8 Common Google Analytics Mistakes to Avoid

By Ashley Orndorff, aka Marketing Geek laptop and tablet with data charts

Your website is your business online. For some businesses, their website is their only business property. And, marketing your website effectively is essential. The landscape is far too competitive to simply build a site and expect people to find it without marketing.

But, how do you know your marketing efforts are effective and your website is performing for your business?

That’s where Google Analytics can help. When it’s set up correctly, Google Analytics can provide a ton of valuable data about how your website is performing and the results from your marketing efforts.

But, it’s also easy to misinterpret or get the wrong data if things are missing or not set up correctly. Here are some common Google Analytics mistakes to avoid:

Mistake #1 – Not Using or Reviewing Analytics

One of the most common Google Analytics mistakes is not using it at all. This is followed closely by having it and then never looking at the data.

Not tracking or testing anything is one of the most common business marketing mistakes, but it’s one you can avoid easily. You don’t need to use Google Analytics as there are other analytics tools out there, but you should use something. Google Analytics is just one of the more popular tools because it’s free and robust.

Whatever analytics tool or program you choose to use, the important thing is that you’re using one to gather that data and that you’re spending some time looking at it to gain insights for your business. Not only can this help you measure the success of a website redesign, various marketing efforts, and more, but it can also provide insights that can help guide your next necessary moves.

Mistake #2 – Using the Wrong Account Configuration

When you set up your Google Analytics account, there is a hierarchy to follow. Getting things mixed up can make things messy, especially if you are managing multiple websites in your account.

Because Google Analytics is a Google product, you will need a Gmail address to log in. If there is already a Google Analytics account running for your website, the owner of it can add you as a user so you can view it when you log in using your email address. Once you’re in, the hierarchy is Account>Property>View.

Account is the brand or business, Property is the website, and View is a specific view of the data for a website. Brands with multiple websites and subdomains associated with them should set up a Property for each of those sites. Each Property will have its own specific tracking code.

On the View level, you can apply filters to clean up the data provided, focus on a specific part of the site, and more. In general, you want to keep one View unfiltered so you have somewhere that contains raw data for your website. Then, you can create another View where you filter out referral spam, internal traffic, and more.

Mistake #3 – Forgetting to Check that the Code is on All Pages

When you have your Google Analytics tracking code, it’s important to add it to all of your website pages. Then, you want to make sure you check to ensure it’s implemented correctly and working.

This seems like common sense, but it’s a vital step that can easily be skipped over or forgotten. And, it often is, which is why it’s one of the common Google Analytics mistakes to avoid.

Mistake #4 – Neglecting Filters for Excluding Internal Traffic

When you add a Google Analytics tracking code to your website, you are tracking all of the visits to your website, including those made by yourself, your team, and any of your partners.

This can artificially inflate your data and skew results. But, you can add filters to a View to exclude the traffic from inside your office or your partner’s offices.

Mistake #5 – Never Setting up Goals, Event Tracking, or Ecommerce Tracking

You can get a lot of data and insights from a standard Google Analytics setup. But, you can get so much more by setting up goals, event tracking, and ecommerce tracking.

Goals can be whatever you define. If you use trackable phone numbers on your website, you can set up a goal for them to track phone calls. You can do something similar with the specific forms you have on your website.

With ecommerce tracking, Google Analytics will be able to pull in revenue data, products purchased, and more to help you gain insights and make changes that can help increase your bottom line. Skipping this is a common mistake with Google Analytics and it’s also one of the common ecommerce mistakes to avoid.

Event tracking is useful because you can use it to see how people are interacting with other elements of your website. If you have videos on your website, you can add event tracking to be able to see how often people engage with them and how long. If you have downloadable assets, you can use event tracking to get data about those as well.

Clicking buttons, scrolling past a certain point on a page, staying on a page for a certain amount of time, etc. – if it’s on your site, you can likely use event tracking to get data on how people interact with it.

Mistake #6 – Skipping Campaign Tags with the URL Builder

Google Analytics is a robust product, but it’s not perfect. Sometimes it can tell where a visit came from and sometimes it can’t, so it gets thrown into the Direct traffic bucket. When this happens too often, it can mess up the accuracy of your data.

By using campaign tags on the website URLs that you share in other places, you can help Google Analytics accurately identify where certain traffic is coming from. A common example is email newsletters.

Oftentimes, Google Analytics can tell when traffic comes from a link in an email, but it doesn’t always. By using a URL builder to add campaign parameters to a URL, you can make sure that Google Analytics will accurately track every click on that URL.

It’s important to keep these consistent within and across campaigns. If you use “email” as the campaign source for one month’s email newsletter and “Email” or “newsletter” for the next, it will make it difficult to look at metrics associated with that source over time.

Mistake #7 – Only Reviewing Aggregate Data

Another common Google Analytics mistake is only reviewing aggregate data. Google Analytics allows you to dig into your data to examine things by channel, device, page, and more.

If you’re only looking at overall numbers, both when you’re looking at Goals and at overall website data, you’re missing out on a lot of valuable insights. And, potentially, you’re also missing a lot of red flags for things that could become major problems.

Mistake #8 – Ignoring Behavioral Differences by Device

Overall, there are more searches from mobile devices than from desktop devices. However, this does vary by industry. In some industries, desktop traffic still outpaces mobile traffic. But, this does not mean you can ignore mobile users.

In a mobile-first world where search engines evaluate your website on the mobile experience first, you can’t afford to ignore anyone and you especially cannot ignore mobile users. Your website has to be responsive, fast, and mobile-friendly.

On top of that, people often navigate websites and interact with things differently depending on the device they’re using. If you never look at how people are interacting with your website on specific devices, you’re missing out on a lot of valuable information.

Not only could you be missing improvements that could provide major benefits to your business, but you could also be overlooking issues that could cause major issues for your business.

These are just a few of the common Google Analytics mistakes to avoid when you’re getting started and when you’re evaluating the data. If it’s been a while since your website has been updated or it just isn’t performing as expected, it may be time for a redesign.

Contact us for a meeting of the MINDs to talk about we can help get your website back on track and delivering results for your business!

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