Why Should You Exclude Internal Traffic From Your Analytics Reports?
Imagine a Forrester survey that included responses from Forrester employees. The credibility of that survey would be dubious because we wouldn't know the extent of bias. We also wouldn't be able to make good guesses about how to interpret that data.
Building on the above example, suppose you're analyzing visitors on a company's public website, and company internal traffic is included in the study. Would the results of the study be more customer-focused if the internal traffic were excluded? Definitely.
Just to clarify, by "internal traffic" we mean traffic from company employees, contractors, agencies, or anybody directly related to the organization's daily operations.
Why Filter Internal Traffic?
What are some other reasons for filtering out internal traffic? Let's start by reviewing the reason we are using web analytics in the first place. We want to see trends and correlations so we can increase conversion and improve the visitor experience.
It's this last point that is most relevant here: we need to create a to do list. What do we change to make things better?
I should underscore the fact that web analytics tools are lousy record keepers. If your software were an accountant, you would have fired it long ago. The reason you have a web analytics tool is not to keep a record of every order placed or how many times a video was viewed. Rather, it is to see what actions prevent users from doing those blessed activities, or it is to know what motivates them to do it.
Looking at reports that include irrelevant traffic is a waste of time. And here are some reasons you should exclude them from your reports:
- They interact with your site differently than other visitors.
- Their reasons for being on the site are usually much different than a potential customer's.
- They don't use the same traffic sources to reach your site and might start their visits deeper into the site than a typical visitor would.
- If you have some new or redesigned area of your website, they probably know about it first. If they are developers, they are going to those areas all the time to make sure they are working properly. Perhaps they'll use an employee discount, or are checking to see if their suggestion for a background image was used.
- Internal traffic is more patient with your site than a typical visitor will be. They already know that what they want is there. So, if a page takes too long to load, if the video is broken, if the shopping cart deletes all their items, if the site puts a virus on their computer, they will still come back and try again. Random visitors are not so merciful.
For all these reasons and more, internal traffic needs to go!
How to Filter Internal Traffic
When it comes down to it, there are only a few ways to do it.
Typically, we can filter the traffic by IP or network name. In this case, we would filter by the IP visible to the world. This might be the IP address of your firewall. It's the IP address that shows up when you visit any number of pages like www.whatsmyip.net.
In case we don't know or can't consistently pin down the IP or network name, another option is to identify internal traffic with a user-defined variable and then use a filter to exclude the internal traffic.
Creating the filter is easy. Just go to the filters list, click to add a new one, specify that it's an exclude filter and then put in either the IP addresses, network name (ISP organization, network location) or the user-defined variable.
There are a variety of other ways to remove internal traffic from your reports. Whichever way you choose, the most important thing you can do is implement it!
Google Analytics for Intranets
Does your company use Google Analytics to track Intranet websites? If so, there's a slight problem: