Common Google Analytics Mistakes – And How To Fix Them
Have you ever felt overwhelmed by Google Analytics to the point you just don’t bother with it? Or perhaps you have GA set up, but you’re not sure the best ways to use it or to identify areas to improve. Don’t worry – we’re here to help! Digging into your website’s Google Analytics account is one of the most useful ways to understand your customers’ paths to conversion, identify measurable action for improving your site, and create a plan for success.
The insights and information you glean from Google Analytics are only as strong as the data you collect – and with so much data at your fingertips and many options to customize views and reports, any errors in your GA account can quickly derail your goals. That’s why we’ve put together a list of common Analytics mistakes you might not even realize you’re making. With our solutions to these top errors, you can troubleshoot any issues you’re having and get back on track to reaching your goals. For a quicker look at optimizing your Google Analytics account, head over to our GA checklist.
Error: Using the Wrong Tracking Code
The GA tracking code allows Google to scan data on each page of your website and send it back to your Analytics report. Without the correct code, there is no way for GA to track data and actions like what web source visitors are coming from, how long they are on your page, and other useful information.
From within your Analytics account find your unique code by going to Property > Tracking > Info > Tracking Code. If you own more than one website, make sure that you don’t use the same tracking code on multiple websites or you’ll skew your tracking data. Tracking codes are unique to each website (or Property, as they are referred to in GA). Input the code into the backend of your site in a place that ensures it is inherent to every page (for example, place it in the header or footer).GA tracking codes start with UA – and is followed by a series of numbers.
When using multiple Google services, such as Ads or Tag Manager, in addition to Analytics, use the Global Site Tag to connect your GA to all of your services without having to add multiple scripts on the same page. Global Site Tag provides the simplest way of tagging your web pages since it serves as a single source to connect them all.
The tag consists of several lines of programming code that you’ll need to paste onto each page of your site. Under Property, go to Tracking Info > Tracking Code, then scroll down the page to locate your Global Site Tag. It is displayed in a text box under Website Tracking > Global Site Tag (gtag.js). Copy the entire contents of the box and paste it immediately after the <head> tag on each page of your site.
If you have the Yoast Plugin installed, you can add it to the code in the Plugin Settings. For Google Site Kit, you can add it there as well. Finally, if you are on a FareHarbor site, we will do this for you automatically.
Error: Tracking Your Own Sessions
Once you’ve got your tracking code set up, it’s important to exclude your company IP address so that you do not track website traffic coming from your employees. GA is best used to track how external users interact with your website so that you can use that data to make necessary changes to your website. If you do not exclude your company IP address, your website traffic numbers will skew high because they will include both external (potential bookers) and internal (your employees) visits, and you will not be able to break down the data to distinguish between the two.
Add a GA filter to exclude your IP address from all tracking. Do so by following these steps:
- Select the Admin menu.
- Under Account, select All Filters.
- Click Add Filter.
- Give the filter a Name (ex. “[Your Company Name] IP Address”)
- Leave Filter Type as predefined.
- The filter should read: Exclude + traffic from the IP addresses + that are equal to.
- Enter your IP address (in the “are equal to” field)
Error: Not Keeping an Unfiltered View
GA allows you to apply filters to different views in order to better segment your data. For example, you might create a test view that you use when testing certain changes to your website, or have one view to filter out all internal traffic (as outlined in error type #2 above). Other reporting tools like Goals can also be applied to individual views. Because of the level of customization available, having an unfiltered view is necessary to keep the original data in one place, untouched. This way, if data from another view is compromised or incorrect, you can always refer back to the master view to access the original data, and you can cross-reference against this view to see if the new filters you added are working properly.
Create an unfiltered view and do not touch it for any reason other than to view it. This is where you can find your raw, backup data.
- Go to the Admin tab.
- Click View Settings in the last column.
- Rename the view “Master” and click Save at the bottom. (The Master view is your main view where you will add filters, goals, etc. and analyze your data).
- Once the view is correctly named and saved, click Copy View.
- A pop up will appear. Enter Unfiltered as the name for the new view.
- Click Copy View.
- If you had already applied filters to the original view you copied (Master), make sure to remove them in the unfiltered view to maintain the raw data.
Repeat these steps if you’d like to create a Test view separate from your Master and Unfiltered views.
Error: Not Enabling eCommerce Conversion Tracking
Aside from tracking your audience and traffic, don’t forget to enable eCommerce conversion tracking. The eCommerce report shows the purchase activity on your site – including the eCommerce conversion rate, the average time it takes someone to make a purchase, average order value, and more – clueing you into which activities are making money and which pages may be underperforming.
Enable eCommerce Conversion Tracking for each view in which you want to see the data. If you have multiple views, you’ll have to repeat these steps for each one.
- Click Admin and navigate to the desired view.
- In the View column, click eCommerce Settings.
- Set Enable eCommerce to ON.
- Click Save.
Error: Not Making the Most of Reports
The data from GA reports gives you valuable information about your audience. No matter what scenario you might be experiencing with your traffic (e.g. searchers not finding your site organically, users not converting, etc.), there’s a good chance there’s a report you can run in order to find solutions and plan for growth. In fact, one of the biggest mistakes you can make with GA is not taking advantage of its robust built-in reporting.
There are a wealth of reports available to you based on what data you want to dive deeper into, but two important reports to use in order to learn more about your audience are Demographics and Interests Reports. They show you data like gender, age, and interest categories to help you identify better content ideas, promotional opportunities, and other areas of improvement. Without using these reports, you could be missing out on valuable data and information that can help you better understand your audience and optimize your site/user experience. Enable these reports by following the steps below.
- Click Admin.
- Navigate to the Account and Property where you want to use Demographic and Interests data.
- In the Property column, click Property Settings.
- Under Advertising Features, set Enable Demographics and Interests Reports to ON.
- Click Save.
Error: Not Comparing GA Data to FareHarbor Dashboard Reports
GA is great for seeing how your website is performing. However, website transactions are only one piece of the puzzle for your tour and activity business. Once GA tracks an event that has occurred – such as an activity transaction – it cannot go back and edit the data if the customer cancels the order. That’s why it’s essential to compare GA data to the reports in your FareHarbor Dashboard. You will always have more control over your data within the FareHarbor Dashboard, and that data becomes even more valuable when you compare it to your GA data.
Things GA doesn’t track:
- Canceled orders
- Refunds, both partial and full
- Test orders
- Promotions (promo codes/discounts)
If you really want to drill down into how your business is performing year over year, the success of each item, information about refunds, and more, follow these steps to run your first report.
- Navigate to the FareHarbor Dashboard Reports tab.
- Click Sales on the left-hand side and click sales by item.
- Enter the date range you would like to see.
- Go to the Group by column, and check the Source checkbox. Drag and reorder that so Source is listed first, followed by item.
- Click the green Generate Report button.
This is only one example of a report that is available to you in the Dashboard. There are many different ways to pull reports, including sales by user, availability, and more. Ask your Account Manager for assistance with different reports.
Log in to your Google Analytics account to see if you’ve inadvertently made any of these mistakes. Luckily, all of the solutions are pretty quick fixes that will put you back on track to making the most of your GA data. Time to get to work!