Troubleshooting Common Google Analytics Problems & Questions

I wonder how many questions we all ask every day? I imagine it must be quite a lot. From ‘how are you?’ to ‘do you like this song?’, ‘would I want a link from this site?’ to ‘would you like to sign the deal?’. We are inquisitive and would never succeed in anything if we didn’t ask questions. So I wanted to take some of the common questions I get asked about Google Analytics and answer them for you.

My bounce rate is fantastic, is it because my website is so good?

Usually, a very low bounce rate is a sign that there is a problem with the tracking code. Around or under 10% suggests there are two pageviews being tracked on the page affected, the simple way to check this is to look at the source code and use the Find function to search for UA-, if there is more than one they need to be using what’s called ‘roll up reporting’ where each tracker is labelled to send the data in to different accounts. If there are two unmodified versions of the code then removing one set, or implementing roll up reporting should fix you unusually low bounce rate.

Additionally, bounce rate can be affected by Event Tracking as this counts as an interaction on the page, so always bear this in mind when installing Event Tracking code.

Can I track form submissions?

There are different methods you can use to track form submissions. The best being to have the form generate a thank you page to confirm form completion which says thanks to your user for filling in the form, and also generates on its own URL that you can use to set up a URL specific goal.

If you can’t set up a thank you page then you can use Event Tracking to track when people click the submit button. You can set it out as simply as this and place it within the code for the submit button:

onClick=”_gaq.push([‘_trackEvent’, ‘Contact Form’, ‘Submit’]);”

 Can I track clicks on this link?

Again, nice and easy, tracking clicks on links to external websites should be done using Event Tracking, as above, but this time you could use code like this:

onClick=”_gaq.push([‘_trackEvent’, ‘Advertisement’, ‘External Link Clicked’, ‘SEO Chick Link’]);”

What is (not set)?

This usually means that some ads running are not tracked correctly.  If you’re using AdWords, check that you have set up Auto Tagging, or manually tagged the ads with the correct information, and that you have linked Adwords and Analytics correctly. If you are using another advertising platform, the ads are likely to need to be tagged with tracking code manually. Tagging can be manually created using Google’s URL Tool Builder.

Why is my website on the list of referral sites?

Your website will appear on the list of referral sites when one or more of the pages of your site do not have the tracking code on them By clicking the site where it is listed you can sometimes find out which pages the problem is on, however, only the pages seeing traffic will be shown so it’s best to run a full check on your site to see if there is the correct UA code on every page. One way to do this is to crawl a list of URLs of your site using Screaming Frog SEO Spider and applying a custom setting to find the pages with your UA code and those without.

Where has all my traffic gone?!

If you see a drop in activity, there are a number of factors that could have caused this. You will need to rule out each one to identify the cause of the decrease in activity.

First, I would recommend you check for whether it is a decrease from all traffic sources, or one in particular. If it is just one, you can then look for why this might have happened – did a Google algorithm update reduce your Google organic traffic? Did you run out of money in your AdWords account? Did traffic from a referral site suddenly reduce?

If all traffic sources decreased relatively equally, I would then go on to check whether all pages of the site saw a similar decrease to each other or whether it was a certain set of pages that were affected.

Once you know which pages were affected, check that the tracking code is correct  across the site. Ask the developer if any changes have been made to the site that might have affected the tracking. If the tracking all looks perfect now, it may be that duplicate code has just been removed, or that another domain was also using that UA code.

To check which domains are using the UA code for your account follow these navigation steps:

  1. Audience
  2. Technology
  3. Network
  4. Hostname (the link above the data)

You can then see a list of the sites that have recorded visits with your UA code. Translation websites are normal to see here, as are your various subdomains if you have any. Check however, that there are no other sites on this list,

If you cannot identify the cause from the above, start looking through the other reports, such as device, browser, location, to spot any anomalies. On more than one occasion I have found that the drop off is specific to one location and browser (through creating an advanced segment for those that saw the decrease together). There will sometimes be a low new visit rate, meaning that one computer has been accessing the site a significant amount but then changes the habit.

Why is the data from Analytics different to AdWords?

Never fully trust the data if you didn’t go out and get it yourself. I always work to the fact that Analytics and AdWords PPC data will be different and there are many reasons to support this:

  • Analytics can only track visits from browsers with JavaScript and cookies enabled
  • AdWords tracks clicks, not visits
  • Clicks in AdWords could result in no page loading, or the user leaving before it loads
  • Invalid clicks in AdWords are filtered out of the reports, but may have tracked as visits in Analytics
  • Conversion data will be different due to Analytics using last click attribution and AdWords using first click attribution

So there you have the answers to some common analytics problems. I’ve not linked to a guide to each solution otherwise I might as well have just listed them to start with (nothing to do with the fact that I wrote this on the train with no internet connection, honest!). I hope this helps answer some of your queries and get you the information you need from your Google Analytics.

Tags: google analytics