Google Analytics is a great tool that will give you a whole raft of details about the behaviour of the visitors to your site. But for the gears to run properly, all the ball bearings need to be well oiled. And even then, you are still likely to make any number of mistakes when installing Google Analytics on your site. Oh yeah
So, as we are nice folks, here is a list of the 10 most commonly seen mistakes !
Mistake 1 : Ommitting to establish a strategy or goals
As we have already explained on numerous occasions, it is crucial to have goals when running website. To check whether these goals are achieved, there is nothing like Google Analytics! Each objective needs to come with KPIs (key performance indicators) and you need to decide whether you want to have this on your site even before you install the tracking code on your site. For every event tracked (a button click, the download of a document, the return of a contact form, etc.) or if you want to monitor the track of your Internet users more accurately involving personalised dimensions, you need to add a piece of code to the basic code. So, in order to avoid yourself and your developer from having to get stuck into code time and again, the best thing is to get everything sorted before you start.
For instance, if one of your aims is to deliver informative quality content to your visitors and you publish white papers every so often as part of this endeavour (on the subject of white papers, we have got a small surprise in store for you, etc. but keep it too yourself for now), the KPI relating to this objective is the number of times your white paper is downloaded.
To be able to follow upon this particular statistic, you need to alter the GA tracking code (unless you are using a CMS such as WordPress or Drupal, which have modules that enable you to configure the tracking of most events).
In summary, it is a good idea to draw up a list of things to do from the outset, which includes :
- Your goals
- The associated KPIs
- The relevant documentation in Google Analytics relating to event tracking, the creation of personalised dimensions, etc. (for the developer)
In doing so, when your site goes online and code is to be added to your site, you have everything in place and you will not need to scratch together information in dribs and drabs.
Mistake 2 : Ommitting to install the tracking code
It is no joke, this has been known to happen! When you install the tracking code on your site, make sure you include it on ALL the site’s web pages, not just on the landing page, etc.
To do so, the best way forward is to call on the services of the developer of your site or, if you are using a CMS, there are modules that enable you to configure Google Analytics. However, never forget to check whether everything is going as planned.
Nothing could be easier! Simply call up the source code of the page you are on (right-click) and check to see if the code is present and correct. You can also use the real-time reporting tool on Google Analytics.
Mistake 3 : Ommitting to filter traffic from in-company IP adresses
Or be prepared for a nasty surprise or two. If you and your staff are used to logging on to the company’s website several times a day, all this visits are included in the total visitor numbers. Which may skew the results. Failing to exclude your in-company IP addresses from the start will make it difficult to explain a fall in results. Please note that if you do so, do not forget to always maintain an unfiltered view. This will allow you to see what traffic comes from within your company.
Mistake 4 : Ommitting to redirect your site’s domain with www
As a quick reminder, it is crucial that you redirect your domain without www to your domain with www (or the other way around). If you do not, here are two things worth bearing in mind :
- You will get duplicate content which is not something Google is keen on. Hence penalisation, hence poor natural referencing, hence a lower ranking in the search results, hence … you’ve got it.
- You will only capture half (or more or less) of your traffic in Google Analytics.
So do bear in mind to ask for a redirection at the time the site goes live !
Mistake 5 : Ommitting to link Google Analytics and Google Search Console
Why should you do so? To improve the collection of your data and to get more efficient results. Moreover, you can directly consult the data of the Search Console from your Google Analytics account !
Mistake 6 : Ommitting to activate the reports necessary for your business
You have got the message : Google Analytics is a powerful tool, if it is correctly configured. Alongside event tracking and personalised dimensions, GA also gives you the tools to configure GA when:
- Running Google AdWords campaigns : you can link the AdWords account and the Analytics account to efficiently measure the traffic and the ROI generated by these campaigns.
- You have an e-commerce website : you can activate the electronic sales tracking feature to find out all you want to know about the purchases made on your site: average basket, number of transactions, conversion rate, best-selling products, etc.
- Your site has a built-in internal search engine : GA enables you to list all the search terms entered by the visitors to your site. A great data base to have when writing fresh content, news, etc.
Mistake 7 : Mixing up sessions and users
Add in a short definition before continuing
A session is an individual visit initiated by a user. It is defined as the entirety of the interactions of a user on your website within a certain length of time. A session ends after 30 minutes’ inactivity on the part of the visitor. If he leaves the site and returns within 30 minutes, only 1 session is recognised. If he returns after 30 minutes, the system will see this as a second session.
A user is a surfer who uses your site. A user can perform several sessions. He is characterised by his IP address.
In practical terms, if you are looking at the following figures :
- Sessions : 254 896
- Users : 175 268
This means 175,268 users made 254,896 visits. Easy enough, right ?
Mistake 8 : Ommitting to compare the periods
It is all well and good to know your site drew 58,000 visits this year, but this figure does not mean anything unless you can compare it to other figure. So, when analysing your traffic, it is key to compare 2 periods :
- 2 years
- 2 months
- 2 quarters/semesters…
It is also useful to compare the time periods during which you ran promotional campaigns to check whether these campaigns were efficient.
Let us take an example : you have run a radio advertising campaign in May 2016, which you did not run again in May 2017. Finding out whether the radio campaign actually brought traffic to your site by comparing the 2 months is relevant information to have.
Mistake 9 : Ommitting to correctly tag the campaigns
On the subject of campaigns, if you would like to see the results of your campaigns in Google Analytics, you will need to correctly tag them. To do so, you need to tag the link to your site with personalised parameters.
For example, if you send out several newsletters with a call to action throughout the year, you can tag the different links to your website in consideration of the topic of your mailshots (father’s day mailshot, spring sales, etc.). This will quickly show you which mailshot did best.
To help you configure your parameters, you can use Google’s URL builder tool de Google : https://ga-dev-tools.appspot.com/campaign-url-builder/.
Mistake 10 : Ommitting to cross-reference the data (secondary dimensions)
In Google Analytics, all results need to be compared to other results. Which is why you can add secondary dimensions in your analysis reports. An example will help you understand how to use secondary dimensions.
For instance, when you consult the “geographical area” report, you get a table listing the countries when your traffic originates from, as well as statistics, presented as follows :
But this table does not give you any information about the browsers used in these countries to arrive at your site. To find which browsers are used, you will need to add a secondary dimension called “browser”, which will be shown in the table in your report.
Please note, you cannot cross-reference all the dimensions with all the statistics !
We have come to the end of this article. If you have made one or several of the mistakes listed above in your Google Analytics account, now is a good time to log on and make the relevant changes. ;-)