Removing Access To Your Analytics – Fast Friday Fact

I worked with a client this week who told me that a vendor had access to her site at one point, but didn’t any longer.  That wasn’t quite true.  He actually had admin access to everything including her account and email at the host.  I cleaned it up, added credentials for us and told her to change the passwords.

The experience made me think about analytics so I checked some account we use when we need access to a client’s analytics.  On one account, 4 of the 25 analytics profiles were for former clients.  A second showed 3 more, including someone we worked three years ago.

If you use Google Analytics in your business, you must have admin access.  Look at the “Overview” page.   In the bottom panel, in the middle, is a section called “User Manager” (click the image below for a better look).  You need to look at that information now — today — and revoke the access of anyone who doesn’t need the information.

Old vendors is a good place to start.   Do it now.  If you make a mistake, adding a person back takes less than 30 seconds.

Google Analytics user access

Click the button here to change access to your analytics

Google Buzz Privacy – Fast Friday Fact

Yes, you’ve been buzzed.  We all have.

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The way that Facebook’s Beacon project or Amazon’s long ago Buying Circles shredded another layer of privacy.   Using Buzz it’s deceptively simple to share a private email address with a group of people.  Part of that is tied into the use of what is fast becoming an Internet standard:  an @ symbol in front of someone’s name.

Google Buzz includes an email address that you or your correspondent select as part of the reply.  So if I have one regular email address and another super-secret one and you use the @ reply with the super-secret address (maybe because it’s the one you have), you’ll send the email address out into the ether.

Google is rightfully taking lumps because the company didn’t explain this in this beginning.   The folks at Lifehacker have written the perfect primer on Google Buzz privacy.   I encourage everyone to read that work.

But before you go, are you using Google Buzz?  If so, what do you think of it, and did you know about the privacy issues?

Bigger Google – Fast Friday Fact

December’s search engine market share data is out from Hitwise.  Don’t bother with the link   The Fast Friday Fact is that Google’s share increased 1 point and the next 3 players (Yahoo, Microsoft’s Bing) all lost share.

Google now has 72.25% of U.S. search engine market share.   That’s why when people complain about the company or its policies, the battle is uphill. There is no real monopoly issue.  Google beat everyone at search fair and square, including its two closest competitors, both of whom had search engines and a big lead before Google launched.

Your Fast Friday Fact is that US Internet search is Google’s world.  You just get to use the site for free.

Gmail’s Send and Archive Feature – Fast Friday Fact

Gmail users are able to customize their email experience as well as mail for almost any platform.  That and the free or low cost may be one of the reasons for Gmail’s ubiquity.  I even saw Gmail in use on Capitol Hill last year while visiting my Senator’s office.

Gmail send and archive optionWhen I talk with Gmail users, however, few discuss the extended Labs function.  In a few rare instances, I’ve had to restart my email, but almost all of the Labs features I’ve used are time savers, utility enhancements or even solved a problem I didn’t know I had.  The Send and Archive feature falls into all of those categories.

You know that person who spent too much time in the ’90s categorizing their email?  Yep, that was me.  But with virtually unlimited storage, I don’t even mess with tagging or other features any longer.  Instead I make use of the Send & Archive feature.  The feature adds another button next to the boring old SEND button.  Once the mail is sent, Gmail places the thread in the “All Mail” area.

No muss, no fuss, and if you need to find something later, just remember a phrase to narrow your search or look at all the mail you sent during that time or to that person.

If you’re using Gmail and your inbox has more than a few pieces inside, do yourself a favor and check out the SEND & ARCHIVE feature now.  All you need to do is click the LABS icon in the upper right corner that looks like a beaker (labs, get it?) and scroll down.  And a friendly hint:  add only one new labs feature at a time.  You’ll thank me for that advice later.

Using Google’s DNS – Fast Friday Fact

A network connection’s DNS settings are kind of like your body’s DNA.   DNS is an acronym for Domain Name System.   This is the system that translates a string of numbers into the words you type in a browser to go to a web address.

One way of thinking about this is accessing Yahoo! via your phone.   You type m.yahoo.com.    That gets translated in the connections to 69.147.76.15, which is an address where Yahoo!’s servers for mobile versions of their sites reside.

Now Google is offering a service that harnesses the company’s extensive data center and connections in what company officials say will make your browsing experience faster.  I’ve tested this through several connections, and I have seen faster results using different operating systems and browsers.   Whether you trust Google’s privacy promises to not tie all of your browsing history to your account is another matter.   Remember that your workplace or your home Internet provider already has this information.

This is not a recommendation that you use Google’s DNS service, but if you choose to do so, Google’s DNS  instructions are in plain English on the company’s site.  And in a first for the company that famously doesn’t talk to end users, there is even telephone support.

Yessir, Google wants you sending their traffic through them, and the service is noticeably faster in some cases.  Your mileage may vary, and you have to choose the privacy options best for your particular situation.

Google PageRank is Dead – Fast Friday Fact

NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 23:  Google founders Larr...

They brought us Google. And PageRank. We forgive you the second one. Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Most people working in the online marketing world have known the truth about Google‘s infamous PageRank scoring for several years:  it didn’t work, it wasn’t terribly accurate and attempting to classify the billions of pages on the web into 10 clusters was just plain silly.

PageRank was named after Larry Page, one of the two Google co-founders.  The company included the score on its web toolbar so that someone surfing from one site to another could see that they had moved from a PageRank (PR) 4 location to a PR 3 location.

