The Most Common Google Analytics Configuration Pitfalls
Digitization has led to the enormous growth of e-commerce and hence paved the way for heavy competition. To sustain the rise in competition, businesses have focused on optimizing their digital strategies which need looking at visitor data. Google Analytics (GA) has become the de facto way that websites get information about their visitors.
But rolling out and implementing Google Analytics can be a tricky and extensive process for most businesses. Any conclusions drawn on erroneous data can never produce the best results. It often requires specialist’s help to get things running and achieve accurate tracking.
The following are the most common Google Analytics pitfalls that kill analysis, reporting, and conversions. While some of them are avoidable through self-configuration, some are avoidable only with expert supervision.
Self-Configurable Issues in Google Analytics
Capturing Internal Traffic:
Internal traffic is traffic to the website generated by employees, suppliers, or other service providers. As these people are not the target audience, such kind of traffic can skew analytics data. Thus, one should exclude them from being tracked.
Not Tracking External Traffic with UTM Tags:
One can track advertising campaigns on external platforms like Facebook and Twitter with UTM tags. Incorrect or missing UTM tags on these campaigns result in inaccurate traffic reporting and hence misjudging of campaign performance.
Not Connecting Google AdWords, Search Console with Google Analytics:
One can integrate an AdWords account with a GA account to create a specific audience group (anyone who abandons at a particular step) and use them in AdWords campaigns. This empowers the marketing department to get precise with targeting.
Integrating Search Console with GA enables one to know the keywords which led users to the website. One can also know the page on which the user landed.
Unmatching Time Zones:
One should make sure that GA and AdWords accounts are in the same time zone as that of the target audience. Else, parameters like conversions, payment timings, active hours, and others can be affected.
Not Enabling Site Search and Category Search:
Site search, category search show user intent and provide extra keyword lists for PPC and search campaigns. Hence, it is important to enable them in GA.
Not Using Homepage Filter:
If one does not filter their homepage correctly, they could end up tracking many homepages (e.g. / and /en/ and /fr/).
Not Filtering Bot/ Spam Traffic:
Robots and spam referrals can inflate and distort real traffic numbers, so it’s important to filter this traffic out.
Issues that need expert supervision
Missing or Duplicate Tracking Code:
Missing page tags can cause under-reporting hard-earned traffic, blind spots in what prospective customers are looking at before they buy (or drop), and failure to add visitors to retargeting pools.
Duplicate page tags can cause over-reporting the data. This can cause inaccurate assessments of the site’s performance, which can lead to the formulation of wrong strategies.
One issue with a duplicate tracking code can be an incorrect bounce rate. A typical bounce rate for a site depends on the site but it ranges from 20% to 80%. So, if the bounce rate is exceptionally low (less than 20%), there are high chances that there are two same GA tracking codes and each one of them sends a page view.
Not Setting up Goals, Event Tracking, or E-commerce Tracking:
Goals measure how well the website fulfills the target objectives. Properly configured goals give GA the flexibility to provide critical information on the number of goal conversions on the website. One can use this information to check the effectiveness of website and marketing campaigns.
With e-commerce tracking, GA will pull in revenue data, products purchased. All this information can help gain insights and make changes that increase the bottom line.
Event tracking enables one to see how people are interacting with other elements of the website. If there are videos on the website, one can add event tracking to see how often people engage with them and for how long. Other sets of events are button clicks, scrolling past a certain point on a page, and staying on a page for a certain amount of time.
Missing Cross-Domain Tracking:
It is important to have cross-domain tracking for websites whose checkout process happens on a different domain (common with affiliate websites) or if the web session spans many domains.
Without cross-domain tracking set-up, many have a tough time determining the source of goal conversion and e-commerce transactions as most of the conversions are attributed to direct traffic or wrong websites.
Double Tracking Events:
If one uses Google Tag Manager to deploy tags, they should remove the hard-coded GA tracking codes from all the pages of the website. Else, GA tracking code fires twice for an event and results in inflated numbers.
Not Filtering Duplicate E-commerce data:
Duplicate data occurs when a visitor refreshes the page, uses the “Back” button, restores tabs from a closed browser, etc. Not filtering such data results in inflated numbers.
Mistakes in Google Analytics set-up are common. But one needs to correct all those mistakes before formulating strategies based on the insights out of the GA data.
Though above listed pit-falls are most common, there are many more possible errors of varying complexity.
If you suspect something is not quite right with your GA setup, do not panic. Halo is there to help you with its GA Audit App.