Work Experiences at Ctrip, Alibaba in China for 59 Months

I recently quit my job at Ctrip and am going through a new path ahead of me. In the last 59 months, I had worked at 2 Chinese companies (i.e. Ctrip and Alibaba) in China.

  • The work experience I have gained through working at Ctrip and Alibaba is incredible.
  • It isn’t the work experience alone, but also the culture, localization, transition, projects, teamwork, and new skills together that have made me a stronger person.
  • Now I have acquired some solid work experiences in South Africa and China, or the West and the East.

Culture

It is always difficult to fit into any new culture.

  • It was even more difficult to fit into those new cultures when I first joined Ctrip and Alibaba.
  • Before my time in Mainland China, I used to work for companies in South Africa in which they had very different cultures to those in Mainland Chinese companies.

So it ended up involving to meet with a lot of new people and to learn the cultures quickly.

Localization

To be able to work in Chinese companies, I found it important to localize myself. The quicker I could localize the better I was able to fit it.

  • Improve Chinese Language in verbal and written (typing).
  • Think like my local work colleagues.

Transition

Transitions were required in different stages and each transition requires spending considerable amount of time, discovering new methods and learning new skills. Some examples of my transitions during my time at Ctrip:

  • I had to involve not at all in PPC operations, but keep myself fully informed for PPC strategies for different websites.
  • I had to discover new methods to improve all types of tracking for numerous websites and mobile sites and ensure all the tracking technologies were correctly implemented and integrated.
  • I had to identify issues on the different websites and subsequently figure out what was required to improve the sites’ conversion rates.
  • I had to discover new methods to fit fresh new content into some daily operation processes, as the websites were not limited to only Chinese and English languages. The sites were truly becoming multi-lingual websites as many more languages were added.
  • It was anymore limited to search engines, web analytics (i.e. tracking and data integration), and conversion rate optimization. I had to oversee, involve and improve almost all parts of some websites. For these sites I had to involve in traffic acquisition from all sources, site development/operations, web performance optimization (i.e. page load time optimization), and content management (in multiple languages).
  • At one stage, I had to manage a lot more people than I used to.

After all these transitions, I could only have become a more diverse person.

Projects, Teamwork

On the ways to complete each project or even a not-so-big task, it was necessary to co-ordinate with people.

  • Projects in Ctrip would involve many people in which some were from your own team and some were from other teams.
  • To complete different projects, I had to understand the strength and weakness of each persons in my own team, and had to also know similar information about people in other teams (if possible).

New Skills, New Opportunities

In Ctrip, the scope of my responsibilities were shifting and increasing. It was necessary for me to develop new skills so that I could cover (or oversee) all the areas that were required coverage:

  • Search Engines (i.e. SEO, PPC)
  • Web Analytics / Search Analytics (i.e. Tracking / Data Integration)
  • Web Business Solutions
  • Website Development
  • Operations of Large-size Multilingual Travel Websites
  • Online Marketing
  • Website Content Management
  • Site Conversion Rate Optimization
  • Web Performance Optimization
  • Web-based Tools
  • Some Casual Coding

Developing new skills definite have been taken up considerable non-office hour time, but it has since opened up many new opportunities for me.

People to Thank

I had the opportunities to work with many very bright and intelligent people at Ctrip and Alibaba. I have to thank many people who were my superiors, peers and subordinates during my time at Ctrip and Alibaba.

Many superiors who I reported to have helped me by:

  • Guiding me with directions of the companies/departments and purposes in life and career.
  • Improving my self-disciplines and giving me pressure so I could grow.
  • Discovering my hidden skills and non-obvious potentials.
  • Giving me more responsibilities in more diverse areas.
  • Passing me their valuable experiences and knowledge.
  • Letting me teach them new skills which helped me to figure out what I actually know and don’t.

My peers who I have worked with helped me by:

  • Being friendly to me and spending time with me.
  • Showing me new discoveries in skills and trends.
  • Disagreeing things with me so we got to debate and discover new methods and trends.
  • Giving me competitions as motives to grow.
  • Discussing openly with me about personal careers so we could learn together and grow together.

My subordinates who I have worked with helped me by:

  • Working according to exactly what I asked them to.
  • Working not according to what I asked them to, but still completing their tasks.
  • Not listening to me but would debate so we could discover new work methods and grew.
  • Working very hard to accomplish their tasks/projects.
  • Letting me help them to grow as persons and their skills.
  • Letting me help them to discover their potentials.

My Very Early Years in Hong Kong

School building and sports ground for my early days:

    My Primary School, Kindergarten in Hong Kong

The story: The photo shows the school building where I spent about 8 years of my very early days in Hong Kong when I attended primary school and kindergarten.

Posted on October 2, 2012
Category: My Status Updates | Leave a Comment

Mobile Sites User Statistics, How to Build User Friendly Mobile Sites

Google has revealed statistics on how users behave on mobile sites. Let’s summarize.

