffic data in a whole new way. With Google Analytics, you can create more targeted advertising, strengthen your marketing initiatives, and design websites that generate more conversions” [1].

Google Analytics turned out to be a great tool for the editorial office not due to the possibility of tracking advertising campaigns, but mainly due to extensive analytical functions. The system tracks the traffic of Internet users so closely that it may seem a bit scary from their position. After attaching a special code from Google to the website, the entire system starts working. From now on, the script examines everything that internet users do on the website.

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Among the basic options that can be treated more as a curiosity are: data about the operating system, Internet provider, screen resolution, browser used, language, country of origin, and even city. You can also separate the statistics of people using the computer from those who use mobile devices. A very important option is the ability to specify a time period for the data we are interested in. It may be one day, several months, or even several years.

Recently, Google is testing a new feature – real time, which is a source of excellent information for journalists. Thanks to it, we can check how many people are currently on our website, how many of them are regular readers and who visited the website for the first time. From the following tabs, we will find out which articles are currently read by the most people, which keywords were entered into the search engine by Internet users to find our website, as well as a list of sites that refer others to us. This way, we can keep track of what is most popular, what people are looking for and where they come from. This, in turn, enables appropriate changes and improvements that will result in high results.

fot.OZinOH /CC BY-NC
fot.OZinOH /CC BY-NC

Another very interesting data that can be found in Google Analytics is information about the use of the website. They track the total number of people who visited our website in a given period, how many and which subpages were visited, and how long such a visit lasts. The above statistics are available in a general form for the entire website, as well as a more detailed one, e.g. for a specific article. This allows, for example, to check how the internet users came across a given article – whether they came from a search engine (if so, what they were looking for) or from a different website (exact addresses of websites, blogs, forums, where the link to the article was posted), are they regular readers browsing the texts (like yes, which ones the most often), and how much time did the person spend on the site, and what did they do next (did they read another article, watched a photo, video, wrote a comment, or maybe changed the page).

Due to detailed analysis and frequent checking of the above data, editors manage to spot some, often recurring patterns that they can use. This is the case in cases where most of the titles on the Internet are constructed based on what Internet users are looking for. Editors try to predict what Internet users will be looking for on Google and give them an answer on the same basis, even as it is done via spam. It often happens that portals, trying to attract the Internet user, construct articles whose title and introduction indicate the content that cannot be found in the article. It is commonly used in, for example, video coverage of matches or boxing fights by larger and smaller portals or tabloids.

Many times Google has declared war on websites that litter the Internet with this type of treatment. So far, the most severe penalties in the form of exclusion from the index occurred very rarely. Statistics are worth analyzing carefully because they are the source of a lot of valuable data. Many authors believe that they write articles, take photos or shoot films so that their works are seen by as many audiences as possible. Google Analytics allows you to reach websites that have become interested in our work, to places where there is a discussion on this topic. It can become a source of interesting information to help you continue the topic.

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Another discovered scheme thanks to Google Analytics is the so-called Google Doodle. These are specially prepared graphics replacing the search engine logo that refer to important anniversaries and events. Clicking on Doodle automatically directs the Internet user to the list of results related to this important event. Thanks to the analysis of trends, it could be noticed that a lot of people are interested in it. Currently, this method is already marginalized after Google entered the Knowledge Graph in the search engine. Currently, Google, using materials from various websites, displays ready-made material to Internet users. This is especially true for characters, for example.

What the world is looking for, i.e. Google zeitgeist

At the end of each year, the Google team looks more closely at all the past and most important events, news, and people who have made history in the history of the Internet. After analyzing billions of different phrases entered into the search engine, an extraordinary ranking is created – the best phrases reflecting the past year. The whole was framed with infographics, justifications, tables, comparisons or newspaper clippings. As Google explains on its website:

“Zeitgeist means the spirit of the times. We have many tools at our disposal to give you an insight into global, regional, current and past trends on the web. We are sharing all of this with you so that you can have a tool to play, discover and learn” [2].

The statistics show the ten most popular keywords in the world, broken down by category and different countries. Rebecca Black came first. This nearly 13-year-old singer became famous all over the world when she released the single “Friday” in 2011. The song was published on Youtube and has almost 167 million views. As Google explains in its ranking:

“How popular was Rebecca Black? It may seem surprising, but from March 6-20, 2011, searches for this teenage singer surpassed even searches for a pop icon like Lady Gaga ”[3]

Facebook’s biggest competitor, Google plus, came in second place, which hit the market in June 2011. In just three weeks, over 10 million users registered on the website, and at the beginning of July, the number of searches for “google plus” was greater than the words “sport” [4]. The world ranking also includes “fukushima”, the game “Battlefield 3”, which was the most anticipated game of 2011, Steve Jobs, Adele, etc.

In the previous point, I emphasized that frequent analysis of statistics allows you to see certain patterns and trends that Internet users are constantly looking for. Often the editorial offices are not aware of what is currently hot, desirable and seems to be relatively niche. The Google Zeitgeist ranking for Poland shows some interesting results. In the food and drinks category, the most popular slogans in 2011 in our country were “pork tenderloin recipes”, “cucumber salad”, “dukan bread”, “zucchini recipes” or “raspberry tincture”.

These are excellent topics for articles and guides, which editorial offices can use to attract readers to their sites. It is also worth paying attention to the sport category, where the slogan “Adamek Kliczko” was in the first place. The fight between two MMA fighters was a huge event publicized by the media, but the broadcast was paid and many people were looking for ways to watch the broadcast online for free. Including Due to such great interest of Internet users, many portals started spamming, promising to see the broadcast on their websites. You can also notice how some editorial offices (including Super Express, Our City) are preparing their portals for the upcoming big events. Some of them have prepared articles, they cleverly hide sentences such as “Jaruzelski is dead”, “Lech Wałęsa died”, etc., thanks to which these phrases are high in search engines.

Keyword Tool

Another tool useful in the work of modern editors is the “Keyword Tool”. In the course of the work above, I mentioned that online editors must somehow enter into the mindset of Internet users in order to properly structure the material to be promoted by Google. However, it is not always possible to predict all variants that someone may use when looking for a text that we want to write or have ready for publication. The tool just mentioned comes to the rescue. Surprisingly, it was created to optimize the effects of advertising campaigns purchased from Google, but online editors and webmasters also found something for themselves there. Thanks to it, we can check how often a given term is searched on a monthly basis, and with what competition we have to take into account. A very useful option is to show synonyms and other combinations related to a given topic. This allows you to identify inappropriate passwords and allows you to focus on the best ones that can bring tangible benefits to our website.

When using the Keyword Tool, you should also use another product provided by Google – Insight. Thanks to it, we can compare the phrases found earlier and compare which of them were the most popular in the past and when exactly. Skillful use of both tools allows you to prepare material optimized for the search engine. An example can be the change of time, which is a cyclical event, often searched for by Internet users, because many of them do not remember when to change their watches. Once we have checked what they are looking for in connection with this event, we can “hijack” all that traffic to our site.

Soon the next entry in a series of tools in the work of a contemporary journalist. It will be devoted to RSS and social media!

Jakub Markiewicz
Jakub Markiewicz
Hi, I am the author of the blog and series of thematic portals since 2013. I have nearly 15 years of experience in working in the media, marketing, public relations and IT. If you are interested in cooperation, you would like me to write about something or test a product - let me know.
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