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Implementing Google Analytics In WordPress

By May 2, 2014 Industry Topics

WordPress may have gotten its start as a blogging platform, but those days are long past. WordPress is increasingly the content management choice for SMBs looking for an open-source solution that can support punchy design and ease of update. (The FRWD site runs on WordPress, as do numerous FRWD clients.)

Similarly, the days of sticking a little analytics code on the site to track page views and hits should be equally dead, although some site owners and agencies are keeping it on life support.  Revenue driving behavior is the real indicator of online success for a business. Page views, Facebook fans and likes and Twitter followers can be gamed or bought. Volume never trumps quality – given a choice of 100 page views, or 1 visitor who spends money, always choose that single customer.

Following are three checkpoints geared to help developers, agencies and site owners implement Google Analytics to support website tracking for WordPress business sites:

  1. Is the site running Classic or Universal Analytics? Universal Analytics is the upgrade path for Google Analytics, brought out of beta on April 2, 2014. The upgrade version of Google Analytics offers both more complexity and increased ease of tracking, but may be behave erratically for some web sites.
  2. Is the code implemented in the right location? Many vintage installs put the Google Analytics tracking code in site footers, which is no longer a best practice. Poorly executed site JavaScript or heavy site images can cause footer-based Google Analytics code not to work – thereby not tracking visitors at all.
  3. Is the code implemented uniquely? A common error is duplicated tracking implementation due to multiple players working with various parts of the site.  It’s easy to end up with multiple instances of the same Google Analytics tracking code on a site in WordPress if the developer, creative agency, media agencies and business users are not in synch and cross checked.  When more than one copy of a tracking code exists, the data is incorrect. Bad data = bad measurement.

By implementing Analytics and other tracking code via a tag manager, WordPress site owners can combat some of the issues of poor primary implementation and move on to using some of the more powerful features of Google Analytics – event tracking, funnels, conversion tracking, enhanced link attribution and more. All of these features support tracking visitor behavior against business objectives – not page views.

Several excellent tag management solutions exist that work in WordPress, allowing for behavior-based analytic implementation using web interfaces, version control and testing protocols that help marketers and IT/development work together more cleanly. These tag managers allow for both core analytics set up and set up of more specific tracking codes associated with various third-party advertising platforms and data vendors:

  • Google Tag Manager is popular amongst media buyers because of its association and easy integration with other Google products.
  • Qubit Open Tag is an excellent third-party tag manager supporting up to 1MM page calls/month.

In closing, coordinating measurement installation across various stakeholders through relationships building, selection of the right tool and QA of implementation can increase success in performance reporting of WordPress sites.