Issues with Mobile Sites

The most common issues web users have encountered with most mobile sites:

  • Close to 75% of users prefer a mobile-friendly site when they’re on mobile devices.
  • 96% of consumers have encountered sites that were not designed for mobile devices.

Non-friendly Mobile Sites

It definitely hurts users and your business when you don’t have a mobile-friendly site.

  • 61% of users would immediately go on to another site if they couldn’t find what they were looking for right away on your mobile site.
  • 50% of users will use your mobile site less if your website isn’t mobile-friendly, even if they like your business.

Friendly Mobile Sites

It definitely helps retaining returning users and increasing sales for your business when you have a mobile-friendly site.

  • 67% of mobile users are more likely to buy your site’s products or services when your mobile site is “mobile-friendly”.
  • 74% of users are more likely to return to your mobile site in the future after visiting your mobile-friendly site.

Building Mobile Sites

Responsive Design (for Mobile-friendly Sites)

What is responsive design?

  • It’s a website design technique that lets you create a single website that will adapt to the device on which it’s being viewed, whether it’s a laptop, smartphone or tablet.
  • A site built with responsive design will automatically resize for different devices, however you can prioritize the content that matters most to the mobile user.
  • A mobile user might need to quickly find your phone number or directions, whereas a tablet user might want a simpler way to make couch-surfing purchases.
  • A site built using responsive design could prioritize click-to-call and click-to-map buttons, while the tablet site would focus on simplifying the shopping cart.

Google Webmaster Central Blog explains the technical details of responsive design and how to fulfill 3 guidelines when creating mobile-friendly sites:

  • Our pages should render legibly at any screen resolution.
  • We mark up one set of content, making it viewable on any device.
  • We should never show a horizontal scrollbar, whatever the window size.

Posted on September 26, 2012
Category: B2C Websites | Leave a Comment

Tools for File Sync, Online Backup, File Sharing – Dropbox, SugarSync, Google Drive, DropMyEmail

Dropbox, SugarSync, Google Drive, Microsoft’s SkyDrive, and Baidu’s Pan are all similar online-based services that allow file sharing and file synchronization.

  • When you’re using multiple different computers in different locations, you can use these services as online sharing virtual portable drive spaces.
  • You can back up your important files on these virtual drives.

Dropbox

www.dropbox.com

  • You start with 2.5 gigabytes of file storage for free.
  • Can receive additional 500 megabytes for referring a new user.
  • Dropbox allows file sync to mobile app.

Four Killer Dropbox Tricks:

SugarSync

www.sugarsync.com

  • SugarSync lets you start with 5.0 gigabytes of file storage for free.
  • You can buy additional 30 gigabytes for USD 4.99 per month.
  • You can receive additional 500 megabytes for referring each new user.
  • Allows file sync to mobile app.

SugarSync vs. Dropbox:

Google Drive

drive.google.com

  • You start with 5.0 gigabyte for free.
  • You can buy additional 25 gigabytes of file storage for USD 2.50 per month.
  • Allows file sync to mobile app.
  • Google Drive is fully compatible with Google Plus.

Google Drive vs. Dropbox:

SkyDrive

skydrive.live.com

  • Microsoft SkyDrive starts you with 7.0 gigabytes of free storage.
  • Allows file sync to mobile app.
  • It’s compatible with Windows Phones.

SkyDrive Updates Sharing and File Management:

Baidu Pan

pan.baidu.com

  • Baidu’s Pan starts you with 2.5 gigabytes of free storage.
  • You can receive additional 500 megabytes for referring a new user.
  • Allows file sync to mobile app.

Dropbox Tricks with Other Tools

Other online tools that offer easy use of Dropbox:

  • SendtoDropbox.com – You get a unique email address from SendtoDropbox.com which allows you to email any files directly into your Dropbox account. This is convenient especially when you’re on your mobile and you can forward any email attachments directly to your Dropbox account – SendtoDropbox.com
  • URLDroplet.com – Allows you to paste in the download link of a file and the file will be saved directly to your Dropbox account – URLDroplet.com

LifeHacker provides tips on 10 clever uses of Dropbox:

  • Keep the Same Apps, Settings, and Passwords on All Your PCs
  • Convert, Share, and Automate Your Files
  • Launch Applications and Run Commands on Your Home Computer
  • Create Your Own Cloud-Based Music Library
  • Host a Web Site or Start Page for Your Browser
  • Print Documents to Your Home Printer from Any Computer
  • Quickly Install Android Apps and ROMs
  • Manage Your BitTorrent Downloads
  • Securely Share Files, from Saucy Pics to Paperwork
  • Monitor Your Computer for Running Tasks or Unauthorized Access

DropMyEmail, DropMySite

DropMyEmail and DropMySite offer services to backup emails, websites and databases.

