One of the first things I do before starting a new paid campaign for a client is to ask if we can take a look at their Google Analytics setup. I want to make sure the numbers will be as accurate as possible. I want to know that the traffic visits are from real people, I want to know that the traffic is coming from external people as well, and not from the editor’s website or the owner himself/herself!
In this blog, we are going to look at the 3 most common Google Analytics Universal setup mistakes that you can correct right away! I will talk about the mistakes I see over and over again: 1) to have only one Google Analytics view, or 2) not to filter out internal traffic in your reports, or the other one most common one is 3) not to exclude the bots traffic.
The good news is that these are very common mistakes that can easily be corrected. Just a quick note, the new version of Google Analytics (4) is now out and that is the one we should start using as Universal Analytics will stop tracking from July 2023 onwards. To read more about it, you can go to the blog Universal Analytics vs Google Analytics 4.
The 3 Most Common Google Analytics Setup Mistakes and How to Fix them
Have at least 2 different GA Views
The reason why we should have more than one Google Analytics view is because we can keep one raw data view, one filtered view and a test view. The raw data view will have all the numbers without any filters, segments, etc. The second view, usually called Master View, is where we would add filters, goals, and anything else we are working with. This would be the “working view”. And the third is optional, it is usually the “Test View”, where you could add different filters, experiment with segments, etc.
The way you create a new view is by clicking to Admin on the left bottom corner, you will see 3 different columns. The last column is the one where you can create a new view. See image below.
You will have a message saying there are redundant views. You can dismiss that message for now. We will change the second view in the next commun mistake.
Filter Internal Traffic
When we work on our website we check if the spelling is right, we check the images, the navigation, etc. These clicks are also counted as website visits, even if we, the owners of our website, are the ones doing the clicking. That’s why we should filter our visits by excluding our IP addresses from the Master View. Our clicks, session duration, etc. should not show up in our GA reports.
And to do that, we need to go to the Master View we just created (you can call it whatever you want). Then go to Admin, the Filters, then Add Filter. Just make sure you are not on the All Web Site Data or raw data view. When a filter is applied, it can’t be reversed. That’s why we first create a “Master View” and apply the filter there.
You can exclude your IP address. To find out, you can simply click “what is my ip address” and Google will tell you. Make sure you exclude all the IP addresses of the people who work on your website on a regular basis.
You then click on Add Filter and choose Predefined: Exclude, then Source: IP Address, and you enter your IP address.
Exclude bot traffic
And the last exclusion that is often forgotten is to exclude the bot traffic. We don’t want to see the bot traffic on our Google Analytics reports as this is traffic that doesn’t really count in our marketing efforts. This traffic is usually high in bounce rate, low in average session duration (usually zero), and is not real people. For all those reasons we don’t want to see this traffic in our Google Analytics reports.
I invite you to apply the steps above and check your setup. I created a short video where I show you how you can easily correct these 3 common mistakes.
By correcting these common mistakes on your Google Analytics Setup, you will have a better view of what is happening on your website. Your numbers will be more accurate because you won’t be counting your own visits as traffic, nor the bot visits. If you want to learn how to better read your analytics reports, you should read the 3 most important Google analytics reports article, and start analysing your website!
Let me know if this article and video were useful, I'd love it if you could leave a comment on the video and subscribe to my channel. As mentioned above, Universal Analytics will stop tracking from July 2023 onwards. To read more about it, you can go to the blog Universal Analytics vs Google Analytics 4.