Google Analytics: the magical tool that helps us understand our website and its users.
It provides us with numbers, statistics and information that we can utilise to make better business decisions.
It was once thought that installing the code snippet was all you needed to generate insightful data, but setting up Google Analytics isn’t as simple as that. This article will help you check your Analytics account is set up correctly.
Why Is It Important to Have Google Analytics Setup Correctly?
If you don’t have your account set up properly, your data will be inaccurate and unreliable. How are you supposed to make informed marketing decisions if the data you’re reading isn’t correct?
Your Google Analytics should assist you in understanding your customers’ behaviour. We believe accurate data and reliable goal tracking are key to making good marketing decisions.
Checking Your Analytics Settings
Google Analytics is a powerful tool, but each year, Google adds fantastic new functionality that makes it more complex for you to use it. Below, we’ve broken down the four critical areas of Analytics.
The four critical areas of Google Analytics
Property Level Settings
View Level Settings
Tracking Code Installation
When the tracking code isn't installed correctly, all the data coming through is unreliable. If this isn’t correct, get it sorted ASAP. We recommend Google Tag Assistant, a free, easy to use Chrome plugin that tells you if it's installed correctly and if not, what the issue is.
HTTP or HTTPS & WWW Set To Match Your Site
How you name your site in Google Analytics should match your site’s URL. By choosing the incorrect protocol for your site, you risk your Google Analytics data being inaccurate. This check needs to be completed both at the Property and View level.
Google Ads Linked
Are you using Google Ads as one of your marketing platforms? If so, you should have these accounts linked. By linking these, you see the full customer cycle, from how they interact with your marketing to how they finally complete the goals you’ve set for them on your site.
Search Console Linked
The Search Console reports in Analytics provide information about the performance of your organic search traffic. The data provided helps you optimise your site for the best organic traffic.
Having audience lists has become crucial to running successful Google Ads campaigns. Audience lists take time to populate so its best practice to have them set up long before you need them. Even if you aren't using them currently, these lists should be turned on so they can be ready when you need them.
Referral Exclusion Lists Setup
Referral traffic is traffic that arrives on your website through another source, like a link on another website. Referral exclusions help you collect the most reliable data. They do this by excluding traffic from sites which regularly send traffic to yours. For example, say you’re an eCommerce store and your most common method of payment is PayPal, you would want to set up a referral exclusion so you don’t double count this traffic.
Session Settings Correct
Sessions and campaigns end after a specific amount of time passes. Making sure these are enabled correctly helps provide accurate data and ensures you don’t double count traffic.
Demographic Reports Enabled
Demographic reports provide information about the age and gender of your users, along with the interests they express through their online activities. By enabling these reports you're able to access data about your users to make effective marketing decisions.
Having your timezone set incorrectly means your Google Analytics data is inaccurate. Your busiest time of the day and day of the week could be different to what you expect. Configuring this setting will give you more accurate data and insights.
Transferring your currency settings from USD to the currency you do business in will improve the accuracy of data.
Exclude Bots & Spiders
When bots and spiders aren’t excluded, they can get picked up as common users and distort your data. Making it look like you have more users than you actually do.
Unfiltered Master View
Once you add a filter to a view it removes the filtered information completely. Ensuring you have a view that has no filters means you have access to all your raw data.
Using IP Exclusions
To prevent internal or spam traffic from affecting your data, you can filter out traffic from selected IP or ISP addresses. Internal traffic may be employees or a marketing company you’ve employed, pretty much anyone who regularly visits your site who could skew your data.
Filters Implemented Correctly
If a filter is not configured correctly, your data becomes unreliable and inaccurate. Filter effects are permanent, once you add a filter to your view you cannot retrieve that historical data.
Site Search Enabled
Enabling this feature lets you understand how customers use your site’s search function, which search terms they entered, making it easier to make decisions about your website and content. When this feature isn't enabled, this layer of data doesn't show in Analytics.
eCommerce Tracking Enabled
The eCommerce reports allow you to analyse users purchase activity on your site. Using the information that these reports provide, allow you to make insightful decisions about your eCommerce site.
Enhanced eCommerce Tracking Enabled
Enabling the Enhanced eCommerce reports gives you insights into shopping activity and make it easy to identify bottlenecks in your online shopping process.
Your conversion goals should align with your marketing and business objectives. If you don't have goals set up then you won't be able to see the impact your website and marketing are actually having on your business.
Accurate goal tracking means you can make informed decisions about where you should be investing more time and money.