Default Page setting in Google Analytics
Gus and Vlad are in the office, and as part of Gus’s training at a Google Analytics agency, Vlad is explaining how to set up a Google Analytics account.
Vlad: OK, Google is now asking us for a the default page of the website to enter into one of these boxes
Do you know what the default page is?
Gus: I think so, is it the name of the web page that’s the home page?
Vlad: That’s right, sometimes called the URI, as in uniform resource identifier.
Gus: Wow, I love all these TLAs.
Gus: Three letter acronyms.
Vlad: Ah. Hum. Shall we continue ..?
Gus: Of course. So if you need to enter what the default page is , how do you out find what it is?
Vlad: I just use trial and error. If all the pages are .php then I try default.php or index.php, or if it’s ASP I try default.aspx or index.aspx or even index.html in rare cases.
Once you have come across the URI that serves up the home page, then you’ve cracked it.
Gus: So you just enter it into the “Default Page” text box?
Vlad: Not so fast. Do you know why we need to specify the default page?
Gus: No, I don’t think so.
Vlad: It’s because we want Google to treat visits to www.mydomain.com and www.mydomain.com/index.php as a visit to the same page. If Google Analytics records this as two separate pages then it’s just plain messy.
Gus: OK, I get it. Can I enter it in now ?
Vlad: No, Google’s instructions on this setting are a bit misleading
Gus: What do you mean?
Vlad: I have seen instances of where a URI ends with a trailing slash [“/”] and whatever is in the Default Page, like “index.php”, gets added to the URI. In effect, making the URI longer and less readable.
Gus: OK, so we should leave it blank then?
Vlad: We should, particularly for new Google Analytics accounts. But we still need to address the problems of counting separate visits to www.mydomain.com and www.mydomain.com/index.php.
Gus: So, if we are going to use the Default Page setting, what are we going to do?
Vlad: Instead we are going to apply a filter, which will have the same intended effect as the Default Page setting, but without the risk of the default page being added to every trailing slash.
Gus: Show me the filter we need to add then.
Vlad: Here’s a custom filter I have used.
In this case the default page is “default.asp”.
Gus: So once you have applied this filter to the profile, then it will pull together requests for www.mydomain.com and www.mydomain.com/default.asp ?
Vlad: Exactly, and you won’t get the problem with the trailing slashed.
Gus: Cool. Do most people know about this issue with the trailing slashes?
Vlad: Not everyone, my good friend Phil Pearce gave me the heads up.
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