5 common errors when setting up Google Analytics
The following should be noted to ensure that the data is correct from the outset
When setting up Google Analytics, you may well make the odd mistake.
Many things are not self-explanatory or are not considered. With the following five tips, I will address the most common mistakes that I have been able to discover again and again so far and that I consider to be particularly critical.
If you avoid these mistakes from the beginning, you can assume that you can make proper analyses with your website data.
- 1. Outdated tracking code and the use of Google Tag Manager is suboptimal
- 2. The account and property structure is not well thought out
- 3. data protection
- 4. targets are not available
- 5. Google Analytics is not used
1. outdated tracking code and the use of Google Tag Manager is suboptimal
Over the last few years, Google has repeatedly adapted and updated its tracking code and the script available for it.
It is always noticeable that companies use outdated implementations. Thus it often happens that the now no longer recommended ga.js is still to be found on some websites.
Google introduced ga.js for the first time in 2009 and supported it until 2014.
Since the middle of 2014 ga.js is no longer maintained.
As a replacement there is analytics.js, which offers all features of Google Analytics.
The outdated ga.js
Then why are there still websites with ga.js?
Quite simply for the following three reasons:
- The user is not aware that there is a newer Google Analytics. Over the years the website has been updated and the tracking code implemented, but also the well-known ga.js has been added to all pages. Including the necessary, cumbersome and outdated implementation solution.
- The new versions have been deliberately omitted. Unfortunately, the added value that these offer is then abandoned. Because they contain many valuable possibilities for analysis. For example, e-commerce tracking:
- The tracking was built in by the developer “just like that”, but it has never been noticed or used in all these years. If this is the case, you should consider whether you need tracking at all, or even further the website.
What are the current alternatives to ga.js?
Google currently offers analytics.js and gtag.js
Both are currently authorized for use and can offer the versatile possibilities of Google Analytics to the full extent.
analytics.js offers a small advantage, however.
It is about 30 KB lighter than gtag.js. This has about 60 KB and it loads an additional 30 KB to analytics.js.
Which together then amounts to 90 KB.
analytics.js alone comes up with 30 KB that have to be loaded.
but in the end both offer the same possibilities.
Extra – Another common error:
Since ga.js and gtag.js have been mentioned, we can also talk about their inclusion in the site. Or rather about a mistake that happens frequently.
Google Tag Manager – tracking is implemented via a custom HTML tag.
Again and again it happens that the Google Tag Manager is used to integrate the tracking. This is even the solution I recommended.
But instead of using the existing tracking tag, the analytics.js is integrated via a custom HTML tag. Technically this is not really wrong, but the tracking is more difficult to manage and it is rather cumbersome to make further adjustments.
I therefore recommend to use the Universal Analytics Tag in the Google Tag Manager with the available settings variable.
2. the account and property structure is not well thought out
Exemplary representation of a reasonable division of properties and views
While examining the different Analytics accounts, I repeatedly discover a wild arrangement of properties and views created by the owner. Or user accesses and email addresses cannot be clearly assigned to a person.
Both cases complicate the maintenance and maintenance of the overview within the account.
Giving access to the data – A common error that occurs
When setting up Google Analytics, access is often quickly and carelessly assigned to departments and companies.
The stakeholders, agencies or other representatives who need access to the web data are invited via generic email addresses to manage the account. Or Google Accounts consist of partly private mail addresses without clear name allocation.
It should always be traceable who has made changes.
And if a person is being searched for, the corresponding account should be found quickly and easily via the email address.
Assign accesses correctly – this is how it works:
Access to Google Analytics should only be granted to mail addresses according to the scheme
or have a comparable designation.
This makes it possible to quickly identify which user is behind it.
A clear account structure
- Property (Test)
- View: Live data
- View: Internal Data
- View: raw data (unfiltered)
- Property (Live)
- View: Live data
- View: Internal Data
- View: raw data (unfiltered)
- Web & App – Property
- Property (Test)
The example shows a GA-Account.
This contains two properties (UA-IDs), which are again divided into data views. This allows you to efficiently separate live, internal and test data.
The advantage of this:
By isolating the internal page views, you prevent these page visits and activities from being included in the analysis. Because these do not provide any information about the customer and his behaviour. What you need for the analysis is exclusively in a Live- / Production-View. To have all data unfiltered you have a raw data / back-up view. In addition, the tracking data of the development environment and the published website should never run into the same property. Otherwise the data will be falsified.