  • DropMyEmail lets you back up your emails including Gmails, Yahoo Mail, Hotmail, QQ Mail to DropMyEmail’s servers
  • DropMySite allows you to back up websites and databases

DropMyEmail launched at Demo Asia 2012:

Posted on September 24, 2012
Category: Web Tools | Leave a Comment

Web Analytics vs Web Log

What analytics tools have you been relying on for understanding the traffic, users, and customers of your website? In reality you can rely on web analytics that are either:

  • Web log-based
  • JavaScript-based

Web Log-Based Analytics

Web log-based means you are getting the web/traffic data directly from your web server’s log files.

  • Web log captures a gigantic amount of data that most of the time even exceeds what you actually require. It captures every click a user makes on your web page. It records when your server returns a CSS file to the client.
  • It’s a pain to clean up the raw data of even a small web log file. To make it worse, every day, every hour, and every minute, your log file’s size adds up. So processing your web log files can be very painful (and take a very long time) if you are running a website that has billions of page views per day.
  • A software/web engineer is probably needed to write automatic script to pre-process your daily log files (before the data becomes anything meaningful to you) that would also depend on how you have configured your web servers to capture user data to your web log files.
  • After all these pains, you will still require your data warehouse experts and web analysts to store the web log data in some pre-planned database structures and put the data up as readable reports for human beings.

Many SEO experts would think otherwise about web log-based analytics. One great benefit that they can get from web log is the behavior of search engine spiders. Knowing this information is essential for them to deal with many difficult SEO issues.

JavaScript-Based Analytics

Benefits of using JavaScript-based web analytics:

  • URL-based: This means when your website’s URL is planned in a way that makes sense for users and search engines, your web analytics tool shouldn’t have problems showing them back to you in the reports.
  • Cookies-based: Tracking each visitor’s behavior is becoming more and more important for your web business’s success, and a cookie more or less represents a single person (or visitor).
  • Easy installation with JavaScript tags: All you usually do is add the same piece of JavaScript tag onto every page of your website, and your web analytics setup is more than half-way done.
  • Allows customized setup to capture more user actions/events: JavaScript-based tag doesn’t track when a user visits a page whether one of the CSS file actually fires up, but with some customization codes (e.g., Google Analytics allows some customization) you can track keywords of some specific Chinese search engines (that aren’t already in the default list of Google Analytics).
  • No/minimal data storage issue: For example, your website’s traffic data is actually hosted on some servers that belong to Google, if you are using Google Analytics. You will not be required to spend time and labor in maintaining the servers, handling the technical issues, and cleaning up the raw data.

However, JavaScript-based web analytics has shortcomings:

  • No search engine spider or bot data is captured, e.g., Googlebot, baiduspider.
  • No page error data can be captured.
  • Some web pages that are already heavily loaded with JavaScript may cause your web analytics tools to lose track of data.
  • Some browsers in the world still don’t support JavaScript, so it means no data being captured by your web analytics tools.

Examples of Web Analytics (JavaScript-Based)

Global web analytics tools that are available to users for free:

  • Google Analytics: Google has always been maintaining the data lifecycles of “give-and-get” with its users.
  • Yahoo Web Analytics: Unfortunately Yahoo has decided to retire this tool, as the company’s direction is no longer to develop sophisticated and free web analytics tools.

Global web analytics tools that are only available when you pay to use them:

  • Adobe/Omniture Site Catalyst
  • There are many more paid web analytics tools that are similar to Site Catalyst

Global web analytics tool that is available as a self-installed and open-source project:

Examples of Web Analytics in China (JavaScript-Based)

For the Internet world especially in China:

  • Baidu Analytics: Baidu has been proactively providing its web analytics tools to its users.

China-based web analytics tools that are only available when you pay to use them, and they are the best ones from within China that I have seen so far (if you know of other great China-based web analytics tools, please don’t hesitate to let me know):

This article was initially cross-posted on Clickz Asia.

Posted on September 13, 2012
Category: Web Analytics | Leave a Comment

SEO Analytics, PPC Analytics, Web Analytics for China Internet

If you are one of the online marketers, PPC marketers, SEO guys, web analysts, and/or webmasters acquiring new businesses through Chinese Internet market:

  • Online marketers and search marketers working within China’s Internet will require research tools for understanding trends and keywords, and will need to automate PPC marketing and social media marketing operations.
  • SEO professionals focusing on Chinese search engines should use SEO analytics for the websites to gather alerts on SEO issues, search engine spider behavior and organic keyword ranking.
  • As Chinese webmasters, Google may collect websites’ data through Google Analytics and Googlebot, and share the data back to webmasters through Google Webmaster Tools. However, Baidu isn’t quite ready on sharing website data with Chinese webmasters.

