21st July 2017

Nail your Google Analytics setup: Part one

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 one of a troubleshooting guide to help you make sure your analytics platform is providing you with data you can trust and use.

This guide is suitable for those looking to fix a broken setup, as well as anyone setting up their Google Analytics account from scratch and looking to avoid common pitfalls.

Data collection

Are you gathering all the relevant data? Google Analytics tracks a lot of data out of the box but a few of the reports need certain settings enabled before it will start collecting some of the more interesting data.

Issue #1: Your tracking code isn’t on every page

This is a basic requirement, but crucial. If any pages are missing the tracking code, not only will this data not be collected but it will ruin other metrics that track the user journey.

An easy way to check your site is by using a crawler, such as www.gachecker.com.

Issue #2: You haven’t enabled demographics tracking

Enabling demographics tracking on the account means you get access to demographic data such as the age and gender of your site visitors. This data comes from the third-party DoubleClick cookie – the one that allows Google to serve you targeted adverts for things you might be interested in.

By tracking what sites you have visited, Google makes an assumption about your age and gender that has a high degree of accuracy. This data is particularly useful if you are using AdWords to target ads on the Google Display Network as it uses the same categories, so you can explore how different demographics behave on the site and then target your advertising accordingly.

Note: As this data isn’t collected by analytics.js or ga.js, it requires advertising reporting features to be enabled on the property before it can collect any data. This requires a change to your privacy policy, see more details here . 

Issue #3: You haven’t enabled enhanced link attribution

If you want to track how visitors are using your site you need to understand how they navigate around it and what elements on the page they are using. By enabling enhanced link attribution you can see whether your users are clicking through to a page from the navigation bar or a call to action on the homepage. Essentially this allows you to view a heat map on pages that can be analysed alongside other reports and segments.

Note: This requires the links to have unique IDs.

Issue #4: You haven’t linked up your Google accounts

You may have noticed a lot of “not provided” entries in your organic search keyword reports. This can be mitigated by linking your Search Console account (what used to be Webmaster Tools) with Analytics.

This enables reports that show you how your organic search channel is performing including search queries, impressions, clicks, and position. Combining this with behaviour once on the site provides a valuable tool to be able to optimise the site for your key audiences. This is also true for your AdWords and AdSense accounts, so link any other accounts you have with your Analytics account.

Issue #5: You aren’t tracking site search

If your website has search functionality then this feature is crucial in tracking your user’s behaviour. It provides reports to monitor keywords and behaviour of those using the search function, allowing you to see what users are looking for.

This feature requires a search parameter to be specified, i.e. the URL has s=keyword. If the search can’t be set up with a search parameter, i.e. the URL has search/keyword, then you will have to monitor these keywords by using a search and replace filter to extract the search terms.

Issue #6: You haven’t enabled e-commerce reporting

A goal of many websites is to generate some form of revenue for the business. If this is the case then the e-commerce reports are great for you to dig deeper into the specifics of how your website is performing.

That concludes our list of common issues with regard to data collection — I hope you’ve found them useful. The next part will cover data accuracy to make sure that your data is trustworthy.

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.