How to Fix Bounce Rate Issues from Duplicate Pageview Tags
Hey everyone, in this episode I’m going to show you how to debug your duplicate page view or bounce rate issues that you might have in your store.
Why do I combine these two debugging processes? Normally, if you have a duplicate page view issue then you are going to have a bounce rate issue and also trickle down effects on your average time on site, average time on page, etc.
Conversely, if you have a bounce rate issue then you probably have a duplicate pageview or tag issue.
I define a bounce rate issue if it’s less than 20%, even 30%, which signals that there is probably a bit of a tracking issue. If your bounce rate matches this definition then this likely means you either have a duplicate page view tracking or something most related to non-interaction set to true in your GTM custom events.
I’m going to show you three things during this quick video to assist.
- One, I’m going to show you how to determine if you have duplicate page view or bounce rate tracking issues.
- I’m going to show you where your duplicate page views most likely come from
- And number three, how to fix these potential issues that you have today or may have in the future.
Chrome Extension Tools
Before I get started, there are two tools that you’re going to need during this process.
- One is a Google Analytics debugger. I use this all the time! This will log GA hits that are sent directly within your browser so you can go through the front end of your website and validate what hits are being sent to Google Analytics without actually having to log in to GA to verify.
- The second is the Tag Assistant. This will report on all tags loaded on your site from Google – including Google Analytics and GTM.
These are great tools that I use on a regular basis and they’re very helpful to help hone in on potential site issues.
Do you have Bounce Rate Issues?
Alright, so now we’re going to look at how can you determine if you have bounce rate issues of your own.
Very simple, under acquisition all traffic channels, I’ll usually go back at least three to four, maybe even 12 months if it’s a new account, and I’m looking at bounce rate as a primary metric and see if we have any major cliffs where a bounce rate goes from around 50% to 3%.
When you do see a huge drop (from ~ 50% down to 10% or less) then this is a classic case where something was changed and it had a direct impact on bounce rate because this is not normal. You’ll never see your content or anything just go from 50% to 3%, so that’s usually one telltale sign.
The other is in our page view report. Sometimes it’s not always a site wide issue where you have duplicate page views firing on every single page, which leads you to the 2-3% aggregate bounce rate.
If your bounce rate is closer to like 15% to 20% in aggregate then it’s still very likely that you have issues specific to certain pages on your site. In this example, I’m looking at the Google merchandise store, site content, all pages, and then I am sorting by bounce rate where actually I want to see the lowest bounce rates first.
You’ll see we have some bounce rates here for different pages that are 0% where there’s only one or two entrances. This is very normal. You’ll see that because there isn’t enough data so what you’ll want to do is actually include a filter where we have entrances greater than 50, and if we do find pages that have again a bounce rate less than 10%, that usually means there is probably a potential interactive GTM event tag firing or duplicate page view event firing on these pages because this usually is not normal.
How to test on your site
I’m going to show you our Shopify demo store. I already have my two Chrome extensions installed and here you’ll see the Google Tag Assistant. I’m just going to click to enable this and reload and you’ll see this will start to populate and you’ll see the Google Analytics tag actually is already called out as yellow here.
I’m going to click into this and you’ll see surprisingly I have three page view requests on this page, which should not happen! You can click in to view the different pages but really all you need to see here is see that there are three page view requests on a single page load.
Now if I wanted to use a Chrome debugger, then I’ll right click to inspect the source code and open up my Chrome tools. Then I’ll go to console and just to clear this out and reload.
What this is doing is populating every hit that’s sent to GA and you’ll see a bunch of Google Analytics tags that are populating here already. The way that you can use this is either just scroll through and look for page view hits or use the filter option.
In this example, we see the hits by page view and you’ll see I have one that’s here. If I continue scrolling, here’s another page view and then finally the third. In this example, this is a pretty bad set up. I have three page views firing. Obviously, that’s not accurate and not normal for users.
How to debug pageview event hits
Now where could these different page view events come from? Going over to Shopify admin > preferences you’ll see I have my Google Analytics account set up here, so this is my property ID, which ends in 787-2. It’s set up in Shopify so there is one.
Now the second place I’ll look is in my theme.liquid. I see this fairly regularly with Shopify stores that are trying to implement the global GTag, I’ll actually see the Google Analytics G Tag also implemented through the theme.
I’ll go to my theme at theme.liquid, which is where all of my site wide scripts are going to live and you’ll see here that I’m highlighting a second Google Analytics script which is exactly what you would get if you were to go to GA and then copy this and then paste it into your theme. So this is where the second Google Analytics script is coming from.
I’m just going to delete this and then save and go back to the front end and let’s reload one time and we should see I now only have two. Alright, so go up to our Tag Assistant, you’ll see Google Analytics, click into this, and now I have two page view requests. One more to find and remove.
The next place to look is GTM which is usually where any of the other problems might live.
If you do have Google Tag Manager installed or somebody has installed it for you, then you’ll want to look under tags and then look for a Google Analytics page view tag.
The quickest way to look relevant tags is under the type column (Google Analytics Universal Analytics) or you can sort or filter looking for Google Analytics Universal Analytics Event Tags. Then look for a trigger that is firing on all pages.
In this example we have the UA page view, so I’ll click into this here and I have my page view tag and you’ll see this is set to a Google Analytics variable and this variable is the same tracking ID that we just looked at and deleted from our theme.
Now what we’ll want to do is pause this and save.
If you aren’t trying to implement Google Analytics just through GTM, especially if you’re an eCommerce store on Shopify, just this tag here alone won’t send any of the eCommerce data that you’ll need. So if you’re not quite sure what’s going on, then I would revert back to keeping your native Google Analytics tracking set up in Shopify within the preferences setting and then try to figure out why this tag was set up in the first place, who set it up and what they’re trying to do, etc.
Now that we have published our GTM changes, let’s go back to the front end and validate that we only have one page view event that is firing. We are on the homepage here, I’m going to reload and then look at the GA Tag Assistant and you’ll see now the Google Analytics tag is blue, green, and it’s only one page view request. This is exactly what we’re looking for here.
GTM custom GA tag event issues
Now let’s say you’ve gone two to three days with these updates and you fixed your duplicate page view tracking issue, but you’re still seeing a bounce rate of 2-3%.
Usually this problem is coming from a custom event tag that’s firing from GTM. A very common example is a scroll depth tag or an all all links trigger tag. Basically what those tags are doing is they’re firing very frequently (along with pageview events), so if we were to go over to the front end of the site again and if we reload the page you’ll see immediately my scroll depth tag is firing right away and that’s pushing an event to GA.
Now this isn’t a problem per se that it’s firing but the problem comes if this tag does not have this non interaction hit set to true.
Basically what this little setting here is, it’s very confusing for many people, is if it’s set to true than you’re still sending the hit to Google but Google is basically ignoring it when it comes to calculating session based metrics, such as bounce rate or average time on page, average time on site, etc.
When in doubt, I always leave this as set to true because that is going to allow bounce rates to really be a true depiction of page view level bounce rates, so did somebody land on the homepage and then interact a little bit but then leave.
If I never loaded another page view, then that would be considered a bounce for my session. If this issue sounds familiar, after you fix your page view issues, then the next place is to go into GTM and start looking at different custom tags and check to see if they have this set to true or false.
If false, then it’s likely a root cause issue for you that you’ll want to change that to true, deploy it, and then monitor your bounce rate and see if it improves from there.