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When Google Analytics Is Wrong and How You Can Fix It

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When Google Analytics Is Wrong and How You Can Fix It

Have you got Google Analytics hooked up to your website?

I am sure that all of you have, well maybe some of you may not, so run off now and get that sorted and then come back.

Google Analytics is the go-to resource for keeping tabs on your website traffic, what people look at, how they move around your site and how they go there.

So we need to know that the information we are looking at in our data is correct. Now before you roll your eyes because Google Analytics is not really a very appealing topic, as business owners we know we need to be keeping tabs on our web traffic data, just like we do all other metrics in our business.

So are you 100% confident that what Google is telling you is your website traffic, actually is your website traffic?

A new client recently came to me because they were worried that their web traffic inside Google was incorrect. They have a large member based site, and they sell advertising slots within their site. The problem was that over the last six months, the data relating to ad impressions inside the ad tool they used did not match up with the data inside Google Analytics.

In fact, it was widely different to their ad impression data.

Google Analytics had inflated results, and they did not know where to start looking nor did they fully understand how that was possible. This was critical for them to resolve as they were about to enter into new contracts with their advertisers and needed to be 100% across the data they were presenting them with.

All analytics tools track data slightly differently. Whilst Google Analytics is the most widespread tool, there are other tools, and each of them treats activity on your website slightly differently resulting in anomalies in data. However, the issue with my new client was more than a few anomalies. It actually was a large difference.

This difference was bot traffic.

It turns out that they did not realise that you can tell Google to stop the bots (not stop the boats, Tony) and they also didn’t realise how you can scan for bot traffic.

How to get Google Analytics to turn off the bots.

This is a simple process when you know how, but unfortunately, many business owners don’t realise they can do this, or how to do it. It is also unfortunate that this client’s web developer also did not know they needed to do this.

To turn on bot filters:

  1. Go into the admin area of Google Analytics account.
  2. Go into VIEW settings.
  3. Tick the box to filter out Spam and Bot Traffic.

That’s it!

This solves the problem going forward, but Google Analytics cannot retroactively amend your historical data.

So what could be done to fix the problem now, how could they arrive at more reliable data right now that they needed for their reports to advertisers?

The solution to this dilemma was setting up a segment to filter out the rubbish.

How to create a segment in Google Analytics.

So here is a little techy tip for you that is worthwhile if you discover your website traffic has been inflated by some pesky bots:

  1. Dive into Audience Overview and click on Add Segment.
  2. Click on the Red NEW Segment button.
  3. In the segment name area type in Remove the BOTS.
  4. Click on Advanced Conditions and then in the Sessions drop-down area, type HOSTNAME into the search area and then select HOSTNAME from the results below.
  5. Leave contains and then drop in your URL, e.g. yourdomainname.com.au click on or and then do this again, except change the domain to be www.yourdomainname.com.au
  6. Click SAVE.

You have now created your first segment, and the data you are seeing will be the data that is coming directly to your site from a real person and not a spammy bot.

To do a comparison between what was your data and what is your data:

  1. Go up to the top of the screen and click on the segment drop-down to remove the segment and see all of your data.
  2. Click on the ADD segment box and choose your new segment.

Now you can see a comparison between your real data and spam.

You can see this spilt in Audience, Acquisition and Behaviour areas of Google Analytics.

Knowing our numbers give us so much power in our business, just make sure that you can trust those numbers.

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