I did previously mention the above topics on Clickz Asia Blog.

SEM Tools for Brand Marketers Targeting China

Online marketing in China involves search engine marketing through search engines and social marketing through social media sites. Search engine Baidu offers high volume of search traffic that you need and social media site/tool Sina Weibo has been the center of buzz in China’s Internet world. Before you jump right into search marketing and social media marketing in the Chinese market, follow these three steps when planning your actions: trend research, keyword research, and process automation. Let’s go through the list now.

Trend Research

Trend research allows you to better understand Chinese Internet users’ intent and what they are most interested about. As the number one Chinese search engine, Baidu has been collecting the most user intent through its search box. In return, Baidu provides these trend research tools: Baidu Index, Baidu Data Research Center, and Baidu Top Searches.

  • Baidu Index: It is the equivalent of Baidu’s Google Trends in China. Baidu index shows you search terms’ volume by the timeline of your choice from geographical regions, by gender, by age, by occupation, and by education level. It also tells you the media’s attention to your search terms with news that have mentioned the search terms.
  • Baidu Data Research Center: Offers trend reports by industry for download.
  • Baidu Top Searches: Provides top 10 searches in real time and in other different categories including entertainment, people, and life by demographics (gender and age).
  • You may also want to verify trends by using tools from other search engines: Google, Sogou, and Soso.
  • Google Insights for Search: Needless to mention, this is a great trend spotting tool provided by Google. Google Insights lets you search via search terms, geographical regions, and time frames. You can even filter your searches by verticals (web search, image search, news search, or product search) and select from 27 industries.
  • Sogou Hot Searches: Provides the top 10 search terms in different categories including today’s news, weekly hot topics, etc.
  • Soso Top Searches: Features the top 10 search terms for categories including websites, pretty ladies, handsome guys, songs, books, people, movies, TV shows, and sports.

Keyword Research

Before launching your Chinese PPC campaign either in Baidu’s Phoenix Nest, or Google AdWords, you need to set up keyword lists that are suitable for your business. Both Baidu and Google provide keyword research tools.

  • Google Keyword Tool: For each keyword that you run a research on Google’s keyword tool, Google gives you up to 100 related new keywords with numbers in competition, global monthly searches, and local monthly searches, by keyword match types and by geographical regions. You can even enter a URL and the keyword tool will return ‘keywords’ from within the web page.
  • Baidu Keyword Tool: It works similar to Google’s keyword tool except that you are required to log in to a Baidu Phoenix Nest account before you can access the tool. For each keyword that you run a research on Baidu’s keyword tool, it will return new keyword suggestions by daily search volume and by competitions. You can even filter keyword suggestions by geographical regions within China.

Chinese keyword research tools has the entire list of tools for keyword research.

Process Automation

Google and Baidu provide AdWords Editor and Baidu Editor respectively for you to manage your daily search engine marketing operations that may involve keyword, ad, and campaign manipulation.

With social media for microblogging, you can use tools that will allow you to automate your social media/buzz marketing on Sina Weibo: FaWave, ShowOne, Hearwide, and Baidu Box Computing.

  • FaWave add-on: This add-on is a Chrome extension that works on the Chrome browser. It allows you to send Weibo messages (Chinese tweets) on multiple weibo platforms at the same time such as Sina Weibo, Tencent Weibo, Douban, Kaixin001, Renren, Google Buzz, Twitter, etc.
  • ShowOne: With this weibo management tool, you can write your weibo messages and then schedule your messages to be sent out. The tool only works with Sina Weibo.
  • Hearwide: It lets you search for images/photos, merge multiple photos into one GIF image, and send the image with your 140 Chinese characters as weibo messages.
  • Baidu Box Computing: Baidu’s concept of ‘box computing’ offers you a weibo form right within Baidu’s web search results pages. All you need to do is to search for the ‘right’ keywords. However, the form only allows you to broadcast weibo messages to Tencent Weibo, Sohu Weibo, and 163 Weibo – no integration yet with Sina Weibo.

SEO Analytics for Chinese Online Marketers

Successful search engine optimization (SEO) campaigns require online marketers to set up analytics to reflect performance and analyze user behavior to your websites. We will need SEO analytics that can give us:

  • General Alerts/Information on Website/SEO Issues
  • Organic search engine bot behavior
  • Organic search engine keyword ranking

General alerts/information on website/SEO issues

Besides jumping into specific tools/systems to analyze your website’s organic search engine performance, you should always refer to the information/reports that are given to you for free from Google’s Webmaster Tools.

Google’s Webmaster Tools offers site information such as various reports by domain and sub-domain. The reports provided include issues discovered by Google’s spider/bot to your site’s Robots.txt, XML Sitemaps, sitelinks, geographic/country targeting, malware, crawl errors, and crawl statistics.

