Before you consider using the data in your Google Analytics account to start seeking insights and drawing conclusions, there are a number of things you should check to see if they’re being handled correctly/optimally.
This is not an exhaustive list, but in preparation for a webinar I’m doing on Google Analytics, I started putting together a number of common pitfalls – configuration and tracking details that could potentially introduce flaws in your Google Analytics data.
is everything you have on a single domain?
- cross-domain tracking is tricky, but common for sites that have a ‘secure’ component like commerce, or donations, or login areas
is it OK to count traffic from your staff?
- Internal network traffic can skew your numbers and give you a very twisted view of what’s going on
- For example, if IT installs browsers on all your computers to load your homepage by default!
- In the Admin area, set up filters to suppress views from inside your network
do your URLs have parameters that make pages that are the same seem unique?
- That should probably be configured as a Site Search parameter (in the Admin area)
- The URL above has a long number just before the question mark that’s unique to the visitor. So in tracking, we’ll see hundreds of pages with a single page view, when in actuality, they’re all the same page being viewed by different people
- consider setting up Filters in the Admin area to change tracked URLs so that pages are aggregated in the way that makes the most sense
- multi-page transactions/donations?
do you know what those URLs look like?
- walk through the process and copy the URLs into a text document so you can create conversion goals and funnels
Checking that you’re tracking:
Use the Chrome browser, and add the plug in called ‘Google Analytics Debugger’
Navigate to your site
Hit F12 to open the Console
Activate the GA debugger plug in
Navigate the site and see what data is being sent to Google in the console. This is pre-filtered data.