Help with 404 fixes from a surprising quarter: Google Analytics

Much has been written over the years around using Google Analytics (GA) to identify and then fix 404 error pages; however, given recent developments in GA functionality, the time is right for an update. Here we outline some quick tips on how you can use Google Analytics to assist you.

Obviously, your first step is to ensure your GA account is set up appropriately and your tracking code is inserted, is monitoring searches, and has appropriate goals and events being monitored. If you need basic help with GA, helpful hints can be found in The Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Google Analytics. If everything is complete and working correctly, you can turn your attention to 404 errors.

1) Consider customisation/event

You might ask yourself whether 404 errors should be captured as an event or in page level customisations. We would say the latter, as errors are really not an event and should not be treated as such.

2) Rename the pages

Next, rename your page as /error-page/404-error. This will group all page views together, making analysis a whole lot easier. You also need to capture two key pieces of information for each 404 error page: the URL and the referrer. Both of these can be set as default variables in Google Tag Manager (GTM). Since you can now capture Error Page Views as a Custom Metric, you should also go ahead and do this. It is a simple way to see total Error Page Views for your site and by session/user dimension.

Help with 404 fixes from a surprising quarter
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3) Establish a custom alert

It is always useful to know whether the metric for seeing 404 errors ever goes over a certain value, such as 3%, and trigger action on your part. You can establish this as a Custom Alert so that you are notified when users are seeing excessive volumes of 404 errors.

If all this sounds excessively confusing, consider help with web design in Essex from a specialist such as https://www.enovate.co.uk/ to help you to navigate the GA maze.

Google Analytics is an amazingly easy tool to garner all kinds of information of your site and help you to run it more effectively. Implement our handy tips and you could be minimising errors and maximising conversion in no time at all – good luck!

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