The definitive guide to real traffic sources in Google Analytics for Etsy

The (not-so) Definitive Guide to Real Traffic Sources in Google Analytics for Etsy

“How do people find my Etsy store?”

I know you’ve asked that question before. It’s one of the best questions you can ask to improve your marketing.

At first, Google Analytics looks like it has all the answers! There it is: direct traffic, referrals, a few from Facebook and other social media… Isn’t that how they got there?

Not quite.

Google “etsy traffic sources” and you’ll find this little Help article from Etsy. In that article it says this:

Google Analytics shows how people found Etsy.

So, what’s the difference? Well, that means that any of those traffic sources in Google Analytics could indicate how that person found an entirely different shop before they navigated to yours within Etsy. Half your so-called social media traffic could be from other people’s marketing!

Even worse, Google Analytics doesn’t show you how people found your shop within Etsy, which makes up the bulk of your traffic. Etsy search, clicks from favorites, promoted listings – all hidden.

That kinda sucks.

You could just analyse your traffic sources in Shop Stats, but let’s fix it instead.

This guide explains how to use channel definitions and filters to make traffic sources a whole lot more accurate!

(If you’re a beginner, don’t be scared – this is just a copy & paste job)

Stop! Protect that data.

The filters and channel definitions we’re about to make are complex and significantly change your data. It’s really really important that you have a separate Test View to do these in!

If you already have a Test view, and you’re totally happy with the filters that are running in it, now’s a good time to apply them to your main view.

Before you continue, read how to create “backup” and “test” Views. Do this once and always rest assured that you have a backup in case anything goes wrong.

Skip straight to it

If you just want to follow the steps and miss all the technical background, go for it:

Why is this Guide not-so definitive?

This solution is pretty complex and it takes a little while to gather the visitor numbers to check that I’m doing it all right. So I can’t claim that it will correctly attribute every single visitor you ever get.

But it’ll be a darn sight improved!

Secondly, it depends entirely on how Etsy writes the URLs, or addresses, of all your shop’s pages. This could technically change at any time, but I personally think this would be infrequent, since it’d change their own internal visit tracking, too. In the years since I started this method, there have no significant changes to how Etsy tracks their main internal traffic sources, like search.

So how does this work?

You already know that Google Analytics is powerful, but might not realize just how much control you really have over your data before it lands in your account.

filter lets you exclude, include or change data of some kind. For example, you might already have a filter that excludes visits from your home IP address, so your own visits aren’t tracked.

We’re going to use filters that re-write traffic source data completely.

channel definition is what Analytics uses to determine whether a visit is Direct, Referral, Social, Organic Search, Paid Search etc. These are different from source/medium and are more like general “buckets” (or… channels).

We’re going to edit the default channel definitions so in-Etsy visits go into the right buckets.

All of this is based on the detailed extra information Etsy includes in every URL. Go on – load any listing in Etsy. Have a look at the URL in your browser.

https://www.etsy.com/listing/215141270/crochet-puff-earrings-gunmetal-grey?ref=finds_l

That’s a link to one of my products. Notice the “ref=finds_l” at the end? That tells us how I got to the page. (“finds” = an Etsy Finds or Editors’ Picks gallery).

Almost every link on Etsy adds a “ref” value to the end, so Etsy can pull exciting reports about things like whether products on the left of a shop get more clicks than products on the right.

We can use them too, because they tell us how people really got to your shop!

Channel Grouping Definitions

Channels are like big buckets to help group your traffic from different places that have a similar purpose. For example, traffic from Google searches and searches on Etsy should both be in the “Organic Search” channel.

The Default Channel Groupings can be used across many of the standard Google Analytics reports, plus in custom reports and Dashboards. They’re a very handy way to do a first-look breakdown of where your visitors are coming from.

But right now, they’re all wrong!

We need to edit the Default Channel Groupings. Usually, you would create a whole new set of custom Channels, but custom channels can’t be used in many reports so they aren’t that useful (yet). We’re only making these changes in our Test View, so it’s safe for us to edit this View’s Default Channel definitions.

Head to View > Channel Settings > Channel Groupings > “Default Channel Grouping”

You’ll see the following list of Channels that are defined:

  • Direct
  • Organic Search
  • Social
  • Email
  • Referral
  • Paid Search
  • Other Advertising
  • Display

Click on each one and open it. You’ll see that the standard definition is normally just to match the “System Defined Channel”. That doesn’t tell you much, but here are the definitions of each System Defined Channel.

Most of the default definitions are based on the “Medium” of the visit. You’ll see that visits go into “Organic Search”, for example, when their Medium says “organic”.

