We know that data is everything when it comes to marketing your business effectively and Google Analytics is the key tool for many small businesses. Collecting the relevant data from your site and analysing it can help your business grow but for many, common Google Analytics errors can hinder this vital resource. In this article we explain some of the most common Google Analytics errors and what you can do to set things write.
Common Google Analytics Errors
In this article we will discuss
- Missing or incorrect tracking codes
- No tracking code on subdomain
- Not block internal IPs
- Not Excluding Robots and Spiders
- Not updating your internal referral exclusion list
- Not fixing (Other) Traffic occurances
Missing or incorrect Tracking Code
One of the most common errors is that your website does not have the required tracking code implemented on the site and this can take many forms. The tracking code may not be present at all on the website due to either being not installed entirely or incorrectly installed. We explained how to correctly add the code in our article, Set up Google Analytics Account.
The problem could also be that not all pages have the tracking code. This can sometimes occur with your website requires you to manually add the code to each page rather than if it can be implemented by just adding in to a single header file or through the use of a plugin. It frequently happens with custom built websites using a static framework. The best way to check all pages is to install Google Tag Assistant on your browser (we recommend Chrome), enable it, then visit each page in your site to make sure the tag is present. If the Tag Assistance can’t identify a Google Analytics tag or states there is the wrong implementation, than you’ve found your problem.
No tracking code on sub domain
If you use a subdomain for your website or even a third-party website for certain services (e.g taking payment or bookings), then you should make sure that the tracking code is implemented on these sits too. If you want to track the movement between your standard website, your sub domain website and/or a third-party website, you will need to add the tracking code to these sites but you may also need to set up some special cross domain tracking to avoid duplication of data or incorrect referrals
Not blocking your own IP
Any marketer will tell you that the move data the better, but this normally excludes a frequent visitor set, which is you and your staff. Although lots of data is great, there are many staff that use their own company website as a point of reference which leads to lots of traffic from internal sources. Most businesses will have a static IP address through their broadband line and this can be used to exclude staff visits from your website data.
To exclude your IP address, navigate to the admin section in Google Analytics and select the view you would like to use. We suggest implementing this first in a test view and then once happy you can move it to your master view, which we discuss in our Google Analytics Set Up article.
In the filter section create a new filter and title it your company name and exclude IP Address.
Select a predefined option of exclude, traffic from IP addresses and that are equal to, then add your internal IP address to the text input box. You can find your IP address, simply by googling, ‘What’s my IP address?’.
Note that your company needs a static IP address for this to work, most home users have a dynamic IP address that changes frequently depending on the provider. Make sure to exclude your marketing companies IP address as well as any other supplier that may need to navigate to your site frequently but who are not your target audience.
Exclude Robots and Spiders
One of the biggest frustrations when working with Google Analytics is seeing a big spike in traffic to only discover later that it is in fact spam from robots and not real visits at all. One of the first steps you should take when setting up your Google Analytics account is to try remove these common occurrences from the beginning so your data is as clean as possible. We explain how to exclude the most common Robot and Spider spam in our article, Two simple filter methods to Stopping Google Analytics Spam Bots.
Internal Referral Exclusion List
Used frequently with cross domain tracking, the referral exclusion lists allow businesses to exclude other websites from their data. By default, a referral automatically triggers a new session. When you exclude a referral source, traffic that arrives to your site from the excluded domain doesn’t trigger a new session.
For example, a user on example-one.co.uk goes to example-two.co.uk, and then returns to example-one.co.uk. If you do not exclude example-two.co.uk, two sessions are counted, one for each arrival at example-one.co.uk. If, however, you exclude referrals from example-two.co.uk, the second arrival to example-one.co.uk does not trigger a new session, and only one session is counted. This is particularly helpful for third-party payment providers such as PayPal.
The referral exclusion list is located in the admin section of Google Analytics, under property and then tracking info. You simply add a new referral exclusion by adding the domain here. Make sure to include all subdomains and variations of domain such as www.example.com, example.com and subdomain.example.com.
Removing (Other Traffic)
You may have noticed in your website acquisition overview that there is a default channel called (Other), if you haven’t then your marketing campaigns are likely being administered well, but if you have then read on. The (Other) channel in Google Analytics is web traffic that has an acquisition source or medium that is not recognised within Google’s default system defined channel rules like “Email” or “Social” and so it naturally puts it in to the (Other) Section. The may cause of this is incorrect UTM parameters, which are usually made to track digital campaigns success.
To fix this you need to establish where the incorrect traffic is coming from. In Google Analytics > Acquisition > Channels, click on the (Other) traffic channel, then select a secondary dimension of medium. You will then be able to see all the sources and mediums and work out where each one should be rather than in (Other). Once you’ve identified the incorrect medium/source, you can update your UTM tags to have the correct information.
We know that Google Analytics can be overwhelming when it’s never been used before, so we hope that this article has highlighted some of the common Google Analytics errors that can arise and how to fix them. If you are having difficulties with any of this please get in touch with our support team on 0345 200 26 50 or drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.