22nd August 2017

Nail your Google Analytics setup: Part three

Nick Buckingham
Head of Experience and Product Design

Each organisation has different goals and needs, and therefore will have unique requirements when it comes to their Google Analytics setup. However, there are a number of common setup mistakes that we see again and again. This is part two of a troubleshooting guide to help you make sure your analytics platform is providing you with data you can trust and use.

If you haven’t read them yet, check out part one on data collection and part two on data accuracy.

Data cleanliness

Are your reports clear and easy to analyse? By now you can be confident that your data is trustworthy but when it comes to looking at the data you can help avoid user error by tidying up the reports. In particular this prevents the artificial reduction of a page’s importance to visitors due to there being many entries for what is essentially the same page.

Issue #1: You are using the default page setting

If your site allows access to a page from two different URLs, e.g. xyz.com and xyz.com/index.php then Google suggests you add that index.php page path to the default page in view settings.

However by adding that, Google appends the entry onto every single request URI in that view. This is intended to clean up the data, but in reality it makes it worse.

This would be much better served by setting up redirects on the pages themselves, or if that’s not possible, a filter to remove the index.php page paths.

Issue #2: You haven’t excluded URL query parameters

URL query parameters can cause a huge duplication of content in your reports, making it extremely difficult to measure the effectiveness of your pages. This setting allows you to specify which query parameters should be stripped out of the URL.

Be careful to only exclude those that manipulate content within a page, e.g. sort filters, and not ones that provide unique content e.g. pagination.

Issue #3: You haven’t forced lowercase data

Google is case sensitive so /contact and /Contact would be counted as two different pages yet the user would see the same page. To combat this, set up a filter on your account to force all URIs, search terms, and campaign dimensions into lowercase format.

Issue #4: You haven’t appended or removed the slash on the request URI

The trailing slash on URIs should be added or removed if you notice duplicate rows due to the presence of a slash.

Note: this should always be the final filter.

That concludes our list of troubleshooting tips for data cleanliness — I hope you’ve found them useful. There are many ways your data might be tripping you up, but with a bit of time and effort this can easily be rectified.

If you need help with your web analytics don’t forget that Deeson can assist you. We offer a range of health checks to help you get the most from your digital platform including an analytics and conversion audit. This can help pinpoint the vital areas where you could improve your data and the quality of your traffic.

If this is something you’re interested in drop us a line and we can chat about your needs.