Having worked with Google Analytics for a large number of businesses of all sizes, I have started to notice a pattern of basics that are continually missed.
Some of these issues are prominent regardless of the business size, but it is mainly the small businesses that forget some of the basics during implementation. There are usually a number of reasons for this, and many are good, but in my opinion it pays to have a really well setup analytics account.
Having worked with and setup a number of Google Analytics accounts for small businesses in recent months, I have noticed a similar trend in those basics that are not implemented and wanted to address them here.
The below are just those that I have come across as items that I am regularly implementing, and I am certain there are many more that you are dealing with. If there are then let me know in the comments below, but for now, lets dig in.
Single Data View
When you first setup Google Analytics, you are provided with a new view. This tracks all of the data that you receive from your website. This also means that unless you add in filters, goal, etc you are tracking every time you visit your website.
If you visit your website daily, then you could significantly skew your data set. How do I stop this, I hear you say? Good question, and the answer is easy. Simply create a new profile that is filtered so you have an accurate representation of the traffic you have, that is not skewed by your own visits.
Now we will discuss filters later in the post, so lets see how to create a new profile.
When in Google Analytics, head over to your account and the Admin section. In the view as shown below, you are likely to have a single view call “All website data”.
Now, we want to create a second view so that we can get that clean data. Where it says “All website data” click the drop down and click “Create new view” and you will be presented with the follow screen. Nearly there!
Now all you need to do is select the data type to track (in most cases it’s website), and then give the view a name. I generally keep this very simple – Brand Name | Filtered – See, simple. Now choose the correct location and timezone. This important as all your data will based on this, and you don’t want it based on Australian time if you are located in the UK.
Hit create view, and you are good to go! The next step is to add your filters to ensure your data remains clean.
Add basic filters
Now that you have created your filtered view, you need to add in some filters. Now, this can be a huge number of filters or just one or two, it really depends on the business that you operate. There are many good posts on how to create filters, and which ones to remove including the one I wrote here, so I won’t go into detail.
However, the ones that I would include are as follows:
IP Restrictions – Add a filter to block IPs from the following locations to keep your data clean.
- Your office / home
- Development team
- Marketing consultant or freelancer
I won’t explain how to implement IP filters as it is done in the post provided above.
Hostname filter: Add the hostname to the filter to ensure that you are doing everything in your power to stop spam traffic being recorded.
To do this you need to do the following:
- Head to Admin > Filters
- Click the red button Add new filter
- Give the filter a name. I usually just call it Hostname Filter
- Select the include radio button and choose hostname from the dropdown
- Input your domain name in the text field providing adding in \ before any dots. This is just some RegEx to escape the dots which can be seen as something else.
- Then hit save and you are done.
Feel free to check out the image below for reference. 🙂
The three other filters I generally start with are:
Handling Webmail: Also shown in the post linked to above, this ensures that any email provider that is not caught by Google Analytics is added to the correct channel.
Force lowercase URLs: Some websites have the ability to provide URLs in multiple cases, which is an SEO issue in itself. If the Lowercase filter isn’t applied you will also see the traffic for the different URLs which can be a pain to monitor. This filter will collate the information into a single URL to report on. 🙂
And the last one, but potentially the most important is:
Spam Filters: Over the past few years, spam traffic from those on the web trying to cause issues has significantly increased. Although Google have tried to improve their own spam filters, I have been adding in the same filters to each account I work on. If you head over to Analytics Edge and read this great post on Spam Filters, you will get all the details you need to stopping the spammers.
Google Search Console Integration
Google Search Console is a must for any marketeer to understand what Google sees specifically about your website. Although there is areas where data is limited, it provides you really good insight into how your website is performing from a technical perspective.
So imagine if you could integrate that into Google Analytics and overlap some of the data, good idea right? Well, I glad to say it has been around for a long time, but small businesses fail to implement this easy integration. So below is exactly how you do it.
First you need to add Google Search Console on to your website. This can be done in many different ways, and Google provide a guide on how this is done here.
Once you have setup GSC, head over to your analytics account and the admin section. Under the property section of your selected account, select the all products link as shown below.
From here you will be presented with a list of products that you can integrate into Google Analytics. Find Google Search Console and select the adjust link button as shown below.
You will now be presented with a screen that has “None: Edit” instead of the adjust button. Click the edit button, and you will be taken to GSC from where you need to select the correct account. Select the correct account and save,
You will be kept in the GSC dashboard, so you need to move to the GA profile that you were looking at in the other tab. If you want to edit the views that the profile is associated with, then click the “Enabled Views” drop-down and select as you see fit.
That’s it, easy! Over the next several days you will see data starting to come into your GA account located under Acquisition > Search Console.
Google Adwords Integration
Running Adwords but haven’t but haven’t integrated it into Google Analytics? Yep, thought so.
This simple, but very important step is generally always missed by small businesses. If you are running Adwords accounts regardless of the type of campaign that you are running, you definitely want to integrate this into GA.
To integrate Adwords into Adwords, you follow a similar process to that shown above about Google Search Console.
- Head to Admin > Adwords Linking
- You should see a list of profiles that you have in your account (see below)
- Select the correct account and click continue
- Select the views in your GA account you want Adwords imported to and hit link accounts.
And there you have it.
Use GA’s annotation feature
I see this as something that anyone using Google Analytics should be doing regardless of business size.
When reviewing data from last month, last quarter or even last year, it can be difficult to understand what activity happened, and determining why that dip or increase appeared. Using the annotations feature, you can quickly write a short description of what happened and either keep it private or share it with everyone on the account.
You can make these annotations on most of the graphs, and they will be shared across the suite. To do this, you simply need to select the drop down under one of the GA graphs, and click create annotation. From here you write a short description and decide whether to share or keep it private.
Some types of annotations that I create include:
- Website updates – Themes / Releases, etc
- eShots – Add campaign name
- Issues with website – Hacking, payment issues,
- Change in marketing activity – New platform trial, etc
These types of annotations will allow you to have a clearer picture of what happened in the past when you come to review.
And there you have it, 5 basic Google Analytics tips that small businesses forget to do!
Are there any tips that you think I missed out? Any that you disagree with? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.