There’s a good chance that Google Analytics is your source of truth in making digital business decisions. So trusting that data, relying on its authenticity, is vitally important.
Getting the basics right is worth even a minimum of your marketing team’s time (we’ll talk about intermediate and advanced analytics later). The suggestions below will allow greater utilization of reported data, along with best practices to keep that data reliable and valid for years to come.
Filter Out Internal Traffic
Recording your own website visits – or those of your internal team – will skew your reporting data (likely for ‘Direct’ traffic, which itself is a black hole of lost insight to begin with; a topic we’ll explore further in a dedicated post).
Gather up the IP addresses from yourself and your team (the non-technical approach is to simply Google ‘what is my ip address’), noting that either IPv4 or IPv6 will work. The difference here is a dot-decimal number for IPv4 (the original method developed back in 1981) while IPv6 is a longer hexadecimal colon-separated notation that will be the future of addresses.
Example IPv4 – 32.254.432.165
Example IPv6 – 3402:5bd6:0000:0000:0000:ee00:0034:6768
You’ll want to click that gear icon in the footer of Google Analytics to access the Admin settings. Filters are then set at the VIEW level, so navigate to that section and apply as shown below.
Data Collection for Remarketing
- Enable data collection for Search & Display Remarketing (this is not automatic), even if not running ads today, this will start gathering user data for future efforts
- This can be found in the ‘Data Collection’ section of Admin Property Settings
Appropriate User Management
- Ensure that anyone with access has the appropriate level of access
- Cleaning up previous contractors and ex-employees is always a good idea
- Be wary of group access, such as email@example.com since this could present a security issue if a team member leaves the group (you could then change the password and notify everyone else, though this really opens you up for mistakes)
Account Hierarchy for Data Preservation
Creating a View structure with inherent access levels can make user delegation that much easier. The below hierarchy allows control and flexibility among team members.
1. Raw View
- Serves as a data backup without any filters applied
- Lock down this view so only appropriate Admins have access to Edit
2. Test View
- Sandbox for testing out filters that permanently alter data (as compared with Segments that are temporary)
- Any major change to GA setup or filter should first be run exclusively through this View (isolating each change one at a time, if possible) to understand the impact before rolling out to the Master View
3. Master View
- Serves as a daily source of truth with appropriate filters applied
- This is the general dataset that internal staff and contractors will utilize
- Internal traffic excluded by IP
- Any redirects for URL consolidation (e.g., combining trailing slash with non-slash URLs)
- Bot traffic excluded (found under ‘View Settings’ at the bottom)
Consistent Campaign Tracking
Always use the Google URL Builder tool to ensure accurate tracking link generation and track internally on a shared document so everyone is using the same convention (same words, same lowercase convention in all parameters). Alternately you can use a platform tool like Oogur.com to manage your army of UTM variables.
The Future of Google Analytics
New on the horizon is Google’s recently announced Google Analytics 4 platform upgrade. Like most of you, I didn’t even know I was using v3, but giving the perception of an upgrade in the naming convention does lend itself to the feeling of progress. And I like progress. More data = empowered marketers = more causation, less correlation = improved business decisions.