Google’s Webmaster Tools also shows you reports on the average time when loading a web page on your site, HTML suggestions to your web pages, search queries that have led visitors to your site, internal links and external links that are pointing to your site, keyword themes of your site, subscribers to your site’s RSS feeds (if your website offers content in RSS feeds), and Google +1 metrics (new reports).

The Google Webmaster Central Blog provides feature updates to Google’s Webmaster Tools and is a great reference for all webmasters on common and general search engine optimization issues.

Organic Search Engine Bot Behavior

Depending on how much traffic your site is getting every day from all traffic sources and from organic search engines, your website’s raw log file records almost all activities of visitors and search engine robots to your site and can contain from giga-bytes to tera-bytes of raw data on a single day.

Nihuo Web Log Analyzer allows you to process your website’s daily log files and returns analytics reports to reflect behavior of search engine robots/spiders and human visitors. Though for human visitors’ behavior, you may want to stick with using Google Analytics or other free or paid analytics tools; the main point of using Nihuo is to look at and analyze search engine bots’ behavior (i.e., Baiduspider, GoogleBot, YoudaoBot, Sogou Web Spider, etc.).

Besides providing data on top referring sites and top referring URLs, Nihuo gives you data about your website on search engine statistics including top search engines, top search keywords, and top search phrases by country (IP address), by browser type, total bandwidth consumed by all visitors, bandwidth consumed by search engine bots, time spent of each search engine bot on your website, and any individual web pages.

By analyzing search engine bot-related data, you will be able to identify crawling and indexing issues per search engine, and take action to improve your site’s visibility in organic search engine results.

Organic Search Engine Keyword Ranking

How much traffic your website gets from organic search engines (Baidu/Google) depends on your keywords’ rankings within Baidu/Google’s organic search engine results pages.

The Rank Tracker software in Link-Assistant’s SEO PowerSuite allows you to keep track of any website’s search engine keyword rankings.

You should have a keyword list of core/profitable keywords for your website that you expect to rank organically in Baidu, Google, Sogou, Soso, and other organic Chinese search engines. Run your keyword list through Rank Tracker against your website’s domain name and Rank Tracker will show you information including keyword, keyword’s organic ranking, and landing page URL by search engine of the current day.

Running Rank Tracker with the same set of keyword list against your competitors’ domain names will allow you to set up competitive intelligence about your competitors’ organic search engine rankings.

If most of your core/profitable keywords have rankings far behind the top 20 organic ranking and/or far behind your major competitors, it is time to take action.

The Importance of Data Lifecycles for Chinese Websites

China’s fast growing Internet has created opportunities not only in search engine marketing and search engine optimization for websites, but also in data lifecycle. Every decision for your website can be as data-driven as possible, if you know where and how to collect the data necessary for your online business.

Google’s Data Lifecycle

Everyone knows Google is a search engine. But what Google has really established is a data lifecycle between webmasters/advertisers and Google themselves. Consider two processes:

  • Google collects website data from all over the world
  • Google feedbacks bulk data back to all webmasters/advertisers

How Does Google Collect Data?

Process 1: Google collects massive website data through two major methods: Google Analytics and Googlebot.

Google Analytics:

  • First of all, Google Analytics can easily be set up on your website (by inserting a piece of JavaScript code on every page of your site, given by Google).
  • Once the codes are on your site, Google Analytics will start collecting data traffic to your site. Every piece of the data collected will be stored in some Google data centers.

Googlebot:

  • Google has several crawlers working tirelessly and simultaneously, and Googlebot is one of the major crawlers.
  • Googlebot would access a website, move through the website’s internal links, and record all the web pages that it has visited.
  • Then Googlebot takes all the page information it collected back to Google’s many data centers.
  • Finally Google will decide what web pages should be placed in Google’s index and how the web pages should be ranked in organic search results, according to Google’s indexing factors and ranking factors.

After data collection, Google reorganized the data into more meaningful and useful forms, i.e., reports, before showing them to webmasters and online advertisers.

How Does Google Share Website Data?

Process 2: Google shares website data back to webmasters and advertisers through many tools/systems, but most notably through:

  • Google Analytics – Google provides you close to a full view of your website’s traffic sources, where those traffic may come from search engines (e.g., Google, Baidu, Bing, etc.), referral sites (e.g., BBC News, Clickz.Asia, etc.), or social network sites/microblogging sites (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, etc). Through Google Analytics, you can get a bit more including traffic sources’ locations (e.g., countries and cities), browser types (e.g., Firefox, Chrome, Internet Explorer), and visitors’ high-level behavior (e.g., new visitors vs. repeat visitors, loyalty of visitors, etc.).
  • Google Adwords – If you buy search ads/display ads and advertise through Google AdWords, you can always log in to your AdWords account, get the reports, review the performance of your ads, and make decisions/adjustment to your spending.
  • Google Webmaster Tools – After verifying to Google that you are in fact the owner of your site, Google will give you access to the technical issues of your site from Googlebot’s perspective (surely, this is more for those who work on search engine optimization of your website).

