Five Google Analytics filters you should be using
By Emma Hanes
Website data is particularly important for solo practitioners and small law firms. To compete with much larger firms, small law practices need to closely watch website user behavior and react quickly to positive or negative trends. Additionally, without quality data, law firms simply can’t make informed decisions about website content, updates, or design. All law firms, but especially small ones with limited marketing budgets and smaller numbers of staff, need to be able to hold their outsourced vendors accountable. Most law firms do not employ anyone who understands how to accurately measure digital success— aside from watching how many new cases come in. The bottom line is that you can’t even know if your website is performing well without meaningful data. However, not all data can be trusted. There are five Google Analytics filters that need to be put in place to ensure your website data is accurate so you can make informed decisions.
1. Internal IP Filter—If you have ever visited your own website, then you need to be using an internal IP filter. You don’t want the time you or your employees spend on your website to be counted like regular users, so you need to set up a filter to exclude your own visits. You do this by creating a filter that excludes all visits conducted on a certain IP address. Typically, all computers at one workplace share an IP address, so you only need to create one filter. Not sure what your IP address is? You can just search “What is my IP?” on Google.
2.Valid Hostname—Spam is incredibly tricky these days. To see this firsthand, all you have to do is visit the Audience section of your Google Analytics account. Select “Technology” and then “Network.” Finally, right above the chart, select “Hostname.” Any hostname listed that isn’t your website URL is probably spam.
Some of these hostnames might be listed as “Facebook” or “Google Services,” but these names are designed to trick people into thinking the traffic is legitimate. To ensure all your website visits are coming from actual hits and not spam, you need to create a filter that only includes visits with valid or real hostnames. This will include your website, chat functions like NGage, or other pop-ups you utilize on your site.
3. Crawler Filters—Crawler spam is a website visit by a bot. Some marketing companies will send bots to your site, which are similar to the Googlebots that crawl your webpages for indexing. Companies that use these bots send spam traffic hoping a web developer or marketing professional will see the website visit and click through to the referral source. The websites you are directed to are generally trying to sell marketing services. This might seem like a roundabout and tedious way to drum up clients, but sadly it works all the time. Once your law firm becomes the client of a company like this, they use your website URL as a mask for their own referrals. This helps hide the robot visits, making things look more legitimate, thus increasing their odds of getting clicks-through and clients.
4. Language and Page Title Spam— I’ve said it once, but I’ll say it again: spam is incredibly tricky these days. Fake visits and robot visits run amok on websites that do not actively update Google Analytics filters. Luckily, spam is easy to filter out with knowledge of a few variables. Two types of spam—called language spam and page title spam—can easily be filtered out by defining which languages and page titles are acceptable and which are not.
5.Android Traffic Filter—Not all filters are designed to simply exclude traffic. Websites should put an Android traffic filter in place to ensure website data is correctly categorized. Unfortunately, website visits on Android phones sometimes show up as third-party referrals rather than organic traffic. This can be problematic, particularly considering how much inbound website traffic is driven by mobile devices. By installing an Android traffic filter, you can ensure all website visits are attributed to the correct acquisition source.
Law Firm Google Analytics Experts
Creating filters is not a set-it-and-forget-it type of thing. The reality is spammers are constantly trying to find ways around filters, and webmasters and marketing professionals must continually update filters to adapt to changes. A reputable digital marketing vendor that regularly monitors your Google Analytics should be able to immediately spot suspicious traffic and stop it in its tracks. The more you regularly monitor your website’s analytics, the more familiar you will become with traffic sources and the easier it will be to spot spam. TBJ This article was originally published on the Stacey E. Burke blog and has been edited and reprinted with permission.
EMMA HANES is a Google-certified professional at Stacey E. Burke, P.C., a marketing agency dedicated to serving small- to medium-sized law firms. She is a published writer, content specialist, and search engine optimization expert and has helped clients across a variety of practice areas and legal industry markets. TBJ