Google Analytics Configuration Mistake #1: Missing Default Page

Setting the default page for your website is a simple configuration step that insures the quality of your Google Analytics report data is good. The default page for a website is the page shown to a visitor when they enter just the website domain into the browser’s location bar. If you type http://www.cutroni.com/ into your browser my webserver returns index.php. You won’t see index.php in the browser’s location bar, but that’s the page the server returns. This is the same for directories within your website. http://www.cutroni.com/blog also returns index.php.

Why does this matter to GA? When the urchin.js tracking code executes it creates pageviews using the page name that the visitor requested. What if there is no page name, as is the case above? GA creates a pageview for /. When people type http://www.cutroni.com/index.php GA create a pageview for index.php. See how this can cause a problem? GA collects pageviews for / and for index.php. Two pageviews for the same page.

default_page_report.gif

Pageviews for a page should be summarized in a single line item, not two! Note: I know the above example isn’t all that great. It would be better if 50% of the traffic was for / and 50% was for index.php. But I don’t have any profiles with bad data :)

To remedy this problem enter the default page for your website in the ‘Default page:’ field in the ‘Main Website Profile Information’ configuration section.

default_page.gif

Be sure to only enter the page name, no ‘/’ before the page name and no regular expressions. Just the name of the page, nothing else.

Remember, this change will not affect data that has already been processed by Google Analytics. It will only affect data that will be processed in the future.

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    Comments

    1. says

      Thanks for the great tip! I have read all your blog posts and you are VERY helpful!

      I made this change in my Google Analytics profile. My question is now for all the date ranges BEFORE i made this change I am getting visitor information for BOTH the root / AND /index.php.

      AFTER I made this change when you look at the visitor information the top content just has /index.php.

      How would I join the data for “/” and “/index.php” for the previous dates before I made this change in my profile?

      Thanks!!

    2. says

      Hey Rob,

      Unfortunately you can not change your historical data. Changes that you make to a profile configuration only affect the data going forward.

      Thanks for the comment!

      Justin

    3. says

      Hey there, great article-good read.

      I’m curious though, have you ever had the issue where GA wasn’t returning “great” data for the index page? See, I’m having an issue similar (or the same) as this one. My stats are showing very small pageviews for my homepage. Everything is set up correctly in my settings, but the numbers are still in the 10-15 range, while every other page is in the 1000′s. Ideas?

      Also, you can actually see an entry for “/”. I don’t…and searching for “/” is difficult as it picks up pretty much every other page…

      Anyway, if you have any suggestions or ideas I’d love to hear them…

      Have a good one,

      Mike

    4. says

      Hi Justin

      That’s been killing me. Thanks for solving at least half of my problem with Google Analytics, which otherwise is just great.

      Ben

    5. Lara says

      Hi Justin,
      Can we do something about the https? I have my account where my website visitors are tracked for both / and /http://mywebsite.com/

      What is this new /http://mywebsite.com/ ??
      I don’t understand where the mistake arises?

      Previously I dint add index.html as a default web page. But few weeks before I added index.html as default page as I was not getting rid of this new /http://mywebsite.com/ thing which kept showing a huge no. of visitors compared to the usual /

      Any suggestions?

    6. Lara says

      Here is a little change…….. the new parameter shows /http://www.mywebsite.com/index.html ..? Instead of index.html or simply ( / )
      Please suggest me what should be done…As am getting weird looking at traffic to this new home page which is the same as my home page ( / )
      ….I do also see traffic to / but the traffic to /http://www.mywebsite.com/index.html is more than I get for ( / )

      How can I remove showing up traffic to /http://www.mywebsite.com/index.html ??
      Can you analyze where I went wrong?

    7. Lara says

      Justin, I think it has to do something with the redirect from http to https? My site is 301nd to https but why am I getting traffic to my old http:www.mywebsite.com/index.com url structure still?

      ( / )indicated home page, but /http:www.mywebsite.com/index.com url indicates what…? Another home page? Am confused..!! :(((

      • says

        @ Lara: It sounds like something at the server level. As you mentioned, it might be the configuration of the 301. You can use an Advanced Filter in Google Analytics to normalize the page, but I would try to fix things at the server level.

    Trackbacks

    1. [...] In my previous post I discussed how an incorrect Default Page setting can cause a single page on your website to be counted as two different pages. That same concept is the driving force behind Common Google Analytics Configuration Mistake #2. If your website uses query string parameters you may be creating hundreds or thousands of unique page views which don’t actually exist. [...]

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