With over 80 million websites equipped with Google Analytics, you may already have an idea of how simple it is to set up an account. Follow the steps laid out by Google, answer some initial questions and input a tracking code to your website. You can then begin reviewing and analyzing data.
However, over time, as your website begins to grow, problems can arise that lead to inaccurate measurements. Without careful consideration from the get-go, your analytics account could be tracking sessions from the wrong source or irrelevant visits that ultimately skew data. Even if your data is accurate, it may be incomplete. You might not be capturing critical information like AdWords campaign details and goal conversions that are easy to track with a proper setup.
Even if you’re a Google Analytics pro, take some time to consider the following pitfalls and make sure you’re setting up each of your Analytics accounts to accurately measure the right activity.
Not Filtering Out Internal Sessions
One way to immediately make a difference in improving the accurateness of your Google Analytics data is by filtering out your team’s IP addresses so that you’re not tracking internal visits.
This may seem trivial, but think about how many times you visit your website in a day. It’s likely a few. Now think of everyone in your organization and the accumulation of the skewed data you’re collecting.
To avoid this, make a list of all of the IP addresses that should be removed from tracking. This can include your office, your client’s offices, and any employee or client home networks. If you don’t know the IP address you can type, “what is my IP” into Google and it will provide your local address.
Next, create a new view for your external-only traffic, and name it something like “External Traffic.” Keep one view (often named “All Website Data”) unfiltered, so you maintain a record of all traffic.
In the Admin section of Analytics, navigate to your new “External Traffic” view.
- Then, select “Filters” from the View column, and click “New Filter.”
- Using a Predefined filter, name it, and under “Select filter type,” choose “Exclude.”
- Next, under “Select source or destination,” choose “Traffic from the IP Addresses.” Select “that are equal to” in the “Select expression” dropdown, and then enter the IP that you would like to remove from tracking.
Repeat this process for any other IP addresses you wish to exclude. Once filters are saved, you’ve successfully removed internal sessions from your Analytics reports.
At this point, you might be thinking, “what if my team’s internal IP addresses are changing?” After all, many of us have dynamic IP addresses, such as at home that change regularly. And what about when we are working from a hotel or coffee shop? Truthfully, it is nearly impossible to compile a list of all the IP addresses that can be sources of internal traffic. But, by including the office and other static IPs you can get close. In addition, if you want to try some more advanced techniques for excluding internal visits, have a look at this article.
Leaving Tracking Code Off Pages
The tracking code that is generated when you first set up your Google Analytics account should be placed on every page of your website, otherwise it will not track any activity for these pages.
For example, imagine you accidently left the tracking code off the Contact page of your website. Now, when a user visits via a Google search and lands on your home page, then goes to the Contact page, Analytics will show that this particular user bounced from the homepage and left your site. In reality, however, this user spent more time on the site and may have actually filled out a contact form. Also, when this same user clicks on another page from the Contact section, Analytics may mark that user as returning for a new session, rather than staying on the site.
This can cause a lot of confusion on how users are finding the website, and interacting with it, so you want to ensure that you or your team are placing the tracking code on the entire site. GA Checker provides a quick, free way to check for proper placement of code. Google’s Tag Assistant extension for Chrome will also help assess whether code is installed properly on individual pages.
Forgetting to Link AdWords
If you’re running Google AdWords campaigns, make sure AdWords data is showing up properly in your Analytics account. If your AdWords and Analytics accounts are correctly linked, you can use Google Analytics to see data on specific campaigns, ad groups, ads, keywords and search queries from AdWords.
To link the accounts, start within your Analytics account, and select “Admin” from the top navigation bar. From the dropdown options, choose the appropriate Account and Property you’re linking.
- Next, click “AdWords Linking” in the Property column and then choose “New Link Group.” If you have multiple AdWords accounts, you’ll see a list – select the account you’d like to link, then click “Continue”.
- On the next page, below “Link Configuration,” choose what views you would like to link from your AdWords account.
- Lastly, click “Link Accounts,” and you’re done. To review data from AdWords in Google Analytics, go to Acquisition > AdWords or Acquisition > Campaigns.
Not Setting Up Goal Tracking
Setting up Goals within Google Analytics is incredibly beneficial when you need more information on how many people are contacting you or making a purchase through the website. Rather than simply seeing how many sessions you’re receiving, Goals will give you a better idea of the business results that the website is achieving.
To set up Goals, you first need to determine what kind of conversions to track on the site in order to provide the best insight into your customers’ behavior and sales process. Conversion actions may include signing up for the newsletter, purchasing a product or filling out a contact form. For more details about defining the right goals for your business, review this post on setting up Goals in Google Analytics.
- Next, you’ll have to input the conversion points into your Google Analytics account by going to Admin > Goals and clicking “New Goal.”
- Create a name for the goal, such as “Newsletter Subscription,” and click “Destination.”
- Then click to the next page.
On this page, enter the URL to the “thank you” page that appears after someone has signed up for the newsletter. There are some additional options here that you can take advantage of, such as defining a value or creating a funnel. Google provides more information on these selections here.
Once your Goals are set up, you can begin tracking data like what’s shown in the above image by opening Conversions > Goals > Overview.
From this example, we can see multiple Goals set up on a site, how many times Goals have been completed, and what percentage of people have completed Goals. We can see multiple placements of newsletter signup forms, an e-guide purchase, and a giveaway tracked here, showing several examples of conversion points to track as Goals.
Whether you’re setting up a Google Analytics account for the first or one hundredth time, make sure you’re not missing important steps that will lead to collecting vital and accurate information.
Ensuring that you’re not measuring your own visits, that the Analytics code is on every page, and that you’re correctly measuring your Goals and campaigns from the first initiation of your account will help deliver precise reports for the duration of your website’s life.