Google Analytics is, arguably, the best method of providing a summary of how your business is performing online. With a variety of metrics that allow for demographics to be observed, how many conversions are occurring on your landing pages, and click-through rates being noted, its uses have no end.

Despite all these incredible benefits, there are common mistakes that people make when setting up Google Analytics. This can be simple errors in data that can offset results. Trying to refine your data can cause many issues and it helps to be aware of these mistakes to ensure that you don’t enact them in your Google Analytics tracking.

What Is Google Analytics? Why is it Important to Use Google Analytics?

1. Common Mistakes People Make When Setting Up Google Analytics: Wrong Tracking

Something incredibly easy to do within Google Analytics is tracking the wrong domain. Ensuring that you have measures in place to prevent this is imperative to tracking your own domain and not have hit results from other sites. Your Google Analytics or Google Tag Manager tracking code is visible to anyone who opens the source code, so it can be very easy for another body to skew your results. 

To prevent this from happening, set up a view filter. From here, add the hostname into the filter pattern. This filter will only track hits to your domain and ensure that you have correct and accurate data. 

2. Make Sure Your Google Analytics Code is Correct 

With sites that use more than one CMS, it can be very easy to input the wrong Google Analytics code. While Google Analytics has missing code notifications, these are incredibly slow, and you risk losing weeks of potential data from its slow alert time. 

common mistakes people make when setting up google analytics

A major action that you can undertake is crawling your own website. Tools like Screaming Frog, that have custom extraction, crawl sites for errors and can scrape not only Google Analytics code but also Google Tag Manager. This allows you to inspect data and pinpoint missing or duplicated codes through filtering. 

3. Common Mistakes People Make When Setting Up Google Analytics: Tracking Sessions

Sometimes, we use multiple IP addresses to interact with our own sites. This can skew data to be inconsistent and incorrect as Google Analytics takes into account these site views. To prevent this from happening, set up filters with Google Analytics to take into account internal IP addresses or other addresses that are not relevant to your collection of data. 

4. Stop the Spam: Tracking Real Referrals 

If your website is gaining traction, you are also going to be gaining spam. These can be incredibly frustrating and deliver inconsistent results that prevent real referrals from occurring. Going to the Acquisition section, All Traffic, and then to the final part of Referrals, you will be able to see a report that lists domains that are spammy links. 

You can set the filter field to Campaign Source to then filter patterns out through referral source exclusions. This will then determine real data on your Referrals section in Google Analytics.


5. Interaction Events Gone Wrong 

People visit websites and interact with the plethora of material available to them. Events like video plays, form submissions, and even purchases are not counted as bounces when the visitors only view one page. However, if you notice that you have a close to zero bounce rate across your whole site, interaction events could be set up incorrectly. 

This can happen if you’re using interaction events for things like scroll depth tracking. To prevent this from occurring, change the event’s Non-Interaction Hit setting from false to true in your Google Tag Manager or use one more line of code in your Google Analytics Event Snippet to prevent further issues. 

6. Common Mistakes People Make When Setting Up Google Analytics: Sources and Mediums Remaining Separate

Something to note in your Google Analytics is that many of your traffic sources and mediums will be the same thing. This can from referral traffic from social sites as well, particularly Facebook. Facebook uses subdomains known as link shim referrals. They’re used for privacy reasons which can make monitoring performance rather difficult. Use filters to merge referral traffic correctly and help make a clear path for sources. 

7. Make Sure You Use Bot Filtering 

Bots and spam traffic can negatively affect your results and your ability to collect relevant data. To prevent spam and bot traffic, simply go to Admin and View Settings. From here, you can tick a box to exclude all hits from known bots and spiders. This is only relevant for the main analytics view but will be useful to collate accurate data. 

google analytics filters
Filters help pinpoint correct data to benefit your marketing goals for your business.

8. Ensure You Have Multiple Views

A common mistake people make when setting up Google Analytics is not having multiple views to help you track your data correctly. By having three different views, you’ll be able to prevent issues from occurring and solve problems in the future. 