But we know that because Analytics is telling us the wrong traffic source for many of our visits from inside Etsy, the Medium values must be unreliable.

Let’s update each definition to use the handy “ref” value that Etsy gives us, to put our internal Etsy traffic into the right bucket!

How to edit your Default Channel Grouping definitions

(ALL UPDATED – June 2018)

1. Open the Channel Definitions

  1. Open the “Admin” area (bottom-left “cog” icon)
  2. Select your Etsy shop’s Account, Property & Test View
  3. Go to View > Channel Settings > Channel Groupings
  4. Open the “Default Channel Grouping”

2. Direct

  1. Click “Direct” to open the definition.
  2. Leave the existing rule alone, but click “AND” to add an extra one.
    1. Set the first two drop-downs of the rule to match:
      Landing Page URL > does not match regex > 
    2. In the text box, copy in the following text:
       ^.*ref=.*$
  3. Click “OR” to add a new rule.
    1. Set the first two drop-downs of the rule to match:
      Landing Page URL > matches regex > 
    2. In the text box, copy in the following text:
      ^.*ref=(condensed_trust|l2|listing_pub|listing-shop|listings_manager|pagination|related-|s2|search_shop_redirect|.*mcnav|Seller|shop_home|top_trail).*$
  4. Go ahead, change the Display Colour! (You can do this for all of them if you like.)
  5. Click “Done” to save
Here are what the rules should look like:

Here’s what this means in plain English: 

Only allow a visit into the “Direct” bucket if…
a) It was already going to be put into the “Direct” bucket (according to GA’s built-in rules) AND
b) It did not come from inside Etsy (as far as we can tell).

We assume that the visit did not come from inside Etsy if the first page either:
a) Does not have a “ref” value at all, OR
b) Has a “ref” value that’s only used for clicks from inside a shop. It’s impossible for this to be the first page a visitor sees unless this link has been shared somewhere else, so it can’t be a visit from inside Etsy.

 

3. Organic Search

  1. Click “Organic Search” to open the definition.
  2. Change the existing rule to:
    Medium > exactly matches > organic
  3. Click “OR” on the right to add a new rule.
    (The “OR” means that either of these two rules can be true for this Channel to apply – they don’t both have to be true.)
  4. Set the new rule to:
    Landing Page URL > matches regex

    ^.*ref=(cat_gallery|sr_gallery|related-shop).*$
  5. AND
  6. Set the rule to:
    Landing Page URL > does not match regex > 

    ^.*ga_search_query=\&.*$
  7. AND
  8. Set the rule to:
    Landing Page URL > does not match regex > 

    ^.*ref=.*$
    
  9. OR
  10. Set the new rule to:
    Landing Page URL > matches regex

    ^.*ref=(cat_gallery|sr_gallery|related-shop).*$
  11. “Done”

 

4. Social

  1. Click “Social” to open the definition.
  2. Leave the existing rule alone, but click “AND” to add an extra one.
  3. Landing Page URL > does not match regex > 
    ^.*ref=.*$
  4. OR
  5. Landing Page URL > matches regex > 
    ^.*ref=(condensed_trust|l2|listing_pub|listing-shop|listings_manager|pagination|related-|s2|search_shop_redirect|.*mcnav|Seller|shop_home|top_trail).*$
  6. “Done”

 

5. Email

  1. Click “Email” to open the definition.
  2. Leave the existing rule alone, but click “AND” to add an extra one.
  3. Landing Page URL > does not match regex > 
    ^.*ref=.*$
  4. OR
  5. Landing Page URL > matches regex > 
    ^.*ref=(condensed_trust|l2|listing_pub|listing-shop|listings_manager|pagination|related-|s2|search_shop_redirect|.*mcnav|Seller|shop_home|top_trail).*$
  6. “Done”

 

6. Affiliates

  1. Click “Affiliates” to open the definition.
  2. Leave the existing rule alone, but click “AND” to add an extra one.
  3. Landing Page URL > does not match regex > 
    ^.*ref=.*$
  4. OR
  5. Landing Page URL > matches regex > 
    ^.*ref=(condensed_trust|l2|listing_pub|listing-shop|listings_manager|pagination|related-|s2|search_shop_redirect|.*mcnav|Seller|shop_home|top_trail).*$
  6. “Done”

 

7. Paid Search

  1. Click “Paid Search” to open the definition.
  2. Change the existing rule to:
    Medium > matches regex > 

    ^(cpc|ppc|paidsearch)$
  3. OR
  4. Landing Page URL > matches regex > 
    ^.*ref=sc_.*$
  1. AND
  2. Landing Page URL > does not match regex > 
    ^.*ref=.*$
  3. OR
  4. Landing Page URL > matches regex > 
    ^.*ref=sc_.*$
  5. AND
  6. Ad Distribution Network > does not exactly match > Content
  7. “Done”

 

8. Referral

  1. Click “Referral” to open the definition.
  2. Leave the existing rule alone
  3. OR
  4. Landing Page URL > matches regex > 
    ^.*ref=.*$
  5. “Done”

NOTE: This extra rule uses matches regex rather than “does not match”, like all the other settings so far. This captures any other in-Etsy traffic that hasn’t yet been sorted into an earlier bucket.

