Conversion Rate Mysteries, and other GA tales


I got this question the other day in my email (and I promise you, I could never make this up.)

I have a question.  Should you insert Google Analytics code in every single page if you want to track goals correctly?

What I mean is this:
My main opt in (squeeze page): /optin.html
My goal page: /thankyou.html

If I insert the GA code into EVERY web page of my domain, then GA is going to report my goal conversion inaccurately.

What I’m saying is this… Take a look at this scenario:

Visitor A visits /subfolder/subpage1.html
Visitor B visits /subfolder/subpage2.html
Visitor C visits /subfolder/subpage3.html
Visitor D visits /subfolder/subpage4.html
Visitor E visits /subfolder/subpage5.html

And all the above 5 pages are being tracked by GA as visits.

Then Visitor F visits /optin.html (which is my opt in/squeeze page),
and then he opts in and is directed to /thankyou.html

This means the conversion rate counted by GA is: 1/6 = 16.7%
(6 because subpage1.html, subpage2.html, subpage3.html, subpage4.html, subpage5.html, optin.html)

but the TRUE conversion rate is: 1/1 = 100%

Does this mean that in order to track my goals correctly, I should ONLY insert the GA code into my optin.html page and thankyou.html page?

So, dear questioner, this is actually a rather interesting problem, and is all about how you define “conversion rate.” Most people are interested, initially, in the conversion rate for an entire site, and then they start to segment (“How did our PPC visits do? How did the visits from Sydney convert?”)  But if I understand your question, you want to know, “How did people who landed on optin.html convert?” and you don’t want to see that polluted by visits that landed on other pages and converted. (Hence your use of the phrase “squeeze page.”)

So here is my advice:

1.  You should always code the entire site with your GA. Companies that pick and choose pages to code usually get inconsistencies in their data.

2.  There are numerous ways to capture the conversion rate by landing page. My favorite would be to create an advanced segment.  {Note for nitpickers, advanced segments are session-based and not page-based, but landing page is a ‘session identifier.”}  To the left, you can see a screen shot of a landing-page advanced segment.

Notice, in this next screen shot (my favorite report, btw, traffic >all traffic > by medium > see goal tab) that the data make sense (at least to me, since I know this particular landing page well.) The majority of traffic comes by email. I was surprised to see how much comes organically, although it doesn’t convert as well as the email does (something I already knew.) The great thing about looking at this report, though, is not for me to learn about our landing page, but to answer the question: should I code all my pages? Yes.  Is there still a way to look at conversion rate by landing page by source etc? Yes.  (And just think, there are other ways, too!)


Our founder, Robbin Steif, started LunaMetrics in 2004. She is a graduate of Harvard College and the Harvard Business School, and has served on the Board of Directors for the Digital Analytics Association. Robbin is a winner of a BusinessWomen First award, as well as a Diamond Award for business leadership. In 2017, Robbin sold her company to HS2 Solutions and has since retired from LunaMetrics.

  • Jeroen B

    Hi, I don’t know what exactly is the problem here? Isn’t this solved by checking the box ‘required step’ next to your ‘optin.html’ in the goal funnel definition or have I understood the question wrongly ?

  • Also, couldn’t you set up the optin.html > thankyou.html process as a funnel, and then look at abandonment rates?

  • Hi Robbin,

    Google reports what the “questioner” is interested in through the Funnel Conversion Rate report which reports how many of the people who enter the funnel actually finish it. Yes, Jeroen is right, if the funnel is of more than 2 steps, having the first step required will do the trick for getting the 100% rate he wants to hear in the provided example.

    But your segment really is cool :). I love to play with segments which involve landing pages reports… they say a lot.

  • Robbin

    Hi everyone. Yes, you can check “required step” and yes, you can look at the abandonment rate, but remember, those things only work in the funnel visualization and other goal reports. You can’t go to (for example) keywords and check the goal tab and see that the goal was achieved and also that they landed on the landing page. Ditto for all traffic sources. Everything in the “goals tabs” are about arrival at the final goal page, and GA doesn’t care what you did before that in those reports. So if she (I think it is a she) wants to learn anything very interesting, a segment would work. There are other ways to achieve the same thing, like creation of a profile and filter.

    Thanks for your thoughts. Send more!!


  • nice blog..

  • How to Differentiate Your Service

    Thanks for a awesome post and interesting comments. I found this post while looking for some lyric updates. Thanks for sharing this article.

  • On my WordPress blog, I inserted my GA code into the Footer file, so it automatically gets included in every page.

    I would recommend something similar on any site, so you only need to maintain it in one place. Get your pages coded in PHP so that you can “include” a standard header and footer, and put the GA code in the footer.

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