How to Avoid False Conversions in Google Analytics?

How to Avoid False Conversions in Google Analytics?

Discover what are the false conversions in Google Analytics, how to avoid them, how might users be accidentally converting, how to protect destination-based goals from false conversions and more.

Avoiding False Conversions in Google Analytics

1) Preface

The first half of this post is a quick rundown of some of the standard ways in which your conversions could be going awry.

The second half of this post — everything after “How to filter conversions with Tag Manager” is an advanced way of intelligently filtering conversions using Tag Manager and cookies.

If you’re confident you’ve already covered your bases, feel free just to skip to the advanced section, I just feel it’s important to go through some of the basic stuff before diving into more complex solutions.

2) Avoiding false conversions

Aside from failing to record important data, one of the best ways to screw up your analytics is to record the wrong thing and lump it in with all the times you’ve recorded the right thing.

For example: if you’re counting conversions when you shouldn’t be, that can screw up automated ad bidding, how much you value individual channels, or even how well you think your business is doing. For this post, we’ll be referring to this issue as “false conversions”.

There are a huge number of ways you can track conversions in Google Analytics, and a huge number of ways to screw it up. This post is going to focus on some of the main ways you can mess up conversions when you’re basing them on users completing a form and then landing on a thank-you page.

We’ll cover in this article:

* Some useful tools

* Things to check — how might users be accidentally converting?

* How to protect destination-based goals from false conversions

* An ideal event-based goal approach

* How to protect event-based goals from false conversions

Useful tools

The tools below will help you with some of the checks in this post.

Chrome DevTools

F12 will open Chrome DevTools (you may need to press the “function” key depending on your keyboard). You can test JavaScript in “Console”, and view active cookies in “Application”.

Google Tag Manager preview

Google Tag Manager has a new preview which will show you what happens on a series of pages over time.

Adswerve dataLayer Inspector

This plugin summarizes dataLayer information in Chrome Console.

Analytics Tracking Monitor plugin

I’ve found this plugin really useful for checking what information is being sent to GA. One nice feature is being able to block hits from actually being sent to GA while recording what would be sent.

Tag Assistant

The Chrome Tag Assistant plugin will show you what Tag Manager tags are present on the page. If you click to record the session, it’ll also give you a breakdown of everything that’s happened on each page. That said — I don’t tend to rely on the recordings as much if I have Tag Manager access, because a lot of the useful information is covered between the new GTM preview and the tracking monitor plugin.

Tag Mapper

I created a free Tag Mapper tool to make it easier to see what impact Tag Manager changes might have. If you’re planning on changing something in your GTM account, you can see what else might be impacted. Likewise, if you’ve noticed that something is broken, it can help you find the root cause.

Things to Check

It can be tempting to leap straight to a catch-all solution, but if you’re recording conversions when you shouldn’t be, that could be because your website visitors are doing things they shouldn’t be.

Let’s start with a quick rundown of checks you should do to make sure you’re not making the numbers look right by just ignoring problems on your site.

  1. Are you only recording conversions on thank-you pages?
  2. Are you linking to conversion pages in other ways besides form completions?
  3. Are users landing directly on thank-you pages?


Read more here.

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