9. SAVE your definitions (blue button at the bottom)

At this point, you’re best off to keep going and add your new Filters, too. It’s easiest to test and read your new, fixed up data if you’ve done both changes.

Filters

Filters let you permanently change your Google Analytics data in some way. You might exclude certain kinds of visits (like from your home IP address) or make your page URLs all lowercase, so they don’t get listed twice.

We’re going to use them to take a look at our buddy, the “ref” value, and re-write the visit’s source, medium and a few other things.

So if Filters re-write the source of a visit entirely, why on earth did we make all those changes to the Channel Definitions??

That’s a good question. Unfortunately, visits are put into their Channels before filters are applied, so they’ll simply ignore these filters. That’s why we need to make effectively the same changes in both the Default Channel definitions and with Filters, so that both “Channel” and “Source/Medium” data is correct.

So, let’s create those filters!

How to use Filters to correct your Etsy traffic source data

(UPDATED AS MARKED – June 2018)

1. Open the list of filters

  1. Open the “Admin” area (bottom-left “cog” icon)
  2. Select your Etsy shop’s Account, Property & Test View
  3. Go to View > Filters

2. Identify all Etsy traffic [UPDATED]

All visits from outside your shop but inside Etsy should have a Source of “etsy.com”.

  1. + Add new filter
  2. Name = Create source: Etsy.com
  3. Type = Custom
  4. Select Advanced from the list
  5. Field A = Request URI from the drop-down.
  6. Paste the following text into the box next to it:
     ^.*ref=(?!condensed_trust|l2|listing_pub|listing-shop|listings_manager|pagination|related-|s2|search_shop_redirect|.*mcnav|Seller|shop_home|top_trail)
  7. Output To = Campaign Source from the drop-down.
  8. Enter “etsy.com
  9. Leave the rest of the settings as they are.
  10. Save

3. Identify all Etsy referral traffic [UPDATED]

Any visits from Etsy that aren’t from inside your shop or via searches or promoted listings are just regular “referral” traffic. We set their Medium to “referral”.

In this filter, we set all Etsy traffic as “referral”, then we’ll override it in the next two filters. This is an example of how filters are applied in the order that they’re shown in your account.

  1. + Add new filter
  2. Name = Create Medium: Etsy referrals
  3. Type = Custom
  4. Select Advanced from the list
  5. Field A = Request URI from the drop-down.
  6. Paste the following text into the box next to it:
     ^.*ref=(?!condensed_trust|l2|listing_pub|listing-shop|listings_manager|pagination|related-|s2|search_shop_redirect|.*mcnav|Seller|shop_home|top_trail)
  7. Output To = Campaign Medium from the drop-down.
  8. Enter “referral
  9. Leave the rest of the settings as they are.
  10. Save

4. Identify all Etsy search traffic [UPDATED]

Next, we find visits that came via an internal Etsy search (but not within your own shop) and set their Medium to “organic”.

(This currently also captures visits from “pre-filled” searches, like phrases Etsy promotes or popular items in a tag. There’s no way for us to tell the difference, but we can record the specific phrase used either way.)

  1. + Add new filter
  2. Name = Create Medium: Etsy search
  3. Type = Custom
  4. Select Advanced from the list
  5. Field ARequest URI  >
    ^.*ref=(cat_gallery|sr_gallery|related-shop).*$
  6. Field BRequest URI  >
    ^.*ga_search_query=(?!\&).*$
  7. Output To > Campaign Medium > “organic
  8. Tick the box for “Field B Required”
  9. Leave the rest of the settings as they are.
  10. Save

5. Identify all Etsy promoted listings traffic

Finally, we set the Medium for all traffic through your promoted listings to “cpc” (or “cost per click”). This is the standard Analytics Medium for this kind of advertising traffic.

