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How to Leverage Annotations in Google Analytics

When looking at your website data in Google Analytics (GA), it can be difficult to remember exactly what happened on a particular day to determine why certain data spikes or dips may have occurred.

For this reason, it's important to keep track of when changes are made to your site. Thankfully, GA allows you to easily do this using annotations. Annotations are short notes you can add to dates within Google Analytics reports.


If you have "Collaborate" access in GA, you can create either shared or private annotations. If you have "Read and Analyze" access only, your annotations will be private by default, and only viewable by your user account.

You also have the option to edit and delete annotations, and can also star ones of particular importance. Here is a step-by-step tutorial of how to create them.

Instructions

1. Click the small tab below the timeline indicated by an arrow.
2. Click the "+ Create new annotation" link.
3. Select the date for the annotation.

4. Enter the note.
5. Select the visibility of the annotation (if you have "Read and Analyze" access you will only be able to create private annotations).
6. Click the "Save" button.

Why You Should Use Annotations

Let's go through an example scenario. One week ago, you placed a new ad on your article page and forgot about it. Since then, the bounce rate on your site has spiked. This jump is a clear indicator that something has changed, but you're not sure what it could be. If you were to have made an annotation in GA for the ad on the day it was placed, you would now be able to easily pinpoint the ad placement in your article page as the most likely cause of the spike.

An example GA report showing a sustained peak on March 22 and onward with an annotation placed a few days prior that explains the reason for the spike — the site officially launched on March 20.

Annotations in Google Analytics can also help your your editorial team track outcomes from changes made to their normal editorial workflow. These changes could include things such as article length, byline strategy, overall composition (like assembler layouts), or SEO strategy. The data gained from using GA annotations to track these changes can inform how editorial teams guide their content creation in the future.

Limitations of Google Analytics Annotations

  • Annotations are not included in exported GA reports (the icon will be visible on the PDF format option, but there will be no included information).
  • Annotations exist only for individual dates, and not for an entire time frame.

If you have any questions about how to set up annotations in Google Analytics and optimize them for your RebelMouse site, contact your account manager today.

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Easily Snap RebelMouse Into Slack

RebelMouse offers a Slack integration that allows you to sync your editorial process with Slack's notifications. We can set up three events that trigger notifications:

  • Changed stages in the editorial process
  • Edited a post
  • Published a post
Keep reading...

A Seamless Transition: Introducing RebelMouse to New Team Members

Behind every site powered by RebelMouse, there's a team of dedicated content creators, storytellers, developers, and leaders who are working to make sure their site is growing and flourishing. Sometimes, these teams fluctuate as new members join and others leave.

Keep reading...

How to Use Variables to Set Colors Across Your Site

Why This Is Important

You can easily set colors for every element of your site on RebelMouse, including the color of your text, links, and headlines. Usually there's a set of 2–3 colors used across a site. But instead of hardcoding the color on every element, you can use variables to make it so that if a color needs to change, you can update it in one place instead of everywhere — making future maintenance easy.

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Learn More About RebelMouse’s High-Performing Infrastructure

To ensure every site powered by RebelMouse is high performing, secure, and optimized for user experience, we only use the best and most reliable methods to host our infrastructure. Here's a detailed look at some of the services and security measures we use every day to secure maximum stability and security for each of our sites.

Click here to learn more about what makes RebelMouse secure, stable, redundant, and high performing.

Services

Stateless services, such as application services for front end and back end tasks, are deployed within an Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) into multiple availability zones using Amazon Auto Scaling groups. Every service deployment is automated and can be done without an operator. Auto Scaling groups eliminate the need for manual recovery procedures in the event of hardware-related incidents. Additionally, Auto Scaling groups for stateless services provide the ability to balance resources according to current load.

Stateless services include:

  • Front end and back end applications
  • Background workers
  • Dedicated services for paid content and statistics

All interactions with our internal services are done via Amazon Elastic Load Balancing (ELB). Load balancing allow us to control the flow of all incoming traffic and reroute it to the group of instances that are available as necessary, which covers any networking and hardware issues. Every load balancer controls the health of the listener instance by regularly performing health checks and removing failed instances from production environments.

Load balancing and Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) instances provide monitoring services with resource consumption data. Stateful services such as MongoDB, Redis, and Memcached are deployed within a VPC into multiple availability zones using Auto Scaling groups. Every data service has backup, recovery, and automatic failover procedures. Backup and recovery procedures are integrated into Auto Scaling groups and tested regularly.

Services performance is monitored by internal and external tools:

  • Sentry is used to track errors.
  • New Relic is used for application performance monitoring.
  • Amazon CloudWatch is used to monitor performance extremes.
  • Monit, Nagios, and Cacti are used to monitor metrics per instance.

Security

Defense in Depth (DiD) standards are adhered to and applied at all levels:

  • Amazon Web Services (AWS), such as Identity and Access Management (IAM), and CloudTrail
  • VPC and subnets
  • Load balancers (security groups)
  • EC2 instances
  • Operating systems use permissions-based controls

Access Monitoring:

  • AWS CloudTrail monitors all activities in our production data centers and grants us the ability to perform audits

Data Protection:

  • Secured storage
  • Encrypted transition protocols
If you have any questions about RebelMouse's technical infrastructure, email support@rebelmouse.com.

Stepped Entry Editor: Guide Your Users Through Content Creation

Small, dedicated teams can create quality content that helps your site grow traffic organically. RebelMouse's platform enables multiple communities with granular permissions and simplified contribution tools to create a collaborative workflow built for creators.

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How to Fix: Invalid Twitter Card

Sometimes when you share a RebelMouse article to Twitter, it will render the tweet without a Card:

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How to Fix: Facebook Image Sharing Error

Sometimes when you share images on Facebook that are in the body of the post, the following error will occur:

"Can't load URL: The domain of this URL isn't included in the app's domains. To be able to load this URL, add all domains and sub-domains of your app to the App Domains field in your app settings."

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When to Use the Post Content Element’s Lead Media Properties

RebelMouse's Layout & Design tool makes designing your site easy and intuitive. But there are certain design factors you need to take into account when building out your site.

When creating a post page (i.e., the landing page for any article that a user is directed or navigates to), styling it is slightly different from other pages because it requires you to use the Lead Media property of a Post Content element. Within the context of our Layout & Design tool, "Lead Media" is defined as the main post tied to a post page's URL, which includes all of its images, media, and text.

By contrast, the Posts element displays all other articles (or posts) that aren't the main post you land on. These are the subsequent posts on a page that appear afterward as you scroll — such as in an infinite scroll setup, for example.
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Cross-Site Shareable Elements on RebelMouse

We now have a new feature that will be very helpful for clients that have multiple sites and/or a site network powered by RebelMouse: Cross-Site Shareable Elements. This new feature makes styling work much easier since users are able to update several site layouts at once by editing a single element. This should also prevent duplicating code in similar site layouts, as well as saving users some coding time.

Keep reading...

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