#1: The dark side of your Google Analytics data

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This is the first Google Analytic insight from the data team of heybooster to make sense of your Google Analytics data, and we will keep posting every Thursday!

Let’s start with data accuracy. Google Analytics data help you to make data-driven decisions.

  • Why users visit your site, how they navigate and where are they dropping off?

  • What’s the trend for new users?

  • Which type of product is the most popular and increase your sales?

  • Which traffic source assists in boosting your sales?

The answers to all these above-mentioned questions can easily be found on google analytics. This can be used to strengthen your marketing strategy and hit your goals.

But what if the generated data is not 100% accurate and untrustworthy?

In 2013 The Atlantic found that 25% of their traffic was unexplained. This black hole traffic was first referred to as dark traffic by the Atlantic tech editor Alex.

This was the first research done in this area, but it paved the way for others to further explore and do their own research. In 2016, Groupon decided to do a very risky test to find the answer to “should the SEO traffic count as direct traffic?” Which is a critical question cos direct traffic blocks the credit of SEO performance? They de-indexed their web site on Google! (Please don’t try at home) After a few hours, the results showed that %60 of the SEO traffic counts as direct traffic. They reported the results and found that the biggest problems are mostly wrongly categorized browsers and devices. You can check the full story is here.

So how can you be sure that your data is as accurate as possible? This is what we’re working on these days at heybooster to point out the inaccurate tracking issues.

For data lovers, let’s define dark traffic. Dark traffic is any web traffic that’s not attributed to a knowledge source.

Some of the data reasons for these situations are;

  • Linking between http to https sites.

  • Links in offline documents such as pdf, word, etc…

  • GA code wasn’t added to your new landing page or redirect traffic to the other pages.

  • Traditional media campaigns (especially on TV ads) can cause direct traffic.

  • Links shared in messenger apps such as Facebook, Whatsapp, Slack, Skype, etc…

  • Even office IP traffic can be of the reason for direct traffic.

There is no way to block all the direct traffic but you can get things under control by using UTM links. You might want to consider using Google’s URL builder and Chrome extension to speed up the URL creating process.

Here is how it gets wrongly reported on a real e-commerce account. As you see below, %12.7 of traffic and %29 of the revenue comes from direct traffic. In other words, %29 revenue comes from users who type the URL directly into the search bar.

So, let’s check out the landing page to see which pages are typically typed in directly by the user. 12.57% of the users land on to search page, and only 3% of them landed on the login page directly. Why do people bookmark rather than type directly into the search bar? Do you type in the search bar each time! Most probably, the user also doesn’t.

In a nutshell, Google Analytics is one of the best insight tools, but don’t forget you only get out what you put in.

I’m here to assist you to do your best! If I can be of any further assistance especially on analyze data in Google Analytics, please don’t hesitate to say hey! on LinkedIn and lets surf in the data ocean together 🏄💨

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