If you are using Google Analytics to track your web traffic, this article will provide you with tips to ensure your Google Analytics is running optimally.
1. Create a "Raw Data' Profile
The best way to check configuration errors is to have a profile that doesn't contain any filters. This will allow you to quickly learn any misplaced or problematic filters. Have a look at Google's Quick Guide explaining how to create the profile.
Once this profile is created, we recommend you create the same goals you have in your main profile. This will make the data more relevant in case you need to us it. For example, if you find out that your main profile has a filter affecting your past data, you might want to use the Raw Data profile.
2. Use Real-Time Reports
Real-type reports mean that data you see in real-time is profile-specific and obeys the filtering you set-up for that profile.
In order to use real-time to check your analytics implementation, you should first create a new profile (see link above). Then, add a filter that includes the IP address of your company (learn how to do this in this article, but make sure to change the filter from "exclude" to "include").
Now you will be able to look at the real-time reports of this profile and see what you're doing in real-time. This makes code checks much easier and faster.
3. Keep Track of Configuration Changes
One of the common configuration problems is a lack of communication, especially for large companies. A few people to a few dozen people will have Admin access to Google Analytics, which means they can change the settings of ANY profile. This can lead to unwanted and misunderstood changes in the account.
By "changes" we mean goal refinements, filter improvements, new features and so on. Every change can impact data in several ways, and for this reason, it is essential to have a system in place to keep track of code and profile changes.
In order to facilitate/centralize the collection and sharing of the changes made to a Google Analytics account, we propose two different methods: using a Google Docs form & taking advantage of the Annotations feature. Please note that each company should find the optimal mix between these methods.
Using a Google Docs Form
Google Docs can be shared with as many people as needed and everyone has access to the most updated version of the document. Click here to find out how to create a Google Form. The form should be created so that all interested parties can be aware of all changes. These will then be aggregated for historical knowledge that can be used by the whole team (and future team members). See a sample form that can be used by Analytics teams in this article.
Google Analytics Annotations
This feature allows website managers, marketers and developers to provide context directly from inside the graphs of the interface, allowing for richer analyses. Here are important scenarios when you should use this feature:
- Offline marketing campaigns (ie - radio, TV, billboards)
- Major changes to the website (ie - design, structure, content)
- Changes to the tracking (ie - changing the tracking code, adding events)
- Changes to goals or filters
4. Know What Your Site Sends to Google Analytics
The Google Analytics team built a Chrome Extension to help debug your implementation.
5. [E-Commerce Sites] Compare Google Analytics to Database
The most important feature on Google Analytics for Ecommerce is the Ecommerce Tracking. It allows marketers and the website owner to understand what and who is driving online sales.
It is essential that the numbers on Google Analytics approximately match the database of the company, otherwise they won't be trusted. In order to ensure the numbers match, ask your Database administrator to retrieve the daily numbers on your preferred spreadsheet tool and check if the numbers and trends match. If they do not match, here is a list of things to check:
- When 2 or more of the same items are purchased, does Google Analytics trigger _addItem more than once? (it should)
- How does Google Analytics record transactions that use promotional coupons and how does the database report it?
- Be careful with apostrophes! If you use apostrophes in your product names you should be careful not to pass them to Google Analytics on the _addItem, they can break your code
If you still can't find a solution to any Google Analytics issues, try asking your question on this User Form. We also highly recommend you read this code website article: Troubleshooting the Tracking Code.