Can you rely on the data you are seeing in Google Analytics? If you use it daily in your business you should really give some time to auditing how the data is captured, and what glitches could be lurking unseen.
The notifications feature in Google Analytics now alerts you to some common setup problems, but there are more simple ones you could check today.
Here are 5 aspects of your Google Analytics account to check now.
- Are you running the latest Universal Analytics tracking code?
- Is your overall bounce rate below 10%?
- Are you getting referrals from your own website?
- Are you getting ‘referrals’ from your payment gateway?
- Have you got the correct website default URL set in GA?
- Are you getting full referring URL in reports?
1. Are you running the latest Universal Analytics tracking code?
You may have clicked upgrade in the Google Analytics admin console, but have your developers successfully transferred over to the new tracker code?
Use our handy tool to test for universal analytics (make sure you copy your URL as it appears in the browser bar).
2. Is your overall bounce rate below 10%?
The 'bounce rate' is defined as sessions of only one page. It’s highly unlikely to be in single digits unless you have a very unique source of engaged traffic.
However, it is possible that the tracking code is firing twice on a single page. This double counting would mean Google Analytics sees every single page view as two pages – i.e. not a bounce
This is more common on template-driven sites like WordPress or Joomla, where you may have one tracking script loaded by a plugin – and another pasted onto the main template page.
You can check if you have multiple pageviews firing by using the Google Tag Assistant plugin for Chrome.
3. Are you getting referrals from your own website?
A self-referral is traffic coming from your own domain – so if you are www.acme.com, then a self-referrals would be appearing as ‘acme.com’.
Have a look at the (recently moved) referrals list and see if that is happening for you.
This is usually caused by having pages on your website which are missing the GA tracking code, or have it misconfigured.
You can see exactly which pages are causing the problem by clicking on your domain name in the list and seeing the referring path.
If you are on universal analytics (please use our tool to check) you can exclude these referrals in one step with the Referral Exclusion list.
For a fuller explanation, see the self-referral guide provided by Google.
4. Are you getting ‘referrals’ from your payment gateway?
Similar to point 3: if you have a 3rd party payment service where customers enter their payment details, after they redirect to your site – if you are on Universal analytics – they will show up as a new visit… but originating from ‘paypal.com’ or ‘worldpay.com’.
You need to add any payment gateway or similar 3rd party services to that referral exclusion list. Just add the domain name - so PayPal would be 'paypal.com'
5. Have you got the correct website default URL set in GA?
When Google Analytics was first set up for your website you may have set a different domain name than what you now use. Or maybe you have switched to run your site on https:// rather than http://.
So you need to change the default URL as set up in the admin page. For this go to Admin > Property > Property Settings.
Once that is setup correctly, the ‘All Pages’ report becomes a lot more useful – because you can click through to view the actual page using the open link icon.
Advanced: Are you getting full referring URL in reports?
The solution to this is to add the hostname to the URL using a custom filter.
See the guide on how to view full page URLs in reports.
What other setup issues are you experiencing? Let us know in the comments or by tweeting @LittledataUK.