Google Analytics is a great tool to track your website traffic and break it down to the core. But with Google Analytics, there can also evolve problems that can not only affect the amount of visitors on your website but also your conversion rate and finally your sales – and that’s what it all comes down to.
Therefore, you’ll get to know the most common Google Analytics errors in the following text. Furthermore, you’ll be able to understand how to solve these errors and avoid them in the future. By removing those errors from your Google Analytics, you’ll finally see real data again! Note that not every error applies to every user as they might vary on the way you use Google Analytics.
Dark traffic is a very common cause for defects that can occur in Analytics. In general dark traffic is classified as direct traffic when Google can’t tell the source of the traffic. Usually, dark traffic results out of visitors who get to your website through links that get shared in e-mails, on social media or other platforms. As Google can’t tell the source of the traffic, dark traffic is hidden traffic in Analytics and needs to be revealed as soon as possible. To see how much dark traffic runs on your website, you should have a detailed look on the direct conversion to your website. Also, you should prevent dark traffic from being hidden to your Analytics statistics in the future. To do so, using a UTM-builder can be helpful as it allows you to put tags to the links that refer to your website from different sources that would normally occur as dark traffic. By using those tags, dark traffic won’t be hidden anymore and therefore will be included in your Analytics reports.
Social referral traffic
Social referral traffic is often not being displayed on your Google Analytics reports. Missing statistics for the hidden traffic makes it harder for you to see where the traffic is coming from or to set up a successful Google Ads campaign. This applies to most links from social media such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and many more. If you for example run ad campaigns on Facebook which refer to your website through a link and someone clicks on the specific link, usually an in-build browser opens with your website. This leads to traffic that’s not being tracked by Analytics. You can solve this problem easily by using a UTM-builder and putting tags on all the links on social media that refer to your website. Google’s URL builder can also be a huge help with putting tags to the referral links.
404 server responses
Broken links such as 404 servers responses are a very common problem which occurs on websites in general. If someone visits your website and a 404 server response opens, the visitor usually leaves your website very fast and therefore the time on your website reduces and the failure rate increases. This, obviously leads to poor Analytics statistics which you won’t be able to explain in the first moment. Therefore, you should get rid of broken links. It’s easy to do so by using a scanning-software such as Screaming Frog. It scans your website and shows you all the broken links on it. After using the scanner, you can get rid of the broken links by simply removing them, replacing them with real links or making 301 redirects from the broken links to the new links.
Looking at the wrong metrics
Not a software -, program – or traffic-error but still a very common mistake that website-owners make is to look on the wrong metrics when using Analytics. Most people simply look on the visitors and pageviews to track the progress of their websites. This may seem easy and with a growing number of visitors and pageviews you may think your website is doing well when it’s actually not. Therefore, focus on the metrics that don’t seem to be that important in the first place – especially the bounce rate and the time that users spend on your website. Both of those metrics tell you whether visitors really interact with your website or simply leave a few seconds after clicking on your website. Based on those metrics, you can take action and work on your website. Remember – you have to see the whole picture when looking on the Analytics statistics!
Everyone hates spam and it can cause serious problems for the reports you get from Google Analytics once you fall victim to spam and don’t know yet. This goes especially for ghost spam references. As ghost spammers send fake data to your website, Analytics can also receive fake data. Therefore, you might think you’re getting more traffic than you actually are as the Google Analytics report may show metrics that are completely distinct from the real metrics. Most of the times, that leads to a bad conversion and false decisions. Getting rid of ghost spammers can be easy by using software and programs such as Loganix. It can also be helpful to activate Google Bot filtering on your website as it will automatically prevent all spam bots from accessing your website.
