Conversion Rate Mysteries, And Other GA Tales

January 20, 2010
By Robbin Steif

I got this question the other day in my email (and I promise you, I could never make this up.)

I have a question.  Should you insert Google Analytics code in every single page if you want to track goals correctly?

What I mean is this:
My main opt in (squeeze page): /optin.html
My goal page: /thankyou.html

If I insert the GA code into EVERY web page of my domain, then GA is going to report my goal conversion inaccurately.

What I’m saying is this… Take a look at this scenario:

Visitor A visits /subfolder/subpage1.html
Visitor B visits /subfolder/subpage2.html
Visitor C visits /subfolder/subpage3.html
Visitor D visits /subfolder/subpage4.html
Visitor E visits /subfolder/subpage5.html

And all the above 5 pages are being tracked by GA as visits.

Then Visitor F visits /optin.html (which is my opt in/squeeze page),
and then he opts in and is directed to /thankyou.html

This means the conversion rate counted by GA is: 1/6 = 16.7%
(6 because subpage1.html, subpage2.html, subpage3.html, subpage4.html, subpage5.html, optin.html)

but the TRUE conversion rate is: 1/1 = 100%

Does this mean that in order to track my goals correctly, I should ONLY insert the GA code into my optin.html page and thankyou.html page?

So, dear questioner, this is actually a rather interesting problem, and is all about how you define “conversion rate.” Most people are interested, initially, in the conversion rate for an entire site, and then they start to segment (“How did our PPC visits do? How did the visits from Sydney convert?”)  But if I understand your question, you want to know, “How did people who landed on optin.html convert?” and you don’t want to see that polluted by visits that landed on other pages and converted. (Hence your use of the phrase “squeeze page.”)

So here is my advice:

1.  You should always code the entire site with your GA. Companies that pick and choose pages to code usually get inconsistencies in their data.

2.  There are numerous ways to capture the conversion rate by landing page. My favorite would be to create an advanced segment.  {Note for nitpickers, advanced segments are session-based and not page-based, but landing page is a ‘session identifier.”}  To the left, you can see a screen shot of a landing-page advanced segment.

Notice, in this next screen shot (my favorite report, btw, traffic >all traffic > by medium > see goal tab) that the data make sense (at least to me, since I know this particular landing page well.) The majority of traffic comes by email. I was surprised to see how much comes organically, although it doesn’t convert as well as the email does (something I already knew.) The great thing about looking at this report, though, is not for me to learn about our landing page, but to answer the question: should I code all my pages? Yes.  Is there still a way to look at conversion rate by landing page by source etc? Yes.  (And just think, there are other ways, too!)

Robbin