Google Analytics Ecommerce Setup Checklist

Setting Up Google Analytics

Introduction

This checklist, part of our Pulling It Together ecommerce website series, takes you through creating and configuring your Google Analytics instance.

Why do we need this done?

Regardless of whether or not we decide to do paid advertising, we need to be aware of what people on our website are doing. Install it immediately and get the benefits right off the bat.

We will be using Google Analytics as our website analytics vendor. GA as it is called is free and powerful enough for most businesses’ needs. Start familiarizing yourself with its interface today.

What do you need to know?

Let’s not get confused about Google’s many brands

First, a note. Google has a lot of products and unfortunately their names all sound the same. It may get really confusing especially when we start linking them together later on. Just bear with me here! I will list them all here for future reference.

Throughout this entire guide we will at some point mention:

  • Google Analytics (the analytics product for which this specific checklist is about)
  • Google AdWords (the umbrella brand for all of Google’s individual advertising products)
  • Google Search Ads (the ads people most associate with Google)
  • Google DoubleClick (a brand within AdWords for a specific type of ad – display ads)
  • Google PLAs / Shopping Ads (another brand within AdWords for a specific type of ad)
  • Google Merchant Center (a tool for servicing the aforementioned Google Shopping Ads)
  • Google Search Console (for SEO)

How GA works

Google Analytics might look super sophisticated at first glance but is at its core pretty simple. There is some code on your website that sends information about your site’s visitors to GA. Without additional configuration, this info is pretty basic:

  • Where they are from
  • How long are they spending on your site
  • What pages they visited
  • Basic browser info (device type, some generic location info, etc.)

How does GA know who comes from where? For some sources it knows automatically, like visits from the Google search engine. For others, it is able to guess.

But for a lot of channels, it has no idea unless you tell it. For that you use “query strings”, which attach to the end of a URL. You call it a “query string” because add it after a question mark. We can talk more about what that specifically means later on but just be aware that it exists and we can customize it to tell GA exactly what the source sending traffic to your website is.

It is pretty manual work, but the reward is the knowledge of how your various marketing channels are performing on the top and bottom lines.

The deliverables and why

Have you set up a Google Analytics account and created a dedicated property and view for your shop?

GA has 3 levels of hierarchy so to keep your various websites’ data organized:

account —> property —> view.

I would like to have all a website’s traffic data placed within 1 property and view. If you want to track blog traffic separately, then maybe you can split it into its own property.

If it has not already been done, create a new set by going to “Admin” and adding an account and then a property. When you create a property, you will receive what GA calls a “tracking ID”.

The tracking ID is given to you in this eight-number format:

UA-xxxxxxxx-1

GA gives you recommendations on installing the tracker. For Shopify entrepreneurs, go to:

https://{ name of your shop}.myshopify.com/admin/online_store/preferences

You will see a dedicated section for Google Analytics for your Tracking ID.

You will eventually do the same thing for a Facebook pixel ID too but that is for later.

Create your website conversion goals on GA

I am looking to see if we have flagged a few steps within the web conversion funnel as Goals. This is so that we can review the performance of the “steps” within our web conversion funnel across different traffic sources by putting actual numbers to it. While the Shopify-GA integration sends this info to GA in the form of Events, Goals work better for what we want but needs some additional configuration.

Shopify’s naming for its Events are pretty standard. Every Event has a Category, Action and Label. For your website funnel Goals, look at the Event Action names:

  • Viewed Product Category
  • Viewed Product
  • Performed Search
  • Added Product
  • Started Order
  • Added Payment
  • Completed Order

These map well to our aforementioned web conversion funnel steps. You can set up your Goal to tag the Event by Event Action name. This is done within the View submenu in the Admin panel.

Goals data is not retroactive so the sooner we do this the better. Having historical data can help us determine what to expect from paid advertising.

Filter out self-referrals

This is a piece of housekeeping but super helpful later. I have noticed that in Shopify accounts, you are not able to see the true source of a website conversion because the source is listed as a referral from your own website.

{your site .com} / referral

Obviously your own website did not create this order – it came from somewhere. This is frustrating but easily fixed. Go to your Admin page and then find the “Tracking Info” link under your website’s “Property” section. (It is under “Property Settings” link). There will be a dropdown of some additional resources, one of which is called “Referral Exclusion List”. Click on that.

Using the red button, add your website as well as “checkout.shopify.com” and if you are accepting PayPal as a payment method, “paypal.com”.

Since you are here already, might as well filter out some spam too.

Filter out spam

Add these two links to your Referral Exclusion List while you are at it:

  • lifehacĸer.com
  • reddit.com

If you notice, while it might seem like these are legitimate sites there are Russian characters in the URLs. This is because these are Russian spam links that fill your GA instance with useless, fake traffic. They throw off your data and make it seem like your website is doing a lot better than it really is. Save yourself the future befuddlement and block them from your GA records.

There will be more in the future, exclude them as they come up. You can identify them because they have a 0% bounce rate and do not spend a lot of time on your website.

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