Posted on 04/19/2017 at 08:00 AM
Spring is in the air, and there’s no better time to clean up your Google Analytics account! Google Analytics is a powerful tool that can be used to help you make important decisions about your website, but good decisions can only be made using good data. So how can you clean it up? From the technical to the more simple items, we’ve got some useful tips that will improve the accuracy of your reports this spring!
But before we start…
Google Analytics is very user-friendly, but in order to get the most of it, you do need to have some level of technical understanding, both of the Google Analytics platform and of your website. If you’re up for the challenge, read on; you’ll find some great resources for getting started below.
But for those who are less technical, have no fear! This entry will still give you the tools to identify potential problems. When it comes to addressing them, know that we have analytics experts on staff ready to help!
Get Rid of Self-Referrals
The Google Analytics’ definition of a referral includes any traffic from a website other than your own domain. It is common, however, to see your own domain listed in the Google Analytics referral report. While this shouldn’t be the case, it can happen and is usually indicative of a problem with your tracking implementation.
Improper set up of cross-domain tracking, untagged landing pages, and a slew of other causes can be to blame. So how does one fix this? It depends on the cause. Check out Google Analytics’ help documentation for instructions on each scenario.
Filter Out Referral Spam Bots
Referrer spam, also referred to as referral spam or “ghost” spam, is a type of spamdexing. It involves the spammer making recurring website requests by means of a phony referrer URL. This fake URL is generally related to the product or service the spammer aims to promote. Though this traffic never actually hits your website, information from the “visit” is still factored into your data, which affects the accuracy of your total sessions, visitors, bounce rates, conversion rates and more.
The first clue in identifying spam is in the name of the referring URL. If you see referrals from getmoretraffic.com, and that has nothing to do with your industry, it’s probably spam. You can also look to the bounce rate (the % of visits that reached your website only to leave before taking another action, like clicking a link) to determine if a referral is a spam. For instance, if the referral sent 240 visits to your website, and either 100% or 0% of them bounced, that behavior indicates spambot activity, which would not be typical of a real, human visitor.
Google Analytics offers some great guidance for addressing referral spam. Learn how to filter out spammy domain referrals here.
Exclude Traffic from your Internal IP (and Agency IPs)
Generally, you’ll have two types of traffic visiting your website: Internal traffic from those at your company and everyone else. If your Google Analytics reporting views include data from both internal and external users, determining which hits came from customers and which hits came from those working for your company can be impossible.
Avoid this by adding a filter that blocks out traffic from users accessing your website from the IP address or addresses associated with your office or business location. If an agency is also performing regular work on your website, ask them for their IP address so you can add a filter to block their traffic as well. Find out how to add an ‘Exclude Internal Traffic’ filter here.
Get Rid of Messy, “System” URLs that are diluting your Data
Do you see messy URLs in your reports? It is very common to have multiple versions of a webpage, each accessible at a handful of URLs. Example: You may see something like yourwebsite.com/contact_us and yourwebsite.com/contact_us.php in your reports. Visiting either URL will take you to the same page, but since the URLs differ, Google Analytics reports on them independently. Not only can this cause a duplicate content problem, which is not ideal for your website’s SEO, from a data tracking perspective, duplicate content will also create inaccuracies in your reports, as page tracking statistics will be split up among any duplicate URLs that are accessible.
The fix? Get help from your website provider to 301 redirect any messy or duplicate URLs to the primary URL in order to help clean up duplicate content and improve the accuracy of your Google Analytics statistics. Global Reach assists our SEO clients on a monthly or quarterly basis to reduce and eliminate duplicate content. Not enrolled in an ongoing SEO plan? We can set you up with one. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know you’re interested.
Link Your Google Analytics with your Search Console Account
Did you know you can now link your Google Search Console account with your Google Analytics account? That’s right! If you’ve verified your Google Search Console property, you can specify settings both within your Google Search Console account, and within your Google Analytics account, that will allow data to flow from Search Console to your Google Analytics properties.
Linking these accounts is beneficial because it allows you to funnel in the valuable keyword data available through Search Console, conveniently into your Google Analytics account, giving you a more complete picture of how users search for you – and all from the same dashboard which you manage Google Analytics information! Find everything you need to link your Google Analytics and Search Console accounts here.
Ask Global Reach for help!
As we said at the beginning of this article, some level of technical understanding is needed in order to successfully implement many of these recommendations. If the above items seem too advanced, our services may be of use to you. Simply reach out to us for help!