Everyone wants to make data-driven decisions and everyone wants to know if their hard marketing efforts lead to profit.

Do I want this? Yes. Do you want this? You should!

7 Steps to More Accurate Google Analytics Reporting

At first glance, nothing can be easier than simply adding a Google Analytics tracking code onto the header of a website. If you use WordPress, you don’t even have to hire a developer to do this. Then, you just need to sit back and wait a few days and you should have a lot of different figures to analyze from your Google Analytics reports.

But, can you trust this data? Here are 7 steps to more accurate Google Analytics reporting which will help make your Google Analytics data more useful.

1. Verify Tracking Code Installation

Do you know the most common issue that I see in new client`s account? All too often, clients are using an incorrect tracking code or no Google Analytics code at all.

How do you check to make sure you are using a good tracking code?

First, you would need to install Google Tag Assistant to your Google Chrome browser.

It is completely free and very straight forward. Then, go to your website, select ‘Tag Assistant’ and reload the page.

You should get the following result:

Google Tag

If you see your GA code and it doesn’t show any mistakes, then you are done. You now know that your GA code is working properly.

Don’t forget to verify that the tracking ID on your website matches the tracking ID in your account.

If you aren’t familiar with a tracking ID, it looks like this – UA – XXXXXXXX

Every Google Analytics property has its own unique tracking ID.

2. Exclude Bots

In the digital work, there are good guys and bad guys. There are good bots (search engine spiders, etc.) and extremely bad and disastrous bots (GA spammers).

Excluding good bots is a built-in feature in your ‘View’ settings. Just go to the view settings and choose to ‘Exclude all hits from known bots and spiders’.

Adwords

3. Exclude Spam

You have excluded good bots, but there are still bad ones. The first questions you might want to ask are who are these bad spammers and what they want? Do they earn money or just have fun?

Some people spam to earn money. They expect you to visit their website and buy something. Other do it just for fun. For example, in December, I found in some my client`s GA accounts a Cyrillic domain with only one page and only one phrase “Happy New Year” written in Russian.

Some Russian techies may have just wanted to share their happiness about the New Year with the world. I am not sure that using the Cyrillic alphabet was useful for this purpose, but who knows?

The best way to exclude spam is via Hostname filter. Keep in mind that there still may be between 1 and 10 spam sessions per month, but it a Hostname filter should offer some help in keeping spam at bay.

How do you apply a Hostname filter? Go to the ‘View Level’ and select ‘Add filter.’

You can name this filter anything you would like such as “No spam”. You will then need to create a Predefined filter to include only traffic to the hostname that contains your domain name.

Remember to exclude the ‘http’ and ‘www’ from your domain name.

Adwords 2

It is easy to get data from your Adwords campaigns into Google Analytics. Only two things are necessary to do this.

First, go and check if your GA account is linked to the right Google Adwords account.

Adwords

Then, go to your Google Adwords account and check if auto-tagging is enabled.

Gear icon -> Preferences Tab

5. Check Your Website Bounce Rate

You may be wondering what constitutes a great bounce rate. In fact, there is no correct answer to this question.

Your bounce rate depends on factors such as how you set up events. One thing is for sure, you want to avoid a low bounce rate. Therefore, if you see that your website bounce rate is 5% or 10%, then you know that something is wrong.

For example, you may be using an SEO plugin that affects your bounce rate, or you improperly set up your events.

6. Exclude Internal Traffic

You and your team may wind up visiting your website 20 times per day. If you have a big team, your visits will definitely impact your data.

Because of this, you just need to exclude IP addresses of all your team members- including your IP.

Luckily, IP addresses are really easy to filter.

Filter

7. Check Self-referrals

Let`s imagine a situation in which you have a domain and a subdomain.

Let’s say that your main domain is http://titanwebagency.com/ and subdomain is http://blog.titanwebagency.com/

Google Analytics tracks subdomains automatically. So, everything should be fine, but you may still see some self-referrals in your Referrals report. Google Analytics provides data that will show you that people are visiting your website from your own website, not from PPC ads or Facebook like you expected.

What should you do with this information?

To avoid this problem, make sure that your domain and subdomain are in the ‘Referral Exclusion List.’
Admin->Property->Tracking info ->Referral exclusion list

referrals

Don’t ever use Referral exclusion list to exclude spam websites. It is not the right way, and GA will not exclude spam websites. It will just hide this information under the cover of direct traffic.

Conclusion

In conclusion, it is extremely important to be careful with your data and make profit making, data-driven decisions!