Google? No, It Should Be Baidu in China!

Above is the demonstration of the processes in collecting and sharing website data by Google, but in China, Google’s search share is way behind Chinese leading search engine Baidu. So the bulk data that really matters most should be with Baidu and should be shared by Baidu back to all Chinese webmasters and advertisers. However, is this happening and if not, then why not?

Baidu Analytics: Baidu has only released the beta version of Baidu Analytics (which is equivalent to Google Analytics in China) in late 2009 to selected Baidu PPC advertisers. In 2010, Baidu Analytics has been opened to the public.

Baidu’s Webmaster Tools: Baidu released a so-called webmaster tools to webmasters in 2010. It should be the equivalent to Google’s Webmaster Tools, but in reality, Baidu’s Webmaster Tools has never been up to par due to many shortcomings in functionality.

  • It’s not yet Baidu’s intention to share with webmasters a lot of data, other than simply making the webmaster tools a place only for website URL submission (via XML format). Baidu has never been not ready to share too much or any data with anyone. Look at Baidu’s building a Chinese Internet Empire. In Baidu’s philosophy (similar many large-sized Chinese Internet companies), they don’t prefer being collaborative, they prefer to compete.
  • Baidu’s intention may be to use the data collected for their own benefit: they found out through their search data that the online travel industry possesses an opportunity and acquired Qunar, an online travel search engine, to head right into the travel industry. In the short-term, this strategy proves to be a better option than sharing all these data with Chinese webmasters and advertisers. Baidu could easily do this again and again to many other industries.
  • By sharing less to Baidu PPC advertisers, Baidu continues to keep most of the less-data-driven advertisers aware that most of their spending on Baidu PPC could have been actually wasted cash.

Baidu Phoenix Nest: Though Baidu’s PPC platform has made more and more reports available to Baidu PPC advertisers over the years, it is Baidu’s keyword bidding algorithm and offline negotiation that hinders most of the advertisers.

Baidu’s PPC bidding algorithm is highly tilted toward bid prices that advertisers set to their keywords and places much less weight onto ad ranking factors for example, keyword quality score.

Baidu in their culture loves negotiation with advertisers. The more negotiation they get into, the better chance they are to get advertisers to pay more. Everything, every spot on any Baidu network site has a price, which is acceptable. And Baidu utilizes the most out of it by negotiating ad spot prices with advertisers (as they have a large sales team). But the problem is with the quality of these traffic advertisers get from these so-called Baidu networks.

Without adequate data being collected in the first place from all the Chinese websites and shared back to all the webmasters and advertisers, this data life cycle still has a long way to complete in China’s Internet world.

Posted on August 23, 2012
Category: Web Analytics | Leave a Comment

IDEs, Code Editors, for Python, Django Development

Django’s Official Site – Django is a high-level Python web framework that allows rapid development and clean, pragmatic design that was written by web developers who was responsible for meeting intensive deadlines of a newsroom and stringent requirements. Django was written in the Python language and follows the model-view-controller architectural pattern.

The Django web framework offers advantages including:

  • Object-relational mapper – Define your data models entirely in Python. You get a rich, dynamic database-access API for free — but you can still write SQL if needed.
  • Automatic admin interface – Save yourself the tedious work of creating interfaces for people to add and update content. Django does that automatically, and it’s production-ready.
  • Elegant URL design – Design pretty, cruft-free URLs with no framework-specific limitations. Be as flexible as you like.
  • Template system – Use Django’s powerful, extensible and designer-friendly template language to separate design, content and Python code.
  • Cache system – Hook into memcached or other cache frameworks for super performance — caching is as granular as you need.
  • Internationalization – Django has full support for multi-language applications, letting you specify translation strings and providing hooks for language-specific functionality.

Django Downloads

Downloads offered by Django:

Source Code Editors

A source code editor is a text editor program designed specifically for editing source code of computer programs by programmers. It may be a standalone application or it may be built into an integrated development environment (IDE).

Source code editors have features specifically designed to simplify and speed up input of source code, such as syntax highlighting, autocomplete and bracket matching functionality. These editors also provide a convenient way to run a compiler, interpreter, debugger, or other program relevant for software development process.

Integrated Development Environment

An IDE is a software application that provides comprehensive facilities to computer programmers for software development which normally consists of a source code editor, build automation tools and a debugger.

IDEs such as Eclipse may include a compiler, an interpreter or both.

IDEs / Code Editors for Django Development

PyDev – PyDev is a Python IDE for Eclipse which may be used in Python, Jython and IronPython development.

Video for Pydev – A video that briefly demonstrates how Pydev works.

