Google Analytics is a great tool but it needs to be configured properly to be useful.
The following is a checklist to assist you in getting your analytics in order.
Web Tracking Code
Getting your tracking code right is critical to ensuring good data in Google Analytics.
Every page in your website must have the correct Google Analytics code added to the page. If some pages in your site do not include this code then you are missing valuable information.
How your code is configured will depend on how your site is implemented. It is recommended however that you implement the following settings:
- Set the tracking code to be limited to your own domain (use the _setDomainMethod). This has a number of benefits including:
- If your site has sub-domains such as store.yoursite.com then the Google Analytics cookie will be shared with these sub-domains correctly.
- If your pages are loaded into another site such as Google Translate these transactions will not be recorded into your account. Whilst it may be of interest to know about these visits as the page is viewed within another domain it can pollute your data with custom variables and events that were not intended for your Google Analytics profile.
- Exclude your own site appearing as a referrer. This is a common issue that we encounter frequently. Adding the setting to ignore your own domain as a referrer will ensure that your data is more accurate. To do this use the _addIgnoredRef(‘www.yourdomain.com’);
- Set the campaign cookie expiry time to an appropriate value for your business. Google Analytics uses this cookie to attribute the goals and sales to each campaign however it also uses this to track search keywords. The default is 6 months and in some cases this can lead to odd results with highly specific and long key phrases appearing in your keywords reports many times as a visitor returns time and time again to your site by bookmark. It is suggested that a value of between 7 days and 30 days is more appropriate in most cases.
Knowing how your purchase path is progressing is a critical factor in ensuring that your website is optimally designed.
Does each page in your check out process have a distinct URL? E.g. /cart/step1, /cart/step2, /cart/thankyou ?
Yes: Then you can easily set up goals
Why is this important?
Knowing how many people proceed through the various stages of your shopping cart is critical to understanding where people drop out of the purchase process. If your cart has a high drop out rate this may indicate problems with the design of the check out process.
E-Commerce Sales Tracking
Details on how to add this code can be found at https://developers.google.com/analytics/devguides/collection/gajs/gaTrackingEcommerce
If your checkout process uses a third party payment gateway such as PayPal you will need to set up your e-commerce purchase process using the instructions at https://developers.google.com/analytics/devguides/collection/gajs/gaTrackingSite#multipleDomains
Understanding the type of checkout process the user has elected to use can be helpful in optimising your check out process. For instance if most of your customers are opting to use the guest checkout process without creating an account then there may be an issue of trust which is preventing them from disclosing more details.
You may want to consider setting a custom variable for each of the following checkout options:
- New Customer Registration
- New Customer Guest
- Existing Customer Login
Knowing how many people are subscribing to each of the various channels such as your newsletter, blog or social media feeds is an important indicator.
These can be tracked either as events or as goals.
For information on setting up events https://developers.google.com/analytics/devguides/collection/gajs/eventTrackerGuide
For information on setting up goals https://support.google.com/analytics/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=1032415&topic=1007030&ctx=topic
Knowing what your customers are searching for in your website is valuable information. Google Analytics can easily report on the search keywords that visitors use in your product search if the URL contains the keyword.
To set up Site Search follow these instructions
Knowing how many errors that your site is generating is useful to diagnosing potential issues that are impacting sales. Adding the Google Analytics tracking code to your error pages is one way that you can quickly get reports on this.
To do this you can add an event to each of your key error message pages such as the 404 File Not Found and 500 Server Error.
Ideally you will record the URL of the page that caused the error as well as the referring page if this exists.
Excluding Your Own Visits
If Google Analytics is recording your own visits to the website and any test purchases then this will be biasing your reports. In order to avoid this you can remove out your own visits by adding a filter that excludes all traffic from a given IP address or domain name. For this to work however you need to have a static IP address. (http://support.google.com/googleanalytics/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=55481)
An alternative is to use the Google Analytics Opt Out plugin for Chrome, Internet Firefox and other browsers. https://tools.google.com/dlpage/gaoptout/
This unfortunately disables all transactions sent to Google Analytics for all sites. It can be easily disabled however there is always the risk that you may forget to turn it back on which defeats the purpose.
There are other plugins that may be available for your browser that allow you to selectively set this for just your site.
Track your Campaigns
Knowing where your visitors are coming from is essential in optimising your campaigns.
In short any link that you have the ability to control (e.g. links in your email newsletter, banners on other websites, links from your affiliate sites, etc) should all have the campaign tracking parameters added to the link so that revenue, sales and goals can all be credited to your campaigns.
The Google Analytics URL builder is a place to get started in setting up your campaign links or our Google Analytics Tagging Spread sheet can be used to do the same.
Track Social Media Interactions
If you have links to such as the Facebook Like or Tweet buttons then it is recommended that you add the Google Analytics social media tracking when a visitor clicks on these.
This information can be useful in identifying products that people are finding more interesting on your website. Knowing which products are shared can be used to assist in you in selecting products to appear in key areas such as main category pages.
If you are using the popular AddThis buttons you can easily add the Google Analytics code by implementing the configuring settings as described at http://support.addthis.com/customer/portal/articles/381260-google-analytics-integration
Google Analytics details at https://developers.google.com/analytics/devguides/collection/gajs/gaTrackingSocial