Many guides discuss goal-setting as their first topic–but far more important than that is masking your own IP address from Google Analytics. As I frequently do, I’m going to offer up my own mistakes for your entertainment and education. 🙂
Why Masking Your Own IP address matters
In the course of working on a blog, the author goes to the blogsite–sometimes several times–to check the new posts, if nothing else. Frequently, damn near every time, in fact, I hit “publish” — visit the site–and suddenly two or three typos jump out at me on the page. Or the featured image isn’t right. Or I forgot something, often small. I then jump right back into edit. Leaving the page after only viewing a single page is called a “bounce.” We want to keep our bounce rate low.
Lots of bounces like this interferes with important metrics, such as “duration” –how long a viewer stays on the site to read our stuff. Since I post long, I figure people need five to seven minutes to actually read everything. Since it’s also a bit technical, I figure an additional 3 minutes might be necessary.
Impact of NOT masking on The Acquisition Report
Google Analytics’s Acquistion Report is all about where your viewers come from with some important metrics on how long they stay. It’s a stacked bar graph on the Google Analytics home screen, with a small link at the bottom of the graph to get to the full report screen.
Here’s a look at what the full report screen looks like:
The Acquisition Report tells you where you’re getting your traffic from. WordPress.com’s internal referral system is one possible source–it’s the biggest referrer for me, according to the WordPress analytics.
Google Analytics or “GA” as it’s also called bins the referral sources together into broad categories called “Channels.” There are often multiple referral sources that are essentially the same thing. In this post from the Megalytics blog, the author explains that there are multiple apps and platforms that might all essentially come from the same source. Facebook might have traffic from its mobile app (m.facebook), from the platform itself (facebook.com) or lm.facebook.com–which stands for “link shim”.” Link shims allow Facebook to pass on data from the Facebook platform without all passing along personal information about the user, too. GA would dump all of these into the Facebook “channel.”
I know from WordPress analytics that according to them, most of my traffic comes from WordPress’s internal referral system. If that is so, then it seems clear from this that GA lumps WordPress referrals into the “Social” channel. At this point, the only marketing of blog posts that I do is on Twitter. WordPress tells me that I get, like, 1 referral from Twitter a week or thereabouts.
Referral is from a particular platform used to tracking tweets, Talkwalker. Other platforms like Hootsuite, Scraawl, and Tweetdeck are around that allows a user to survey tweets by topic. Bigger companies tend to use these platforms.
All of these sources (aka channels) are “clickable” — allowing us to drill down to get more information.
The Social category confirms that indeed, WordPress is my best source for traffic currently.
When I open up the “Referral” channel to drill down, I get the information about talkwalker.
Direct refers to, I think, me (sad headshake). WordPress masks my IP address and doesn’t count my looking at my own page as a “view.” This is one of the reasons for the difference in WordPress Analytics and Google Analytics. I jump on and take a look at my blogsite by typing in the impractical-advice.com address DIRECTLY. I’m screwing up my own stats this way.
I’ll have to mask my IP address by creating a filter. I’ll get to that in a moment.
The Bounce Rate
When a viewer first enters the site, that’s called the “entrance” event. When he or she leaves the site after ONLY VIEWING ONE PAGE, that’s a bounce. A 100% bounce rate means that the viewer came into the site, read one page, and left. My repeated entrances and “bounces” impacted my overall bounce rate, and the average duration of visits. That 40% rate, me, is buggering both the bounce rate and the duration, sinking my average session duration to (sob!) ONE MINUTE SEVEN SECONDS!! So the data in my acquisition report is kind of useless at this moment.
Masking My IP address
I have to get into the ADMIN section of GA first. That’s the link at the bottom on the page from the “Home” (little house) page. HOME is at the top, left. ADMIN is on the bottom left.
Once we open the ADMIN page, we’ll see our account page, with three sections (Action, Property and View) across the top.
“All Filters” is third from the top. That’s what we’ll use to create our filters.
First, you should go grab your IP address. You can just ask Google for it like so: What is My IP address?
You’re going to use that in the filter.
Next, press the All Filters menu choice. Google Analytics will cheerfully open the filters page. The top of the page will explain what you need to know about filters–it’s like it’s own internal help screen.
You click the red button to open the Add Filter space. You name the Filter anything you want (you may end up creating several filters, so make of note of them somewhere.)
Next, choose CUSTOM, then Exclude, the put your IP in the Filter Pattern space. The Help Screen (above) can walk you through this. Choose the “Exclude Internal Traffic” choice and you’ll get this explained to you on the screen, with examples.
Here’s the part they don’t tell you about. You have to choose ADD (below) which moves “All Website Data” over to the Selected Views screen.
Then hit the blue SAVE button at the bottom of the screen.
That’s it! Now we’re ready to work on setting goals, if we wish. Or we can just wait to see what our data looks like in the next 24-48 hours. That’s it!
Thanks for dropping by! ~Lola