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Your Google Analytics Could be Double-Counting Your Traffic.

John Doe

John Doe

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Your Google Analytics Could be Double-Counting Your Traffic.

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Google Analytics is the industry standard for measuring your site’s traffic and user behavior. It offers a fairly user-friendly view of how many users your site has garnered, where they’re from, how they got there, and how long they stay. However, Google Analytics has a major operational flaw that most people assume Google would be smart enough to figure out. You won’t see it in your dashboard and they won’t tell you it’s happening either, but it could mean that your accidentally double-counting nearly all of your metrics.

If you have had a sudden spike in traffic that never goes away or if your bounce rate is less than 50%, you could have Google Analytics installed twice.

Of course, you’re no fraudster and you would never attempt to inflate your pageviews, so how did this happen? This is an unfortunately extremely common issue we see across thousands of sites each month. It typically goes like this: When you first started your site, you signed up for Google Analytics, followed their instructions and manually entered your unique Google Analytics tracking code snippet in the header section of your website. Set it and forget it. A few months/years later you may have found out that there’s a whole sea of plugins to track and analyze your traffic. Either the Google Analytics plugin itself or another tool like Monster Insights, Jetpack Analytics, etc. Using plugins can be great, but those plugins add in another instance of your Google Analytics tracking code, so you end up with two, three, four or more of the same tracking ID plus the original code snippet you manually installed. BOOM! Now you’re double, triple, or quadruple counting your traffic and your Google Analytics dashboard is non-the-wiser. It just keeps counting how many times that tracking code gets called and spitting out the data to it’s interface.

If you have your unique Google Analytics ID installed twice on your website, you’ll see double the pageviews per visit and lower-than possible bounce rates. Industry standard bounce rates are around 70–80% (yes the way GA calculates bounce rate is weird). If your bounce rates are 0–50% you know something is wrong.

How to check if Google Analytics is installed more than once?

Luckily it’s easy to troubleshoot this issue, we’ll walk you through the steps so you can know for sure what your traffic really looks 

Step 1: Open your site in Google Chrome or Apple Safari

-Step 1a: Chrome: Right-click on the page and select View Page Source.

-Step 1b: Safari: Go to Safari > Preferences > Advanced — check the box that says “Show Develop menu in menu bar.” Then, with your website open, click the menu item Develop > Show Page Source.

Now you’re looking at your website code

Step 2: Search for the Google Analytics tracking ID

On a Mac, use Command + F, and on a PC, use Control + F

Search for “UA-” (stands for Universal Analytics) This is the beginning of your Google Analytics tracking ID.

If your search yields only one section of code that has the Google Analytics tracking code snippet, you’re fine. See example below:

If your search yields 2 different places of UA- or more than 2 instances of the UA- code, you’re likely double-installed. See example(s) below:

This is an example of a double installation. Notice two UA- instances are found but they are in separate locations.
From the same site, you can see the second snippet of UA- code is being injected by a plugin called “Jetpack”

Still not sure you’re double counting? You can go into your Google Analytics interface and click on Settings and go to your “tracking code” section in your property settings. Get your tracking ID and search for that ID using the steps above.

Fixing a Google Analytics Double Installation

If you have the Google Analytics plugin installed, but don’t use it on your WordPress Dashboard, simply uninstall it and that will remove its instance of Google Analytics. Inversely, if you use Google Analytics WP Dashboard you will need to manually remove the script you had originally installed in the header section of your website.

Uninstalling the Google Analytics Plugin (WordPress)

Step 1: Log into the back-end of your site if you’re using WordPress
Step 2: Go to Plugins > Installed Plugins.
Step 3: Find the Google Analytics plugin in your list of plugins,
Step 4: Click “Deactivate” > “Delete”
Step 5: Celebrate 🙂

Removing the Google Analytics Script

Step 1: Log into the back-end of your site if you’re using WordPress
Step 2: Go to Appearance > Editor.
Step 3: Scroll through the long list of themes until you find “header.php” and click on it.

Step 4: Locate the first <head> tag and search for the original Google Analytics script provided in your Google Analytics dashboard.
Step 4a: If you need to find your Google Analytics script go into your GA dashboard and click on Admin > Property > Tracking > Tracking Code

Step 5: Back in your header.php file, delete ONLY the GA snippet. Deleting anything else in this space could crash your site (not stressful at all). If you’re not totally confident in your deleting abilities, make sure your site is backed up in case something goes wrong. Similarly, you can copy and paste the entire header.php code into a txt editor just in case you need to go back to what was there previously.
Step 6: Save
Step 7: Pat self on back.

Become a Google Analytics Expert

Verifying You’ve Solved the Problem

Load your website developer view again and search for your “UA-” tracking code. If you’re still seeing a double instance, clear your cache/cookies and try again. You should now only see one tracking ID for your site.

Congratulations, now you’re tracking the true amount of pageviews. You should see changes in your Google Analytics next-day. Your pageviews will drop and your bounce rate will slide back up into the 70–80% range. This will ensure your Pageview RPM from your ads is accurate and you’ll have a better idea of how you can best monetize your audience.

Thanks for reading!

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