Python Editors – A comprehensive list of code editors for multiple platforms, Unix-only, Windows-only, Macintosh-only and mobile devices.

Python IDEs – Includes Eclipse with PyDev, Komodo Edit.

Django Development IDE – More advanced than a text editor for Django development being discussed on the Stackoverflow forum.

Python Roadmap to 7.0 – NetBeans has a roadmap to support Python development.

Best suited IDEs for Django development – Includes Aptana Studio 3, JetBrains PyCharm, being mentioned on this Quora Q and A post.

The Best IDE, Hosting, and Applications for Django – Includes IDEs, hosting services and general applications for Django development.

Posted on August 6, 2012
Category: Coding | Leave a Comment

Google Analytics Default Search Engines, Add New Search Engine Referrals

Google Analytics has a list of built-in / default organic search engines as referrals. Visitors coming through the default search engine list to your site are automatically reported without having to customized the tracking code snippets during the initial Google Analytics setup.

Google Analytics Default Organic Search Engines

Each organic search engine that shows up in Google Analytics Traffic Sources report is associated with the specific search engine’s web address (URL). Search keywords are captured through each search engine’s query parameter that are usually in the format “q=” or “query=”. Search keywords do appear in Google Analytics Keyword report.

Search Engine as it appears in Google Analytics reports
URL
Search Query Parameter

The organic search engines that often appear in Google Analytics Traffic Sources report include:

Google
www.google.com, www.google.com.uk, www.google.com.hk, www.google.co.jp, etc
q=

Yahoo
www.yahoo.com
p=

Bing
www.bing.com
q=

Ask
www.ask.com
q=

Baidu
www.baidu.com
wd=

Naver
www.naver.com
query=

Daum
www.daum.net
q=

Yandex
www.yandex.com
text=

Search
www.search.com
q

Add New Search Engines to Google Analytics

“New” or “small” search engines not in the default organic search engine list will not show up in Google Analytics under “Search Engines”, but under “Referring Sites”. Search traffic appearing under referring sites mean Google Analytics won’t show you the organic search keywords for these search engines.

Updating the tracking code snippets will allow Google Analytics to:

  • Report the “new” and/or “small” organic search traffic referrals under the Search Engines report
  • Report the organic search keywords of the “new” and/or “small” search engines

Google Analytics Tracking Code Snippets for Adding New Search Engines

Google Analytics allows new organic search engines to be added to the default search engine traffic source via the _addOrganic() method. The query term variable (e.g. “q” or “query”) that is used in the query parameter of each search engine to demarcate the search string will have to be specified.

_addOrganic()
_addOrganic(newOrganicEngine, newOrganicKeyword, opt_prepend)

Adds a search engine to be included as a potential search engine traffic source. By default, Google Analytics recognizes a number of common search engines, but you can add additional search engine sources to the list.

Parameters:

  • StringnewOrganicEngine Engine for new organic source.
  • StringnewOrganicKeyword Keyword name for new organic source.
  • booleanopt_prepend If true prepends the new engine to the beginning of the organic source list. If false adds the new engine to the end of the list. This parameter’s default value is set to false.

The default Google Analytics tracking code snippets (without adding new search engines to the search engine traffic source):

<script type="text/javascript">
  var _gaq = _gaq || [];
  _gaq.push(['_setAccount','UA-XXXXXX-X']);
  _gaq.push(['_trackPageview']);
  (function() {
    var ga = document.createElement('script'); ga.type = 'text/javascript'; ga.async = true;
    ga.src = ('https:' == document.location.protocol ? 'https://ssl' : 'http://www') + '.google-analytics.com/ga.js';
    var s = document.getElementsByTagName('script')[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(ga, s);
  })();
</script>

The updated Google Analytics tracking code snippets (for adding new search engines to the search engine traffic source):

<script type="text/javascript">
  var _gaq = _gaq || [];
  _gaq.push(['_setAccount','UA-XXXXXX-X']);
  _gaq.push(['_addOrganic', 'newsearch1', 'q']);
  _gaq.push(['_addOrganic', 'newsearch2', 'q']);
  _gaq.push(['_addOrganic', 'newsearch3', 'q']);
  _gaq.push(['_trackPageview']);
  (function() {
    var ga = document.createElement('script'); ga.type = 'text/javascript'; ga.async = true;
    ga.src = ('https:' == document.location.protocol ? 'https://ssl' : 'http://www') + '.google-analytics.com/ga.js';
    var s = document.getElementsByTagName('script')[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(ga, s);
  })();
</script>

Google Analytics Attributes Some Search Engines to Search.com

Google Analytics does update the default organic search engine list from time to time. Many small search engines are reported as and attributed to search engine referral “Search / Organic” in the Traffic Sources report, which leads to inaccurate organic search engine traffic source attribution.

