7 Mistakes To Avoid When Using Google Analytics

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Google Analytics is a fantastic way for businesses to combine their SEO techniques and their marketing in one, fairly easy to use, bundle. Yet although the premise seems simple, and although millions of people have been using Google Analytics since it first launched back in 2005, that doesn’t mean your campaign is something you should quickly decide on and rush into.

As with all of your marketing, you need to decide exactly what you are going to do and how you are going to do it before you start. Yet with Google Analytics there is even more to it than that; it is easy to make mistakes using this program that will skew your results or even mean that your advertising isn’t seen at all, or isn’t seen by the right people (which really amounts to the same thing).

For understanding what is happening on your website, and getting to grips with the reasons why – or why not – there is no better tool than Google Analytics, you need to get it right when setting it all up and understanding how your SEO can impact it. Here are some of the biggest mistakes to avoid when making a start so that you can be informed and get the knowledge (and sales) you need to move on and be even more successful.

Forgetting The Internal Session Data

Internal session data might sound technical, but it’s actually a simple concept; so simple, in fact, that you might forget about it altogether, and that’s where the problem lies.

Remember that your customers and prospects won’t be the only people visiting your website; your colleagues, employees, team members, and – most likely – you will also be checking in from time to time to make sure that everything is up to date, or to read the latest blog post, or share it around (all extremely important acts that you can’t do without visiting the website itself).

If you don’t filter out the internal session data (in other words, the visits from people within your organization) then the data you receive back about how many people go to your website, which pages they’re looking at, how they’re interacting with the information, and what SEO is driving them there will be inaccurate. You don’t need to know about the people you work with or for; you need to know about the people who are thinking of spending money with your business.

The bigger your company, the more problematic this can be, of course; you could have dozens, maybe even hundreds of visitors that really don’t mean anything when it comes to telling you where you should be advertising, how you should be doing it, and where your money is best spent.

It’s easy to set up a filter when you are creating your Google Analytics groundwork. Once you’ve done it, you’ll get a much more accurate view of the numbers of people visiting your website, and what they’re doing once they get there. This will enable you to focus your SEO in the right direction, and create advertising campaigns that people are really going to find interesting.

Using UTM Parameters Incorrectly

UTM stands for ‘urchin tracking module’ and it’s a hugely important part of your Google Analytics campaign. It’s a marker that you can add to specific URLs so that you can see exactly where the traffic that goes to these pages is coming from. Once you have the information, it can be used to determine whether people are coming to you from your competitors’ sites, for example, or if they are clicking through from an ad somewhere else, you can more easily see which of your marketing strategies is directly bringing potential customers to your website.

To use UTM correctly, you need to set up a different landing page for each ad that you want to track. That way, you can quickly see which ones are working the best, and which ones you can stop using altogether. Having just one URL will give you the overall figure for visitors, but it won’t give you any additional information regarding which of your marketing campaigns is the one that is working best for you. Your UTM parameter is really the only way of being able to isolate each ad. So you can see how crucial it is to add to the other information that Google Analytics is able to give you.

The key point to remember when it comes to UTMs is that they must always come from an external source; you shouldn’t use them for internal links. There’s nothing to stop you from doing this when you’re getting your information for Google Analytics set up, so it is something that will need to be remembered. By using UTMs on internal links, you are getting no extra information, but it can confuse things when you try to extrapolate the data.

It is important to use UTMs, though, since if you don’t you will never know which ads are doing what, and you could find that you are wasting a lot of money in one direction when you would be better of spending it in another.

Forgetting To Set Up Goal Tracking

With Google Analytics, you can set it up to track a variety of different goals – whatever you want to see from your business website, you can do. However, most people don’t do this; they concentrate solely on the sales themselves. This is, of course, a massively important part of your business, and knowing how and why people are buying from you is crucial, but it’s not everything – you should always want to know more to get the full picture.

You can set a variety of different goals when it comes to using Google Analytics. See which keywords are performing best when it comes to your SEO ideas, for example, or determine how many people are heading to your contact form, or even signing up for newsletters and then abandoning the idea. Once you know these things, you can look more deeply into why the tasks are not being followed through – fix that, and you will immediately see an increase in signups and contacts. You’ll get a full view of what’s happening from start to finish, and you can make the changes necessary to increase engagement.