  1. + Add new filter
  2. Name = Create Medium: Etsy promoted listings
  3. Type = Custom
  4. Select Advanced from the list
  5. Field A = Request URI  >
    ^.*ref=sc_.*$
  6. Output To > Campaign Medium > “cpc
  7. Leave the rest of the settings as they are.
  8. Save

Phew! Take a break – those are the most important filters done and you might be getting some serious following-instructions-fatigue. I’ll wait while you make a cup of tea…

The rest of these filters are adding in the finer details of your traffic sources using the rest of the Google Analytics “campaign” fields. If you stop now, your basic traffic source reports will still be correct. Yay!

6. Record their search terms

For all traffic from Etsy searches or promoted listings, we can record what search terms they used to find you, even if this phrase was pre-filled by Etsy.

  1. + Add new filter
  2. Name = Create Campaign Term: Search
  3. Type = Custom
  4. Select Advanced from the list
  5. Field A = Request URI  >
    ^.*ga_search_query=([a-zA-Z0-9+% ]+)\&.*$
  6. Output To > Campaign Term > “$A1
    (That code copies in the search term that’s in the URL)
  7. Leave the rest of the settings as they are.
  8. Save

7. Identify specific Etsy referrals [UPDATED]

We can set a Campaign Name for other regular sources of Etsy referrals, like the Etsy Home Page.

The following instructions tell you how to create filters for 14 specific in-Etsy sources. I’ve tried to match the names with those used in Etsy’s Shop Stats, but sometimes I’ve chosen a different name that I think is clearer.

I’ve put them in rough order of value or importance. Skim through the titles to work out which ones might be useful to you – you don’t need to create them all!

Any visits that don’t fall into these specific campaigns will simply have a blank Campaign Name, but will still get the “etsy.com/referral” Source/Medium.

Follow the basics to creating a new advanced filter, like you’ve done so far, to apply these additional groups of settings:

Create Campaign: Etsy Home Page

This covers direct links to listings from a user’s home page, like “Recently Viewed” and also galleries they can access only from the home page, like the Favorites “lists by creative people” (replacing Treasuries).

  1. Field A > Request URI > 
    ^.*ref=(fp_|hp_|nfyf_more|opfy_more|recently_viewed|rv_more|somhp_|ugc_list).*$
  2. Output To > Campaign Name > Etsy Home Page
Create Campaign: Featured

Editors’ Picks, “Etsy Finds” or “featured” galleries.

  1. Field A > Request URI > 
    ^.*ref=(.*_finds|finds_|trending_item).*$
  2. Output To > Campaign Name > Featured
Create Campaign: Favorites

Users returning to their own favorites or discovering others’.

  1. Field A > Request URI > 
    ^.*ref=(fav_|favs_|.*_faveitems|.*_faveshops|styf-).*$
  2. Output To > Campaign Name > Favorites
Create Campaign: Another Shop’s Listing

When your listing is shown on another shop’s listing, as a similar or related item.

  1. Field A > Request URI > 
    ^.*ref=(additional_listings|.*similar_listing|listing_favoriter|related_listing|similar_item|sold_out|soldout_listing).*$
  2. Output To > Campaign Name > Another Shop’s Listing
Create Campaign: Shop Updates
  1. Field A > Request URI > 
    ^.*ref=(shop-shares).*$
  2. Output To > Campaign Name > Shop Updates
Create Campaign: Browse Category
  1. Field A > Request URI > 
    ^.*(ga_search_query=\&.*ref=sr_gallery)|(ref=br_).*$
  2. Output To > Campaign Name > Browse Category
Create Campaign: Market

Most links from “market” pages are tracked as search traffic. Some links, such as the “best selling” items in the first row, will be captured in this separate campaign instead.

  1. Field A > Request URI > 
    ^.*ref=(bestselling_|market).*$
  2. Output To > Campaign Name > Market Page
Create Campaign: Search

Other ways visitors can get to your shop from a search results page, such as a suggested shop name or their recently viewed items at the very bottom.

  1. Field A > Request URI >
    ^.*ref=(search_|.*_sugg|sr_similar).*$
  2. Output To > Campaign Name > Search
Create Campaign: Your Profile
  1. Field A > Request URI >
    ^.*ref=(pr_shop_more|profile_shopicon).*$
  2. Output To > Campaign Name > Your Profile
Create Campaign: Another Shop

When a visitor clicks to your shop or listing by checking out who “favorites” another shop and seeing their other favorites (you!).

  1. Field A > Request URI >
    ^.*ref=shop_favoriter.*$
  2. Output To > Campaign Name > Another Shop
Create Campaign: Cart

Normally this is either returning to your shop after adding something to their cart, or clicking the “You may also like” suggested items.

