Category Archives: Google

Use Google tools to improve your website; this is what you need to do.

Google Analytics Logo

Google Analytics – time is running out…

Google Analytics Logo

Have you updated your Google Analytics set up yet?  For anyone using the legacy Universal Analytics (UA) code you have until the end of the month (June 30th 2023) to switch to the new Google Analytics v4 (GAv4) method. 

Not sure if this affects you? Read on to see if you need to take action to change your Google Analytics set up, where to do it and how.

What is Google Analytics?

Google Analytics (GA) is a free service set up by Google to allow site owners to identify trends and patterns in how people use their website.  GA handles both the data acquisition and analysis and visualization making it a powerful tool for any website owner keen to know how their visitors find and interact with their site.

You may have installed it on the site when you first built it, or your web designer may have done this for you.

How do I know if I’m using Universal Analytics?

If the GA code used on your site uses either analytics.js, ga.js or urchin.js then your site is using UA and you will need to switch to GAv4.  Similarly, if the tracking code in your script looks like UA-XXXXXXXX, then you still have UA active.

However, if your Google Analytics code uses gtag.js and the tracking code begins G-XXXXXXX then you are already on GAv4 and needn’t take any further action.

You can check this by looking at the source code for a page in your website. You should find the tracking code in the <head> of the document, relatively close to the top.

What’s the difference between UA and GAv4?

UA dates to the early 2000’s when Google acquired Urchin Analytics.  By 2013 this had been rebranded as Universal Analytics and quickly became the most widely used tracking mechanism available.  Traffic visible on a website and on an App were treated differently and appeared in discrete Views in the GA Dashboard.  In 2013 this wasn’t so much of an issue but by 2022 Google recognised that it was non-sensical to have traffic for the same organisation in two different locations.  As a result, GAv4 was developed and the decision to sunset UA made.  GAv4 also simplifies the number of reports available (UA having tens if not hundreds of different reports, some of limited value) and streamlines how activity is recorded.  Please note, this is a very simplified view of a much more complex situation.  For more in depth information see Google’s own Introduction to Google Analytics 4.

What do I need to do?

In your Google Analytics Dashboard, set up a new GAv4 property.  It is likely that Google will have done some of this for you already, but you will still need to confirm some of the settings.

Universal Analytics is going away is a useful article from Google on understanding the differences between UA and GAv4, as well as the steps needed to create / set up your new code.

You will then need to include the tracking code in your website.  This will be identical to the method you are already using for UA just the script or tag will look a little different.

What happens if I don’t set up and use a GAv4 code?

After 1st July 2023, the old UA code will cease to track visits and activity on your website.  That immensely useful stream of data on your visitors and their activity will disappear.  Your ability to track conversions, see popular pages and gauge the length of time each visitor stayed on the site will go.

The data tracked by the UA code should (according to Google) still be available for 6 months after July 1st, 2023.  Data can be exported during this time to preserve it since historical information is vital for comparing ongoing site performance.  After the 6 months have elapsed it is likely that your historical data will no longer be accessible.

Need help?

We can guide you through the process, watch over your shoulder (virtually) whilst you set up the new tag or, with your permission, set up and install a new GAv4 tag for you.

Google Chrome Tech Support Scam Misery

Google Chrome is by far the most popular internet browser.  There is a very good chance that you are reading this article using Chrome right now.  As of Jan 2018, a whopping 56.3% of all internet users browsed the web using Chrome (data from StatCounter)

This popularity has brought some unwanted attention to Chrome. Scammers are targetting the browser users with ever more sophisticated and realistic “Tech Support” scams designed to panic the user and con them into phoning a fake ‘helpline’.  Once on the ‘helpline’, you will be asked for your credit card number in return for sorting out the problem.

What does the scam look like?

tech support scam message affecting Google Chrome browser

Having landed on an infected site the Chrome browser displays the above information, often along with unsettling alarm sounds to heighten further the users level of anxiety.  Like all scams, it is cleverly designed to put you under pressure with dire warnings about what is being ‘stolen’ and a time scale (within the next 5 minutes) to frighten the user into following the instructions.

