Last year I blogged on excluding yourself from web analytics reporting. In particular, I dove into how to manage large numbers of IP addresses in your exclude filters for Google Analytics. But the landscape has changed since then. Now the methods need to be tweaked and there are some gotchas worth sharing on how to exclude yourself.
Depending on the size of your company, or more importantly the visitorship of your websites, the impact of internal visitors to your reporting could be huge and misleading.
Even for some of my tiny sites where I’m looking for traction in the early stages of life, I don’t want my footprints to be muddying up my web analytics.
Fortunately most web analytics packages allow you to remove, or at least hide, yourself and your visits.
When I refer to “my footprints” I’m really talking about me, my company, my client’s staff maybe even vendors. Anyone that would be considered “internal traffic”.
The two most common methods for excluding yourself from your web analytics reports are: cookie-based and IP/domain exclusion. There are pros and cons to each and that’s why Google Analytics and Omniture’s SiteCatalyst leave the decision up to you by providing you both options.
- For mobile computers or computers that regularly connect via dynamic IP addresses, this is the only method that works.
- If your machine or software regularly deletes cookies (browsers can be configured to do this on closing) then you will need to continually re-add the cookies
- Once a visit has been excluded via cookies, they cannot be retrieved.
(Domain names just resolve to an IP address so they are lumped together for this purpose)
- If you do not have the ability to place cookies on the target devices (too many or remote) then you will have to exclude them via IP addresses or domains
- You can use the filter on some profiles and not others. This allows you to have some reports with internal traffic excluded and others with the internal visitors included.
- You may not be able to inventory each and every one of your IP addresses, therefore leaving you open for contaminated web analytics reports.
For Google Analytics, you need to go to your setup view and click on “Filter Manager >>”
From there click on “Add Filter”
GOOGLE ANALYTICS – IP/DOMAIN EXCLUSION
There you will name the filter “Home Router” or “Corporate Office IP”, choose “Predefined Filter” and choose to either exclude based on IP address or domain. It’s that simple.
If you need to exclude many IP addresses, you need to dive into regular expressions which then lead you to the 225 character maximum and custom filters. It’s not hard, but it’s also not 5 minutes of work. I’ve built custom filter lists numbering over 30, encompassing over 200 IP addresses. Fun times!
GOOGLE ANALYTICS – COOKIE EXCLUSION
Here you’ll need a custom filter that Google has done a great job of explaining it in detail.
Note the code needed on the exclude.html page had been updated with the latest asynchronous Google tracking code snippet. Here’s the HTML code from a site that I have not yet upgraded to the latest code version.
Update: Here’s how the code should look using the new asynchronous tag. Note, I haven’t actually implemented this yet, but it’s pretty straightforward.
With Omniture’s SiteCatalyst, there may (and should) be a quicker way (please comment if you know it), but I manage it by logging in and going straight to “Exclude by IP”
OMNITURE SITECATALYST – IP/DOMAIN EXCLUSION
Here you’ll be able to add IP addresses one by one to your report suites.
Two limitations: I don’t know of a way to add a domain exclusion, and if you want to exclude a large number of IP addresses, my Omniture account manager told me it would involve their professional services team ($$$). I’ll have that need soon and I’m too stubborn to pay for something that should be free.
OMNITURE SITECATALYST – COOKIE EXCLUSION
To enable cookie exclusion, on that same “Exclude by IP” you will see a very well-hidden link title “click here” (brilliant label) that will take your cookie “jar”.
Here you’ll either see a button that says “Exclude” (your computer is not yet excluded and needs to have a cookie placed on it) or “Reactivate” (your computer already has the needed cookie placed on it).
Interesting! When I went to take my screenshot I ran into an error. I tried multiple browsers, report suites and computers. For now you’ll need to trust me the button usually exists where “undefined” is below.
A very big downside of Omniture cookie exclusion implementation is that you must log on to SiteCatalyst to place the cookie. So you can’t have non-users just visit a page that places the cookie on their machine. You have to either grant them access or log in yourself from their machine.
- Beware of automatic cookie deletions.
- Dynamic IP addresses, ISP changes and location growth can quickly invalidate your filters.
- Creating new profiles (Google Analytics) or report suites (SiteCatalyst) requires you to apply your chosen exclusion technique to them. It will not occur automatically.
I hope this helps explain the two exclusion methods, two web analytics vendors’ implementation of those methods and a few of the hazards to avoid when implementing them.