Eight Google Analytics myths debunked


Michael Hope

Analytics and Data Science

1. Tracking code implementation will be a nightmare

It is a common misconception that implementing Google Analytics will be an arduous and complicated process, which takes months to get live.

While it is true that implementation can get complicated when adding bespoke coding elements tailored to your site, a basic implementation is in fact simple both to spec out and get in place.

Google Analytics tracking code

Google Analytics requires only a small snippet of JavaScript code to be added to each page on your site. Once this code, which is provided within the GA interface, is implemented on every page reporting data will start to populate your reports in your GA profile.

Obviously the more advanced features that you wish to implement to improve your level of reporting the more changes to the tracking code that are required. However the majority of these features are not too difficult to implement and support documentation is readily available.

2. Google Analytics isn’t accurate

NEWSFLASH – no analytics package will ever be 100% accurate. Data discrepancies between internal systems and analytics will always happen and this is the nature of the way they collect data.

Most analytics packages rely on JavaScript and cookies to be able to track visits to sites and while this method provides a reliable stream of tracked data it is never going to be perfect. The problem lies in the fact that we cannot control what the user does. If a user doesn’t allow cookies, or disables JavaScript, Google Analytics wont be able to track them and neither will other packages.

It is also important to understand that the implementation of Google Analytics will affect the data accuracy. If you haven’t added the code to all pages on your site GA wont be able to record these. Likewise if the code is incorrect, metrics and dimensions can be affected which will either inflate the actual figure or cause it to be under reported.

3. You get what you pay for – because if its free its no good

Yes Google Analytics is a free service but this doesn’t mean that its functionality, reporting abilities and uptime are affected. GA has a dedicated team constantly working and developing the product to ensure that it is the best offering in the market. The servers that GA works on are the same reliable servers that run google.com.

GA does offer a premium version of its service – however this is essentially the same, with nearly all features and reporting abilities present. The difference lies in the paid version having dedicated support, SLAs and no sample data.

4. Exporting data is difficult

Exporting data from Google Analytics is really simple. Not only is it simple but there are a wide range of formats available to a user. A user can export up to 5,000 rows of any report they are looking at simply by clicking the export tab at the top of each report page.

The data can be exported in six different formats including CSV, TSV, TSV for Excel, Excel (XLSX), Google Spreadsheets and PDF.

mh 2.docx

5. There is too much data to be able to report on specific information

It is understandable that many potential or new users of GA are daunted by the sheer amount of data that it can record. Many users think it will be difficult to find the exact information they are looking for within the interface and which reports they will need to use.

However this area is one in which I think GA really shines – it is usable and easy to learn. Once you understand the top level structure of where things can be found its just a case of knowing what each reporting section contains. The four main reporting sections (excluding real time) are:

  • Audience – Who my visitors are
  • Traffic Sources – Where my visitors have come from
  • Content – What my visitors did on my site
  • Conversions – What business objectives did they complete during their visit(s)

6. Google Analytics doesn’t have advanced features

This is definitely not true! As mentioned above Google has a large team solely dedicated to constantly developing GA and this includes implementing new advanced features that make the service more flexible, robust and insightful.

GA boasts over 100 standard reports and has the ability to create many more with its in-built custom report functionality. And with over 125 metrics and dimensions covering everything you will need to measure the success of your site, its certainly comprehensive.

GA also has many features that could be classed as advanced and provides extra insight into how your site is performing. This includes event tracking, virtual page views, cross/sub domain tracking, advanced segments, ecommerce tracking, custom variables and social media tracking to name a few.

7. Segmentation is too complicated

Google Analytics provides a few different ways to be able to segment data, each of which are not overly complicated to implement. The first method of segmenting data is creating specific profiles with detailed filters that only permit the information you’re seeking to populate the profile.

segmenting Google Analytics reports

The second method is to utilise the advanced segments that are available within the interface. These can be used across the majority of the reports. Advanced segments are split into two categories: default segments (publicly available) and custom segments, which can be created to show precisely the data you wish to see.

segment reports

8. Once it’s installed I’m on my own

Google Analytics has a wealth of support available from online documentation, certified partners (like us), email support, help forums and a dedicated help centre. Certified partners offer the best route for support as they are experts in the field and offer services such as:

  • Google Analytics implementations
  • Google Analytics audits
  • Consultancy – Issue resolution, new feature implementation
  • Reporting and insights
  • Training
  • Integration with other Google products


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