Behind the scenes the browser is instructed to try and save a file repeatedly – so fast that it cannot cope and becomes unresponsive to any commands to close or navigate away from this page.  At which point the scammers hope that you will phone their number and offer up your credit card number in return for their ‘support’ to fix the problem.

That is the very last thing you should do. Let’s dive a bit deeper into this scam and see how to get out of it and even avoid it in the first place.

Where is this scam found?

Frequently this scam is deployed via ‘Malvertising’ – Malicious Advertising – a seemingly innocuous advert appearing on a legitimate site that happens to contain a hidden payload designed to cause harm. These adverts might have been designed from the ground up by the scammers or were a previously safe advert that has been hacked and turned into a vehicle to spread the malware.  Wikipedia on Malvertising

What can I do, if I encounter this Tech Support Scam?

Firstly, don’t panic.  Recognise it for what it is and DO NOT under any circumstances phone the number given.
Secondly, try to close either the affected tab or the entire browser as you would normally using the X top right. In all likelihood, neither of these methods will work but it is worth trying it first. Beware that closing the browser will discard any work you may have open in other tabs.
Thirdly (and most probably), you will need to use the Windows Task Manager to kill off the unresponsive browser. It may be a while since you have had to use this, so here is a quick reminder.

1. Press Ctrl + Alt + Del to bring up the options screen and click on Task Manager.

2. Click on Google Chrome in the list of Tasks to highlight it, then click the End Task button

Windows Task Manager screen image
at the bottom of the screen. This will terminate the Chrome browser and the pesky fake tech support message.

3. For peace of mind, you may want to run a security scan of your machine now to reassure yourself that nothing untoward has happened as a result of this attempted scam.

Can I prevent it?

Yes, partly. As many of the scams are distributed via ‘Malvertising’, running an Ad Blocker such as Ad Block Plus can mean they never make it anywhere near your browser. There is a Google Extension for this service –  AdBlock Plus Extension – that we have used for years and can highly recommend.
Google is aware of this issue and is working on a fix.  However,  you can bet the scammers will also be working on ways to circumvent this, so it is unlikely this type of scam will go away anytime soon.

If you know of any Chrome users, please share this article with them to help keep them informed and safe.

Is your website mobile ready?

Are you Mobile Ready?

Mobile devices are changing the way we exist. Many people would be bereft without their mobile as a source of information, entertainment and as a means of communication.

So much so that mobile access to the Internet has overtaken and now far exceeds larger devices such as laptop and desktop computers.  In a recent study commissioned by Google, 69% of smartphone users said they turned to mobile search in a moment of need.

2 years ago, Google announced they would be prioritising sites in the search results that were mobile friendly over those that were not. This continues today.  If your web site is not mobile friendly, then you are potentially needlessly giving away postions in the search results.

So how do you know if your site is mobile friendly?

Simple.  Google have produce a tool that will tell you instantly if your site is mobile compatible.

search console tool, mobile friendly
Google Search Console, mobile friendly checker

Put your website URL into the search box, click Run Test and see for yourself if Google recognises your site as mobile friendly.  If it is, then you will see a page something like the one below.  If it is not then you will get a series of warning and advice on what you need to do to make your site mobile friendly.

QD Design site successfully passing the search console mobile friendly test
This is how your site should look…

“But”, I hear you yell, “Most, if not all, of my visitors are using desktop / laptop computers, so it doesn’t matter to me, does it”.   Wrong.   Google will still penalise your site if it isn’t mobile friendly even though no mobile users currently visit it.

Can you really afford to needlessly give away search engine position because your site isn’t compatible with mobile devices?

QD Design only design fully responsive mobile friendly web sites that ensure you are not penalised by Google or the other search engines. If your web site is in need of a “tune up”, let’s talk.