Well, that means that any of the traffic sources you see in Google Analytics could show how that person found the Etsy home page or 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! (And not in a good way…)
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 or recently viewed, promoted listings: all hidden.
A long time ago, when I worked in retail, I envied the prim, organised merchandisers whose sole responsibility was (as far as I could tell from behind the counter) to fluff around with enticing displays of gifts and stationery.
I know I’m not the only one!
Now as Etsy sellers, we get to “merchandise” our own online shops every day.
Check how our listing thumbnails look all together in the catalogue.
Pour over a new product page to make sure every detail is perfect.
Go through our shop policies with a fine tooth comb to make sure we aren’t accidentally committing to replacing unwanted items with a lifetime supply of Starbucks…
And I know—because I’ve spent my fair share of time there—that we do a lot of this “fluffing around” in our public shop front. You know – the exact same view that our buyers see.
The pages of our shop where our Google Analytics code runs. Those pages.
Before you start creating or testing things with Filters in Google Analytics, it’s important to take some steps to keep your data safe.
What’s the danger?
Whenever you make changes to your GA settings for things like Goals, Filters, Content Groupings etc. — all the things I describe in my articles — the changes to your data are permanent. You need a backup without any of these changes, just in case you get something wrong…
Like accidentally creating a filter that removes ALL your traffic and you don’t notice for a week… right during a big ad campaign!
A Testing area takes it one step further to let you test out these settings first, then apply them to your main set of data only when you’re sure they’re working correctly. It’s up to you to decide how risky you think a change is and whether you should test it out first.
How do we do this in Google Analytics?
In Analytics, you can have multiple ways of viewing the same data. These are called, appropriately, Views.
In this guide, we’ll create a backup “Raw Data” view to preserve everything with the default settings, and a “Test” view for trialing more complicated Filters before applying them to your main View (normally called “All Web Site Data”).
These instructions are for Universal Analytics only. Referral spam is less of a problem these days (2022 onwards) and in Google Analytics 4, which Etsy now supports.
If you’re here, you’ve probably noticed something weird going on in your Google Analytics reports. And if you haven’t noticed anything weird, follow along and you might get a surprise.
Analytics can usually tell you, very precisely, where your visitors came from, both geographically and on the web. As you’ll find out in future posts, that’s tricky to get right when you run an Etsy shop, but there’s one problem that almost every site has these days: referral spam.
“Referral spam” is when useless, fake or malicious websites show up as having sent traffic to your site. They haven’t. At least not real people visitors.
This article might be useful to you when analysing historical data from your Universal Analytics account, after you back it up.