A / B testing
Positive A / B testing may seem like a powerful tool in order to get to know your audience better and apply new methods to make your website grow when in fact it’s acftually not. A / B testing just requires a lot of effort that you should rather invest into other tasks. First, you’ll need to have at least 1.000 monthly conversions in order to run A / B testing as you won’t see any results prior. Furthermore, you’ll have to run through at least five A / B tests as those will indicate whether your results are real or not. Lastly, once you come up with your results, you’ll most likely see that those are the results you already knew about prior. A / B testing is also not always correct – for example if many people visits your website but their leads are of low quality.
Leads instead of sales
Focusing on leads instead of sales can be a big mistake you can make when having a look on the report from Analytics. This obviously only applies if you run a campaign as Analytics will show you how many leads the specific campaign has brought. Leads are quite important but what’s even more important is your sales. Remember that the customer lifetime value is one the most important metrics to take into account.
High conversion costs
Your conversion costs can be quite high if the visitors of your website don’t click on the ads you run right away and rather wait for a few weeks or even months. That’s why you should analyze your Analytics reports on a weekly, monthly and yearly level in order to see how fast you’re able to convert a visitor into an actual customer. While doing so, remember to track your sales by using tags for ad-links as Analytics might not count those as direct traffic.
Cross Domain error-codes
If you have set up a sales funnel which runs on several domains, you should be careful: Analytics can mix multiple domains or subdomains up with each other which will lead to Analytics reports that are not even close to the real numbers. An Analytics report disaster is the result as you won’t be able to work with the numbers being provided by Analytics at all! Therefore, you should take cross domain tracking into account. An easy way of handling the problem is to switch over to Universal Analytics and starting to use the autoLink Plugin. With autoLink, you’ll be able to specify domains and subdomains in order to track those separately and not have them mix up with each other. Also, a very easy solution is to use the Google Tag Manager – a program which allows you to put tags to all domains and subdomains for easy tracking. Analytics will then get its results simply by tracking the clicks on the link the tag is set up with. This solution will let you be able to stay on Analytics and not having to switch to Universal Analytics.
Very low bounce rate
For amateurs, a low bounce rate might seem very nice in the first moment but in facts a too low bounce is always a sign for something not working the way it should. A typical and “healthy” bounce rate should be between 60 % and 80 % – it can of course vary depending on the type of website but this is just the average. But if your bounce rate metrics on Analytics are suddenly dropping and staying on a low, you should be concerned that something is not right. This goes especially for bounce rates below 20 %. First, you should see if your Analytics is connected to two instances with the same code snippet for the same property. This sometimes happens with wordpress-websites as you need to connect those to Analytics by implementing a code. Keeping this in mind, you should also see if Google Tag Manager is running simultaneously while a code is connecting to your property.
Conflicts with scrips running on the specific website
Most websites have other scripts such as java scripts running on them. If the variables of those scripts are the same as the variables that Analytics is using, there might be conflicts between those scripts. Those conflicts can simply lead to wrong numbers showing up in your Analytics report. Therefore, connecting your website to Analytics should always be done before customizing your website and having other scripts run on your website. If a defect is occurring after you took a change to your website, customized it or installed a new script on it, you should run a background check to see where exactly this defect is coming from and potentially uninstall the specific script. Running a background check on your website can be easy by using a program such as Analytics debugger for Chrome.
Page duplicates in analytics report
Page duplicates are a fairly common defect that can occur when using Analytics. Duplicates are usually a result of page visitors typing in your websites URL manually. If they do so and by mistake use capital letters instead of lowercase letters or vice-versa, Analytics will track those URL separately and therefore, your Analytics report will also show separate numbers and results. Therefore, you should set up a custom filter in Analytics, which will force all URLs to lowercase letters. This will lead to Analytics automatically summarizing all numbers for only one page. Creating a filter is simple as you don’t need any program or software outside of Analytics.
Internal traffic being displayed in the analytics reports
Your own traffic to your website can also show up in the Analytics report, which is why you can also be responsible for wrong statistics. Especially for small websites with only a few visitors this is something important to take into account. You can simply avoid being included in the Analytics report by using a browser-plugin, which will block your IP from being tracked by Analytics.