Having a Master View allows you to open up all the relevant filters and desired settings. A Backup View lets you maintain a view with default settings which ensures that your raw data is protected. Finally, a Testing View allows you to play with settings and filters to see what is best suited for capturing data for your business. 

9. Ensure You Track Personally Identifiable Information

It is incredibly important that you are not tracking any personally identifiable information through your Google Analytics account. PII is things like emails, names, or even phone numbers. This is to ensure that you are adhering to the data protection and privacy regulations of your business. 

Sometimes, your analytics are accidentally tracking this information through things like forms. Most CMS prevent this but, if you have a custom site, this may cause some issues. To find out what data websites are collecting, you can use a browser extension like dataslayer. This is a great way to ensure you have your business interests protected. 

10. Make Sure to Use a Referral Exclusion List

Using the referral exclusion list can stop traffic that should be labelled as one session being triggered as a new session. This is great for things like payment gateways that might redirect customers to their payment processors before bringing them back to the site. This is relevant for subdomains as well. Make sure that you have your Cookie Domain kept to auto in your default, just in case you find something in the tracking code. 

How to Give Admin Access in Google Analytics | Google Analytics | Google Analytics for Beginners

Account Setup Mistakes: Avoiding Pitfalls for Optimal Google Analytics Insights

Setting up Google Analytics correctly lays the foundation for gathering valuable website data and extracting actionable insights. But, critical errors at the setup stage can significantly hinder your ability to understand user behavior and make informed decisions. Let’s explore three common account setup mistakes to avoid:

1. Choosing the Wrong Account Type:

Google Analytics offers different account types catering to varying needs. Choosing the wrong one can limit your access to features and functionalities critical for your business. Here’s a breakdown:

  • Universal Analytics: The original version, soon to be sunset in July 2023. Suitable for basic traffic measurement but lacks advanced features like cross-platform insights and user-based tracking.
  • Google Analytics 4 (GA4): The future-proof option, built for cross-platform tracking, machine learning insights, and privacy-focused data collection. Ideal for most businesses moving forward.
  • Google Analytics for Firebase: Geared towards mobile app and game developers to track app usage and user engagement.

Mistake: Sticking with Universal Analytics after July 2023 or choosing the wrong type for your needs.

Solution: Transition to GA4 before the deadline. Carefully assess your requirements and choose the account type that aligns with your website/app and future goals.

Google Analytics Bounce Rate

2. Neglecting Data Retention Settings:

Data retention determines how long Google Analytics stores your website data. Selecting the wrong setting can lead to incomplete historical data or unnecessary data storage costs. Here are the options:

  • Automatic deletion: Data gets automatically deleted after a set period (14 months, 26 months, 38 months, or 50 months).
  • Manual deletion: You manually delete data whenever needed.
  • Export and delete: Data gets exported first before manual deletion.

Mistake: Leaving data retention settings on default (14 months) or neglecting to implement any deletion strategy.

Solution: Analyze your industry standards and legal requirements. Choose a data retention period that fulfills your needs while being cost-effective. Set up automatic or manual deletion based on your preference.

3. Ignoring User Permissions:

Managing user permissions within your Google Analytics account ensures data security and access control. Improper management can lead to unauthorized access or accidental data deletion.

Mistake: Granting excessive permissions to users or failing to assign permissions altogether.

Solution: Define clear roles and responsibilities for each user accessing your Analytics account. Assign permissions based on their specific needs (e.g., View, Edit, Manage Users). Utilize two-factor authentication for added security.

Remember: Taking the time to set up your Google Analytics account correctly sets you up for long-term success. Choose the right account type, define data retention based on your needs, and manage user permissions diligently. By avoiding these common mistakes, you ensure access to accurate and valuable data, empowering you to make informed decisions and achieve your website goals.

