This post is the fourth in an ongoing series about Google
Analytics. As we proceed, I’ll share tips on how you can use this tool
to gain more insight into your online marketing. I’ll start off with the
basics, but then we’ll get into some advanced techniques.
you’re not yet familiar with Google Analytics, it’s a free tool from
Google that you can add to your site to give you information about how
people are coming to your website and how they behave when they get
there. Read the first post for an overview of the Dashboard and the second and third posts for a tour through some of the most useful reports around visitors & even more exciting reports about visitors
Now let’s refine what visitors we’re looking at. In its default state, Google Analytics tracks all activity on your website. You might find that employees or volunteers at your organization use your website frequently throughout the day. Their usage patterns are likely very different from those of your constituents, and you’re looking to track constituent engagement, not employee engagement. (Well, tracking employee engagement is great too, but Google Analytics is not the tool for that!). Most organizations would rather see information on just external visitors and remove the traffic from inside the organization.
If you haven’t already filtered out your internal traffic, this post will cover how to set up that filter and track what affects it has on your data.
First, check with your IT person to see if your IP address is static or dynamic. Your home internet service probably gives you a temporary IP address which changes regularly. That is a dynamic IP. That is difficult to block in Google Analytics . Your office might have a dedicated IP address that does not typically change. Your IT person should be able to tell you which you have and what the IP address is.
Now, go into Google analytics and add a new profile (not a new account). When changing settings like this, it is best to make the changes on a test profile. This filter may affect your key metrics, and you’ll want to make sure to be able to quantify the effect it has made on your data.
Be sure to select “Add a profile for an existing domain”. Leave the URL & time zone information the same as your existing profile, and name it something like “Internal Traffic Filter”. Save and you’ll return to the main screen.
Now, select “edit” next to your new profile. Scroll down to the filter section and click on “add a filter”.
Select “add a new filter”, name it something having to do with removing internal traffic, use the predefined filter to exclude traffic from the IP address that your IT department has given you. Then save your changes, and your filter should be set up.
If your main profile has any other filters applied to it, copy those to your test profile as well.
After a couple of days, look to make sure your test profile has removed visits. Take a note of the number of visits and pageviews the filter has removed. If it is a noticeable percentage, wait for about a month of data and record the changes the filter has made. This may come in handy if monthly or yearly comparisons are made and people wonder why traffic dropped.
Take a look at any other metrics you track regularly and see if there has been a significant change. For example, if you filtered out a lot of internal visits that included a large number of page views per visit, that could significantly reduce your average pageviews per visit. Average time on site and percentage of new versus recurring visitors could also be affected. Once again, if there are noticeable changes in any of the metrics your organization pays attention to, gather about a month of data in both profiles and calculate and record the change the filter has made in the data.
After you have recorded the deltas in your benchmark metrics, you have 2 options.
1. Leave both profiles up. Add goals and any other customizations you have to the new profile. This will allow you to see your original data any time you would like. This does mean that any other filters or goals you set up in one account would need to be replicated in the other.
2. Add the IP filters to your original profile & delete the newer test profile. If you did not see significant changes or had not done historical benchmarking, it might not be worthwhile to maintain two profiles.
Do not delete your original profile. Profiles only have data going forward from when they were created. If you keep the new one and delete the old one, you will lose a lot of historical data.
Check back next month for more Google analytics tips for nonprofits! Post a comment if you’ve seen a change in your metrics after excluding internal traffic.