The birds are chirping, the flowers are blooming and the collective spring cleaning has started. Between scrubbing the windows and planting your garden, make sure to pencil in data cleaning as well.
While data cleaning might seem like an odd to-do for spring, rest assured it’s a must for anyone that uses data to analyze their marketing efforts. Consider this “data cleanse” as a refresh button for your analytics, allowing you to see a clearer view of your data and save time on sifting through hard to comprehend data. Instead, you can use that valuable time to produce actionable insights and show impact over time.
Like any spring cleaning project, the daunting part can be knowing where to start. Luckily, we’ve done that part for you. All you need to do is follow the simple steps below and clean data will be yours to analyze before the perennials bloom.
Step 1: URI Cleanup
In some cases, a website may have multiple URI’s for the same page. This can cause a headache for anyone trying to analyze traffic trends or conversions due to Google Analytics not being able to recognize the URI’s as the same page. For example, you may see a set of URI’s like:
Not to worry, there is a quick and simple way to correct this within Google Analytics by using these steps:
- In the Admin tab of a view, click into “Filters.” From here create a new filter and name it something like “All Lowercase URIs.”
- Choose a “Custom Filter Type.”
- Fill in the “Lowercase” bubble and select “Request URI” in the dropdown of the Filter Field.
- Select the “Verify this Filter" link to ensure the filter will change your data for the better and click save.
***PLEASE NOTE: filters can permanently alter your data, so be sure to test your profiles after you implement filters.
Step 2: IP Filters
IP filters are a great way to keep your GA Views clean. As a best practice, we recommend creating at least two views for every new site: one completely unfiltered profile (just to be safe) and one that filters out your internal IP addresses.
This helps ensure your GA Views include end-user data only when desired. Also, as previously mentioned, IP filters cannot be applied retroactively and permanently alter your data, so be sure to test to make sure your profiles are still recording data properly after filters have been implemented. That’s why we recommend creating an entirely unfiltered view just to be safe.
Step 3: Domain Referral Exclusions
Are you seeing “referrals” in your analytics profile that are coming from the same site you’re monitoring?
In Google Analytics Admin under the “Property Tracking” settings, you can add a “Referral Exclusion” for those domains to make your GA profile classify those visitors as Direct visitors to your site. By doing this it will help properly attribute traffic sources in GA profile to the appropriate channel.
Step 4: Exclude Spam Referrals
Does your site’s UA number end in “-1?” If so, you may be subject to spam referrals from fake websites.
Check your “Referrals” report for URLs like “darodar.com” or “buttons-for-website.com.” You can create filters in your GA views to block these spam referrals from your site by creating an “Include Only” filter for your site’s hostname or excluding referrals from those undesired domains.
Step 5: Delete Old Profiles and Star Popular Ones
Old Google Analytics properties and extraneous Views only stand to clutter your accounts. It’s OK to delete old GA properties (you still have a 35-day time period to change your mind), as it will help reduce the clutter in your account.
In addition, “Star” the properties you visit most frequently to allow for quick navigation through the long list of properties you monitor. It’s like a bookmarks bar for your favorite GA properties.
Step 6: Consolidating Advanced Segments
Do you create a lot of advanced segments and see them in all your GA properties? That’s because when you create advanced segments, the default setting applies them to every property you manage. That can get hairy when you monitor a lot of websites.
Do yourself a favor when creating new advanced segments and select the “Collaborators and I can apply in only this view” option before saving it. Also, like GA Properties, you can “Star” the advanced segments you utilize most frequently in a Google Analytics property.
Step 7: Webmaster Tool – Crawl Errors
Utilizing your Google Webmaster Tools Crawl Errors report can help you reduce the amount of 404 error pageviews that get recorded in your GA profile. This will help make your total pageviews report more clean and accurate.
Once you have followed the steps above to ensure clean data, you can shift your focus on how to best organize it. Having organized profiles will allow you to get the most out of your time. With more time comes more human analysis, which is what helps make the complex clear and allows for ease of understanding by all.
Additional Tips and Tricks:
If you’re thinking to yourself, “I’ve invested the time to clean my data, now where do I begin to organize it?,” have no fear. We’ve listed five of our tips and best practices to accomplish this painlessly.
- Goals allow you to more easily measure and/or compare site conversions across different traffic segments. For example, with your important site conversions organized as goals, you can quickly compare conversion rates across different device types or traffic sources.
- Alerts are a great way to monitor site health and notify you of important site occurrences even when you can’t dig into your profiles every day. Alerts can help call your attention to site errors, record highs in traffic or conversions and provide simple reminders when looking at your GA properties.
- When you share links to your site via email, social posts, blogs, banners, etc., it’s crucial to campaign tag those URLs using the Google URL builder: https://ga-dev-tools.appspot.com/campaign-url-builder/. If you don’t, you won’t be able to effectively attribute site visitors to your GA property.
- Create GA shortcuts for paths and searches that you complete regularly to easily access your favorite GA properties.
- Customized GA Dashboards are a great way to look at many different performance metrics on the same page and can be set up to automatically email specific addresses every day, week, month or quarter.
Now that you have clean and organized data, the fun part can begin – the cultivation of actionable insights to shape future priorities, identify areas that need more desired action and show impact over time. Once the spring cleaning is done, all you’ll need to worry about is what brunch has bottomless mimosas.
For more tips and insights on how to take your marketing from now to next, subscribe to our newsletter or contact Nicole Stone – Senior Vice President, Business Development at firstname.lastname@example.org or 414.270.7235.