Top 5 most common mistakes when using Google Analytics

Nobody wants to, and above all, nobody likes making mistakes, especially those ones that directly affect the business. Errors can be little ones, and we may not even attach any importance to them. However, they are often very costly. Flawed data indicate an incorrect analysis, and as a result – lead to wrong decisions. It is my experience that most websites reveal gross negligence when it comes to analytics. So I decided to gather a list of the five most common mistakes in Google Analytics, which should be avoided.

“Companies cannot afford to rely on partial, inaccurate data in Analytics”,

  1. Verify that the tracking code is installed correctly

This is one of the most important points to check at the beginning, when Google Analytics audit is carried out. To properly collect information about users’ activity on the website, Google Analytics Tracking Code (GATC) should be installed in the <HEAD > section on every subpage. Installing the code at the top of HTML code will make that the data on page-load time will be collected properly, and you will find out from reports whether the pages are loaded completely. My favorite example of incorrectly installed GATC is having two identical GATC codes on same page. It is a very costly error, because some of the data is wrongly (double) counted, e.g. the bounce rate can reach a value of a few percent (e.g. 1-5%). On the basis of this information, we would think that our marketing activities are exceptionally good, but in fact, the situation is radically different. You can verify the correctness of GATC installation by yourself, using Google Analytics programs on http://www.google.com/analytics/apps/ and choosing Site Audit.

  1. Conversion tracking

While providing trainings on Goggle Analytics, I always ask the same question – how many people filled the contact form compared to the number of people who have seen it? Only a few people can quickly answer this question. We paid too much attention to increase traffic to our websites, through PPC or SEO, instead of analyzing which traffic is efficient and which marketing activities generate the most conversions in realising the business goals of our website. What is the use of web metrics tracking, if we have no reason to do it? It is like entering a motorway with a super convenient car, but without a specific purpose of this trip. We have a car and a road to drive, but we have no destination. How would we know, without clear aims, if we are following the right path?

Therefore, if you haven’t set your goal yet, put it in Google Analytics, go to the Admin tab → View → Goals. For more information visit –https://support.google.com/analytics/topic/6150889?hl=pl&ref_topic=1007030.

  1. No filters

Few people know what king of filters Google Analytics provides. So let’s start with a little bit of theory. Filters allow us to manage the data that is included in our views (used to call profiles). In the simplest terms, filters allow us to limit or modify the traffic data on our websites. For example, we can use filters to exclude the traffic from specific IP addresses. Very often I use a filter to exclude my internal office IP address, e. g. at the office. There is no need to store in Google Analytics the information regarding what our employees do on our website, right? It can only confuse the overall picture of the data. In fact, at the end of day the most important is the potential clients and theirs activities on the website.

Filters can be set in the Admin tab → View → Filters. More about filters – https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/1034823?hl=pl .

  1. Lack of site search tracking

Many websites have their own search engine. Especially manufactured-owned shops, blogs and well-developed information services. Thanks to Google Analytics you can get to know not only where your visitors came from, but also collect data about internal search engine. It is essential to know what people are looking for when they are on your website. Site search tracking allows you to find out what keywords are used by visitors on your website and on which pages they start their search. This helps  maximize the usefulness of the website. If people are looking for a specific product or service and do not find your site, maybe the menu structure should be reorganised to help people that may benefit from searching your website. What’s more, it is also an alternative solution to the problem (not provided), since Google has started to encrypt the keywords searches. Cons need to be developed into pros.

Here you will find information how to set the site search: https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/1012264?hl=pl.

  1. Custom alerts

Answer honestly – do you check your data in Google Analytics on a daily basis? Ok, maybe some geeks (greeting to you all!) do it every day, but most people don’t. The majority deals with the business logistically. For this group, Google Analytics has incorporated custom alerts, which provide information about the analytics that require the marketer’s attention. Custom alerts are like an oil control light in your car. If that lamp stars flashing, it is a signal for you to check the oil level and top it up if it’s necessary. It is the same with custom alerts. They send you an e-mail with the message: “ Hey, buddy, something is going on in your website, you have to check it out in your Google Analytics”. And it often makes finding the solution easier for the marketer before it becomes a serious problem. As for me, I usually use custom alerts to get informed of decrease or increase in traffic or conversion rate.

Custom alerts can be set in Admin tab → View → Custom Alerts.

Data delivered by Google Analytics is as good as is the implementation of the tracking code GATC and its settings. To use Google Analytics as a tool for decision-making, companies cannot afford to rely on partial, inaccurate data. Google Analytics has to be properly configured to satisfy the need for tracking and business goals of our website. These 5 mistake are the tip of the iceberg.

Google Analytics has to be correctly configured to meet business objectives and contribute to the success of your company.

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4 thoughts on “Top 5 most common mistakes when using Google Analytics

  1. Hi,
    Im using your “paper dashboard free” template and I can not make the GATC work 🙁

    Is it something strange or else that i can do?

  2. Thanks Dawid, the post was very informative. After reading this blog, I have avoided the mistakes that I used to do before while using Google Analytics for preparing audit.

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