Google Analytics is like a jigsaw in that we can have great fun and joy studying it, but it doesn’t come fully assembled out of the box. We need to piece it together bit by bit in order to create a more reliable picture of what’s really happening on our website. As standard, Google Analytics is lacking in accuracy because of:
- Cookie deletions or disabling,
- Server reporting errors,
- Private browsing,
- Cross device usage,
- Browser timeouts,
- And much more1
All this makes it difficult to track what’s happening on your site with any kind of certainty. Some of these are more important than others and some of these we can fix quite easily. One of the most important things, often-overlooked, but relatively easy to fix, is the inclusion of staff’s behavior in your Google analytics data.
Internal Traffic: A Cardinal Sin
Sometimes, your website is used by staff for information gathering, checking, referencing, answering customer queries and the like. Other times, there may not be a difference between the front and back end, with staff using the online checkout to process phone orders. Either way, if employees uses your website regularly for anything at all, you should remove that data from your analytics.
If you don’t remove your internal traffic from your Google Analytics metrics, you’ll skew your data and cloud your vision of what’s happening on your site.
Your Staff’s Sixth Sense
Staff that use your website regularly tend to know the site like the back of their hand. They know it from front to back, on a subconscious level. This means they’ll do things like:
- Skip over pages on their way to finding something in particular, improving your user journey stats.
- Use short cuts and workarounds when searching for information, helping hide the hard to find sections.
- They won’t read because they know where things are, so their average time spent on page is a lot less.
- They may use it a lot more, making your unique user engagement higher than it naturally is.
Staff will overlook nuances and navigate with efficiencies that casual users wouldn’t and they’ll do it all on a subconscious level because they’ve done it a million times before. This will warp your view of what’s happening and compromise your judgement of your sites performance.
How to Fix Internal Traffic Data Compromises
If you haven’t removed your internal traffic from your metrics yet, all is not lost. You can get things under control by filtering your internal IP address/es from your stats, like so:
1. Go to Admin:
2. Check in the ACCOUNT, PROPERTY and VIEW sections and make sure you’re viewing the correct website that you wish to disable the internal traffic for:
3. In the VIEW menu, on the right hand side, go to Filters:
4. Click + NEW FILTER.
5a. Make sure that Create new Filter is selected, then give your Filter a name. Use something recognisable like ‘Internal traffic’.
5b. Ensure that Predefined Filter is selected, then change traffic from the ISP domain to traffic from the IP address.
5c. Enter the IP address that you want to exclude and click Save.
Note: If your company has more than one IP address, you’ll need to create a new filter for each separate IP.
You’ll now see your new Filter in the Filters menu:
This won’t remove internal traffic retrospectively. In fact, nothing you do with Filters or Goals or Event tracking will work retrospectively. They’ll starts tracking from today, so whenever you make a change like this, use annotations to mark it on your timeline2
Accurate Data = Informed Decisions
Without removing your internal traffic from your Google Analytics data, you’re leaving yourself open to needless and unhelpful inaccuracies and errors. This will create an inconsistent picture of what’s happening on your website and cloud your decision making judgement. If you don’t have accurate information, you can’t make informed decisions. That’s the whole point in using something like Google Analytics in the first place, isn’t it?