How to Set Up Google Analytics | Google Analytics | Google Analytics for Beginners | Analytics

Data Analysis and Reporting Shortcomings: Transforming Insights into Actionable Strategies

The power of Google Analytics lies not just in data collection, but in unlocking its potential through insightful analysis and effective reporting. However, common pitfalls can hinder your ability to extract clear takeaways and make data-driven decisions. Let’s explore some shortcomings to avoid and unlock the full potential of your analytics data:

1. Failing to Create Custom Reports:

Pre-built reports offer a starting point, but tailoring reports to your specific needs allows for deeper dives and focused analysis.

Mistake: Relying solely on generic reports without creating custom dashboards or segments for specific questions or business goals.

Solution: Define your key performance indicators (KPIs) and build custom reports that track progress and answer burning questions. Utilize filters and segments to isolate relevant data for each report.

2. Ignoring Data Visualization Best Practices:

Complex spreadsheets and unreadable charts overwhelm and obscure key insights. Clear and effective visual storytelling makes data accessible and impactful.

Mistake: Using cluttered charts with too many colors or data points, neglecting interactive elements or utilizing poor chart selection for the data being presented.

Solution: Choose chart types that best represent your data (e.g., bar charts for comparisons, line charts for trends). Utilize color effectively, keep charts concise, and add annotations for clarity. Explore interactive visualizations for deeper engagement.

3. Misinterpreting Data:

Jumping to conclusions without proper context can lead to incorrect decisions. Understanding data limitations and analyzing it objectively is crucial.

Mistake: Ignoring seasonality, comparing apples to oranges (e.g., website vs. app data), or attributing conversions solely to the last touchpoint.

Solution: Consider all relevant factors that might influence your data (e.g., marketing campaigns, seasonal trends). Leverage comparisons with historical data or benchmarks for context. Utilize segmentation and attribution models to understand the full user journey.

Overlooking Advanced Features: Beyond the Basics

Google Analytics offers powerful features beyond basic reporting. Utilizing these advanced functionalities can unlock deeper insights and optimize your efforts.

1. Neglecting User ID Tracking:

Connecting user behavior across devices provides a holistic view of the user journey.

Mistake: Ignoring User ID tracking or failing to implement it correctly.

Solution: Set up User ID tracking to understand how users interact with your website and app across platforms. This allows for personalized marketing and retargeting strategies.

2. Forgetting Remarketing Audiences:

Leveraging audience insights for targeted advertising and re-engagement campaigns can be highly effective.

Mistake: Failing to create remarketing audiences based on user behavior or neglecting to utilize them in advertising campaigns.

Solution: Create remarketing audiences based on specific website interactions or app usage. Utilize these audiences for targeted ad campaigns to increase engagement and conversions.

3. Ignoring Custom Dimensions and Metrics:

Capturing data points specific to your business unlocks unique insights not available in standard reports.

Mistake: Neglecting to create custom dimensions and metrics tailored to your unique needs.

Solution: Identify data points that aren’t captured by standard metrics. Create custom dimensions and metrics to track these specific details and gain deeper understanding of your target audience and website/app performance.

Remember, data analysis and reporting are iterative processes. Experiment with different approaches, learn from your mistakes, and continuously refine your methods. By avoiding these common shortcomings and embracing advanced features, you can transform your Google Analytics data into a powerful tool for driving informed decisions and achieving your business goals.

Preventing Common Mistakes, People Make When Setting Up Google Analytics

Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager take skill to use and the many different elements that make them up can be confusing, so, naturally, sometimes mistakes are made. Learning ways to ensure that you have organised tags, triggers, and containers secure your site from potential tracking code changes or issues with your site. 

Constantly trialling and testing Google Analytics or Google Tag Manager will help you implement the right tools to get the most accurate results and data for your site, and ultimately your business. 

Preventing Common Mistakes When Setting Up Google Analytics: A Guide to Accurate Insights

Harnessing the power of Google Analytics requires a solid foundation. Unfortunately, many users stumble at the setup stage, hindering their ability to extract valuable insights. Let’s explore some common mistakes and practical solutions to ensure an accurate and insightful analytics experience:

1. Tracking Code Implementation Errors:

  • Mistake: Missing code, misplaced code, duplicate codes leading to inaccurate data.
  • Solution: Double-check code placement on all relevant pages, avoid duplicate implementations, and use tools like Google Tag Assistant for verification.