You could even work out which blog is working best for you, and try to follow up on that information; if you’re writing about how to use CircuitStudio by Altium to create PCBs you could discuss how important PCBs are to what you do. If the blog that is driving most traffic is about how you started the business, add another (with the same SEO setup) about how you intend to grow it from now on.

You can see that setting goals within Google Analytics could have endless possibilities when it comes to determining exactly what is happening within your business.

Allowing Spam

Spam is a huge problem when it comes to websites, email, and all kinds if internet interactions. It comes in all forms, and at best it is annoying; at worst is can cause real damage.

A mistake that can often be made when it comes to Google Analytics is to allow spam. Or rather, not filtering it out, which amounts to the same thing when you’re looking at the data you receive. Referral spam, as it is called, is a big issue for websites.

This spam can really slow your website down because the spam is sending a lot of traffic to your site, which in turn slows the servers down. In the end, this will cause your own site to be slow, and, since there will be other sites that will potentially give your customers the same (or at least a similar experience) to yours that isn’t so slow, that’s where they will go. Slow websites are also terrible for your search ranking.

Not only that, but the spam referrals and ‘visits’ that are bombarding your site aren’t real traffic, yet it will all be showing up in your Google Analytics’ data. You will have no way of knowing, at that stage, which are real visits and which are from bots, and you’ll never get to be able to dig down deep enough into the information provided to do anything useful with it.

Filtering out spam is crucial because it will give you the pure data that you need to make future decisions on SEO and marketing.

Only Looking At The Big Picture

The big picture of how many visits your website is getting and perhaps where those visitors are coming from is important, and it’s the main reason that most people will set up Google Analytics in the first place. Yet it shouldn’t be the only part of it, especially as the systems can be set up to show you so much more.

Segment your site’s traffic into different areas, and you will get a truer idea of what’s happening, plus this is the best way to gain the information you will need to set up your next advertising campaign. You can look at geographical location, behavioral traits, and, of course, general demographics. Think how much more successful a campaign would be if you utilize this information and use the SEO techniques and keywords that are going to resonate most and bring even more traffic to your website.

When you first come to Google Analytics there are predetermined segments that are automatically set up for you. These might be just what you want, but it’s always best to check to ensure that you will be receiving information that you can do something with.

Not Asking For Help

When you first come to it, Google Analytics may feel somewhat daunting. It might feel complicated, or you might not really be getting to grips with everything it can do. Don’t give up; don’t walk away. Instead, ask for help and you will soon find that you are able to gain all the insights you need.

You can take a look on forums, for example, and glean information from there (or ask your own questions), or speak to individuals within your company who have already set this kind of campaign up and who will know what you should be doing.

Don’t forget to look at Google Analytics’ own ‘solution gallery’ as well though. This is where you can find dashboards, reports, and those elusive segments that we mentioned earlier. These have been created by people who really understand what they are doing, and want to make it easier for others to do the same. Browse through all of the solutions on offer until you find something that is going to work for you and what you want, and use it as you need to. This is what these documents and files are there for, and you can play around with them as much as you need.

Also, know when to find professional SEO services and don’t let yourself get in over your head.

Rushing Ahead

Running a business is exciting and time consuming – two things that, especially when combined, can mean that rushing ahead with implementation of a plan happens all too often. No matter how keen you are to get your Google Analytics up and running so that you can start using the data to grow your business, if you rush into it without thinking, that data won’t be accurate, and it won’t help you succeed.

It’s far better to wait, regroup, ask for opinions, and generally double or even triple check that everything is set up exactly as you want it before clicking the button to say you want to go ahead with the setup.

It’s true that the setup is easy to change if you realize you’ve made a mistake or forgotten something, but it will take time. It will also delay you in being able to get all the information you want. So don’t rush ahead just because you know that you can fix mistakes when you need to; for your own peace of mind and efficiency, it’s far better to get it right from the start, even if it means it will take you longer to get going.

Looking to learn more about SEO and digital marketing? Remember to check out the rest of our blog posts here.

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Jared Bauman

Jared Bauman is the Co-Founder of 201 Creative, and is a 20+ year entrepreneur who has started and sold several companies. He is the host of the popular Niche Pursuits podcast and a contributing author to Search Engine Land.