Technical Tips is a new article series that will discuss more complex subjects that relate to digital marketing strategy, measurement, and analytics. In this new series, we’ll look at industry best practices and provide step-by-step guides to get you and your organization or business on the fast track to digital marketing success.
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A leading digital analytics agency, E-nor, estimates that only 3% of Google Analytics (GA) configurations are set up and used correctly. It should be of little surprise that very few businesses and organizations take advantage of this simple, yet powerful filter configuration in GA. If your business or organization uses a single GA account to track users across different domains and/or subdomains (e.g. tickets.yourbiz.org), we are quite confident you’ll find a lot of value in this implementation guide.
A good starting point is to first understand the basic structure of a URL, as shown in the image below:
By default, GA will not include your domain name in any of its content or page reports. GA begins its page reporting with the directory, which sometimes referred to as a subdirectory. This is why a URL, such as www.yourbusiness.com/, will report simply as ‘/’ in the “Site Content – All Pages” report. It’s also the reason why this report looks something like this screenshot in your GA account.
Perhaps you don’t have any qualms with the fact that your website domain and subdomains are not included in your page reports, but let us play devil’s advocate for a minute. Many of our agency’s clients sell tickets online, and the use of third-party e-commerce platforms is typically denoted by a unique subdomain, such as tickets.mybusiness.com. When looking at the “All Pages” report, how do you know if the page ‘/’ relates to your website’s homepage (www.yourbusiness.com/), or if GA is referring to your ticketing vendors’ page, tickets.yourbusiness.com/? Furthermore, if you wanted to create a custom content group (another awesome feature in GA!) consisting of only e-commerce pages, the implementation is much easier once you’re passing the hostname to Google Analytics.
In just a moment, we will show you the quickest and easiest way to setup domain and subdomain reporting in your account, so your page reports will look like the report below. In subsequent articles, we plan to cover some of the more advanced implementation techniques to ensure that your page reports are reporting clean and accurate data.
This short and quick setup guide will walk you through the steps of adding the hostname to your page reports. If your website spans multiple domains, you’ll need to implement cross-domain tracking, which is much easier to setup if you’re using Google Tag Manager (see this Google Support Page).
- Navigate to the Admin tab, and then select the view in your GA account that you’d like to apply this to. We recommend setting it up in all views except your raw/unfiltered view.
- Once you have the appropriate view selected, click on Filters.
- Click the +Add Filter button, select “Create New Filter” and label the Filter Name as “Add Hostname”. The filter type should be set to “Custom”. Ignore the “Exclude” filter field, and scroll down the page and select the “Advanced” radio button. 4. Once you select the “Advanced” option, a new set of fields should appear. Next you’ll configure the advanced settings exactly as shown in the screenshot below. For the Hostname and Request URI, we’re using Regular Expression to create a condition that tells when GA should grab the hostname. In this instance, we’re using a wildcard, which enables us to grab any hostname (and subdomain) that is connected to the URL.
- Once you implemented the above configuration, hit save, and that’s it! Your content and page reports should begin to show the hostnames in page reports the very next day. One thing to note is that once you’ve configured the filter, the hostnames will only begin to appear in your page reports on a going-forward basis. Like most filters in GA, historical data is not affected, so you’ll continue to see pages without the hostname when looking at data which predates your configuration.
We hope that you found this Technical Tip helpful in expanding your knowledge of Google Analytics. If you have additional questions related to Google Analytics, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Mogo Interactive so we can connect you with one of our analytics specialists. Mogo Interactive offers a variety of services pertaining to Google Analytics including configuration, ongoing management, dashboard development, and measurement strategy.