That meant nothing to anyone, of course, and PageRank grew more meaningless over time.  It grew so meaningless that Google removed the metric from its Webmaster Tools section this week.

Googler Susan Moskwa posted about PageRank in an official Google forum Wednesday:

“We’ve been telling people for a long time that they shouldn’t focus on PageRank so much; many site owners seem to think it’s the most important metric for them to track, which is simply not true. We removed it because we felt it was silly to tell people not to think about it, but then to show them the data, implying that they should look at it.”

What Susan didn’t unfortunately comment on was that Google’s toolbar that many non-marketing users have access to still includes PageRank.   Those numbers haven’t matched up with “real” PageRank in years, and the marketing community has differentiated between the two for years by referring to the latter as “toolbar PR”.

PageRank is not a meaningful metric, and you should immediately stop using it in any context.  If your marketing agency refers to PageRank as a metric, you should fire them just for being dunderheads who are out of touch with the marketplace.

This underscores a big issue.   Just because you know a piece of data doesn’t mean that you have the context, training or skills to interpret that data.  My doctor sent me an electronic medical recod on CD with all my tests from my last physical.  Not having gone to medical school (sorry, Mom), I have no idea what the numbers mean, but I’m sure that some web site somewhere will convince me I can read the chart.  For my sanity, I think I’ll let the medical folks worry about that data while I explain to them that they can stop worrying about PageRank.

Now if only Amazon would admit that Alexa’s data is easily manipulated garbage, we would could really start cleaning up.

PDFs Under Siege – Fast Friday Fact

Latest PDF File Icon

Watch for PDF security vulnerability says owner Adobe. Image via Wikipedia

That seemingly safe PDF you receive may not be as innocuous as it looks, warns Washington Post security guru Brian Krebs.

Writing in today’s online edition, Krebs reports that PDF-format owner Adobe is warning of security vulnerabilities.  According to Krebs, the company plans to release a fix Tuesday so that its software updates at the same time that Microsoft sends its weekly operating system update.

Put a note in your calendar now to have your company’s computers updated Tuesday.  Meanwhile, be on the lookout for a blizzard of PDFs even from addresses that you know.   A good rule of thumb:  if you’re not expecting a file from someone and the tone of the email doesn’t sound like your acquaintance, send a short note and ask them to confirm they sent you a file.

Trial Microsoft Products Before Buying – Fast Friday Fact

We were working with a client recently and the easy project management tools were proving to be too limited.  Although both can take a long period to learn how to effectively use, we already knew how to use Microsoft Visio and Microsoft Project.   Most of our small business clients don’t need that layer of complexity, but this client’s needs are global and involve multiple vendor-partner-collaborators.

Did you know that Microsoft allows free 60 day trials of its software? Why?  The same reason everyone who trials a product does.  In that 60 day period, you might find you really need or want the product.  So far, Microsoft is 1-1 with me.  I did purchase one piece of software and am now trialing the latest versions of the others.

Here’s the smart business practice:  even if I don’t buy, I’ve had a hands-on demo for two months at almost zero variable cost to the company. You can access Microsoft software trials (no, not an affiliate link) here.

Executive Summary:   If you don’t have a substantial cost of goods or time investment, let prospects try your product.  Stop clinging to a direct response model that requires a sale, especially with a software or service product.  Two things: don’t cripple the functionality because your goal is a purchase and make sure that the prospect would have an ongoing need for this offering.

No #DIV/0! Excel Errors – Fast Friday Fact

Microsoft Excel (Windows)

Excel errors are no fun. Here's how to clean up some. Image via Wikipedia

Are you tired of looking at spreadsheets that proudly proclaim that you’ve divided by zero?   You know those spreadsheets.   They’re riddled with ugly fields that show #DIV/O! or #N/A.

Cleaning your spreadsheet doesn’t require an Excel ninja and is a snap to do.   Microsoft’s Excel 2007 (sorry if you don’t have it, but it’s 2009 already so it’s time) has a nifty function called iferror.  You might be familiar with the function iserror, but iferror is maybe the easiest Excel command to use.

To ensure that #DIV/0! or other errors don’t show on your spreadsheet, simply preface your formula with iferror and then include a default for the error.  You’re instructing Excel that if an error exists that you want a symbol or number or other thing to appear in the calculated cell.  If no error exists, Excel simply does the calculation.

If you were dividing cell A2 and B2, your formula might look like this:

=A2/B2

With this function, you simply instruct Excel that you’re going to give your own error message if, say, the item in field A2 is a zero.  Your formula would look like this:

=iferror(A2/B2,”—”)

All you’ve done is added iferror before your calculation, added a comma after your calculation and included your own error message surrounded by quotes.   The result is a more professional, easy-to-read spreadsheet.

Now go fix your reports.  We’ll see you again on Monday.

LA Times Station Fire Map Delivers News – Fast Friday Fact

DUBLIN, CA - JUNE 24:  A firefighter uses a dr...

Image by Getty Images via Daylife

What was that about old dogs and new tricks?

Mixing a great Google Maps mashup with 24 hour reporting from a huge news organization, the Los Angeles Times tackled a huge local issue and absolutely owned the coverage.   The Times added a blog and annotated map to its coverage of the Station Fire that remains uncontained through the San Gabriel Mountains.

I don’t think I’ve seen a newspaper mix digital media so well in a developing story while staying on top of developments.

You can see the Station Fire map by the LA Times at Google

Everyone in that area, stay safe during this holiday weekend.