Our customers come from a range of industries, but when they first come to the Littledata app for help with fixing their analytics, they share a lot of common questions. First of all, is Google Analytics accurate? How do you know if your Google Analytics setup is giving you reliable data? In this blog post we look at common problems and explain what can be done to make your tracking more accurate.
Google Analytics is used by tens of millions of websites and apps around the world to measure web visitor engagement. It won’t measure 100% of visitors – due to some users opting out of being tracked, or blocking cookies – but set up correctly, it should be measuring over 95% of genuine visitors (as opposed to web scrapers and bots).
What are the common things that go wrong?
The six most common issues with Google Analytics — and how to resolve them
1. Your tracking script is wrongly implemented
There are two common issues with the actual tracking script setup: 1) when it is implemented twice on some pages, and 2) when it is missing completely from some pages.
The effect of duplicating the script is that you’ll see an artificially low bounce rate (usually below 5%), since every page view is sending twice to Google Analytics. The effect of the tracking script missing from pages is that you’ll see self-referrals from your own website.
Our recommendation is to use Google Tag Manager across the whole site to ensure the tracking script is loaded with the right web property identifier, at the right time during the page load.
2. Your account has lots of spam
When it comes to web traffic and analytics setup, spam is a serious issue. Spammers send ‘ghost’ referrals to get your attention as a website owner. This means that the traffic you see in Google Analytics may not come from real people, even if you have selected to exclude bots.
Littledata’s app filters out all future spammers and Pro Reporting users benefit from having those filters updated weekly.
3. Your own company traffic is not excluded
Your web developers, content writers and marketers will be heavy users of your own site, and you need to filter this traffic from your Google Analytics to get a view of genuine customers or prospects. You can do this based on location (e.g. IP address) or pages they visit (e.g. admin pages).
4. One person shows up as two or more users
Fight Club aside (spoiler alert), when the same person re-visits our site we expect them to look the same each time. Web analytics is more complicated. What Google Analytics is tracking when it talks of ‘users’ is a visit from a particular device or browser instance. So if I have a smartphone and a laptop computer and visit your site from both devices (without cross-device linking) I’ll appear as two users. Even more confusingly, if I visit your site from the Facebook app on my phone and then from the Twitter app, I’ll appear as two users – because those two apps use two different internet browser instances.
There’s not a lot which can be done to fix that right now, although Google is looking at ways to use it’s accounts system (Gmail, Chrome etc) to track across many devices.
5. Marketing campaigns are not attributed to revenue or conversions
If the journey of visitors on your site proceeds via another payment processor or gateway, you could be losing the link between the sale (or goal conversion) and the original marketing campaigns. You will see sales attributed to Direct or Referral traffic, when they actually came from somewhere else.
This is a remarkably common issue with Shopify stores, and that’s why we built a popular Shopify reporting app that solves the issue automatically.
For other kinds of sites, the issue can often be resolved by setting up cross-domain tracking.
6. You aren’t capturing key events (like purchases or button clicks)
Google Analytics only tracks views of a page by default, which may not be meaningful if you have a highly interactive website or app. Sending custom events is the key to ensuring that your tracking is both accurate and relevant.
Doing so is made easier with Google Tag Manager makes this easier than it would be otherwise, but you may need to speak to a qualified analytics consultant to decide what to track. If you want more certainty that your analytics is fully accurate, try Littledata’s free Google Analytics audit or get in touch for a quick consultation. We <3 analytics and we’re always here to help.