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by Anna Lewis on 8th March 2011
Have you ever wondered how many visits recorded in Google Analytics for your site are actually you? If you have a website, it’s almost impossible not to use it yourself, but you don’t want to affect the traffic levels recorded. This is where you need to make sure you’re tracking internal visits to the site separately. The good news is that this can be done very easily.
There are two different ways to track internal visits; you can either track this traffic as another Medium alongside Organic, CPC, Referral and Direct, or you can create a new profile that collects all traffic data except for internal visits by excluding visits from your IP addresses. The first method shows the data very clearly under traffic sources, but could affect conversion rates as the data is still included as normal traffic throughout the profile. The second method looks more complicated to set up, but can actually be simpler in the long run and is much easier to manage if you have a lot of internal staff in one location.
Track Internal Visits with Google’s URL Builder
To see internal data as another Medium within the Traffic Sources report in Google Analytics you will need to build a custom tracking URL using Google’s URL Builder. To do this, paste your Home page URL in the first field, type Internal in the three required fields (with asterisks) and then click Generate URL. Wasn’t that quick?
Once you’ve created your tracking URL you will need to send it to everyone who works on your website that you want to segment within your traffic report. Everyone who clicks the link will then be tracked under the Internal Medium until the cookie runs out after 6 months, or if the cookies are cleared on the browser. Therefore it’s important that the tracking URL is clicked whenever it expires. It might be a good idea to bookmark it the first time you click it, then you won’t have to worry about finding the tracking URL again.
Track Internal Links In a Separate Profile of Data
To ensure internal traffic doesn’t affect your statistics in any way we would recommend using a separate profile in Google Analytics and excluding traffic from your IP address(es) from being reported here. This is done by using a Filter on the profile, but make sure you do not put a filter on your original profile – there should always be at least one profile with raw data in just in case anything goes wrong.
To set up a new profile go to the account page and click ‘+Add New Profile’ on the right hand side, either from the grey bar or from alongside the bold domain and UA number. Then follow these steps:
Select ‘Add a Profile for an existing domain’
Select the correct domain from the drop down menu
Give the Profile a descriptive name, i.e. My Site – Excluding Internal Traffic
You will then be taken to your Account page where you should now see the new profile listed under the relevant domain. The next step is to edit this new Profile to exclude internal traffic, to do this, follow these steps:
On the right-hand side of the Accounts page, alongside your new Profile click ‘Edit’
Update the Time Zone and Currency if necesary by clicking Edit in the top right corner
Scroll down to the ‘Filters Applied to Profile’ section and click ‘+Add Filter’ on the right hand side
Select ‘Add new Filter for Profile’
Give the filter a descriptive name, i.e. Exclude Internal Traffic
Select ‘Predefined filter’
Change the second drop down selection to ‘traffic from the IP addresses’
To find out your IP address visit this website and make a note of the number
Enter your IP address in the fields available
Repeat steps 3 onwards for every location (IP) that is used by internal staff. You may also want to find out the IP addresses of your web developers, SEO and PPC companies.
This profile will now only report on traffic from external visitors to your site. But bear in mind that if you work from home, check your website on your phone or move offices you may have to add more filters.
If you have any questions or feedback on this advice please leave us a comment, we’d love to hear from you. Alternatively contact me on Twitter at @Impact_Anna.