As a startup, it’s important to track and analyze visitors to your website. One of the best ways to do this is by using Google Analytics. However, simply placing the code snippet on your site won’t be enough for you to gather quality data. The basic script is powerful, but it doesn’t come with the necessary setup for you to truly understand your website. To help you get the most out of Google Analytics, the team at Funnelfly has put together a list of things you should complete.
- Place Google Analytics on your website through Google Tag Manager. This is beneficial because it allows you to easily set up cross-domain or subdomain tracking in the future based off of the Google Analytics pageview tag you’ve set up. Google Tag Manager is important because it lets your developers work on the product without needing to place pixels later on. If you need to set up event tracking and conversion tracking or place other pixels, you can do so on your own easily and publish to the site. This speeds up the time it takes to place pixels or start gathering data.
- Create an unfiltered view under the property you’re using for your domain. This is the first thing you should do once you’ve set up Google Analytics on your site. Doing so is useful in case you’ve set up a filter on your reporting view that somehow creates data that isn’t meaningful.
- Set up IP Filters as quickly as possible to keep your Google Analytics account from generating sessions from your team. This is important because it creates a better view of your traffic by generating true conversion rates by channels or source/mediums.
- Place UTMs on your URLs to better attribute the traffic. These are query parameters that can be used for organic posts on social media, emails, or anything you can think of to get a better understanding of what is causing conversions. The structure of UTM parameters are really easy to understand. See below.
- Source: This is used for specifying the source of the traffic such as Twitter, Facebook, or a newsletter.
- Medium: This specifies the medium of the traffic, while source identifies further which channel within the specific medium.
- Content: This is most often used to single out a specific ad or an organic post so the data can be attributed back to it.
- Campaign: This is the top-level component that houses data of the source, medium, and content.
- Term: Term is usually used in search campaigns for getting granular data relating to the search keyword, but this can be used for categorizing data in any way you’d like. Term is not used as often.
For additional help in building your own URL so you can track items in Google Analytics and get better attribution, use Google’s UTM Builder. You also can find this data later on in Google Analytics within Acquisition > All Traffic > Source/Medium or Acquisition > Campaigns > All Campaigns.
- Utilize subdomain tracking if you’ve got an app, blog, or other subdomains on your website. The reason this is needed is because every time a user moves from the main domain to the subdomain and then back to the main domain, the user creates a new session. This data will soon begin to become unreliable once traffic starts building up on your website. Subdomain tracking is really easy to set up in Google Tag Manager. You need to make sure the Google Tag Manager container is set up on all of the pages within the main domain and within the subdomain. The trigger for the Google Analytics pageview needs to be set up for all pages. The next step is to make sure the cookieDomain is set to auto within the tag in either the Fields to Set or within the Cookie Domain field if you’re using a Google Analytics Settings variable.
Once this is set up, you need to make sure your main domain is set up as a referral exclusion within Google Analytics. You can check to see if this is set up by navigating to Admin > Tracking Info > Referral Exclusion List. If you see it, then you are good to go. If not, you will need to set up your main domain (example.com) so that the subdomains and the main domain will not cause extra sessions.
- Set up full URLs in Google Analytics to keep pageviews separated. This is needed if your website is example.com/ and your app is app.example.com/. Google Analytics only shows the page path by default, so both would stack under the page path / and the only way to tell them apart would be to set up a secondary dimension of Hostname, which makes your data difficult to read. To set this up, you need to navigate to Admin > Filters > then create a filter to show full page URL in reports.
- You will need to create an advanced filter with these settings:
- Field A: Hostname
- Extract A: (.*)
- Field B: Request URI
- Extract B: (.*)
- Output To: Request URI
- Constructor: $A1$B1
- Use Referral Exclusions to exclude referral traffic from counting and generating new sessions. This is most often used when setting up subdomain tracking, but it is useful in other scenarios as well. If you’ve got a third-party payment processing or other means of authentication when it comes to signing in, these things can cause attribution problems for conversions and generate sessions. To solve this, you can simply set up the referral as a domain exclusion. For instance, if accounts.google.com is seen as a referral, then you can exclude accounts.google.com. You can do so by navigating to Admin > Tracking Info > Referral Exclusion List.
- Exclude URL Query Parameters to get a better look at your data without seeing many different URLs that are often the same but with different query parameters at the end. It is most often used for removing person information from being entered into Google Analytics as well. For instance, if you’ve got a URL that is firstname.lastname@example.org, you can easily exclude this or any other parameters that follow the ?. You can do so by navigating to Admin > View Settings > Exclude URL Query Parameters. In this field, you can input each parameter separated by a comma. So for the URL email@example.com, you would need to enter “name” and nothing else.
The Bottom Line
Google Analytics offers you access to vital information about visitors to your website that will help you better understand your target audience. It’s a reliable way to analyze in-depth detail about website traffic. By using the insights and data gathered through the software, you can strategize for faster growth in your startup.