Sometimes big data tells big lies.
Google Analytics can provide incredible comprehension as to who is visiting your site, what they're doing, what they're looking at and where they're getting bored and moving on. It can tell you how long someone's been on a page or how they got to your page in the first place. The benefits to marketers are invaluable. We can see which content is the most popular, which blogs are being read, which topics get the most attention, which social media platform is the most fruitful and so many other insights that drive future digital marketing and sales efforts.
For example, if we see a trend in our site's data that users are going right from the home page to a product's page, stay on it for a few minutes then leave the site – that's an opportunity for improvement. Is there anything that could be modified on that page to keep the user engaged? Perhaps the call to action needs to be more prominent, or offer something a bit more tempting.
But, here's where things can get sticky.
Internal Traffic Counts, Unless You Tell Google Analytics It Doesn't
By default, Google Analytics tracks every visitor on your site, which is helpful when learning about your users (as mentioned above). But wait just a second; that means you're also getting data on yourself. Everyone in your office. All of your remote sales reps. Their actions on your site get incorporated with all your clean data.
Internal traffic data can quickly cloud your vision. Once that happens, it's harder to see what your customers are doing on your site. It's harder to see if a topic is popular with your readers, or just with you. And, it's harder to improve the user experience when you're not clearly seeing what they want.
We want the truth! The good news is that you can (and should) suppress your internal traffic. Here's how.
1Collect IP Addresses
For every place where employees will access the site, you'll need that location's IP address. Luckily, all you have to do is Google "What is my IP Address" while connected to the internet at that location and it'll be right there. You don't need to go crazy getting every single remote employee, but be sure to include primary offices or branches.
2Create the Filter on Google Analytics
Sign into your Google Analytics Account and click "Admin" in the side menu. Under Account, click "All Filters." Then, click the "Add Filter" button.
Enter your filter name and keep the defaulted selection as "Predefined." Select "Exclude" for your filter type.
Select "traffic from the IP addresses" as your source.
Select "that are equal to" for your expression.
Type or paste the IP address in the ISP Domain field.
Add all applicable views that you want to suppress to "Selected Views" then hit the "Save" button.
3Repeat Step 2 for Every Unique IP Address You Have
It may seem tedious, especially if you have a long list, but having them all separate will make it easier to change individual info in the event someone moves or changes providers. Because IP addresses can change, we recommend updating your filters every six months.
4Add an Annotation
Skipping this step won't undo your progress, but it's so nice to see context in Google Analytics without having to remember everything you did along the way.
From the home screen, click "Audience" then "Overview" in the side menu.
Beneath the Users graph, click the arrow to open the drop-down menu. Add your note and save the annotation.
A new speech bubble will now appear on the timeline, providing valuable context in case your data does change.
What to Expect
Don't freak out, but some of your numbers may go down after you do this. It can seem upsetting to see a drop in sessions, especially when having to tell your boss or team, but this is a good thing in the long run. You're kicking out all of the wedding crashers so that your guests can enjoy the party more. And this doesn't mean that your employees can't use the website, you've just told Google not to track their movements on the site when they do visit.
So, what is the most popular web browser among visitors? Do they prefer visiting the site using a mobile device or desktop? Are people getting confused when they reach a landing page? Are they reading our content? How many new sessions came from LinkedIn this month?
Now that you have clean data, you can get honest answers from Google Analytics.