The development environment is great for testing extensions.
The Analytics Account structure can be extended
Special websites require special tracking. Sometimes it is necessary to merge the data from several websites into one tracking or to do explicit segmentation into different views.
This can be best with a
Determine Analytics Audit.
Short and sweet:
It is important that the Google Analytics property and its contained views are named self-explanatory and appropriate to the page.
If necessary, these are then of course to be provided with filters, so that only what should be entered can be entered.
A meaningful name makes it much easier to find your way around.
3. data protection
Since DSGVO, the issue of data protection has been taken seriously. In principle, there is nothing to be said against collecting user data. If you compare your own website with a retail shop, then as an operator you want to know where and how the goods are best placed.
And where the customer needs help.
In a shop, the owner can achieve this by talking directly to the owner or by looking at the shop with watchful eyes.
The website relies on feedback forms and tracking.
The following points must be observed:
- Obtain consent for tracking before data is collected.
- Do not record user-related data, record it anonymously or remove it later and filter or make it anonymous in future.
- Make the IP of the site visitor anonymous.
It is not only for the three points mentioned above that it is always necessary to contact a legal adviser or obtain professional advice.
Because the legal situation is also constantly changing here.
You should clarify what your company has to consider with the contact persons mentioned.
(For the technical implementation I can help with words and deeds)
In addition, it must be considered that external employees and agencies often only have to give limited thought to the topic of data protection.
It’s simply not their job.
It can happen that web tracking is installed without anonymizing the IP.
Unfortunately, this has happened several times and it is advisable to keep an eye on the implementation before it is released.
4. targets are not available
The website has gone live and people are busy putting money into advertising or spending time writing articles.
But somehow the purchases or contact requests are missing and you don’t really have an overview of what the users are doing on the website.
Is the contact page visited?
Does the visitor read my contributions?
Are the user manuals downloaded and the FAQ page visited?
Such and similar questions can be answered with goals / objectives in Google Analytics.
When setting up Google Analytics – Every website needs goals
What is often not done is to define the goals of the website. Google Analytics offers the possibility to define goals. This can be certain page views or the recording of events.
Or maybe goals have been set, but they are not yet built into Google Analytics and therefore are not measured. Goals / Goals are a wonderful thing to bring the most important measurement points of the website to a dashboard.
This can be, for example, the download of PDFs or the sale of products.
And these goals can then be compared daily / weekly / quarterly with the previous period.
This way you can quickly keep an eye on the trend and take action if necessary.
5. Google Analytics is not used
The last item on this list is probably the most obvious error.
If the site owner does not do any measurements and performance analysis at all.
You don’t have the website just because it is so common
Running a website is, as mentioned before, always associated with a certain amount of effort.
It must be maintained and managed. Costs for domain and sever are to be paid.
That’s why it makes sense to have an estimation if it is worth to run the site. Webanalytics can be a great help here.
It is almost always worth using a tracking tool like Google Analytics.
But another product like Matomo or etracker can also be used instead of Google Analytics.
Exceptions confirm the rule
I know of small businesses and self-employed people who get by with just Facebook, Instagram or an entry in GoogleMyBusiness.
Products, events and tickets are advertised and sold through it.
There are also already built-in possibilities for analysis.
But still, the same applies here: Data protection is our top priority.
Just start and grow with time
As it probably stands for many things in life, so it is for Google Analytics.
Start small and take bigger and bigger steps.
You can use the standard tracking at the beginning, get familiar with it and then go into more and more detail. This is still better than not using tracking.
As time goes by, more and more “aha” experiences and insights will come your way through Google Analytics.
When setting up Google Analytics it is important that you pay attention to the things mentioned above.
I hope this summary of the 5 mistakes that are often made when setting up Google Analytics will help you make the right decisions.
As was explained in detail in the five areas, mistakes happen again and again, which I often find and in my opinion should not happen.
Often these are simply based on ignorance or lack of time to deal with the subject.
The technical component, organizational errors, data protection and generally the use of Google Analytics can often overwhelm the beginner.
But also people and companies that have been using website tracking for a long time are affected.
That is why it is always good to have a contact person who is familiar with this area and can provide support.
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