2. Neglecting Goals and Conversions:

  • Mistake: Failing to define clear goals and track conversions, leaving you unable to measure success.
  • Solution: Set up specific goals aligned with your website’s purpose (e.g., purchase, newsletter signup), utilize conversion tracking to understand conversion paths and optimize accordingly.

3. Ignoring Internal Traffic and Spam Filters:

  • Mistake: Including internal traffic in your data, skewing results and masking user behavior.
  • Solution: Set up filters to exclude internal IP addresses, utilize spam filters to eliminate bot traffic, and segment data for clear analysis.

4. Lack of Custom Dimensions and Metrics:

  • Mistake: Relying solely on standard metrics, missing out on insights specific to your business.
  • Solution: Create custom dimensions and metrics to capture unique data points relevant to your website/app and target audience.

5. Not Using Filters and Views:

  • Mistake: Analyzing all data at once, making it difficult to identify trends and patterns.
  • Solution: Create filters to segment data based on specific criteria (e.g., location, device), build different views for focused analysis, and utilize custom segments for deeper dives.

6. Neglecting Data Security and Privacy:

  • Mistake: Leaving user data vulnerable, jeopardizing user trust and potentially violating privacy regulations.
  • Solution: Implement strong password protection, configure user permissions appropriately, and familiarize yourself with data privacy regulations like GDPR and CCPA.

7. Choosing the Wrong Account Type:

  • Mistake: Selecting an account type not catering to your needs, limiting functionalities and insights.
  • Solution: Understand the differences between Universal Analytics (soon sunsetting), GA4 (future-proof option), and Google Analytics for Firebase (app-specific). Choose the type best suited to your website/app and objectives.

8. Neglecting Data Retention Settings:

  • Mistake: Losing valuable historical data or incurring unnecessary storage costs.
  • Solution: Choose a data retention period based on your needs and legal requirements, utilize automatic or manual deletion strategies, and explore export options.

9. Ignoring User Permissions:

  • Mistake: Granting excessive permissions or failing to assign permissions, compromising data security.
  • Solution: Define clear roles and responsibilities for each user, assign permissions based on their specific needs (e.g., View, Edit, Manage Users), and utilize two-factor authentication.

10. Overlooking Advanced Features:

  • Mistake: Missing out on powerful functionalities like User ID tracking, remarketing audiences, and custom dimensions/metrics.
  • Solution: Explore advanced features to personalize marketing efforts, gain deeper user insights, and optimize your website/app based on rich data points.

Remember: Setting up Google Analytics correctly is an investment in the future. By avoiding these common pitfalls and embracing best practices, you pave the way for accurate data, actionable insights, and data-driven decisions that fuel your website’s success.

Setting Up Google Analytics FAQ

  • Why is it important to set up goals and conversions in Google Analytics? Goals allow you to track micro-conversions and measure performance for key pages and actions on your site.
  • Should I use default or custom channel groupings? Custom channel groupings allow you to categorize traffic sources based on your business needs rather than Google’s default options.
  • How can filters improve my Google Analytics data? Filters allow you to exclude bot traffic, scrub anomalies, and segment your data for more precise analysis.
  • When would I need cross-domain tracking? Cross-domain tracking with hostname filters is necessary if you have the same Google Analytics account tracking multiple different websites or domains.
  • What session timeout should I use? The ideal session timeout is 30 minutes for most websites. This provides a more accurate representation of user behavior.

Setting Up Google Analytics Conclusion

  • Properly setting up Google Analytics is crucial for gathering accurate website data. Misconfigurations can lead to flawed analysis.
  • Avoid common mistakes like failing to track goals, not customizing channels, and incorrect domain setups.
  • Take time to learn best practices for Google Analytics implementation, and audit regularly.
  • With correct setup and configuration, Google Analytics provides invaluable insights to improve your website and marketing. Monitor the key reports and metrics for your business on a consistent basis.

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