  1. Field A > Request URI >
    ^.*ref=(also_bought|.*_cart|ks_).*$
  2. Output To > Campaign Name > Cart
Create Campaign: Conversations
  1. Field A > Request URI >
    ^.*ref=.*_convo.*$
  2. Output To > Campaign Name > Conversations
Create Campaign: Treasury

Yes, treasuries can still be accessed and some people still get the occasional visit through them!

  1. Field A > Request URI >
    ^.*ref=tre-.*$
  2. Output To > Campaign Name > Treasury
Create Campaign: Teams

Links to your shop or items in the forums or team discussions.

  1. Field A > Request URI >
    ^.*ref=teams.*$
  2. Output To > Campaign Name > Teams

That’s it! All filters are complete.

All done! Now what?

Testing

You can test the filters straight away – just head to Real-Time reports and watch what happens as you enter your shop pages in different ways on Etsy. Try out each situation we created a filter for above (eg. search, home page etc.)

(If you filter yourself out of Real-Time reports, try it on a phone or tablet using mobile data – just not in the Etsy App.)

What reports to use

These changes now mean that each visit should have a (more) accurate channel, source, medium and sometimes campaign or campaign data (keyword or “content”). You can use this information in most reports you look at, by adding a Secondary Dimension, but you’ll mainly be looking at your Acquisition reports to see your new-and-improved data.

In particular, try these:

  • Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels
  • Acquisition > All Traffic > Source/Medium
  • Acquisition > Campaigns > All Campaigns
  • Acquisition > Campaigns > Organic Keywords

Congratulations on making it through this massive guide! 

It’s taken me a long time to analyse, test, trial and perfect these changes, as much as is possible, and I continue to watch out for changes on Etsy that might stop any from working.

If you have any questions or suggestions, or need a hand setting this up, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment or get in touch!

Here’s to accurate data!

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10 comments

  1. Genevieve says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!!! You are seriously the best and make google analytics much more manageable for those of us who don’t work with it all the time!

    • lesleyhays says:

      Thanks for the feedback, Genevieve! I haven’t added any screenshots to this post yet, so I’d love to hear from you what you think you’d most benefit from visualising, if you’ve tried out any of the instructions yet.

      • Genevieve says:

        I am going to let the new channel grouping run for a few weeks and then I can tell you. I set everything up in my test view last night so I have been able to see the filters in actions. It’s interesting to see exactly where traffic is coming from, like abandoned carts and receipts.

    • lesleyhays says:

      Hi Brad, your organic Etsy search terms will be under Acquisition > Campaigns > Organic Keywords. There’ll be a sprinkling of other search engine’s keywords in here too, so if you want to see only Etsy terms, you can use an Advanced Segment or do it this way:
      1. Go to Acquisition > All Traffic > Source/Medium
      2. Click on the etsy.com/organic entry
      3. Above the table, on the right, change the Primary Dimension to “Keyword” (you can type it in the dropdown box to find it).

      If you’ve done all this and there’s actually no data for either the etsy.com/organic source or the keyword reports, double check the regex you pasted in to the filter. Make sure there’s no spaces on either end or missing parts. Double check the date range you’re looking at.

      If you can’t find the solution, I can help! Reply with what you’ve tried and I’ll get in touch via email, or you might even be interested in my trial consulting spots, if your shop is on the larger side.

      Good luck!

  2. Cassie says:

    My mind has official been blown! This is amazing! Heard your interview on the Etsy Convo pod cast and sign up to your emails straight away. Now off to implement some more of your great ideas!

    • lesleyhays says:

      Awesome, great to hear, Cassie! Don’t hesitate to reply to any of the course emails if you have questions.

  3. Felicity Evans says:

    This is so great. I recently had a spike in traffic but couldn’t action it since etsy wasn’t correctly reporting where traffic was coming from – and when I found out it was too late.
    Incidentally this traffic had the ref=explore_page appended to url which was a pre-populated search results page. I can’t see this referral listed above, do you have more info on when it’s used?

    Thanks.

    • lesleyhays says:

      Great catch, thanks Felicity! No, I haven’t seen that one. I just checked a promo email from Etsy and it didn’t come up on that pre-populated search page it linked to. I’ll have to do more research into it.

      This article is due a review, though, and I’d like to make the labels more in-line with what Etsy uses inside Shop Stats. I know it’s definitely missing visits from a user’s “Home Page” and “Editors Picks” <-- cause we def want to know when we're in them!! In the meantime, any ones I haven't done yet will come through as etsy.com/referral (correct) but have Campaign as "(not set)".

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