Posted on July 18, 2012
Category: Google Analytics | 2 Comments

Adwords Image Ad Size Formats in Google Display Network

Besides Google Adwords keyword-based search ads, Google also offers different ad formats for advertisers through Google Display Network:

  • Text-based ads
  • Image-based ads
  • Video-based ads

Google Display Network offers at least 8 different image ad sizes.

  • Leaderboard (728 x 90)
  • Banner (468 x 60)
  • Small Square (200 x 200)
  • Skyscraper (120 x 600)
  • Wide Skyscraper (160 x 600)
  • Square (250 x 250)
  • Medium Rectangle (300 x 250)
  • Large Rectangle (336 x 280)

Google Display Network makes it possible for advertisers to explore their websites to visitors within Google’s partner sites such as YouTube, other Google web properties and a large group of small websites. In Google Display Network:

Posted on July 9, 2012
Category: Adwords Content Network | Leave a Comment

Rapid Software Development Mistakes

One of the best software engineering books that talks thoroughly about managing tech projects is “Rapid Development” written by Steve McConnell, which I have mentioned in Computer Programming High Level Snippets. Steve McConnell defines “Rapid Development Project” as any project that needs to emphasize development speed.

Classic Mistakes in Rapid Software Development

Mistakes are not uncommon in software development. Ineffective software development practices are caused by classic mistakes in software development, which can slow down and cause bad results in software development projects. Software development’s classic mistakes can occur in 4 areas:

  • People – Staff selection for team projects, team organization, motivation
  • Process – Rework avoidance, quality assurance, development fundamentals, risk management, resource targeting, lifecycle planning, customer orientation
  • Product – Product size, product characteristics
  • Technology

People-related mistakes:

  • Undermined motivation
  • Weak personnel
  • Uncontrolled problem employees
  • Heroics
  • Adding people to a late project
  • Noisy, crowded offices
  • Friction between developers and customers
  • Unrealistic expectations
  • Lack of effective project sponsorship
  • Lack of stakeholder buy-in
  • Lack of user input
  • Politics placed over substance
  • Wishful thinking

Process-related mistakes:

  • Overly optimistic schedules
  • Insufficient risk management
  • Contractor failure
  • Insufficient planning
  • Abandonment of planning under pressure
  • Wasted time during the fuzzy front end
  • Shortchanged upstream activities
  • Inadequate design
  • Shortchanged quality assurance
  • Insufficient management controls
  • Premature or overly frequent convergence
  • Omitting necessary tasks from estimates
  • Planning to catch up later
  • Code-like-hell programming

Product-related mistakes:

  • Requirements gold-plating
  • Feature creep
  • Developer gold-plating
  • Push-me, pull-me negotiation
  • Research-oriented development

Technology-related mistakes:

  • Silver-bullet syndrome
  • Overestimated savings from new tools or methods
  • Switching tools in the middle of a project
  • Lack of automated source-code control

Rapid Software Development Fundamentals

Rapid software development relies on 3 fundamentals:

  • Management
  • Technical
  • Quality assurance

Management fundamentals:

  • Estimation and scheduling
  • Planning
  • Tracking
  • Measurement

Technical fundamentals:

  • Requirements management
  • Design
  • Construction
  • Software configuration management (SCM)

Quality fundamentals:

  • Error-prone modules
  • Testing
  • Technical reviews: Walkthroughs, code reading, inspections

Posted on June 30, 2012
Category: Coding | Leave a Comment

Google Plus Pros

Google Plus Social Network was launched a year ago in late June 2011. These are the benefits (pros) to use Google+ in my daily life.

Google+ Integration to Other Google Services

Google+ is always ready to allow easy integration to other Google Services. When you already have a Google Account while using Google Maps, YouTube, Google Web Search, Google Reader, Google Docs, Picasa, other Google tools/services and an Android mobile phone, sign-up Google+ for social networking makes perfect sense.

Google+ Circles

Google+ allows you to organize your network with multiple different Google+ Circles. After categorizing people in different “circles”, you can easily browse the incoming streams (posts) of each of the circles. Also, it’s easier to find and connect to many other “geeky” people on Google+ than on Facebook.

Google+ Privacy

All Google services including Google+ can use one single Google profile which you have added your personal information. Each post you share on Google+ can be assigned privacy settings.

Google+ Comments for Conversations

Each Google+ post allows other users’ comments by default. Comments engage conversations which is the core in any social network sites. You have the option to always disable comments to your post through the “mute” option.

Google Hangouts

Google+ Hangouts are private and/or isolated online chatrooms for you to invite multiple friends for small chit-chat and/or work colleagues for company meetings.

Google+ for Online Marketing, SEO

You can create Google+ Pages on Google Plus for marketing your products/services. Promoting your website through Google+ will increase your site’s visibility for Google SEO through Google’s Search Plus Your World.

Posted on June 27, 2012
Category: Google+ | Leave a Comment

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