Why Google Analytics is Not Tracking Correctly: Your Troubleshooting Guide

Google Analytics’ tracking capabilities make it a great asset for any website to have. However, when Google Analytics is not tracking correctly, or its data is inaccurate, the usefulness of the tool essentially disappears. Anyone who has ever used Google Analytics can tell you that there are a lot of intricacies involved that may not seem all that important until you’re sorting through a lot of useless reports, thinking, “How exactly did I get here?”

Luckily, when Google Analytics is not tracking or is having other issues, it usually isn’t a death sentence. Many fixes are even straightforward enough to tackle in a DIY fashion. If your Google Analytics data is not showing up or you’re just struggling to get things off the ground, this list is a good way to uncover any problems. If you haven’t set up Google Analytics on your site yet, even better – read through and save yourself the extra work later.

Ok, so you carefully followed all the instructions for adding and publishing the tracking code on your site, and you’ve been waiting for data to start pouring in, but Google Analytics apparently isn’t tracking. Or maybe your site had been tracking perfectly, but now something has changed, and you’re not sure why. What’s going on?

Before you panic:

  • Test it out by checking your Real-Time stats. Hop over to the Reports section in the property of concern and select Real-Time. If Google Analytics is tracking correctly, the Overview tab should give you an idea of how many people are on your site at that very moment. Test it out yourself – open your site in another tab, then refresh the Overview If your Google Analytics code is working, you should be able to see data on this page. You should be able to see your page view sitting on your site in the Real-Time report, and you should even be able to discern that it’s you by the location of the dot on the map.
Google Analytics live tracking

“Hey, that’s me on the Real-Time report!”

You can also visit the Tracking Info section under your property name in the Admin section of Google Analytics, and click Tracking Code to verify if Google Analytics recognizes that your property has been recording traffic.

Google Analytics tracking codeGoogle Analytics tracking status

  • Verify that you’re tracking the correct property and view. If you’ve been using Google Analytics to track multiple websites or have already set up several views on this property, you might be using the snippet from another location. Sure, this may sound obvious to you – but why frantically disassemble the device before checking to see if you plugged it in?
  • Check out your filters. If you’ve been tracking your site for a while and have added some filters in this view, you should re-visit what filters you have set and if they could be unintentionally cutting off tracking. One important detail to note is that the order in which you apply filters in Google Analytics matters, and it can be easy to accidentally block your tracking by adding filters in the wrong order. For example, if you decide you only want to track traffic from Arkansas but you’ve already set the view to only track Alabama visitors, setting an Arkansas-only filter now won’t do you much good, because you already left all the Arkansas visitors out with the Alabama filter. This kind of mistake will quickly bring your traffic down to zero.

Unfortunately, if you’ve set some filters that seem to be excluding traffic you want to be recording, you can’t take filters back on that particular view. That’s why it is critical to always preserve an unfiltered view, such as the default view All Web Site Data. If you suspect you’ve overdone it with filters, you can try reordering the filters for better results or start over with a new unfiltered view.

If you’ve confirmed that your Google Analytics code is not working for a view that it should be tracking, it’s time to dig deeper. Answer these questions to get a better idea of what could be going wrong.

Have you reviewed your Google Analytics tracking code?

If you have recently set up your tracking code but Google Analytics is not tracking your traffic, this is an important step to take. When adding the snippet into a plugin or the tracking code onto the pages of the site, it is imperative that you copy and paste directly from your Google Analytics property settings to your site code. If you copy over to a word processor or similar program on your computer before putting it on your site, extra white spaces or small changes in punctuation may occur and can make or break your tracking. The tracking code is also case sensitive, so don’t neglect capitalization.

Have you added the tracking code to every page of your site?

Just adding the code to the homepage of your site won’t do – Google Analytics will not be tracking all pages of your site if you don’t add the code to each page. This includes subdomains and those less-than-obvious landing pages hiding on your site. If you’re the one installing the code onto your site and adding it to every single page sounds exhausting, you can browse the wide assortment of plugin options available on many of the more common content management systems (such as WordPress or Magento). These plugins will make adding code to every page of the site into a much simpler process. You can also enlist help from a web development specialist if the process is too daunting to take on yourself.

Google Analytics tracking

“Hey look, we’ve got traffic after all!”

Do you have duplicate tracking codes running on your site?

If you’re unwittingly recording Google Analytics data twice, you may notice that you’re having the opposite problem – your visits, page views, and bounce rates seem far too good to be true! However, having multiple tracking codes on your site is a bad practice and will cause your Google Analytics data to be seriously inaccurate, as well as vulnerable to malfunctions in multiple areas of data collection.

If your site has been around for a while and has had a few different developers, consultants, and managers working on it, it’s possible that things have gotten lost in the shuffle. If your Google Analytics code is not working correctly, rifle through your source code for signs of old Google Analytics tracking code. You may be surprised what you can find and purge from your pages. With the wide availability of Google Analytics-compatible features and add-ons available on WordPress and other popular platforms, it is easy to overlook a lurking plugin or buried code.

Has your site been penalized by Google?

Google continuously rolls out updates to its search ranking algorithm that help make the search experience richer, more accurate, and less dangerous for searchers. With every big change in the algorithm comes a new group of websites that see huge changes in their traffic due to big rankings promotions or demotions. In other words, a ranking penalty (or demotion) could bury your site on the 100th page of Google without you noticing much other than a huge drop in site traffic in Google Analytics.

Why might you have received a penalty? It’s hard to say. Each algorithm change is different and may declare that a certain aspect of your site is positive or negative. By doing this, Google weeds out spam and punishes websites for using less-than-ideal methods to sit higher in search results. In short, you may think that Google Analytics is not tracking your traffic, but maybe people just aren’t finding your site due to a penalty or two.

If you’ve finished this list and suspect you have received a penalty or still think that Google Analytics is not working correctly, it might be a good time to look into hiring SEO specialists like the ones at Leverage Marketing to review your site. Our experienced Google Analytics experts can get your tracking moving, help you recover from penalties, and help bring your site to a place in the organic search rankings where users will be able to find you.

Zoe James

Zoe James

SEO Analyst at Leverage Marketing
Zoe is an SEO Analyst at Leverage Marketing. An Austin native and University of North Texas alum, Zoe was a member of the UNT Swimming and Diving Team while earning her degree in Marketing. Her skills as a student-athlete leader led her to career experience as a Business Development Manager, after which she sought the creative and analytical challenges of search engine optimization at Leverage. She is an avid cat person, cheese enthusiast, and adventure-seeker, as well as an expert on the unique culture of Austin, TX.
Zoe James
10 replies
    • Eric Ysasi
      Eric Ysasi says:

      Hi Shadell,

      That’s certainly unfortunate, but there are some things that are out of our control. It may be possible that your site was flagged for a Google policy infringement, or it may just be that Google hasn’t collected enough data to show you anything beyond real-time traffic. If your website is hosted by a service such as blogspot.com, you also may need to take special precautions when preparing your website for Google Analytics. I’d recommend referring to literature provided by your host on the subject, and I wish you luck!

      Reply
    • Zoe James
      Zoe James says:

      Hiya! That is quite odd – have you or anyone who has access to your site made any changes recently? It’s possible the code could have been removed.

      It will also depend on how you installed the GA tracking code in the first place – If you installed it via a tag manager such as Google Tag Manager, you might want to go in and make sure all of your triggers are set correctly, code is implemented, and that no major changes have been made.

      Hope that helps a bit and you can get it figured out!

      Reply

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