I run another blog over at Book Wookie, on which I have Google Analytics configured. I’d noticed that my bounce rate over the past 6 months had dropped to a suspiciously low level. How low? In October of last year, my bounce rate was just 0.31%. Before the drop, it was around 82%. So, I definitely knew that something was up, but I wasn’t quite sure what it was or how to fix it and, quite frankly, it wasn’t high on my list of priorities at the time.
Then I came across this article that talks about how having multiple Google Analytics scripts on the same page could be impacting your stats, and a light bulb went off! Sure enough, when I checked, I was loading 2 analytics scripts on my WordPress pages. When I dug a little deeper, I noticed that I had the Google Analytics for WordPress plugin configured to place the tracking code in the header:
When I checked my theme, I realized that I was also loading the Google Analytics script in the footer. Not good. I promptly removed the code from my theme and let the plugin take care of it. I then double-checked that the script was only being loaded once by switching over to source view while visiting one of my pages, searching for ga.js, and confirming that only 1 instance was found. Note that ga.js is the name of the script file when using Classic Analytics. If you are using Universal Analytics, you’ll want to search for analytics.js instead.
Over the next few weeks I kept a close eye on my stats and noticed that the bounce rate immediately started to rise:
The lesson here? If your bounce rates are low or your stats seem a bit “off”, check your pages to ensure that you’re loading the Google Analytics script once and only once. If you have more than one Google Analytics plugin installed (such as Google Analytics for WordPress or Google Analyticator), it’s likely that they are both integrating the tracking code information into your WordPress pages, resulting in multiple scripts and inaccurate stats. In the Google Analytics for WordPress plugin, you can choose to insert the tracking code manually, but in Google Analyticator there is no such setting. You’ll need to let the Google Analyticator plugin handle the loading and ensure that your theme and no other plugins are duplicating the effort.